Fall 2003 Undergraduate Courses
COML 057.401 Great Books of Judaism
The study of four paradigmatic classic Jewish texts so as to introduce students to the literature of classic Judaism. Each text will be studied historically--"excavated" for its sources and roots--and holistically, as a canonical document in Jewish tradition. While each text will inevitably raise its own set of issues, we will deal throughout the semester with two basic questions: What makes a "Jewish" text? And how do these texts represent different aspects of Jewish identity? All readings will be in translation.
COML 080.401 Introduction to Italian Film
The course will consist of a broad and varied sampling of classic Italian films from WWII to the present. We will consider the works which typify major directors and major trends through five decades of filmmaking and will trace a certain stylistic and thematic development from WWII on, pointing out both the continuity of the tradition, and exceptions to it, in an attempt to define the art of Italian film. Units will include "Neorealism: The Cinematic Revolution, "Self-Reflexivity and Meta-cinema," "Fascism and War Revisited," and "Postmodernism, or the Death of the Cinema." One of the aims of the course will be to make us aware of the expectations that Hollywood has implanted in us: that films be action-packed wish-fulfillment fantasies. Italian cinema will challenge us to re-examine and revise the very narrow conception that we Americans have of the cinematic medium. Classes will include close visual analysis of films using video clips and slides. Students will be required to attend weekly screenings of the films on Mondays from 4:30-7:00 p. m. The films will be in Italian with English subtitles. There will be 12 in all, and will include works by Fellini, Antonioni, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Wertmuller, Rossellini, Bertolucci and Moretti.
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 126.401 The Fantastic and the Uncanny in Literature
What is the "Fantastic"? And how can we describe the "Uncanny"? The course will examine these questions, and investigate the historical background of our understanding of "phantasy," as well as our concepts of the "fantastic" and "uncanny" in literature. Our discussions will be based on a reading of Sigmund Freud's essay on the uncanny, a choice of Friedrich Schlegel's and Novalis' aphorisms, and Romantic narratives by Ludwig Tieck, E. T. A. Hoffman, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. All the texts will be available in English, in English translation, and no knowledge of a foreign language is required.
COML 213.401 Indian Literature and the West
The highlights of Indian literature, the literary connections between India and the West, and some basic questions of comparative literature. Readings consist of translated materials (SARS 203), original sources (SARS 503), and secondary literature in English.
COML 215.401 Arabic Literary Heritage
This course provides a survey of the genres and major figures in Arabic literary history from the 6th century up to the present day. Selected works are read in translation; poetry is discussed first, then belles-lettrist prose. Selected suras from the Qur'an are read as the centerpiece of the course. Each set of texts is accompanied by a collection of background readings which place the authors and works into a literary, political and societal context. This course thus attempts to place the phenomenon of "literature" into the larger context of Islamic studies by illustrating the links between Arab litterateurs and other contributors to the development of an Islamic/Arab culture on the one hand and by establishing connections between the Arabic literary tradition and that of other (and particularly Western) traditions.
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 245.401 Madness and Literature in the 17th and 18th Centuries
In the first half of the English 43-44 two-course sequence, I plan to deal with a body of works relating to madness, inspiration, religious millenarianism, and various aspects of mental instability from about 1500 to the end of the eighteenth century. There will be a bulkpack of background readings on medical issues such as treatment, asylums, schizophrenia, abnormal sexual behavior, and the criminally insane. In addition, I plan to discuss works by Erasmus, Shakespeare, Burton, Swift, Defoe, Sterne, Smart, and Blake as well as a selection of texts by and about women's mental diseases, whether real or imaginary. Students will write one short book review and one longer critical essay and, in place of examinations, there will be two overnight take-home snap papers. I hope to be able to augment the usual format of the large lecture course with regular weekly discussion sessions.
COML 248.401 Topics in Modernism: Modernism and the Orient
Ezra Pound insisted that a few hours work on the Chinese ideogram goes further to jog a man out of fixations than a months work on a great Greek author. In this course, we will consider modernisms drive both to unfix and to fix by looking closely at the place of the Orient in this literature. We will see how and when this reference elsewhere steps in: in a call to artistic renewal, during a crisis of authority, or, most importantly, in order to elaborate the artist's position vis-a-vis home. The readings are divided between those artists who use the east in a nativist vein and those who espouse internationalism. We will read, among others: Williams and Sandburg in America, Pound and Stein abroad, and the curious case of Amy Lowell. Course requirements: presentation, short essay, midterm exam, final paper.
COML 266.401 Studies in Modern Hebrew Literature: Israel from 1948-99 through Poets Lenses
Israeli poetry has always been a litmus test for Israeli consciousness. The creation of Israeli identity, from its birth in 1948, was intertwined with the emergence of the lands first native poets for whom the War of Independence was the formative experience. Their national ideology and heroic pathos were challenged in the 1950s and early 1960s. Y. Amichais I want to die in my bed became a manifesto for this Western-influenced Generation of the State that concentrated on the individual and introduced understatement to Hebrew literature. Later poets like D. Ravikovich (1960s), Y. Wallach, and M. Wieseltier (1970s) defied social norms, penetrated or even deconstructed the self. Protests against the war in Lebanon in the 1980s and the tumultuous 1990s returned many poets to different sides of the national, social, and political arenas. Using literary theories while considering historical and cultural contexts, this course will follow the windings of Israeli awareness in the last five decades, through its reflections in significant texts. This class will be conducted in Hebrew and the texts read in the original. However, student level and literary taste will affect the choice of works.
COML 269.401 Nazi Cinema
This course explores the world of Nazi cinema ranging from infamous propaganda pieces such as "The Triumph of the Will" and "The Eternal Jew" to entertainments by important directors such as Pabst and Douglas Sirk. More than sixty years later, Nazi Cinema challenges us to grapple with issues of more subtle ideological insinuation than we might think. The course also includes film responses to developments in Germany by exiled German directors (Pabst, Wilder) and concludes with Mel Brooks' "The Producers". Weekly screenings with subtitles.
COML 272.401 French Literature in Translation
In this course, we will examine a wide array of plays, novels and films to explore their treatment of the concept of justice. Within this thematic framework, we will investigate such topics as: the relationship between the individual, the family, and the state; the clash between desire and the law; the ethics of sexual difference; the articulation of a moral code from beyond the grave; and the link between perceived injustice and narcissistice rage. Secondary texts will include selections from psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Heinz Kohut. All readings, course assignments, and class discussion in English.
COML 282.401 Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation: Fantasy, Dream, Madness-Escape or Solution in Israeli Lit
While the Zionist meta-narrative tells of an active, conscious, and rational enterprise of Israeli nation-building, its subversive shadow-side lurks in literary nightmares, surrealist wanderings and stories packed with dreams. This tension exists in the Hebrew Literature of the twentieth century and persists in contemporary works that question the sanity of protagonist, narrator and writer alike. Although S. Y. Agnon, the uncontested master of Hebrew literature, denied ever reading Freud, his works suggest otherwise. His literary heirs, A. Oz and A. B. Yehoshua, the pillars of the Israeli canon, often unveil dreams and fantasies and speak in the symbolic language of the subconscious. Using Psychoanalytic and literary theories, the course analyzes modern and postmodern Hebrew fiction and poetry highlighting the function of dreams, fantasy and madness in the Israeli literary context. English and German works by Kafka, Woolf and Plath play an important comparative role.
COML 304.401 "1913"
We will focus on one single year in order to explore as many texts and cultural manifestations as possible while keeping one central question in mind: how "advanced" was the state of culture in
COML 360.401 Introduction to Literary Theory
The course explores how the unique components of literary texts and their complex interrelation with the literary/critical tradition, the arts, and social, political and historical developments shape literary theories. We will examine briefly the shifting perspectives from Aristotelian poetics to semiotics and from intellectual history to cultural studies and then focus on the main currents in twentieth-century criticism. Lectures center on elements that provided the basis for the critical discourse: the structure of texts (narrative techniques, figure conceptions, thematic constellations), issues in analyzing: 1) mimesis, semblance, illusion, 2) perception, 3) space and time, 4) authenticity, truth, and probability, and 5) socioeconomic and political commitment.
Requirements: Reading of literary texts illustrating fable, play, poem, narrative. Representative selections from criticism. One collaborative (3 to 4 students) report on a major critic or school of criticism; one individual or collaborative paper contrasting a diverse approach to a text. One take home examination.
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
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.
COML 299.601 Men, Women, War in Literature: Literary Perspectives
When Virginia Woolf was asked, "How in your opinion are we to prevent war?" her response was to call for equal educational and professional opportunities for women. Women "can best help you to prevent war," she told her male correspondent, "not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods"
COML 450.640 The European Novel, 1774-1925
|Last modified May 05, 2004
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania