Fall 2003 Graduate Courses

COML 501.401 History of Literary Theory 
Crosslisted with ENGL 571, FREN 512, GRMN 534 
Undergrads Need Permission
T 2-5 Weissberg 

Is there a future to theory? And what is its past? The course will consider a selection of texts from Aristotle to Derrida to explore questions posed in regard to literature and the arts, its genres and its language. At the same time, it will test the relevance of these ideas for our work today. Texts will be made available via course pack, and include a selection of required reading for the M.A. examination in Comparative Literature, as well as supplementary essays by Jean-Michel Rabate, Homi Bhaba, Gilles Deleuze, and others. All reading and discussions will be in English.


COML 508.301 Worldviews in Collision
Crosslisted with ITAL 562 
T 2-4 Kirkham

This course will explore the radical conflicts that developed in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries when the authority of the Roman Catholic Church was challenged by the Protestant reformers and the scientific paradigm shift from a geocentric to heliocentric universe. We shall view this intellectual history both through writings of the time and from the retrospective point of view of the 20th century, which displays significant analogies. The second half of the course will focus on art and literature of the Cinquecento and Seicento, the Mannerist and Baroque styles. We shall close by considering utopian responses to such times of social and cultural upheaval. Readings from Machiavelli (Mandragola), Galileo (selections, including Starry Messenger, Letter to the Grand Duchess), Brecht's play Galileo, Sir Thomas More (Response to Luther), John Osborne's play Luther, Marino and the Marinisti, Campanella (City of the Sun), Frank Capra's film Lost Horizon. Course conducted in English with all readings available in translation.


COML 509.401 Kierkegaard 
Crosslisted with RELS 539
R 3-5 Dunning 

A fascinating aspect of Kierkegaard's literary production is his creation of a cast of characters to serve as pseudonymous "authors." These pseudonyms debate the meaning of life in a dozen of Kierkegaard's most influential works, which also represent different perspectives within Kierkegaard's theory of "stages on life's way"-aesthetic, ethical and religious. Either/Or illustrates the aesthetic stage in Part I and an ethical counterpoint in Part II. Repetition is an aesthetic interpretation of a religious person, while Fear and Trembling ponders from an ethical perspective the biblical Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God. Finally, Philosophical Fragments is an essay on the difference between Socratic and Christian knowledge of God by a philosopher, whereas The Sickness unto Death is a treatise on despair by a pseudonym described by Kierkegaard as a Christian. These five texts will be the focus of the seminar this term. There will be midterm and final papers. All participants are expected to work with the assigned editions/translations of each text.


COML 524.401 Petrarch: The Poetics and Politics of the Modern Lyric Self
Crosslisted with ITAL 535
W 2-4 Brownlee 

The course will explore the development of a new authorial subject over the course of the trecento, in the works and the life of Petrarch. Our principal focus will be a reading of the Canzionere (the Rime Sparse) with special attention to "confessional" and "conversionary" first-person narrative modes, to the divided first-person subject, and to the poetics of the lyric collection. The Petrarchan self in history and politics will be studied in his "Coronation Oration" (at the occasion of his being crowned poet laureate at Rome in 1341), and in his hortatory letters to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV. Issues of Petrarch's epic (and in part political) voice will feature in our reading of selections from Africa, which will also explore his use of genealogical tropes of authority. The Secretum will reveal the full religious dimension of the divided Petrarchan self, in a dialogic context in which his deeply problematic relationship to Dante as privileged precursor plays an important role. In the Trionfi we will explore the poetics of erudition in a first-person mode that attempts a new kind of vernacular poetic practice with a different relation to the Dantean model. Taught in English.


COML 525.401 Topics in Philosophy of Science 
Crosslisted with PHIL 525, HSSC 52
M 12-3 Weisberg, M. 

For the last five decades, scientific explanation has been one of the central topics in philosophy of science. In the first part of the seminar, we will examine the major accounts of explanation beginning with Hempel's classic treatment. We will also pay special attention to the accounts offered by Salmon, Railton, Friedman, Kitcher, and van Fraassen. More recently, philosophers of science have emphasized the role idealization plays in scientific explanations. The remainder of the seminar will be devoted to theories of idealization and on the connection between idealization and explanation.


CANCELED COML 556.401 Ancient Interpretation of the Bible CANCELED
Crosslisted with AMES 555, JWST 555, RELS 418
TR 10:30-12 Stern 

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 560.401 Prose Narrative
Crosslisted with FOLK 531 and AMES 659
Undergraduates need permission
TH 12-2 Ben-Amos

The topics of discussion in the course are the following: the nature of narrative, narrative taxonomy and terminology, performance in storytelling events, the transformation of historical experience into narrative, the construction of symbolic reality, the psycho-social interpretation of folktales, the search for the minimal units, the historic-geographic method in folktale studies, the folktale in history and the history of folktale research.


COML 562.301 Sociology of Culture
Crosslisted with SOCI 561
T 9-12 Collins

This course will focus on theories and research on the social organization of the production and consumption of high culture. There will also be some consideration of the determinants of class, ethno-religious and gender cultures (Bourdieu and rival theories). Other topics include: highbrow and middlebrow cultures and intellectuals; sociology of literature; sociology of philosophy; sociology of science; sociology of art and music.


COML 566.401 Carnival, Pageant, Parade 
Crosslisted with FOLK 546, ENGL 593
T 1-3 Abrahams 

This course will survey the ways in which traditions of multifocussed and historically-layered events have been studied. It will begin with a discussion of other sacred intensive activities and look at the forces that bring about the separation between secular and religious modes of display. Public events create and sustain a particularly volatile public sphere within which the confluence of politics and market are at once visible and veiled. Drawing on European, American, and postcolonial contexts, the course will place special emphasis on the interrelationship of public display and the state, covering a time span from the 18th century to the present.


COML 580.401 Judaism in the Hellenistic Era 
Crosslisted with JWST 525, RELS 525
T 3-5 Kraft 

An examination of the varieties of Jewish thought current from ca. 300 BCE to ca. 200 CE, and of the ways in which early Christians adapted and/or reacted to this Jewish heritage. Primary course materials include Philo and Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Paul and the Jewish "Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha." Online course materials can be accessed through the instructor's homepage.


COML 595.301 Studies in the 20th Century: Representing the Social in Modern French Literature and Critical Thought from Proust to Tournier 
Crosslisted with FREN 680 
Thursday 4-6 Richman

The starting point for this course is the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's contention that "everything is social" despite its repression in philosophical accounts of taste and culture. He also argues that literature provides sociology with a crucial reference. Indeed, Proust's literary monument figures prominently in Bourdieu's main work on distinction. To assess the validity of Bourdieu's position, we will focus on the representation of the social in two masterworks where it is explicitly as well as systematically addressed: Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu and Michel Tournier's Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique. Our goal will be to inventory representational strategies in approaching the paradoxes of the social as invisible yet ubiquitous, unconscious but determinant. In the process, we will trace the respective contributions of literature and sociology to the theory of the modern subject, the relation of esthetics to the social, the corporal embodiment of the social in the "civilizing process," the politics of "liberation" theories and the utopian dimension of texts. Primary readings will be Marcel Proust [selections from A la recherche] and Michel Tournier, Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique. Secondary readings will be drawn from Bataille, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Elias. Primary readings in French: students may acquire them in translation as needed. Requirements: mid-term and final paper besides an oral presentation in class.


COML 597.401 Modern Drama: Modern Scholarship, Contemporary Performance, Early-Modern Scripts 
Crosslisted with ENGL 597
R 12-3 Mazer 

This course examines the scholarly enterprise of "stage-centered analysis" by considering the ways that contemporary theatre artists make theatre events out of older, canonical scripts. What is the relation of script to performance? How do scholars understand and analyze contemporary performance? How does our scholarly understanding of historical performance affect contemporary performance and how we write about it? Using Shakespeare and his contemporaries as the test case, we will examine scholarship about playhouses and stage conventions, and theories of early-modern subjectivity, acting, and performativity, and consider these issues as they are manifest in late twentieth-century theatrical theory and practice.


COML 599.301 Introduction to Francophone Literature: Postcolonial Theory in Francophone Contexts 
Crosslisted with FREN 590 
F 2-4 Moudileno

The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to key texts and influential figures coming from or focusing on Francophone contexts. Readings will fall under three categories: (A) Authors from the 1940s to the present who focus almost exclusively on (post)colonial issues pertaining to Africa and the Caribbean, such as Léopold Sedar Senghor, Aimé Césaire, Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon; Edouard Glissant; Patrick Chamoiseau et al., Assia Djebar, and J. G. Bidima; (B) Contemporary French, African and North American postcolonial theorists (JM Moura, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, A. Mbembe, Christopher Miller, Françoise Lionnet, Peter Hallward); and (C) Theorists who would not necessarily be labeled "postcolonial," but whose work is relevant to postcolonial criticism, such as, among others, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Rancière, and Julia Kristeva. 


COML 617.401 Contemporary Approach to Culture and Society 
Crosslisted with ANTH 617 
T 2-5 Urban

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 630.401 Introduction to Medieval Literature: Genre and the Problem of Authority in Medieval French Literature 
Crosslisted with FREN 630
M 4-6 Brownlee 

The course considers literary genre as process and textual authority as problem. Special attention is given to questions of authorial voice, gender representation, and historico-political context. We will study texts from the 11th to the 15th centuries, in which new generic forms are invented and transformed: chanson de geste, romance, lyric, theater, history, and autobiography.


COML 652.401 Early Modern French Women Writers: Women Writers and the Origin of the Modern Novel in France 
Crosslisted with FREN 652, WSTD 652
W 2-4 DeJean 

We will read major works produced during the golden age of French women's writing, a 150-year period that began in 1660. We will constantly keep in mind the question of why the development of French women's writing and the development of the modern novel were so intimately related that it can be argued that one could not have taken place without the other. We will analyze Lafayette's Zayde and La Princesse de Clèves to see how the modern novel developed from the earlier romance form. We will then examine all the key genres of the early novel, since women writers played a formative role in each of them. For the epistolary novel, for example, we will read works such as Scudéry's Lettres amoureuses, Graffigny's Lettres d'une Péruvienne, and Charrière's Lettres de Lausanne. We will consider such memoir novels as Villedieu's Mémoires de la vie de Henriette-Sylvie de Molière and Duras's Ourika. We will try to find the time for at least a few of the fairy tales of d'Aulnoy and, perhaps, Lubert. Throughout, we will keep in mind the concept of a tradition of French women's writing.


COML 736.401 Renaissance Studies: Re-orienting the Renaissance 
Crosslisted with ENGL 736
T 9-12 Loomba 

Colonialism was in its infancy during Shakespeare's time, but his culture had already begun to be profoundly reshaped by contact with the different lands and peoples which were to be colonised by Europeans. This seminar will explore how early modern English contact with the 'East" 're-orients' our perspective on inter-cultural relations 'race' and colonialism in the period, and also allows us to re-think certain tenets of post-colonial theory and theories of race. The 'East' includes the Levant and Mediterranean, North Africa, India and the Moluccas, but we'll also read literature concerning Ireland, the New World and Jews in order to see the differences and overlaps between them. We will also think about the relationship between travel literature and the theater, and their contribution to the emergence of a public sphere in early modern include plays by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Heywood, Massinger, and Fletcher; travel writings by Walter Ralegh, Spenser, Lithgow, Biddulph, Sandys, Dallam, Africanus, and Argensola, as well as key critical and theoretical texts.

Besides vigorous weekly participation in the seminars, members of the seminar will be required to complete the following assignments: 1) a 15-20 minute formal oral presentation, 2) a 5-10 page short paper, and 3) a 20+ page end of semester research paper.


COML 767.401 Modernism: "the new" vs. "the news" 
Crosslisted with ENGL 773
R 9-12 Perelman 

In Modernist poetry, the new can seem quite a specialized matter of formal innovation, as one school of poetics attempts to make its predecessors or rivals outmoded: Imagism, Futurism, Surrealism, Objectivism, Projective Verse . However, a common claim of all innovative writing over the past century has been that it provided news vital to the culture. The new implies differentiation; news involves public knowledge and universal address. This tension provides a basic but powerful means of understanding much of the most significant poetry of the last hundred years: this will involve William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Mina Loy, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H. D., Louis Zukofsky, and Allen Ginsberg, among others. 




Last modified August 19, 2003
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania