Fall 2004 Undergraduate Courses
COML 011.301 In the City of Dreams
This seminar examines sleep and dreams in important works of Western literature. In Homer's Odyssey, for example, three normally separate orders of being converge in dreams: that of humans, gods, and the dead. Further, for Homer, dreams and reality are parallel planes. But if we jump a few millennia forward to the postmodern tales of Jorge Luis Borges, dreams and reality are indistinguishable, inasmuch as reality is merely the dream of a "god," the poet, who continually makes and unmakes it with his words. Dreamed reality is the Wor(l)d. In this seminar we will study the meaning and function of dreams in the Odyssey, Borges's fictions, and many fascinating works in between.
COML 059.401 Modernisms and Modernities, 1850-1950
This class will focus on the emergence of an international modernism in the domains of literature and the arts from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. This period provides a historical framework within which the links between modernity, the avant-garde and national or international artistic movements will be explored. The very concept of Modernism implies a consideration of world literature with a focus on the "new" in literature and the arts, which includes film, the theatre, music and the visual arts. Our approach will be resolutely transatlantic and open to French, Spanish, Italian, German or Russian influences. The philosophies of modernism will also be surveyed via concise introductions to the theories of thinkers like Marx, Nietzsche, Bergson, Freud and Benjamin. We will discuss a few films and the music of Schönberg and Stravinsky. Requirements: two short papers (8 pages). A midterm. Five quizzes. No final exam.
COML 090.401 Gender, Sexuality, Literature: Women in
This course will cover a wide range of fiction by contemporary women writers from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean. The first part of the course will explore several versions of the "mad woman in the attic" motif and consider the effects of patriarchal oppression in several different cultural contexts. The second part of the course will take a more optimistic turn and focus on various forms of resistance and creative self-affirmation. We will consider feminist revisions of received traditions and narrative forms, e.g., the Bible; fairy tales and legends; magic and other marginalized forms of knowledge; official and unofficial versions of history; and the politics of textual interpretation. Readings will include: Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Doris Lessing, The Grass is Singing; Jean Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea; Tsisti Dangarembga, Nervous Conditions; Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon; Louise Erdrich, Tracks; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior; Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit; Monica Ali, Brick Lane; and Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. We will also view a few films, including Sugar Cane Alley, The Official Story, and Bend it Like Beckham. All interested Penn students are welcome in this course, irrespective of gender, age, and major. All that is required is a taste for good contemporary fiction, a willingness to work on your writing, and to get up a little early on TU and THU!
COML 096.401 Theories of Gender and Sexuality
This course introduces to students to key texts and debates in feminist, queer, and transgender theory. We will consider the long history of feminist politics and criticism, with a particular focus on rifts that emerged along lines of class, color, and sexual and gender identity in the last decades of the twentieth century. The second half of the class will be organized around contemporary topics and debates: reproductive rights; pornography, sex work, and free speech; the metrosexual; women and globalization; gay marriage; "race", HIV, and science; and transgender activism. Readings to include: Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Michel Foucault, Gayle Rubin, Catherine MacKinnon, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Michael Warner, Gayatri Spivak, Cherríe Moraga, Susan Stryker, and others. We will also watch some films and look at some popular texts (journalism, advertisements, music, zines, etc.) Three five-page papers and a final exam.
COML 100.401 Introduction to Literature
This course introduces students to the study of comparative literature as a rigorous intellectual discipline. There are no prerequisites, and this class has been designed both for students who are considering majors in related fields and those who seek a broader, theoretically rooted understanding of reading and enjoying literature. Our readings will include both literary and theoretical texts; we will be reading novels, essays, poems, and plays that come from a range of periods and of literary traditions. However, this class is a survey neither of literary theory nor of world literature. It is instead an introduction to ways in which we might approach literature, through the practice of close reading and analysis. Questions we address include: how do we read works from different literary traditions? How can works written in different times and different languages inform each other? How are canons and literary histories created? This course is reading intensive; students will be expected to come to class highly prepared and ready to discuss what they have read. Course requirements include regular attendance to both lectures and recitations, three 5-7 pp papers, a midterm, and a final examination. All readings are in English translation.
COML 103.401 Performing History
From medieval processions to the Mummer's Parade, from military reenactments to Mardi Gras, communities do more than "write" or "read" history in order to feel its power and shape their futures. Drawing upon traditions in theater, spectacle, religion, and marketing, they also perform their history--by replaying particular characters, restaging pivotal events and sometimes even changing their outcomes--in order to test its relevance to contemporary life and to both mark and contest ritual points in the annual cycle. This course will explore diverse ways of "performing history" in different cultures, including royal passages, civic parades, historical reenactments, community festivals, and film.
COML 104.401 Study of a Period
This is a general introduction to twentieth-century British and American literature, with special emphasis on the varying conceptions of art and the artist that have characterized modernist and contemporary literary production. We will look at literary manifestoes, avant-garde movements, and the demand to "make it new" in the first decades of the century; the invention of literary "modernism" and the promotion of certain key figures as the artistic geniuses of modernism; the politics of feminism and the place of the woman writer in modernist literature; the attempts by black writers in Harlem, the Caribbean, and London to construct a viable notion of the black artist; and the rise in recent decades of new forms of literary success and literary celebrity. Written work will include several exams, a 4-6-page essay, and a 10-12-page essay.
COML 118.401 Iranian Cinema: Gender/Politics/Religion
Post-Revolutionary Iranian cinema has gained exceptional international reception in the past two decades. In most major national and international festivals, Iranian films have taken numerous prizes for their outstanding representation of life and society, and their courage in defying censorship barriers. In this course, we will examine the distinct characteristics of the post-revolutionary Iranian cinema. Discussion will revolve around themes such as gender politics, family relationships and women's social, economic and political roles, as well as the levels of representation and criticism of modern Iran's political and religious structure within the current boundaries. There will be a total of 12 films shown and will include works by Kiarostami, Makhmalbaf, Beizai, Milani, Bani-Etemad and Panahi, among others.
COML 185.401 Dreams and Nightmares in Fiction and Film
This course is devoted to some of the most exciting modern films and novels from Latin America, Russia and Europe--dreams and nightmares that allow us to comprehend the "underground" of human experience. Our approach will be comparative, considering literary works in the context of film and the other arts, with special emphasis on several directors who laid the foundations of modern film: Fritz Lang, Dziga Vertov, and Sergei Eisenstein. Topics of discussion will include: creativity, deviant behavior, cultural dialogue, dissent, "delirious" modern cities (St. Petersburg, Prage, Rio de Janiero), and death. Works by: Dostoevsky, Gogol, Kafka, Proust, Lispector, Machado de Assis, Mario de Andrade, Saramago, Petrushevskaia, Pelevin and others.
COML 187.401 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 in some sense the property of men--and what happens when women inhabit the bodies of other women via spirit possession. Readings will draw on the Japanese tradition, 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. Participants will keep a reading journal and write a paper of their own choosing.
COML 217.401 The Partition: Literature and
This course deals with literary and historiographical responses to the Partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. It will examine the works of Urdu writers such as Saadat Hasan Manto and Intizar Husain, as well as the literary fallout on the Indian side of the border in the form of short stories and novels in various languages. All materials will be read in translation.
COML 230.401 Ovid and the Consequences
The influence of the Roman poet Ovid on subsequent art and
literature was considerable. Designed with students of art and literature
in mind, this course surveys the Ovidian tradition from antiquity to the
present. We will consider: Ovid himself, Apuleius, medieval
"moralizers" of Ovid's tales, many writers of the English
Renaissance (especially Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton), Italian
Renaissance poets, composers, and painters, book illustrators from the
sixteenth century through Picasso, French film maker Jean Cocteau, and
contemporary playwright Mary
COML 234.401 The World of Dante
The Divine Comedy will be read in the context of Dante Alighieri's fourteenth-century cultural world. Discussions, focussed on selected cantos of the Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, will connect with such topics as: books and readers before the invention of printing (e. g, how manuscripts were made from sheepskins, transcribed, and decorated), life in a society dominated by the Catholic church (sinners vs. saints, Christian pilgrimage routes, the great Franciscan and Dominican religious orders), Dante's politics as a Florentine exile (power struggles between Pope and Emperor), his classical and Christian literary models (Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Bible), and his genius as a poet in the medieval structures of allegory, symbolism, and numerology. Illustrations of the Comedy, from early illuminated manuscripts to Renaissance printed books in the University of Pennsylvania Rare Book Collection and contemporary film will trace a history of the forms in which the poem has flourished for seven hundred years. Class conducted in English. The Divine Comedy will be available in a text with facing English and Italian versions. May be counted toward an Italian Studies major or minor.
COML 245.401 The Trial in English Literature
This is a new General Requirement course dedicated to the study of literary depictions of legal trials. Such accounts have existed for several millennia. The first famous literary trial, in the Dialogues of Plato, is the story of the trial of Socrates. We find literary descriptions of legal trials throughout the ancient classical world, the middle ages, and the European Renaissance. The greatest number of literary works embodying legal trials dates from the last two centuries, but literature about trials does not always focus on a courtroom. Civil procedures, the gathering of evidence, forensics, detective work, police procedures, methods of interrogation and pre-trial maneuvers like hearings and depositions have all captured the imagination of the authors of novels, plays, essays, and screenplays. In English 102, we will read a wide variety of such literature, starting with Plato. Most legal trials deal with criminal justice, and we will study some of them: Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, Wright's Native Son, Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust, Camus's The Stranger, Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and Cozzens's The Just and the Unjust. Some deal with civil justice, including The Merchant of Venice, the play of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind, and Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action. Finally, other literary trials mock real justice or civil procedures, like Gulliver's Travels, Kafka's The Trial, and Koestler's Darkness at Noon. This course is intended for students interested in the law as well as in literature.
COML 270.401 German Cinema
An introduction to the momentous history of German film, from its beginnings before World War One to developments following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German reunification in 1990. With an eye to film's place in its historical and political context, the course will explore the "Golden Age" of German cinema in the Weimar Republic, when Berlin vied with Hollywood; the complex relationship between Nazi ideology and entertainment during the Third Reich; the fate of German film-makers in exile during the Hitler years; post-war film production in both West and East Germany; the call for an alternative to "Papa's Kino" and the rise of New German Cinema in the 1960s.
COML 272.401 French Literature in Translation
This course will give students who do not read French the opportunity to get acquainted with some of the majors texts originally written in French by authors from West and Central Africa. Starting with the poems of Leopold Sedar Senghor known as one of the fathers of the "negritude movement," the course will provide a chronological overview of the main figures, genres and discourses that have marked twentieth-century Francophone African literature before and after the "Independences." Using the works of writers from Senegal, Cameron, Mali and Congo, we will look (among others) at issues of self-representation; decolonisation, authenticity and national consciousness; representation of and resistance to dictatorship; migration and the "postcolonial." All the texts will be available in their English translation. This class will be cross-listed with Comparative Literature, African Studies, African-American Studies.
COML 282.401 Modern Hebrew Literature & Film in
Translation: The 'Other' in Modern Hebrew Culture
The course will deal with the representation of the 'other' in modern Hebrew and Israeli culture. Among the various 'others' that will be discussed are the Arab, the Mizrahi Jew, the Ultra-Orthodox, women, gays, holocaust survivors, the poor. Through representation of the 'other' a culture reveals its underlying anxieties and fears, its yearnings and its traumas, its deep-seated identity-building formations. No background is required. Since the content of this course may change from year to year students may take it for credit more than once (if the course is indeed different).
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 302.301 Odyssey and Its Afterlife
As an epic account of wandering, survival, and homecoming, Homer's Odyssey has been a constant source of themes and images with which to define and redefine the nature of heroism, the sources of identity, and the challenge of finding a place in the world.
We will start with a close reading of the Odyssey in translation, with particular attention to Odysseus as a post-Trojan War hero; to the roles of women, especially Odysseus' faithful and brilliant wife Penelope; and to the uses of poetry and story-telling in creating individual and cultural identities. We will then consider how later poets, playwrights, novelists, and filmmakers have drawn on Homer's poem to construct their own perspectives on these issues, considering works or parts of works by, among others, Vergil, Dante, Tennyson, Joyce, Primo Levi, Derek Walcott, Louise Glück, and the Coen brothers.
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 360.401 Introduction to Literary Theory
In this course, we will examine a broad corpus of texts from a range of modern literary-theoretical schools, including formalism, structuralism, deconstruction, reader-response theory, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, and post-colonialism. Through detailed readings of these works, we will address such issues as: the nature of language and its relationship to reality; the problems of identity and ideology; the notions of cultural authority and difference; and the politics of literature and "theory." Secondary readings will be drawn from British, German, and French/Francophone literary traditions. Taught in English.
*** CGS CGS CGS 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.
***CANCELED*** COML 290.601 Men,
Women and War ***CANCELED***
|Last modified August 30, 2004
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania