Fall 2002 Graduate Courses
COML 501.401 History of Literary Theory
In this course, we will explore texts from a wide array of influential modern literary-critical methodologies. The readings have been divided into four sections, each designed to focus our thinking on a set of specific topics, including but not restricted to questions of signification, authorship, subjectivity, ideology, cultural authority, difference, and dissent. Necessarily broad in scope, the class is designed to provide students with some basic fluency in a number of important theoretical discourses, and in the case of Comp Lit graduate students to assist in preparation for the M.A. exam. Course requirements are: a short paper (6-8pp.) that "impersonates" a particular critical approach or style, a longer paper (15-20pp.) that critiques one or more of the assigned readings, and one substantial oral presentation (20-30 minutes) in which the student "teaches" a given text to the seminar as a whole. No final examination. Classroom activity may include impromptu group presentations and debates (e.g., Marxism faces off against Deconstruction; Helene Cixous meets Luce Irigaray, etc.). Participation in these exercises and in general discussion is extremely important. Undergraduates and auditors by permission of the instructor.
COML 505.401 Arabic Literary Theory
COML 529.401 Proverb, Riddle, and Speech
Through readings and collaborative projects this working seminar will explore the place of metaphor in the genres of proverb and riddle and examine their position in oral communication in traditional and modern societies. Critical readings of former definitions and models of riddles and metaphors will enable students to obtain a comprehensive perspective of these genres that will synthesize functional, structural, metaphoric, and rhetoric theories.
COML 530.401 Pre-Modern Rhetoric
This course offers an overview of the ancient, medieval, and early modern rhetorical traditions, and aims to work very broadly across cultural and textual histories. It should be useful for any students working in early and later periods (including post-Renaissance) who want a grounding in the intellectual and institutional history of rhetoric, the "discourse about discourse" that was central to curricular formations, aesthetics, politics, ideas of history, and ideas of canons. We will read materials from sophistic rhetoric, from Plato and Aristotle, from Cicero, Quintilian, and rhetorical theorists from late antiquity (including Augustine); we will work through medieval materials from monastic and cathedral schools to the universities, considering how Ciceronian rhetoric carries an overwhelming influence into the Middle Ages; we will consider the professional stratification of various kinds of rhetorical production and theory in the late Middle Ages and look at some crucial literary embodiments of rhetoric s disciplinary force; we will give some attention to the late medieval recovery of Aristotle s Rhetoric and to the continuous tension between rhetoric, philosophy, and theology; and we ll look at early modern recoveries of certain ancient texts and themes (e.g. Quintilian, the sophists, political education) in terms of new capacities for analysis of stylistics, affect, and deliberative (political) oratory (and we'll give special attention to early modern English rhetorics and poetics and to continental figures such as Erasmus). We will also be reading a number of modern reflections on the theory and historiography rhetoric, and the class is open to any combination of theoretical and historical interests. All of our readings will be accessible in English.
COML 536.401 Boccaccio's Women: Female Identities in the Middle Ages
This course will present Giovanni Boccaccio and his literary corpus form three visual perspectives. Focus will be on the Decameron, with selections from Boccaccio's literary criticism, biographies, and mythography (Defense of Poetry, Life of Dante, Life of Petrarch, Concerning Famous Women, the epic Teseida). As we read we shall 1) look at portraits of Boccaccio, 2) look at Renaissance illustrations of his writings, 3) search for visual intertexts--i.e., explore how images and material artifacts in Boccaccio's culture could have influenced his writing, and how our recovery of those icons serves us as literary interpreters.
COML 552.401 The German Connection: Hollywood and Berlin
Starting with UFA in Berlin when German film production rivaled Hollywood in the silent era and films such as Dr. Caligari established an enduring expressionist idiom, this course will pursue the varied migrations of German cinematic style to Hollywood during the 1930s and 40s. Films by such directors as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, Edgar G. Ulmer, Robert Siodmak, Wilhelm Dieterle and Fred Zinnemann both before and after their American migration. Special emphasis on film noir. We'll also consider post-war German responses to Hollywood and the Berlin-Hollywood connection by directors such as Faßbinder and Wenders. All readings and lectures in English.
COML 556.401 Ancient Interpretation of the Bible
The purpose of this course is two-fold: first, to study some of the more important ways in which the Bible was read and interpreted before the modern period; second, to consider the uses to which some contemporary literary theorists have put these ancient modes of interpretation as models and precursors for their own writing. The major portion of the course will be devoted to intensive readings of major ancient exegetes, Jewish and Christian with a view to considering their exegetical approaches historically as well as from the perspective of contemporary critical and hermeneutical theory. Readings of primary sources will be accompanied by secondary readings that will be both historically oriented as well as theoretical, with the latter including Hartman, Kermode, Todorov, and Bloom.
COML 588.401 Modernism and the Question of Beauty
This course examines shifts in the idea of beauty that came about through modernist movements in the arts. We will begin with Kant and Burke, and then observe the growing dominance of the sublime over the beautiful in the basic trends of twentieth-century modernism. In particular, we will examine the symbols of woman, ornament, form, and fetish as they weave in and out of twentieth-century aesthetics. With woman the predominant nineteenth-century symbol of beauty, the "turn away from beauty" in modernism is inevitably connected to gender politics, as is the current, much-heralded "return to beauty." We will observe contemporary artists and theorists wrestling with the problem of how to reinstate the value of beauty without at the same time regressing to a pre-feminist mind-set.
COML 596.401 Literature into Film
Although we will consider a variety of critical approaches to the problem of transposing a literary text into the language of audio-visual spectacle, we will not develop a universal theory of adaptation. Instead, we will undertake a series of case studies, identifying the challenges that specific literary texts present to filmmakers whose adaptations, however, will be determined by a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the expressive possibilities offered by two very different artistic media. In most cases, we will screen the film during the Tuesday time slot, and do a comparative study in the Thursday class, making extensive use of video-clips to do close visual analysis of scenes in the light of their corresponding textual sources.
COML 617.401 Contemporary Approaches to Culture and Society
A critical examination of recent history and theory in cultural and social anthropology. Topics include structural-functionalism; symbolic anthropology; post-modern theory. Emphasis is on major schools and trends in America, Britain, and France.
COML 620.401 Studies in the 18th Century
We will study the development of the French novel in the 18th century. We will read examples from all the major genres of the 18th-century fiction: epistolary (Lettres Persanes, Liaisons Dangereuses); pseudo-memoir (La Vie de Marianne); self-conscious or anti-novel (Jacques le Fataliste). We will consider questions such as the dominance of the first person; the interconnectedness of these various narrative forms (the presence of letters in all types of novels, for example); and the development of interiority, the increased emphasis on the inner life of characters. We will also read selections from some of the most important recent works on the development of the novel in the 18th century: Avid Denby, Michael McKeon, Margaret Doody.
COML 669.401 Literature and Culture of the Fin-de-Siècle
The last decades of the nineteenth century were a time of both social turmoil and artistic exuberance in France. This course examines major literary and artistic movements (Naturalism, Decadence, Symbolism, etc...) in their cultural context. Why was this productive period obsessed with its own doom? Weekly reading assignments pair literary texts (by Barbey, Barrès, the Goncourts, Huysmans, Mallarmé, Maupassant, Rachilde, and Zola) with contemporary discourse on such topics as disease, crime, sex, poverty, race, nationalism, and technology. Theorists to be considered include Bergson, Freud, Krafft-Ebing, Le Bon, Nordau, Renan, Simmel, and Spencer. Some attention will also be paid to the visual arts and to fin-de-siècles in other times and places (particularly Austria, Germany, and England).
- COML 669.401 19th Century Studies - CANCELED
The historical novel had huge success in the nineteenth century, partly due to the influence of Walter Scott, but mostly because of the rise of an acute consciousness of history after the Revolution. The definition of this sous genre is problematic:
Lukàcs, for instance, considered only the classical form of the novel to be historical in the first part of the nineteenth century. In order to draw the boundaries of this sous genre, we will read not only some important historical novels, but also border texts.
|Last modified November 08, 2002
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania