Undergraduate Course Descriptions
FALL 2006

COML 003.401 CENSORED! The Book and Censorship since Gutenberg
Distribution II: History and Tradition
TR 1:30-3 Wiggin
Lecture and Readings in English
Cross listed with GRMN 003

Although its pages may appear innocuous enough, bound innocently between non-descript covers, the book has frequently become the locus of intense suspicion, legal legislation, and various cultural struggles.  But what causes a book to blow its cover? In this course we will consider a range of specific censorship cases in the west since the invention of the printed book to the present day.  We will consider the role of various censorship authorities (both religious and secular) and grapple with the timely question about whether censorship is ever justified in the building of a better society.  Case studies will focus on many well-known figures (such as Martin Luther, John Milton, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Goethe, Karl Marx, and Salman Rushdie) as well as lesser-known authors, particularly Anonymous (who may have chosen to conceal her identity to avoid pursuit by the Censor).

COML 080.402 ITALIAN CINEMA: Introduction to Italian Cinema
T 6-9, R 4:30-6 Kirkham
Cross listed with ITAL 080, CINE 240

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, Amelio, Moretti) will illustrate trends over the last fifty years through screenings of a variety of film types, from the historical drama to 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.

COML 090.401 Gender, Sexuality and Lit: Women and Fiction: Contemporary Literature
Distribution III: Arts and Letters
TR 9-10:30 Barnard
Cross listed with ENGL 090, WSTD 090

This course will cover a wide range of fiction by contemporary women writers from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Africa, the Middle East, 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; Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis; 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 Tuesdays and Thursdays.

COML 100.401 Introduction to Literature
Registration required for LEC and REC
Arts and Letters Sector
LEC MW 12-1; REC F 12-1, F 1-2, or F 2-3 Todorov
Cross listed with ENGL 100

This course introduces students to the world literary process as well as various methods of literary analysis using mainly confessional and revelatory writings as they tend to be shorter and personally engaging. The works represent different national literary traditions, epochs and trends. They involve both fictional and actual confessional works, fictionalized and authentic autobiographies, first person singular narratives, personal diaries, soul-searching stories, love letters, discourses of intimacy, lyric and dramatic monologues, self-revealing and self-aggrandizing accounts, philosophical soliloquies. All lectures and course work are in English.

COML 104.401 The Twentieth Century
Arts and Letters Sector
TR12-1:30 Conn
Cross listed with ENGL 104

This course will provide an introduction to important writing across the twentieth century, chosen to offer a broad sampling of prose and poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. Along with careful readings of each work, the lectures will situate the literary texts in some of their relevant contexts. The list of required readings will include, among others: T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and The Waste Land; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Philip Larkin, selected poems; Allen Ginsberg, "Howl" and selected poems; Ian McEwan, Atonement; and Nilo Cruz, Anna in the Tropics. I will occasionally introduce major paintings, as appropriate, and excerpts from a number of significant films will also be introduced, including Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, Orson Welles's Citizen Kane, and Carol Reed's The Third Man and Woody Allen's Zelig. Finally, a set of supplementary readings will be posted on the course website.

Texts are available at the Penn Book Centre, at Sansom and 34th Streets.

OML 110.401 Classical Athens to Elizabethan England
TR 1:30-3 Schlatter
Cross listed with THAR 110, HIST 246, URBS 212

This course will cover both Western and non-Western cultures and performance forms. We will be investigating urban political and social history, the arts, and all aspects of performance, from theatre architecture to acting and design methods as functions of representation, and plays.

OML 118.401 Iranian Cinema: Gender, Politics, Religion
Distribution III: Arts and Letters
MW 2-3:30, M 6-8 Minuchehr
Cross listed with NELC 118, WSTD 118, CINE 118

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 126.401 Fantastic and Uncanny Literature
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
Cross listed with GRMN 242

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 191.601 Classics of the Western World
CGS course
W 6:30-9:30 Hoffsten

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 193.401 Great Story Collection
Arts and Letters Sector
MWF 11-12 Azzolina
Cross listed with FOLK 241

COML 214.401 Italian Cinema and the Sacred
MWF 12:00-1:00, W 5:00-7:00  Benini
Cross listed with ITAL 213

This course will focus on the way Italian cinema related to the dimension of the sacred. The word sacer in Latin means both "sacred" and "accursed, defiled": thus, the experience of the sacred encompasses both sanctity and religion as well as abjection, excess, defilement and violence. From The Gospel According to St. Matthew to Salò, we will follow the trajectory of these double aspects of the sacred in Italian cinema, exploring a range of directors (from Rossellini to Pasolini, from Visconti to Fellini), and genres (from religious films to spaghetti western) through the lens of the different visions of the sacred of thinkers such as Eliade, Caillois, Bataille, Girard and others.

The course will be conducted in English. Films will be in Italian with English subtitles. Italian majors may arrange to do readings and final paper in Italian.

COML 221.401 Women and Writing in Medieval and Renaissance England
MW 3:30-5 Wallace
Cross listed with ENGL 221

In this course we'll consider the relationships of women to writing from c. 1220 (Ancrene Wisse, a text written for enclosed religious women) to 1673 (the death of ‘Mad Madge,’ a playwright much reviled by Virginia Woolf). We'll concern ourselves mostly with texts written, dictated, inspired or commissioned by women, plus texts written against or forced upon women: texts, in short, that helped shape the possibilities of premodern women's lives.

This course questions traditional periodizations by shooting the medieval/ Renaissance divide and by considering arguments of advance and decline for women. Does the rise of the university, for example, bring a diminution of educational opportunities for women? Is the Middle Ages to be seen, as some feminist historians have seen it, as a feminine 'golden age'? Does the coming of the 'Renaissance' reduce female options to that of marriage or marriage? How do both the observant and oppositional activities of women shift as we move from Catholic through Lollard to Protestant cultures? We might consider here the writings of Protestant Elizabeth I and embroideries of Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots; other authors might include Anne Askew, Isabella Whitney (fl. 1567-1573), Mary Herbert (1562-1621), Elizabeth Cary (1585?-1639), and Rachel Speght (c. 1597-16??). Such developmental narratives can be challenged by others suggesting strange resemblances over time, featuring women occupying liminal places: the anchoress; the pregnant woman. We can thus read Trotula texts (female-authored gynaecological manuals), a manual for female recluses (Ancrene Wisse), a mystical text by a woman who uses her body as a spiritual laboratory (Julian of Norwich) and best-selling texts by Renaissance women who will not survive pregnancy. We can match texts from women centuries apart: such as Christine of Markyate (1096-1160), who defied family expectations of marriage to live as a recluse, eventually leaving us with an extraordinary lifestory and a psalter of her own; and Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle (Virginia Woolf’s ‘Mad Madge’) who wrote several plays that imagined all-female academies long before Virginia penned A Room of One’s Own. The question of continuing nun-nostalgia in Protestant cultures might also be raised. So too the question of women and travel: how did Margery Kempe manage to traverse the face of the known world, avoid injury, and return to compose her text? As centuries pass, do women travel less?

Examination in this advanced undergraduate seminar will be by two essays: one of 5 pages (written after about six weeks) and one researched in the latter part of the semester and handed in during the final week of class (12 pages). We'll try to develop a friendly, collaborative working mode in this seminar; students will have the opportunity of writing a one-page, brainstorming abstract of their final paper in week 12.

Attendance: please let me know by e-mail of any intended absences due to religious holidays, illnesses, or other causes.

COML 228.401 Studies in the Hebrew Bible: Genesis
R 3-6 Eichler
Cross listed with HEBR 250, RELS 220 and JWST 256

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the methods and resources used in the modern study of the Bible. To the extent possible, these methods will be illustrated as they apply to a single book of the Hebrew Bible that will serve as the main focus of the course.

COML 238.401 Autobiographical Writing
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3:00, M 4:30-7 Weissberg
Cross listed with GRMN 235

How does one write about oneself? Who is the “author” writing? What does one write about? And is it fiction or truth? Our seminar on autobiographical writing will pursue these questions, researching confessions, autobiographies, memoirs, and other forms of life-writing both in their historical development and theoretical articulations. Examples will include selections from St. Augustine’s confessiones, Rousseau’s Confessions, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, as well as many examples form contemporary English, German, French, and American literature.

OML 256.401 Contemporary Fiction and Film in Japan
F 2-5 Kano
Cross listed with CINE 222, EALC 257

This course will explore fiction and film in contemporary Japan, from 1945 to the present. Topics will include literary and cinematic representation of Japan s war experience and post-war reconstruction,
negotiation with Japanese classics, confrontation with the state, and changing ideas of gender and sexuality. We will explore these and other questions by analyzing texts of various genres, including film and film scripts, novels, short stories, manga, and academic essays. Class sessions will combine lectures, discussion, audio-visual materials, and creative as well as analytical writing exercises.The course is taught in English, although Japanese materials will be made available upon
request. No prior coursework in Japanese literature, culture, or film is required or expected; additional secondary materials will be available for students taking the course at the 600 level. Writers and film directors examined may include: Kawabata Yasunari, Hayashi Fumiko, Abe Kobo, Mishima Yukio, Oe Kenzaburo, Yoshimoto Banana, Ozu Yasujiro, Naruse Mikio, Kurosawa Akira, Imamura Shohei, Koreeda Hirokazu, and Beat Takeshi.

COML 266.401 Introduction to Modern Hebrew Lit: Israeli Short Story
M 2-5 Gold
Cross listed with HEBR 259, HEBR 559, JWST 259

This course concentrates on contemporary Israeli short stories, post-modernist as well as traditional, written by male and female authors. The diction is simple, often colloquial, but the stories reflect an exciting inner world and a stormy outer reality. For Hebrew writers, the short story has been a favorite genre since the Renaissance of Hebrew literature in the 19^th century until now, when Hebrew literature is vibrant in a country where Hebrew is spoken. The lion share of the course focuses on authors who emerged in the last 25 years like Keret, Kastel-Bloom, Taub. Texts read in the original language but student level and literary taste will influence the choice of works.

Prerequisite: Hebrew 059 or equivalent. Five 1-page response papers, a 5-page midterm paper in Hebrew and a final exam. Since the content of this course varies from year to year, students may take it more than once.

COML 270.401 German Cinema
Arts and Letters Sector
MW 2-3:30 Wolmart
CINE 250, GRMN 258

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 283.401 Jewish Folklore
History and Tradition Sector
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with FOLK 280, JWST 260, NELC 258, RELS 221

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 291.401 Topics in Literary Theory: Theory in Practice
MW 2-3:30 Buurma
Cross listed with ENGL 294

What does theory do for literature? What does literature do for theory? In this seminar we will examine some major works of literary criticism produced in the later twentieth and twenty-first centuries, asking specifically what we can learn from a close attention to literary critics' use of that body of writing we have come to call "theory." What can we learn, for example, from closely examining D.A. Miller's application of Michel Foucault's theory of sexuality to Charles Dickens's David Copperfield in Miller's own book The Novel and the Police? How does Eve Sedgwick's engagement with structuralism help her bring out new insights about George Eliot's novel Adam Bede in her critical work Between Men? Each week we will read (often in excerpt) a work of literary criticism, one of the works of literature it analyzes, and one of its guiding theoretical texts in order to give ourselves the tools to knowledgably discuss literary critics' uses of theory. How and why, we will ask, do literary critics engage with theories drawn from the realms of cultural criticism, poststructuralist philosophy, and linguistic theory as well as from the world of literary theory? We will also seek to trouble the distinctions between literature and theory, and between "primary" and "secondary" works. How might we think of using a novel, for example, as a framework for understanding a more "theoretical" work?

While we will engage with a broad range of literary, critical, and theoretical texts, this seminar is not designed to present students with a survey of modern literary theory. Rather, it provides "case studies" showing how several different literary critics adapt theoretical frameworks from a variety of disciplines to the purposes of literary criticism. We will read works by critics and theorists such as Freud, Marx, Foucault, Althusser, Barthes, Benjamin, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Sedgwick, Miller, Armstrong, and Jameson. We will also read selections from some examples of the literary works these theorists and critics focus on. Course requirements will include a few short papers and a final paper, as well as a research project and regular participation in discussion.

COML 333.401 Dante’s Divine Comedy
Distribution III: Arts and Letters
TR 10:30-12 Brownlee
Cross listed with ITAL 333, ENGL 223

In this course we will read the Inferno, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso, focusing on a series of interrelated problems raised by the poem: authority, fiction, history, politics and language. Particular attention will be given to how the Commedia presents itself as Dante's autobiography, and to how the autobiographical narrative serves as a unifying thread for this supremely rich literary text. Supplementary readings will include Virgil's Aeneid and selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses. All readings and written work will be in English. Italian or Italian Studies credit will require reading Italian texts in their original language and doing the written assignments in Italian.

COML 353.401 Arabic Literary Theory
Distribution III: Arts and Letters
TR 1:30-3 Allen
Cross listed with COML 505, NELC 434

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 363.401 Modern Theories of Semiotics and Rhetoric

TR 1:30-3  Finotti
Cross listed with ITAL 360

What is semiotics? Where is semiotics? Ferdinand de Saussure, a founder of linguistics and also of what is usually referred to as semiotics, wrote: "It is... possible to conceive of a science which studies the roles of signs as part of social life... It would investigate the nature of signs and the laws governing them." As it is the study of signs, semiotics, therefore, may be everywhere. Baudelaire wrote, "Man passes... through a forest of symbols." We could say: "Man lives through forests of signs." The course will offer a survey of major currents in the modern theory of signs and languages, ranging from linguistics through the perspectives of semiotics, rhetoric, and hermeneutics.  

The course readings will include modern works on semiotical and rhetorical theory (Saussure, Jakobson, Hjelmslev, Lotman, Weinrich, Barthes, Genette, Dubois, Riffaterre, Eco, Segre, De Mauro).  Classes will propose close analysis of primary texts in Italian literature (Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarca, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Michelangelo, Vittoria Colonna, Tesauro, Manzoni, Pirandello, Svevo), as well as other forms of communication including advertising, journalism, film, and television. All readings will be in translation. Course requirements: three short papers (7 pages), and one oral report (accompanied by bibliography) as a final project.  The course will be conducted in English.

COML 118.401
COML 256.401
COML 266.401
COML 283.401
COML 353.401

COML 090.401
COML 126.401
COML 238.401
COML 291.401
COML 363.401

Last modified September 1, 2006
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania