Fall 2002 Undergraduate Courses
COML 080.401 Introduction to Italian Film
This course will introduce major directors, movements, and genres in Italian cinema from World War II to the present. Both classic "auteurs" (Blasetti, Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni) and newer directors (Olmi, Scola, Samperi, Amelio) will illustrate trends from Neorealism to Postmodernism and exemplify such eminently Italian forms as the historical drama and "commedia all'italiana". The distinct national identity of Italian cinema will be emphasized with reference to the "Risorgimento" (Unification), Mussolini's Fascism, regional diversity, gender roles, and minority communities. Readings will be on Italian cinema, modern Italian history, and the vocabulary of film analysis. Course conducted in English, no prerequisites.
COML 100.401 Introduction to Literature
This is a course designed for any student who wants to learn how to decipher, comprehend, discuss, evaluate, and enjoy literary texts on the intellectually challenging level of professional critical inquiry. It is a lecture/discussion class especially well suited for those who are contemplating future study in the discipline, and for those who seek a deeper understanding of the current methodological practices and theoretical underpinnings of literary study. Course readings will generally alternate between a sampling of literary works that cover several major genres, and an equal number of relevant theoretical essays that range selectively from classical times to the present. The goal is depth and clarity rather than a superficial survey of every possible critical "school." The theoretical materials we read will shape our discussions around many of the questions critics and students of literature pursue, such as: what is literature and why does it matter?; what constitutes "textuality" and the act of "reading," and might these concepts be applied to interpretations of non-discursive cultural productions?; how do the reader's emotional and cognitive responses to a literary text enter into constructive dialogue with the work's "plausible" or "legitimate" meanings?; what are the institutional and ideological structures that converge or conflict to endow greater cultural value to some "canonical" texts over other, more "marginalized" texts?; and what does it mean to have a "literary history"? Many of our shorter readings are philosophically and conceptually demanding. Students will be expected to come to class highly prepared and expect to write three or four 5-7 page essays throughout the course. There is a midterm examination, a final examination, and periodic quizzes.
COML 104.401 The Twentieth Century
Being in the position of looking retrospectively upon the twentieth century does not afford us the luxury of "awaking" from its "nightmare of history" as Joyce's Stephen Daedalus wished to do. Instead, the surveying of its literary and cultural productions compels us to ask questions of their relationship the broader social networks in which they were produced. A key interest of this course will be to study the urgent demands to redress racial and gender inequality in increasingly global frameworks. The early discovery of the unconscious indicated that experimental writing could effect similarly revolutionary changes in consciousness. But these crucial artistic upheavals occurred also against the emergence of a dominantly visual culture, indicating to some the seeming obsolescence of strictly literary work, hence the sense of belatedness attendant upon the oft-used prefix "post-". Beginning with some survey histories, we will continue by reading works by Sigmund Freud, James Weldon Johnson, T. S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Ralph Waldo Ellison, Toni Morrison, among others. We will also study a few films and listen to the music of Ellington and Stravinsky.
COML 187 Possessing Women
A man from Tennessee writes Memoirs of a Geisha. A Japanese novelist tells the story of the "comfort women" who served the Japanese army. A tenth-century courtier poses as a woman writing the first woman's diary. Poets from Byron to Robert Lowell, through Ezra Pound to Li Po, have written as though they were women, decrying their painful situations. Is something wrong with this picture, or is "woman" such a fascinating position from which to speak that writers can hardly help trying it on for size? In this course we will look at male literary impersonators of women as well as women writers. Our questions will include who speaks in literature for prostitutes--whose bodies are the property of men--and what happens when women inhabit the bodies of other women via spirit possession. Readings will draw on the Japanese traditions, which is especially rich in such cases, and will also include Western and Chinese literature, anthropological work on possession, legal treatments of prostitution, and film.
* * * * * COML 213 CANCELED * * * * *
COML 213.401 Indian Literature and the West
Indian texts, classical and modern, will be examined in the light of Indian and Western theory.
COML 236.401 Images of Women in the Middle East in Post Colonial Literature
This course is designed to study the images of women in the Middle East. We will study different texts that represent different geographical and ideological entities. We will start by reading the memoirs of Hoda Sharawi, whose struggles in the early 20th Century established the feminist movement in Egypt. We will then explore different Arabic works--some are in translation, written by female authors from Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon. These will examine the issues of identity, gender, sexuality and nationalism. Different perspectives will be provided by looking at other works written in English. Gates of Damascus, written by a European travel writer, will provide the point of view of an outsider, while Habibi will reflect the dilemma of a Palestinian American teenager's search for identity. A supplementary packet will provide essays that represent various examples of feminist and postcolonial critical theory that will aid the students appreciate the context in which the texts were created. Among these critics, we will read the works of Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Nawal El Sadawi , Fadwa Multi Douglas and Gayatri Spivak.
COML 242.401 Religion and Literature
The complex web of values, beliefs, and practices that make up religious traditions have far-reaching impact in human cultures. This course hopes to open up for students the ways in which religious ideas are found in the world of imaginative literature. W e will read and discuss narrative fiction, drama, and poetry from authors ranging from the pious to the satirical, from various centuries and nationalities, and both men and women. The emphasis this semester will be on Christian literature, but other religious traditions will also be considered.
* * * * * * * * * * COML 247 CANCELED * * * * * * * * * *
COML 247.401 Cannibalism---from Herodotus to Hannibal
Few phenomena can compare with cannibalism as a challenge what it means to define individuals or collectivities as human. Through a study of the real and imagined, discursive and visual, literal and metaphoric appearances of cannibalism since some of the earliest allusions in Western culture, we shall examine how this issue continues to test the boundaries of cultural and psychic identity. An appreciation of current debates within literary criticism, cultural studies and anthropology will complement a comparative perspective derived from French, English and Spanish as well as Brazilian sources. Films will also be included. Requirements will be several short papers as well as one longer research project and class participation in the form of informal and formal presentations. Readings in translation. Limited to 20.
COML 248.401 Topics in Modernism: Modernist Heroes
This class will be devoted to the exploration of a specific type of hero in the age of modernism. We will explore the genealogy of the modernist hero and anti-hero, going from Carlyle's concept of "Hero-Worship" to conceptions of religion and nationalism. We will also question the esthetic and ethical categories associated with dominant representations of the modernist hero. We will explore a few texts by Conrad, Joyce, Stein, Ayn Rand, and Samuel Beckett. We will use a few theoretical or historical texts by Freud, Rank, Tyrus Miller on Late Modernism and a few others so as to understand the libidinal economy implied by the Hero, from "daydreams" and projections into fictional heroic figures to the logic of sublimation. The main texts read will be: Conrad Lord Jim, James Joyce Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Faulkner As I lay Dying, Gertrude Stein The Making of Americans, Ayn Rand Fountainhead, Samuel Beckett Murphy and Watt. Requirements: Two papers of ten pages, one oral presentation, no final exam.
COML 251.401 Evolutionary Fiction and Facts
The course will examine the impact of evolutionary theory on fiction written before and after Darwin's Origin of the Species. Questions we shall ask of this literature include the following: is it godless? What in it constitutes progress? What does it believe in? What frightens it? The works we shall read include Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Dickens's David Copperfield, Tennyson's In Memoriam, excerpts from Darwin's Origins of the Species and Descent of Man, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, and Dreiser's Sister Carrie.
COML 254.401 Metropolis: Culture of the City
An exploration of modern discourses on and of the city. Topics include: the city as site of avant-garde experimentation; technology and culture; social order and disorder; gender and the city. Special emphasis on Berlin. All lectures and readings in English.
COML 255.401 Madness in Literature, 19th and 20th Centuries
These courses are divided into a series of units dealing with medical and literary backgrounds to madness and the presentation of different themes of madness in such authors as Erasmus, Shakespeare, Stevenson, Burton, Swift, Johnson, Sterne, Blake, John Clare, Tennyson, the Brontes, Woolf, Celine, Kafka, and Mann.
* * * * * COML 272 CANCELED * * * * *
COML 272.401 French Literature in Translation: Money and the Novel
This course explores the relation between literature and capitalism in nineteenth-century France. How do writers come to terms with the new modes of production and consumption that developed between the French Revolution and World War I? How does literature itself become a commodity during this period? Classic novels by Balzac, Flaubert, and Zola will be read for their investment in the economic discourse of their age. All readings and discussions will be in English. No knowledge of French required.
COML 282.401 Modern Jewish Literature in Translation. Literature and Film: War and Love in Israel
While the American tradition sanctifies the "pursuit of happiness," Israeli consciousness does not. The "tug of war" between the individual's right to seek happiness on the one hand, and the commitment to collective, national causes on the other, is an overarching theme in the
COML 283.401 Jewish Folklore
The Jews are among the few nations and ethnic groups whose oral tradition occurs in literary and religious texts dating back more than two thousand years. This tradition changed and diversified over the years in terms of the migration of Jews into different countries and historical, social, and cultural changes that these countries underwent. The course attempts to capture their historical and ethnic diversity of Jewish folklore in a variety of oral literary forms. A basic book of Hasidic legends from the 18th century will serve as a key text to explore problems in Jewish folklore relating to both earlier and later periods.
COML 304.401 Freud
While it has been more than a hundred years since Freud discovered the unconscious since it was in 1897 that Freud started his self-analysis and discovered that "Nothing human was alien to him," one may wonder about the survival of Freudian thought today: with the rapid development of genetics, biology and chemistry, one often hears that psychoanalysis is obsolete and has lost its scientific credibility. In order to assess Freud' legacy in our culture, this seminar aims at a systematic rereading of Freud's works by focusing the practice of the "talking cure" in the wake of questions posed by Lacan's French school. We will study the various channels through which Freudian ideas have permeated our culture. We shall read first Freud's groundbreaking book on dreams (The Interpretation of Dreams) before engaging with a few clinical essays (Dora: An analysis of a case of Hysteria, The Wolf Man, The Rat Man, The Psychotic Doctor Schreber, The Sexual Enlightenment of Children.) We will then survey meta-psychological texts like Leonardo da Vinci, Jokes, Civilization and Its Discontents, and Moses and Monotheism. To provide with a more contemporary approach, we will conclude with Lacan's Seminar on The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Requirements: a short weekly response paper, two ten page papers, one oral presentation. No final exam.
COML 353.401 Arabic Literary Theory
This course takes a number of different areas of Literary Theory and, on the basis of research completed and in progress in both Arabic and Western languages, applies some of the ideas to texts from the Arabic literary tradition. Among these areas are: Evaluation and Interpretation, Structuralism, Metrics, Genre Theory, Narratology, and Orality.
COML 356.401 Early Modern Women's Writing in Italy, France, England
We will compare the three powerful traditions of women's writing that developed in the 16th and 17th centuries: in Italy, in England, and in France. We will read works by, among others, Veronica Franco, Moderata Fonte, Aphra Behn, Margaret Cavendish, Marie-Madeleine de Lafayette, and Madeleine de Scudery. We will concentrate on works in prose and, in particular, on the two genres whose development was shaped by women writers: novels and treatises defending women's rights. We will think about what it meant to be a woman writer in these countries and at this period. We will also try to understand the conditions that made it possible for these traditions to develop. French and Italian works will be read in translation.
* * * * * COML 360 CANCELED * * * * *
COML 360.401 Introduction to Literary Theory
This course will introduce you to some of the major strands of twentieth-century literary theory: structuralism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and historicism. We will spend three-quarters of the semester closely reading and discussing selections from the writings of four figures whose works are foundational for much subsequent literary theory: Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. After familiarizing ourselves with their various ideas, methods and styles, we will turn to trace their profound and complicated influence on the writings of Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak and Homi Babha. Course requirements: four 5-page response papers, one 10-page research paper, one oral report, and occasional brief informal writing assignments. No final exam.
COML 372.401 The Arcades Project as a Model for Film Studies
When the Paris-based German intellectual Walter Benjamin committed suicide trying to escape Nazi-occupied France in 1940, he left behind one of the most daring and original uncompleted manuscripts of the twentieth century. Only recently translated into English in 1999, what survives as Benjamin's Arcades Project is an enormous text composed of hundreds of pages of quotations collected by Benjamin, interspersed with his commentary and organized into idiosyncratic categories like "Dream House, Museum, Spa," "Mirrors," "Boredom, Eternal Return," and "The Collector." Using the decaying Paris arcades (urban iron-and-glass precursors to the shopping mall) as his conceptual model, the Arcades Project was meant to be a history of 19th century capitalism, uncovering several decades after the fact "a world of secret affinities" that would be produced from a study of the previous era's "ruins."
Using Benjamin's work as our guide, this class will be organized around an analogous "twilight" moment in film culture: the superceding of downtown Philadelphia's "golden age" movie houses by suburban multiplex theaters. Looking to the Arcades Project as a model, we will construct online our own "Chestnut Street" version of the project as a way both of coming to terms with the implications of Benjamin's radical philosophy of history, and also of understanding and posing some key questions about film as an institution and as an object of study. In addition to Benjamin's large work, we will read selected works in film studies by writers like André Bazin and Dudley Andrew, read some fictional texts like Louis Aragon's Paris Peasant, study Philadelphia-based movies like Blow Out and 12 Monkeys, and survey some key concepts of urban studies. Most importantly, this class will introduce a wide array of possibilities for both traditional and non-traditional research, which will be required of all students in both individual and collaborative situations.
COML 383.401 History of Literary Criticism
This is a course on the history of literary criticism, a survey of major theories of literature, poetics, and ideas about what literary texts should do, from ancient Greece to examples of modern European and American thought. The course will give special attention to early periods: Greek and roman antiquity, especially Plato and Aristotle; the medieval period (including St. Augustine, Dante, and Boccaccio), and the early modern period (where we will concentrate on English writers such as Philip Sidney and Ben Johnson). We'll move into modern and 20th century by looking at the literary (or "art") theories of some major philosophers, artists, and poets: Kant, Wordsworth, Marx and Engels, Matthew Arnold, the painter William Morris, T. S. Eliot, and the philosopher Walter Benjamin. We'll end with a very few samples of current literary theory. The point of this course is to look closely at the Western European tradition which generated debates about problems that are still with us, such as: what is the "aesthetic"; how are we to know an author's intention; and under what circumstances should literary texts ever be censored. We'll have a number of small writing assignments in the form of "response" or "position" papers (approx. 3 pages each), and students can use these small assignments to build into a long writing assignment on a single text or group of texts at the end of the term. Most of our readings will come from a published anthology of literary criticism and theory. Readings for each session will be relatively small so that we can do close analysis of the texts.
COML 385.401 Japanese Theatre in Historical and Comparative Contexts
Japan has one of the richest and most varied theatrical traditions in the world. In this course, we will examine Japanese theatre in historical and comparative contexts. The readings and discussions will cover all areas of the theatrical experience (script, acting, stage, design, costumes, music, audience). Audio-visual material will be used whenever appropriate and possible. Requirements include short writing assignments, presentations, and one research paper. Reading knowledge of Japanese and/or previous course-work in literature/theatre will be helpful, but not required. The class will be conducted in English, with all English materials.
CGS CGS CGS CGS
COML 191.601 Classics of the Western World I
This course will approach selected classic works of Western culture up to the Middle Ages with two purposes in mind. First, we will try to see how our notions of authority, agency, will and history have been shaped by these texts, in particular by epic and tragedy; further, we will consider how such concepts in turn have been complicated by the authors recognition of the power of desire and shifting definitions of gender and identity. Second, we will look at how we identify a "classic" in our culture, and will try to understand what sort of work it does for us. Texts to be read may include: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; Euripides' Bacches; Sophocles' Oedipus the King; Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound; Aristophanes' Frogs; Virgil's Aeneid; The Confessions of Saint Augustine, and Dante's Divine Comedy. All works will be read in translation.
|Last modified November 08, 2002
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania