Spring 2004 Graduate Courses


COML 511.401 Art and Narrative in Moghul India
Crosslisted with ARTH 411, SARS 413
TR 3-4:30 Haq

Written by grand emperors themselves or by officials of the royal court, the rich body of Mughal narratives constitutes the point of departure of this course. The narratives, of which the Baburnama and Akbarnama are the prime examples, are to be treated in two fundamental modes-as visual objects, and as texts. In the former mode, the function of these narratives as the locus of aesthetic expression would form the object of study: book illustration, painting, decoration, and insertion of images-these would come under investigative focus here. Considered in the textual mode, the narratives would be taken as sources of cultural history, and subjected to literary analysis with a view to articulating their own aesthetic and visual possibilities. Finally, the course will address a fascinating question of aesthetic theory: the question, namely, of the relationship between the image and the text. No prerequisites. All readings in English.

 

COML 535.401 Early Christianity: Varieties of Christian Thought before Irenaeus
Crosslisted with RELS 535
T 3-5 Kraft

A survey of the known groups and perspectives that emerged in the first 150 years or so of the development of "Christianity" from its roots in Judaism and the Hellenistic world(s), with special attention to the primary sources (especially literary ) and to modern attempts at historical synthesis.

 

COML 539.401 Numerology and Literature: Cracking the Code
Crosslisted with ITAL 539
R 2-4 Kirkham

This course reconstructs traditions of Western number symbolism from antiquity (Plato, the Pythagoreans) to the early modern period with readings both in encyclopedic treatises on Arithmetic (Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Rhabanus Maurus) and in literary texts that are numerical compositions (Augustine's Confessions, Petrarch's epistle on the ascent of Mt. Ventoux, Dante's Vita Nuova and Commedia, Boccaccio's Diana's Hunt, the Old French Vie de St. Alexis, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose). Discussion will focus on numerology as it relates to the medieval esthetic of order, the literary text as microcosmic counterpart to God's macrocosm, veiled meaning, and "difficult" poetics. We shall also consider the end of the tradition and what changes in science and culture brought about the disappearance of number symbolism in literature, except for a few moderns (e. g. Thomas Mann).

 

COML 545.401 Festive Drama
Crosslisted with FOLK 545
T 1-3 Abrahams

This seminar will examine how the "texts" of world traditions of festival drama are realized in performance and in participant experience. We will consider the techniques of the festival in manipulating space, time, and bodies, and how these affect the representation of narrative. We will also look at the range of participatory norms in these event--impersonation, possession, spectation, communion, etc.--as they create relationships between individuals, communities, history, and the divine. Each member of the seminar will select a specific tradition to study in depth and share with the class. Course requirements include participation in discussion and the writing of several short papers considering our theoretical questions in relation to the chosen tradition.

 

COML 554.401 Premodern Women Writers
Crosslisted with ENGL 553, WSTD 553
M 3-6 Wallace
(Folks wishing to attend particular History of Material Text meetings can leave early.)

In this course we'll consider the relationships of women to writing from Hildegard of Bingen to Aphra Behn. Taking points of departure from Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own, we'll consider how the contraction and expansion of possibilities for literate women square with conventional assumptions of periodization: why, for example, could Hildegard (1098-1179) do or get away with things still unimaginable to Virginia Woolf in 1928? How could Christine De Pizan fashion a career for herself as a professional writer in ways Woolf never dreamed of? And how could this be forgotten?

Examination for this course will be by one long essay (12-15 pages; no incompletes necessary). While it will be possible to get hooked and focus on one text from any part of the course, my hope is that essays will to some extent cover a longer span and consider the issue of periodizing women's writing. Is the Middle Ages to be seen, as some feminist historians have argued, as a 'golden age' for women? Does the coming of the 'Renaissance' reduce female options to that of marriage or marriage (while drastically reducing opportunities for travel)? How do both the observant and oppositional activities of women shift as we move from Catholic through Lollard to Protestant cultures? What are the implications of shifting from manuscript culture (which does not just vanish in the Renaissance) to print? How do masculine scribes and editors (we will be considering, in particular, John Bale's editing of Anne Askew) interact with, ventriloquize, or help shape the feminine text? How might the work of embroidery (especially in the case of Mary, Queen of Scots) be read textually? And how might this longue duree (for those of you working chiefly in later periods) be continued or amended if we follow events forward to 1928 and beyond?

Texts include: The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Women's Writing by Carolyn Dinshaw (Editor), and David Wallace (Editor); Ancrene Wisse: Guide for Anchoresses; Renaissance Drama by Women: Texts and Documents by S. P. Cerasano (Editor), Marion Wynne-Davies (Editor); Women Writers in Renaissance England by Randall Martin (Editor);  The Examinations of Anne Askew by Anne Askew, Elaine V. Beilin (Editor); Women's Writing in Middle English by Alexandra Barratt (Editor); The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe, Lynn Staley (Translator); The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, translated by, Betty Radice; Oroonoko, the Rover and Other Works by Aphra Behn, Janet Todd (Editor)

 

COML 587.401 International Film Theory/Italian Practice
Crosslisted with ITAL 591
W 5-7:30 and F 2-5 Marcus

As the "new" art form of the 20th century, film immediately and continuously invited theoretical attempts to define its nature and function. This course will involve a study of the major theoretical approaches to film study, including, but not limited to, psychoanalysis, feminism and gender, genre theory, structuralism and narratology, formalism, realism and phenomenology, auteurism, inter-arts adaptation, semiotics, ideological critique, and postmodernism. Because I believe that the inestimable value of theory is its power to open up texts, our study of each theoretical approach will be grounded in a specific film. My choice of the Italian case reflects, of course, my own career-long research experience. In-depth analysis of exemplary films within a certain cultural context will allow us to apply theoretical paradigms in the most informed possible way. Our exercises in applied theory will aim at exploring the limitations as well as the strengths of a given model. We will screen a film each week (during the Wednesday time slot), and dedicate Friday's seminar to both an examination of a particular approach through the writings of theorists and their critical commentators, and then to an analysis of the film in the light of this paradigm. Films to be considered (tentative and partial list): Rossellini's Paisan, Vittorio De Sica's Two Women and Bicycle Thief, Nichetti's Icicle Thief, Bertolucci's The Spider Stratagem and The Last Emperor, Antonioni's Blow-Up, Pasolini's Decameron, Fellini's La strada and 8 1/2, Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Visconti's Death in Venice.

 

COML 588.401 Literature and Art: The Idea of the Model in Literature and Art
Crosslisted with ENGL 591
Permission needed from Instructor
W 9-12 Steiner, W.

This course is about representation, in particular, the kinds of relations that have existed between literary and visual artworks and their models, from Modernism to the present. We will interpret the word "model" broadly here, but begin with the conventional situation of a human being posing for an artist, a structure that has raised complicated issues since Pygmalion and Galatea. During the past hundred years, the political and psychological meaning of the model has been a particular crux for avant-gardists, feminists, and philosophers. Modernism is full of works called "Portrait of a Lady" and "La Poseuse, " and just as full of denials of the connection between artwork and human subject. From Seurat to Cindy Sherman, from Hawthorne and Eliot to Jean Rhys and Christopher Bram, the course will sample key treatments of the "sitter" in visual and verbal art. We will then turn to other meanings of "model" in visual and verbal art- stereotype, prototype, miniature, ideal, predecessor-observing their relevance to the problems surrounding the posing subject. The Pop revolution undermined the idea of a pre-existing reality that provides a subject (or object) for art. Instead, it saw representation as creating the reality it depicts, a notion traceable to Wilde and Whistler but coming into its own in the philosophy of Baudrillard, novels by Pynchon and DeLillo, and recent high-art films such as Johan Grimonprez's Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y or blockbusters like The Matrix. The model raises the teasing contradictions apparent in the term "virtual reality": the unreal real, the resultant antecedent, the powerless determiner. These are inescapable considerations for anyone concerned with contemporary aesthetics.

 

COML 590.401 Critical Theory and the Profession: An Introduction to Graduate Study in Literature
Crosslisted with ENGL 590
Permission needed from Instructor
R 9-12 Kaul

Over the last three decades, the field of English literary studies has been reconfigured by a variety of theoretical and methodological developments. "Post-structuralism" (broadly understood as a term that describes the often confrontational dialogues between theoretical and political positions as varied as Deconstruction, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, Feminism, Queer Theory, Minority Discourse Theory, Colonial and Post-colonial Studies and Cultural Studies) has, in particular, altered disciplinary agendas and intellectual priorities for students embarking on the professional study of literature. In this course, we will study key texts, statements and debates that define these issues, and will work towards a broad knowledge of the complex rewriting of the project of literary studies that is in process today.

 

COML 594.401 Post-Coloniality and Cultural Value
Crosslisted with ENGL 595
Permission needed from Instructor
T 3-6 Krishnan

It has become commonplace to argue that European imperialism and colonialism were premised upon ideologies of racial or historical difference. The animating question for us: what is the relation between colonialism and discourses of equivalence, that is, the emergence and institutionalization of ways of thinking or being that enable different peoples to be compared and evaluated upon a common, quantifiable measure? What are the tacit assumptions or premises that make it possible to talk about difference within this horizon of the same, as attested to perhaps by the terms 'market', 'exchange' and 'the economy'? How does this inform our understanding of imperialism? What would a cultural or literary criticism that does not take for granted this coding of value look like? People we are likely to study: Smith, Marx, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Polanyi, Foucault, Guha, Chatterjee, Said, Spivak.

 

COML 606.401 Ancient Literary Theory
Crosslisted with GREK 602
W 1-4 Struck

This course will be a broad survey of ancient Greek and Roman views on how to read poetry. We will do readings of literary commentary of all kinds, and in allied fields, including rhetoric, philosophy, and theology. We will make reference to texts in Greek and Latin, but readings will also be available in translation.

 

COML 631.401 Medieval Allergory
Crosslisted with CLST 630, FREN 536, ITAL 536, ENGL 715
T 2-5 Copeland/Brownlee

For the Middle Ages, allegory represents a nexus of literary history and textual theory, hermeneutics and theology, intellectual history and education, and theories of history and the transmission of culture. Through medieval allegorical practices we see some of the deepest continuities with ancient hermeneutical thought and also some of the most radical ruptures with the ancient past. Allegory, in other words, was as crucial and charged a term for medieval culture as for contemporary thought. Allegory is at once a trope, that is, a specific and delimited form, and an all-encompassing interpretive system. It will be the purpose of this seminar to try to articulate the connections between that particular form and that general system by examining medieval allegory in its various literary and philosophical contexts. Our focus will be the 12th through the early 15th centuries in both the vernacular and Latin, with attention to late antique philosophical and theological foundations. We will also incorporate readings from various modern perspectives on the history and theory of allegory, Readings will include theoretical perspectives from neoplatonist and early Christian writers, 12th-century poetry and mythography (Alain de Lille, Bernardus Silvestris, William of Conches), examples from later medieval theological writings, and substantial selections from the Roman de la Rose, Dante, Boccaccio, Gower, Langland, and Christine de Pizan.

 

COML 650.401 Slavic Literary Theory: Theories of Representation
Crosslisted with SLAV 651
W 2-5 Steiner, P.

The course will examine major Western theories of sign and representation from Socrates to Derrida. Primary focus will be on the 20th century trends including phenomenology, structuralism, and marxism.

Readings will include: Plato, St. Augustine, Pierce, Husserl, Jakobson, Bakhtin, Voloshinov, Eco, Derrida and others.

 

COML 651.301: The Royal Machine: Louis XIV and the Versailles Era
Crosslisted with FREN 650.301
R 4-6 DeJean

The years during which Louis XIV ruled over Versailles are considered emblematic of French culture. They also mark what is called the Golden Age of French literature. We will read works by many of the classic authors of the French tradition--among them, La Fontaine, Molière, Racine, and Sévigné. We will consider the relationship between these works and the vision of an all powerful monarchy, the royal machine, being constructed by Louis XIV. We will read the works authored by the Sun King himself--his Mémoires and La Manière de montrer les jardins de Versailles--as the ultimate illustrations of this royal fiction. We will read these literary works in conjunction with some of the theoretical reflections they have inspired: for example, Louis Marin's Le Portrait du roi and Michel Serres's Le Parasite. Finally, we will read sections of Michel Foucault's Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique and his Surveiller et punir in which this period plays a crucial role.

 

COML 662.401 Theories of Myth
Cross listed with AMES 656, FOLK 629, RELS 605
T 12-2 Ben-Amos (in Van Pelt Library Weigle Teaching Seminar Room, 4th floor)

Theories of myth are the center of modern and post-modern, structural and post-structural thought. Myth has served as a vehicle and a metaphor for the formulation of a broad range of modern theories. In this course we will examine the theoretical foundations of these approaches to myth focusing on early thinkers such as Vico, and concluding with modern 20th century scholars in several disciplines that make myth the central idea of their studies.

 

COML 674.401 Hermeneutics and Post-Structuralism
Cross listed with GRMN 674
T 3-6 Birus

Hermeneutics, the "theory of understanding," is a foundational dimension of the humanities, especially comparative literature. The term hermeneutics is currently used in a confusing variety of ways. Beginning with the founder of modern hermeneutics, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and subsequent proponents (especially Böckh and Dilthey, but also Heidegger and Gadamer), this course will also focus on post-structural critiques of hermeneutics, especially the Gadamer-Derrida debate

 

COML 701.401 Poetique du Recit
Cross listed with FREN 619
W 2-4 Prince

A study of the nature, form, and functioning of narrative, relying on structuralist narratological theory as well as post-classical narratologies (e. g. feminist narratology and postcolonial narratology). Particular attention will be paid to such topics as narrator and narratee; point of view; narrative order, speed, and frequency; existents and events; actants and actors; narrative codes; and metanarratives signs.

 

COML 706.401 Culture/Power/Identities
Cross listed with EDUC 706, URBS 706
R 2-4 Hall

This course will introduce students to the conceptual language and the theoretical tools to analyze the complex tools of racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, and class difference. The students will critically examine the interrelationships between culture, power, and identities through the recent contributions in cultural studies, critical pedagogy and post-structuralist theory and will explore the usefulness of these ideas for improving their own work as researchers and practitioners.

 

COML 736.401 Reading, Writing, Printing in Early Modern Europe and America
Cross listed with ENGL 736
Permission needed from Instructor
M 12-3 Stallybrass

This course will focus upon the making, remaking, dissemination, and reading of books in early modern England and America. We will explore a wide range of material and theoretical problems, using the extraordinary collections at the Library Company, the Free Library, and the Rosenbach Library, as well as at Penn. The syllabus will include the King James Bible, Hamlet, the New England Primer, and Franklin's Autobiograpy.

 

COML 767.401 Affects of Modernity
Cross listed with ENGL 773
Permission needed from Instructor
T 12-3 Love

This course will serve as an introduction to the concept of modernity and to recent work on affect and subjectivity. Critics have spent a great deal of time attempting to describe "the experience of modernity"; in this class, we will take up this tradition of thought and push it a bit further, asking whether it makes sense to understand modernity as a collection of characteristic ways of feeling. The course will begin with readings on affect including Darwin's The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Silvan Tomkins's work on affect as a feedback system, and Raymond Williams's essay on "structures of feeling." We will then move to consider several case histories, reading novels, poems, and essays as well as work in literary and cultural studies, philosophy, sociology, and anthropology. The modern feelings that we will consider at greatest length will be: alienation, disenchantment, shame, boredom, shock, melancholia, double consciousness, the uncanny, mania, and what Frederic Jameson has called "the waning of affect." Students will be asked to do an in-class presentation and a seminar paper (20 pages). Readings by Darwin, Geertz, Raymond Williams, Wimsatt and Beardsley, Sartre, Weber, William James, Freud, Silvan Tomkins, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Marx, Lukacs, Erving Goffman, Du Bois, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Rey Chow, Simmel, Hofmannsthal, Fanon, Henry James, Anne Anlin Cheng, Jameson, D. A. Miller, Arjun Appadurai, Susan Stryker, Brian Massumi, and others.

 

COML 776.401 Topics in History and Theory: Lawrence Halprin: Theory, Practice, Context and The Archival Record
Cross listed with LARP 770
W 9-12 Hunt (in the Rare Book Room of the Fisher Fine Arts Library)

Larry Halprin is arguably one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American landscape architecture. From the late 1950s up to (at least) the early years of the 21st century Halprin has been at the center of both design innovation and conceptual thinking in the field. An articulate and much published writer and a draughtsman of skill and wit, he is a practitioner who sought to create designs that were rich and appealing in themselves as well as intriguing and interactive for their users.

The full range of his work, public and private, will be the subject of this research seminar. We will read his published work, carefully study selected designs in the Architectural Archives (e. g. Sea Ranch, the Portland fountain sequence, FDR Memorial), compare and contrast him with his contemporaries - and attempt to understand his role and significance in the professional practice of American landscape architecture.

Halprin's archives were given to the University of Pennsylvania. This massive collection of plans, drawings, office files and photographs and other documents, already in the process of organization and arrangement by the staff of the Architectural Archives, will be drawn upon by students in this course. Each student will be assigned one of Halprin's projects for which they will - as their mid-term project - devise a catalogue of its drawings and plans, describing and assessing them. For the final project students may choose between a variety of options: doing more extensive work on materials from the archives, or writing more discursively about Halprin's work and its significance on a topic agreed with the instructors.

Members of the seminar will be encouraged to visit the sites of their selected projects, and will also hear from visiting experts and colleagues of Halprin. It is anticipated that the work of this seminar will lay the groundwork for a major exhibition and publication on Halprin's work and be so acknowledged.

Archival research and study will be led primarily by Dr Cooperman, with assistance from Professor Hunt, who will otherwise direct the seminar in its analytical and historiographical explorations. Numbers will be limited to 15 (applications are encouraged from architects, planners, art historians as well as landscape architects, for whom a certain number of places will be reserved).

 

* CANCELED * COML 798.401 Modern America: Race, Money, and Mass Culture
Cross listed with ENGL 799
Permission needed from Instructor
W 3-6 Barnard

In this advanced graduate seminar we will study some of the most important and challenging American modernists, including Gertrude Stein, Nathanael West, William Faulkner, and Richard Wright. Our discussions will focus on the impact of social modernity on the forms of fiction. We will investigate the influence of the mass media (movies, comic strips, advertising, the newspaper, etc.) on literature; we will consider the impact of World War I, urbanization, and the Great Depression; we will ponder the legacy of slavery and racism; and we will think about money--about the intersections of literature and economics at a period when the producer-capitalist culture of the nineteenth century was being transformed into our present culture of consumption. The reading list may include: Gertrude Stein, Three Lives and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas; Malcolm Cowley, The Exile's Return; Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio; Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises; Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts, A Cool Million, and The Day of the Locust; Nathan Asch, Pay Day; William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Go Down Moses; Richard Wright, Lawd Today! and Native Son. One class will be devoted to a round-table discussion of a number of documentary texts from the 1930s, and we will close by viewing a relevant film or two, like Sullivan's Travels and The Moderns. Requirements: one or two in-class presentation on assigned topics and a final research paper. Protracted incompletes are frowned on.

 


Last modified January 21, 2004
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania