Graduate Course Descriptions
COML 501.401 History of Literary Theory
Undergrads Need Permission from Instructor
W 9-12 Steiner, W.
Cross listed with CLST 511/ENGL 571/GRMN 534/ROML 512 and SLAV 500
course will traverse the history of aesthetics in order to understand
the complexities of contemporary literary theory. In a sense, our
subject is the fall-out of a paradox, virtuality, in its endless
collisions with ideology. The syllabus will include such canonic
figures as Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, Augustine, Sidney, Kant, Hegel,
Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Saussure, Benjamin, Foucault, Baudrillard,
Derrida, Said, Irigaray, and Butler (in general, authors found on the
Comparative Literature examination list in theory). Course
requirements: three short papers (7 pages), and a class presentation.
COML 508.401 World Views in Collision
T 4-6 Kirkham
Cross listed with ITAL 562
This course explores the impact of paradigm shifts on culture. Radical conflicts developed in 16th- and 17th-century Europe when Protestant reformers, scientific discoveries, and geographical explorations challenged a long-held Medieval worldview and the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, which pursued its own reform at the Council of Trent (1545-1563). How did these historical upheavals influence changing styles in poetry and art from the high Renaissance to Mannerism and the Baroque? What kinship connects the twentieth century with this historical past? Readings and films will include: Machiavelli's comic play Mandragola, Martin Luther's protest and the vitriolic polemic involving him with Thomas More, and King Henry VIII; Tommaso Campanella's Utopian dialogue The City of the Sun, selections from Galileo and The History of the Council of Trent by the Venetian Paolo Sarpi; poetry from Petrarch to Marino and /Marinismo/, parallel examples in the visual tradition from Leonardo to Bernini; and on the modern end, John Osborne's Luther, Bertholt Brecht's Galileo, and a classic Hollywood film Utopia, Frank Capra's Lost Horizon. Course taught in English with option of readings in Italian.
COML 520.401 Medieval "Autobiography:" Augustine to Petrarch
W 2-5 Brownlee
Cross listed with ITAL 520
The course will explore the development of a new authorial subject in 13th- and 14th-century first-person narrative, culminating in Petrarch's Canzoniere and Secretum. Our central focus will be on the changing status of “confessional” and “conversionary” discourse in terms of selfhood and power. Of particular importance will be radical shifts in the relation between confession and conversion among the various texts in our corpus.
We will start with St. Augustine’s Confessions--the privileged model for medieval confessional narratives, which also serves as the point of departure for the different “autobiographical” stances at issue in our various texts. These will include Abelard’s Historia calamitatum, Brunetto Latini’s Tesoretto, Dante's Vita Nuova, and Petrarch’s Canzoniere, read in part as a dialectic between the fragmented and the coherent self. The poetics of the collection will also be considered in this context. We will conclude with Petrarch’s Secretum, a dramatic dialogue in which St. Augustine (as a character) confesses and attempt to convert (without success) the character Franciscus (Petrarch).
Taught in English. Can also be taken by qualified undergraduates, with instructor’s permission
COML 524.401 From Petrarch to Erasmus
W 10-1 Finotti
Cross listed with ITAL 535
Poetry, epistolography, autobiography, history: redefining the status
of all these genres, Petrarch marked out the foundations not only for a
new textuality, but also a new anthropology, and reshaped the relation
between literature, philosophy, religion, politics. The course will
focus on the relations between the evolution of literary forms and the
construction of personal and national identity in Europe from
Petrarch’s foundation to Erasmus’ humanism. The class will
be taught in English.
COML 525.401 Topics in the Philosophy of Science
W 12-3 Weisberg, M.
Cross listed with PHIL 525/HSSC 527
Modeling and Idealization: This graduate seminar will focus on four questions: What are scientific models? What is the best analysis of the model/world relationship? How should the fact that almost all models contain idealizations cause us to revise philosophical theories about confirmation, explanation, and realism? Does idealization have a pragmatic or cognitive justification? The seminar will cover the classical and contemporary literature about these questions. Readings will be drawn from philosophers such as Duhem, Campbell, Hesse, Cartwright, Wimsatt, and Giere, scientists such as Levins, May, and Hoffman, as well as a manuscript written by the instructor. PREREQUISITE: Graduate standing or permission of the instructor.
COML 577.401 The Minor and the Major: Keynotes of 20th C. Poetry
T 6:30-9:30 Bernstein
Cross listed with ENGL 589
A consideration of key American and
European mostly modernist poets, with special emphasis on poets listed
in the First Year Oral exam. Focus also on the theory and practice of
the "minor." This seminar will be held conjointly with Rachel
DuPlessis' Temple seminar as part of Temple-Penn poetics and will meet
part of the time at Penn and part of the time at Temple.
COML 579.401 Winckelmann
M 1-3 MacLeod
Cross listed with GRMN 579/ARTH 584
Celebrity-scholar, literary stylist, cultural monument, pagan hero, self-made man, homosexual codeword, murder victim: despite his humble origins in Prussia, Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68) enjoyed a meteoric career as an archaeologist and art historian in Rome and came to define a century. His developmental view of culture and his celebration of Greek art challenged
prevailing ideas and established new paradigms. The seminar will pay careful attention to Winckelmann’s most important writings, including “Reflections on the Imitation of the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks” (1755), the “History of Ancient Art” (1764), and his famous descriptions of statues such as the Belvedere Apollo and Laocoon group, while keeping in mind the context of mid
eighteenth century Rome. The lasting impact of Winckelmann’s Greek subject matter, his aesthetic theory, and his literary style will be traced, with readings ranging from Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Walter Pater, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Thomas Mann, to the troubling reincarnation of Winckelmann’s statues in Leni Riefenstahl’s Fascist Olympic films. Finally, Winckelmann’s central role in the field of queer studies will be explored, via a consideration of his representations of the male body beautiful and of his own status as a codeword for homosexual desire.
COML 582.401 Topics in Aesthetics
W 3-6 Guyer
Cross listed with GRMN 580/PHIL 480
Nineteenth-Century Aesthetics: A study of central figures in German, British, and American aesthetics in the nineteenth century. Authors will include Schiller, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Emerson, Mill, Ruskin, Nietzsche, Santayana, and Dilthey. Topics will include the nature of aesthetic experience, the function of the arts, artistic creativity, relations between art and reality, and relations between art and morality. Written work will consist of one term paper; oral work will include one classroom presentation.
COML 583.401 Chicano Studies
M 3-6 Padilla
Cross listed with ENGL 586/LALS 586
This class will familiarize students
with cultural works by Chicanas/os (people of Mexican descent living in
the US) in the twentieth century, as well as with numerous key texts in
the history and theory of Chicana/o Studies. We will move
chronologically in our study of a variety of novels, poems, plays, and
films, while being guided by several historical and cultural
coordinates. These will include oral traditions, the Mexican
Revolution, the Chicano Movement and social protest, notions of
mestizaje, articulations of gender, class, and sexual identities, and
the influence of magical realism and the Latin American "Boom" on
Chicana/o writers. In our readings of secondary materials we will pay
particular attention to theories of race and ethnicity, border theory,
comparative Americas studies, and current debates about "post-ethnic"
or "post-Chicano" configurations of subjectivity.
may include works by Americo Paredes, Jovita Gonzales, Arturo Islas,
Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Oscar Zeta Acosta,
Cherrie Moraga, Helena Maria Viramontes, Ernesto Galarza, and John
Likely films include The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Zoot
Suit, Come and Take it Day, Born in East L.A., Senorita Extraviada,
Salt of the Earth.
Possible secondary readings include work by
Norma Alarcon, Tomas Almaguer, Angie Chabram-Dernersesian, Mike Davis,
Juan Flores, Kirsten Silva Gruesz, Stuart Hall, Curtis Marez, Roger
Rouse, Jose David Saldivar, Ramon Saldivar, George Sanchez, Rosaura
Sanchez, and Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano.
COML 588.401 Excessive Form: Modernism and Formalism
T 9-12 Rabate
Cross listed with ENGL 591
The topic of this graduate seminar
will be an assessment of the complex links between formalism and
modernism. We will study the emergence of an international formalism
with precise examples taken from post-Kantian esthetics, Russian
literary theory, and American pragmatism. We will read a number of
theoreticians who questioned formalism (Bataille, Derrida, Deleuze, de
Man) and pay attention to the terms used by artists and writers of the
times (Lewis and Dali). We will study a number of poems by Eliot,
Stevens and Mandelstam and read closely two late modernist novels that
problematize formalism, Murphy by Beckett and Ferdydurke by Gombrowicz.
Finally we survey some "new formalisms" and focus on the Oulipo group.
Is formalism dead, a pedagogical heresy, or is it still there all the
time, having impregnated our reading habits?
COML 590.401 Freud and His Commentators
T 12-3 Eng
Cross listed with ENGL 590
This seminar is an introduction to Freud’s writings, more or less in chronological order, on individual and group psychology. We will explore many of Freud’s well-known theories on meta-psychology, but we will also investigate some of his lesser-known “anthropological” writings and case studies. Discussions will be organized around collaborative close readings of key passages in the selected texts. We will attempt to respect the specificity of Freud’s thought, while also reading a number
of Freud’s commentators in order to situate psychoanalysis in a historical context and contemporary political frame. Readings also include work by Leo Bersani, Judith Butler, Ken Corbet, Douglas Crimp, Shinhee Han, Jacques Lacan, Jean Laplanche, Ashish Nandy, Kaja Silverman, Kendall Thomas, and D.W. Winnicott.
COML 597.401 Shakespeare: Script, Part, Pamphlet, Book
M 12-3 Stallybrass
Cross listed with ENGL 597
This course will study Shakespeare,
his plays, and his poems as they were and are materially instantiated
in print. Among other topics, we will explore the nature of
Shakespearean authorship and canonicity; the relationships among
performance, script, actor’s part, and printed play; attribution and
“misattribution”; revision and multiple texts; censorship; quartos and
folios; representations of writing and reading; and the afterlife of
Shakespeare from the first folio to the contemporary moment. Our
readings will include Hamlet (Q1, Q2, F), King Lear (Q, F), and The
Rape of Lucrece, as well as several other plays.
COML 610.401 Proseminar in Classical Sociology
W 12-3 Collins
Cross listed with SOCI 602
An overview of the German, French and Anglophone traditions in sociological theory. The major focus will be on the works of Marx and Engels, Weber, Simmel, Durkheim, and Mead, and on subsequent developments in these classic schools of theory and research.
COML 617.401 Contemporary Approaches to Culture and Society
T 10-1 Ghosh
Cross listed with ANTH 617
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 622.401 Provincializing Europe: Transnationalism, Empire and Comparative Critique
R 12-3 Loomba
Cross listed with ENGL 774/SAST 774
This course takes its title from
Dipesh Chakrabarty’s book Provincializing Europe which raises some key
questions about Eurocentrism and the discipline of history. In this
class, we will explore issues of ‘provincializing Europe’ in relation
to literary and social critique. We will discuss the key ways in which
comparative literature, postcolonial studies, critical race studies and
feminism offer ways of reimagining the world. How do these perspectives
allow us to move beyond the nation, while not roaming the world with
imperial eyes? In what way can postcolonial critique engage with
minority studies and critical race studies, and in what ways can the
latter deal with empire and neo-imperialism? What are the limits of
cosmopolitanism, and of categories such as “world Literature”? Why is
the trans-national always routed through the West? Is feminism bad for
multiculturalism? And, above all, what’s literature got to do with it? Readings will include key works on these issues, both literary and otherwise.
COML 630.401 Introduction to Medieval Literature
M 2-5 Brownlee
Cross listed with FREN 630
COML 639.401 Issues in Cultural Studies
M 2-5 Zelizer
Cross listed with COMM 639
COML 651.401 Studies in the 17th Century
W 3-5 DeJean
Cross listed with FREN 650
France during the final decades of the 17th century, new kinds of
private space gradually emerged. As a result, the home was completely
redesigned: the number of rooms proliferated; for the first time, rooms
were reserved for a single, specific activity (eating, sleeping,
reading). And for the first time, architects began to take into account
the idea that people sometimes wanted to
be alone. French literature of the period testifies to what can be
called a growing desire for interior space: for the first time, for
example, French classical theater moved indoors. Whereas Corneille had
favored the public square and Molière’s early comedies are
situated in the street, with Le Misanthrope and Le Tartuffe Molière brought comedy inside the home. Racine made a similar move for tragedy with Britannicus.
Other works show how the need for private space was related to a new
type of character, characters who are increasingly willing to explore
their interiority. Works such as La Princesse de Clèves
can be said to illustrate the birth of what we would call an
individual. We will discuss the relation between private space and
newly important genres, such as the letter and the memoir. We will also
think about various ways in which architecture and literature can be
shown to be related — the fairy tale and the bedroom, for
example. We will look at contemporary architectural treatises and
perhaps also at contemporary portraiture. We will consider works from
the early 18th century as well. Reading will be in French; class
discussion in English.
COML 669.401 19th Century Studies ----- CANCELLED
R 2-4 Mossman
Cross listed with FREN 670
COML 697.401 New Latin American Literature
R 3-6 de la Campa
Cross listed with SPAN 697
The Latin American literary scene has witnessed various shifts since the early nineties. The influence of both the boom novel and testimonio began to wane, and along with it went the fascination with “magical realism” that metamorphosed into a worldwide genre during the 1980’s. New concerns and sensibilities materialized among Latin American writers, giving way to a new scene of literary activity at times dramatized by full-fledged manifestos such as "Crack" (Mexico) and “El País McOndo” (Chile), at times by debates over the roles played by markets and theoretical discourses in the codification and consumption of Latin American literature. But this new writing goes much beyond those noted claims and proclamations. It includes not only the customary disdain for older modes of writing by new generations, but also a keen interest in a new imaginary mapped significantly beyond the nation that includes debates over the role of Spain and the United
States, techno-visual consumption, new layers of marginality, increased awareness of alternative sexualities and a remapped urban imaginary caught up in migration within and without. What are the claims of diasporic, “lines of flight” nationalist and humanist forms of writing and reading? Are contemporary subjects susceptible to a powerful aesthetic pull beyond deconstruction? Do theorists such as Badiou, Agamben, Virno, Negri and Deleuze bring us past the linguistic turn and the various posts it has imbued? Is there such a thing as an aesthetic of globalization? Can it be studied critically? Does literature play a role in it? The course will examine both the literature and theory that imbue the literature of writers such as Roberto Bolaño, Alberto Fuguet, Ena Lucia Portela, Rubem Fonseca, Héctor Abad Faciolince, Daniel Mella, Fernando Vallejo, Jorge Volpi, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Rodrigo Rey Rosa, César Aira, Rita India Hernández, Pedro Lemebel, Diamela Eltit, Mario Bellatin, Edmundo Paz Soldán, Juan Carlos Botero, Paolo Lins, Rodrigo Fresán, Santi.
COML 714.401 Romance
T 12-3 Wallace
Cross listed with ENGL 715
This course is designed to lead to the extensive and intensive study of one remarkable text: Malory’s Morte Darthur. The Morte was composed by a professional soldier who eventually died in Newgate, the prison reserved by the London Guildhall for the most hardened criminals. Malory wrote by way of demonstrating devotion to noble ideals that might one day win his freedom; he
also composed with an eye to the book market that thrived close to his cell at Paternoster Row, close to St Paul’s cathedral. The commercial potential of the Morte was recognized by William Caxton: his 1485 edition, which happily coincides with the coming of the Tudor dynasty, converts to recreational reading what was for Malory an interminable imaginative struggle in time of civil war.
begin with the great founding genius of Arthurian romance,
Chrétien de Troyes: most of Malory’s source materials were
French, and key episodes in his romance-- Lancelot and the cart, the
Grail legend-- descend to him from Chrétien (albeit in reworked
or garbled form). Next comes Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain,
a text that adapts Arthurian myth to suit the new Anglo-Norman
overlords of England (while telling tales later developed by
Shakespeare, such as King Lear and Cymbeline).
We then consider the extremely violent Alliterative Morte, a text sees
Arthur become an imperial figure as he fights pagans and giants to
become Emperor of Rome: this text, too, is digested into Malory’s
capacious Morte. In approaching Malory’s text, we will pay due
attention to differences between Caxton and Winchester: that is,
between the printed edition that was the lone witness to Malory’s
work until 1934 and the manuscript (discovered in a Winchester bedroom
1934, published in 1947). Many readers, such as C.S. Lewis and T.S.
Eliot, were deeply attached to Caxton’s adaptation of the text,
and were loathe to let it pass; the emergence of the new Malory in the
politics of the 1930s and 1940s is fascinating to contemplate. And
still today, Malory’s Morte exerts a powerful imaginative and
emotional hold over readers, especially male readers. The author was a
convicted cattlerustler, housebreaker, rapist and traitor. Yet there
has always been pressure to excuse the biographical record in order to
elevate Malory as foundational figure: he somehow embodies the ideal of
English gentlemanliness (carried to all points of the British Empire).
Affect is thus an aspect of Malory to be continually interrogated, even
as it is enjoyed. Why, for example, does the ship of queens that sails
off into the sunset with Arthur’s body seem alluring to so many
readers? Does this suggest an alternative, feminine realm in which the
mass destruction of the Round Table might be escaped? Does this
alternative feminine realm have feminist potential? Or is it a fantasy
construction of males, wishing to invade a place that might save them
from their own incorrigibly violent impulses? Such questions proliferate around narratives involving code-bound and complexly-motivated males such as Gawain (leader of the most powerful, non-Arthurian affinity), Gareth (‘kitchen boy’ made good), Tristram (whose story takes up fully a third of the Morte). Nineveh, the damsel of the Lake, sucks all magical knowledge out of Merlin and leaves him trapped under a rock; Morgan La Fay, another superlative magician, proves an implacable opponent of the Arthurian regime. But female agency is not wielded exclusively through magic: for every damsel, worshipped as domina, may send male lovers away on errands to prove their worth. Lancelot, the greatest knight of the world, must honor every damsel’s request because he is the
greatest knight in the world.
This course offers a rare opportunity to get to grips with this singular, and highly influential text, in detail. Some attention will be paid to the textual and filmic afterlife of Malory and Arthurian tradition: Eric Rohmer, Perceval le Gallois (1978) and John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981) will be considered, along with other adaptations. Students might also like to consider the longue durée history of Arthurianism, as exemplified by studies such as Mark Girouard, The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman (1981). Examination will be by one research essay. The seminar will work collaboratively, and there will be scope for presentations.
COML 721.401 Medieval and Early Modern History
T 1:30-4:30 Moyer
Cross listed with HIST 720
In this seminar we will survey methods and techniques for all stages of the research process essential to scholarship in later medieval, Renaissance, and early modern European history: library and archival finding aids; major source collections; bibliographic tools; paleographic basics; writing and argumentation. Participants will develop and complete a research project. Particular focus on use of textual sources (cultural and intellectual history), but individual projects will be determined by interests and programs of participants.
COML 766.401 Interwar Epic
W 3-6 Saint Amour
Cross listed with ENGL 765
This seminar will consider the
flourishing of modern epic between 1918 and 1939, attempting to situate
a handful of primary texts in relation to emerging doctrines,
practices, experiences, and prospects of total war. We will be thinking
about how modern epic responds to changes in the spatial extensivity of
warfare. But temporality will be a major focus as well, given the
genre's fascination with the memory and legacy of the Great War and
with questions of futurity, from probability to prophecy to apocalypse.
We will also explore interwar epic's relationship with other putatively
total genres such as the mass-observation daybook, the Baedeker, and
the encyclopedia. Primary readings will likely include Joyce, Woolf,
Ford, Döblin, Musil, West; secondary readings by Lukács, Bakhtin,
Mendelson, Jameson, and Moretti.