Graduate Course Descriptions
SPRING 2006


COML 555.301 Literary and Philosophical Voice
W 3-6 Copenhafer
Undergrads Need Permission

If, as the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has remarked, the destruction of experience is related to a deterioration of the voice, what might we say is still able to be voiced? The notion of literary or of philosophical voice speaks to a paradox of writing, that writing is at once a record and an effacement of a voice. Silent, impersonal, writing tends to diminish the singular operation of a voice, and yet, something of a voice remains. For voice is not just sound, but accent, tempo, and phrasing, all of which find a measure of shelter in writing. It is also, of course, sense, although there is likely a tension between the semantic and non-semantic registers of voice. What constitutes "a voice" -- or "having a voice" -- and what of that may be said to survive its encounter with writing?

In this course, we will mostly be dealing with modern attempts to theorize and to dramatize a/the voice. However, we will also confront aspects of the Platonic conception of voice which echo throughout modern writing. Given time, we may also look into the question of the voice in cinema. How does the cinematic form, and mechanical reproduction in general, extend the problem of the destruction/preservation of voice?

Course requirements: One seminar paper (15-20 pp.) and a presentation.

Agamben, Infancy and History
Barthes, "The Grain of the Voice" and other essays
Beckett, Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Krapp's Last Tape
Cavarero, Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression
Derrida, "Plato's Pharmacy"
Kafka, "Josephine, the Singer" and other stories
Lispector, The Hour of the Star
Nancy, Being Singular, Being Plural
Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
Plato, Cratylus, Phaedrus
Riley, Impersonal Passion
Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages


COML 580.401 Varieties of Judaism in The Greco-Roman Era: Parabiblical Texts
Distribution II History and Tradition
T 3-5 Kraft
Cross listed with JWST 525, RELS 525

One of the ways in which students of Judaism in the Greco-Roman period have attempted to identify and describe its contours (varieties, continuities and discontinuities) is through examining the mass of literature that has been preserved, often through Christian transmission, or through archaeological good fortune (Dead Sea Scrolls), or in Jewish circles. In this seminar we will focus on the "parabiblical" texts (sometimes called "pseudepigrapha") - that is, writings that are similar to what became "Bible," but were not included in that collection (e.g. Enochic writings, Jubilees, Testaments of the Patriarchs, War Scroll, Temple Scroll, Sibylline Oracles). The texts will be studied in English translations.


COML 581.401 Hermenenutics: Gadamer's Truth and Method
Distribution III Arts and Letters
W 2-5 Dunning
Cross listed with GRMN 553, RELS 508

Intensive study of the primary text of the "hermeneutical" school of interpretation theory. Emphasis on "immanent" critical reading of the text rather than contextual or theory-driven readings. Knowledge of German not required. Experience in intensive advanced seminars is a prerequisite. Writing will include short comments for class discussion and three ten-page papers.


COML 589.401 Fantastic Literature 19th and 20th Century
R 5-7 Met
Cross listed with FREN 582

This course will explore fantasy and the fantastic in short tales of 19th and 20th century French literature, from Mérimée, Gautier and Maupassant to M. Renard, Ghelderode, J. Ray, Breton et al. Non-French authors will also be considered and usually include Sheridan Le Fanu, Henry James, H. P. Lovecraft, H. H. Ewers, H. G. Wells, J. L. Borges. A variety of approaches - thematic, psychoanalytic, cultural, narratological - will be used in an attempt to test their viability and define the subversive force of a literary mode that contributes to shedding light on the dark side of the human psyche by interrogating the "real" as well as the "letter", making visible the unseen and articulating the unsaid. Such broad categories as distorsions of space and time, reason and madness, order and disorder, sexual transgressions, self and other, literalness and allegoricity, translation and mystification will be examined. The course will be conducted in English. Readings will be in French or in English.


COML 590.401 Recent Issues in Critical Theory: Theorizing Race and Ethnicity
M 3-6 Park
Permission Needed from Instructor
Cross listed with ENGL 590

Our readings will move through a series of theoretical lenses for understanding race and ethnicity in the twentieth century. We will consider the following major movements: ethnicity theory and social scientific theories of marginality, along with the rise of multiculturalism; racial formation and marxist readings of racism; the framework of imperialism and colonialism in theorizing race; race in the context of diaspora studies; and poststructuralist and psychoanalytic approaches to race which have emerged with the ascent of cultural studies. Assignments include two short papers (10 pages) that apply these theories to a literary text and an in-class presentation.


COML 591.401 Life and Letters of Paul
Distribution III Arts and Letters
TR 3-4:30 Gruen
Cross listed with RELS 436

The purpose of this course is to learn how to understand a noted author/thinker of the past on his own terms and in relationship to his own world. The specific subject matter is PAUL, a Jewish and Christian writer in the Greco-Roman world during the first century of the common era (c.e.). The larger historical context is Judaism and Christianity in the first two centuries c.e.


COML 603.401 Language and Culture
T 1:30-4:30 Agha
Cross listed with ANTH 603

Anthropological study of languages and contributions of linguistics to study of culture and culturally pattered behavior. Types of speech and cultural communities; linguistic and cultural change (acculturation, pidginization, standardization, etc.) and its interpretation (genetic, typological, areal, evolutionary).


COML 604.401 France and Its Others: The Ethnographic Imperative in French Modernism
T 2-4 Richman
Cross listed with FREN 609

In this course we explore the French specificity of a critical perspective resulting from the ethnographic detour into other cultures. Variously referred to as "anthropological thinking,"the "sociological revolution, "or the "ethnological imagination," this mode of self-reflection traces its antecedents to the Renaissance discovery of the New World, just as it projects its influence into the period of de-colonization. The results figure among the most important social, political, literary, and artistic productions of French intellectual and cultural history. Following a brief examination of the formation and development of this "hoary tradition" from the 16 th to the 18 th centuries, we focus on its revival at the turn of the nineteenth century in the visual arts and literature on one side and sociology on the other. The bulk of our readings, however, will concentrate on its contribution to the socio-anthropological strand of modernism, from the interwar dynamism among the "dissident" surrealists, to their legacy in structuralism and post-structuralism. By qualifying this virtually unique approach as the result of nothing less than an imperative, our goal will be to answer why it provides an outlet for issues resistant to existing paradigms, forms, or discourses. Indeed, our concluding session will discuss Bourdieu's statement that its disappearance from sociology would be "fatal," just as we must consider the polemical critiques it has elicited.

Primary authors are Léry, Montaigne, Segalen, Durkheim, Mauss, Artaud, Bataille, Leiris, Caillois, Lévi-Strauss, Tournier. Commentaries by: Elias, Derrida, Kristeva, Bourdieu, Clifford, Todorov, Bois/ Krauss, Kurosawa. A screening of Jean Rouch's "Les Maitres Fous" will also be included.


COML 614.401 Allegory
R 1-4 Struck
Cross listed with GREK 615

This course will survey a range of ancient (mostly Greek) techniques of reading literary texts. In the pre-Medieval world, allegory is mainly a phenomenon of reading, not writing, so we will consider ancient interpreters of many stripes. The course will be an effort to expand our understanding of ancient hermeneutics in general, situating allegory within the contexts of literary criticism, divination, esoteric philosophy, and magic. We will by necessity spend time working in philosophy, and to a lesser extent religion, and to an even lesser extent rhetoric. We will also consider some recent scholarship on the topic. Authors considered will include: The Derveni commentator; Theagenes of Rhegium, Chrysippus, Crates of Mallos, Heraclitus the allegorist, Cornutus, the Life of Homer author, Proclus and other lesser-knowns. Texts will be referred to in the Greek, but the Greek-less are welcome to pursue the course in translation.


COML 630.401 Introduction to Medieval French Literature: The Romance of the Rose and the French Vernacular Canon
M 2-4 Brownlee
Cross listed with FREN 630

The course will be centered on a reading of the 13th-century Roman de la Rose--the single most widely read and influential literary work of the French Middle Ages. We will study the ways in which the Rose redefines the status of the French vernacular as a "canonical" literary language, while establishing itself as the new foundational work in the French canon. Special attention will be given to how the Rose deploys conflicting discourses of desire and knowledge.

We will begin by situating the Rose within the preceding French literary tradition, both lyric and narrative, focusing on the privileged examples of the grand chant courtois of the trouvères and on Chrétien de Troyes' Lancelot. We will conclude with Christine de Pizan's polemical rewritings of the Rose in the early 15th century.


COML 639.401 Issues in Cultural Studies
M 1-3 Zelizer
Cross listed with COMM 639, FOLK 639

This course tracks the different theoretical appropriations of "culture" and examines how the meanings we attach to it depend on the perspectives through which we define it. The course first addresses perspectives in culture suggested by anthropology, sociology, communication, and aesthetics, and then considers the tensions across academic disciplines that have produced what is commonly known as "cultural studies." The course is predicated on the importance of becoming cultural critics versed in alternative ways of naming cultural problems, issues, and texts. The course aims not to lend closure to competing notions of culture but to illustrate the diversity suggested by different approaches.


COML 649.301 Cervantes, Genre, and History
T 2-5 Fuchs
Cross listed with SPAN 650

This course will introduce Cervantes' remarkably broad literary production across a variety of Renaissance genres, as well as some important predecessors, and examine the ideological valences of genre in the period. How does genre serve to interrogate both national and literary histories? How does Cervantes construct his own authority in relation to preexisting genres? Readings will include Heliodorus, Ariosto, and Tasso, as well as Cervantes' own Galatea, Don Quijote, Novelas ejemplares, the Persiles, and the drama.


COML 658.401 Early Modern Seminar: Novelties and the Novel (1680-1730)
T 2-4 DeJean/Wiggin
Cross listed with FREN 654, GRMN 665

At the turn of the eighteenth century, the novel established itself throughout Europe as the pre-eminent literary genre. It was seen above all as a radically new literary form, a novelty. At the same time as the novel was becoming prominent, many other kinds of novelties such as coffee and chocolate first became part of the European landscape. At the same moment the fashion industry was born when high fashion was first marketed to a broad public. And perhaps the ultimate novelty in this story was the novel's gender bias: it was the only form in literary history to have been produced massively by women.

This seminar will explore the ways in which histories of the novel and of contemporary novelties such as coffee and high fashion were intertwined. We will pay particular attention to another contemporary genre, the newspaper, whose rise in the early modern period was essential to the marketing of novelties. We will also focus on the process of translation by means of which the novel spread rapidly through England, France, and Germany.
Among the novels we will discuss: Robinson Crusoe and The Princesse de Clèves, the two "founding" texts of the modern novel. Other texts may include: fairy tales, d'Aulnoy's travel novels, Manon Lescaut, Thousand and One Nights. Among the subjects to be considered: fashion prints, advertising and broadsheets, journals and book reviews, treatises on coffee, travel narratives, musical novelties (such as vaudevilles and early opera), letter-writing guides, and dictionaries and language manuals.

All works to be discussed will be available in English, French, and German, in the original text and in translations from the early modern period. We will also maintain a focus on research methods. The seminar will be held on the 6 th floor of Van Pelt so that we can have access every week to materials from Penn's rare book collection.


COML 669.401 19th Century Studies: Realism and Naturalism
W 2-5 Samuels
Cross listed with FREN 670

This seminar interrogates the nineteenth-century French Realist and Naturalist novel in light of various efforts to define its practice. How does theory constitute Realism as a category or object? How does Realism articulate the aims of theory? And how did nineteenth-century Realist and Naturalist textual practices intersect with other discourses besides the literary? In addition to several works by Balzac, novels to be studied include Stendhal's Le Rouge et le Noir; Sand's Indiana; Flaubert's Madame Bovary; and Zola's Nana. Theorists to be studied include Auerbach, Barthes, Brooks, Cohen, Felman, Girard, Lukács, Matlock, Miller, and Schor. Some attention also paid to Realist painting.


COML 736.401 Renaissance Studies
T 9-12 Loomba
Permission Needed from Instructor
Cross listed with ENGL 736


COML 776.401 Topics in History and Theory: Open Spaces and Open Places: The Design and Use of American Landscapes - CANCELLED
T 2-5 Hunt/Cooperman
Cross listed with LARP 770

We shall explore the discovery/creation/invention of different forms of public open space from the New England green to national parks, from the interstate highway to the pocket park. Two dominant issues will be the various ideas of NATURE and PUBLIC, as they have both changed and intersected in American culture. Main features of the course will be (i) a determination of exactly what kinds of public open space have been invented in the last two hundred year; (ii) how a consideration of "public" has been constructed vis-à-vis the private (in, for instance, academic and corporate campuses, rural cemeteries, housing projects), and (iii) how these various designs of public space have been used and appropriated.


COML 795.401 Poetics
W 9-12 Perelman
Permission Needed from Instructor
Cross listed with ENGL 795



Last modified November 3, 2005
Maintained by Peter Gaffney
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania