Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Fall 2007

**Attention Comparative Literature Majors**

Courses satisfying "Theory Requirement:" 

             COML 112, 253, 254, 288, 290, 343, 360, 383, 418

Courses satisfying "Non-western/Postcolonical Requirement:" 

             COML 118, 215, 266, 282, 283



COML 090.401 Gender, Sexuality, Literature: Spectacles of Punished Women
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 3-4:30 Auerbach
Cross listed with ENGL 090/GSOC 090

Popular culture has always enjoyed punishing women, but audience attitude to that punishment depends on our times, our gender and class, and to a degree this course will examine the genre of the work. We will examine punished women in literature and film of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among the questions we shall consider are the relation between punishment and the work's ideology of justice, the degree to which we are urged to enjoy a woman's punishment or protest against it, turning punishment into an inducement to social change.  We shall read works by both women and men, analyzing their  possibly different treatments of punishment. Among them are Jane Austen, Emma; Dickens, Oliver Twist, Ellen Wood, East Lynne; and Tennyson, Idylls of the King. Films will include Broken Blossom, Psycho, and Fatal Attraction.  Each student will write a midterm and a final exam. There will also be an optional paper focusing on a nineteenth-century novel of your choice beyond the syllabus.


COML 100.401 Introduction to Literature
Registration required for Lecture and Recitation 
Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters Sector
LEC MW 12-1 Todorov
REC 402 F 12-1
REC 403 F 2-3
REC 404 F 1-2

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 101.001 Introduction to Folklore
Humanities and Social Science Sector
TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with FOLK 101

The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the subjects of the discipline of Folklore, their occurrence in social life and the scholarly analysis of their use in culture. As a discipline folklore explores the manifestations of expressive forms in both traditional and modern societies, in small-scale groups where people interact with each face-to-face, and in large-scale, often industrial societies, in which the themes, symbols, and forms that permeate traditional life, occupy new positions, or occur in different occasions in everyday life. For some of you the distinction between low and high culture, or artistic and popular art will be helpful in placing folklore forms in modern societies. For others, these distinctions will not be helpful. In traditional societies, and within social groups that define themselves ethnically, professionally, or culturally, within modern heterogeneous societies, and in traditional societies in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, Folklore plays a more prominent role in society, than it appears to play in literate cultures on the same continents. Consequently the study of folklore and the analysis of its forms are appropriate in traditional as well as modern societies, and any society that is in a transitional phase. Key concepts in the study of folklore are “orality” and “literacy” and they will guide us through our lectures and discussions.

COML 103.401 Performing History
Distribution Arts and Letters
MW 2-3-30 St. George
Cross listed with FOLK 103/HIST 093

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 106.401 Gender and Sexuality: Queer Politics, Queer Communities
TR 12-1:30 Love
Cross listed with ENGL 105/GSOC 105

What is sexuality? Does it exist in the body or in the mind? Is it a collection of actions, desires, and fantasies, or is it rather a disposition, a way of seeing oneself, an identity? Does what we want depend on who we are? Does what we do /define/ who we are? This course will address such questions by introducing students to several classic texts in the history and theory of sexuality and by looking at key moments in the struggle for sexual and gender freedom. The history we trace will focus on the effects of the “invention of homosexuality” in the late-nineteenth century; the history of butch/femme community; the cultural moment of Stonewall and gay liberation; the “Sex Wars” of the 1980s; women of color and queer of color critiques; responses to HIV/AIDS; and the emergence of the transgender rights movement. The course will end with a turn to contemporary debates about the meaning of “queer,” same-sex marriage, the politics of emotion, commodification, and gay normalization.

COML 112.401 Theatre, History, Culture III: Modernism and Post-Modernism
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Mazer
Cross listed with ENGL 098/THAR 112

This course will examine the interplay of theatrical theory, theatrical practice, and dramatic writing, in relation to contemporaneous societies and cultures, from the first experiments in penetrating the boundaries of “realism” at the end of the nineteenth century, through the present day. Areas of exploration include the invention of the avant garde, the rise of the auteur-director, political theatre, competing theories about the actor’s body and the actor’s emotions, performance art, feminist theatre, queer theatre, and the integration of non-western theatre into shared theatre practice in the colonial and post-colonial world.


COML 118.401 Iranian Cinema: Gender/Politics/Religion
Distribution Arts and Letters
MW 2-3:30 Minuchehr
Cross listed with NELC 118/CINE 118/GSOC 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 150.401 War and Its Representation in Russia, Europe and the US
Humanities and Social Science Sector
All readings and lectures in English
TR 10:30-12 Platt
Cross listed with RUSS 193/HIST 149

Representations of war are created for as many reasons as wars are fought: to legitimate armed conflict, to critique brutality, to vilify an enemy, to mobilize popular support, to generate national pride, etc. In this course we will examine a series of representations of war drawn from the literature, film, state propaganda, memoirs, visual art, etc., of Russia, Europe and the United States. We will pursue an investigation of these images of conflict and bloodshed in the larger context of the history of military technology, social life, and communications media over the last two centuries. Students will be expected to write two papers, take part in a group presentation on an assigned topic, and take a final exam. The goal of the course will be to gain knowledge of literary history in social and historical context, and to acquire critical skills for analysis of rhetoric and visual representations. All readings and lectures in English.


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

This course is intended for those with no prior background in folklore or knowledge of various cultures. Texts range in age from the first century to the twentieth, and geographically from the Middle East to Europe to the United States. Each collection displays various techniques of collecting folk materials and making them concerete. Each in its own way also raises different issues of genre, legitimacy, canon formation, cultural values and context.

COML 197.401 Madness and Madmen
Humanities and Social Science Sector
All readings and lectures in English
TR 12-1:30 Vinitsky
Cross listed with RUSS 197

This course will explore the representations of madness in Russian literature and arts from the medieval period through the October Revolution of 1917. The discussion will include formative masterpieces by Russian writers (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Bulgakov), painters (Repin, Vrubel’, Filonov), composers (Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky), and directors of films (Protazanov, Eisenstein), as well as non-fictional documents, such as Russian medical, judicial, political, and philosophical treatises and essays on madness.

COML 213.401 Saints and Devils in Russian Literature
FRESHMAN SEMINAR
Arts and Letters Sector
W 3:30-5:00 Verkholantsev
Cross listed with RUSS 218/RELS 218

This course is about Russian literature, which is populated with saints and devils, believers and religious rebels, holy men and sinners. In Russia, where people’s frame of mind had been formed by a mix of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and earlier pagan beliefs, the quest for faith, spirituality and the meaning of life has invariably been connected with religious matters. How can one find the right path in life? Is humility the way to salvation? Should one live for God or for the people? Does God even exist?

In “Saints and Devils,” we will examine Russian literature concerning the holy and the demonic as representations of good and evil, and we will learn about the historic trends that have filled Russia’s national character with religious and supernatural spirit. The founder of Russian absurdist and fantastic writing, Nikolai Gogol will teach us how to triumph over the devil. Following a master storyteller, Nikolai Leskov, we will delve in the spiritual world of the Old Believers—Russia’s persecuted religious non-conformists. In Anton Chekhov’s stories and Alexander Pushkin’s poetry we will contemplate Russia’s ambivalent ideal of womanhood: as a poetic Madonna or as a sinful agent of the devil. Immersed in the world of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, we will ask ourselves whether indeed “beauty will save the world.” Finally, Leo Tolstoy, who founded his own religion, will teach us his philosophical and moral lessons.

In sum, in the course of this semester we will talk about ancient cultural traditions, remarkable works of art and the great artists who created them. All readings and films are in English. Our primary focus will be on works by Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Leskov, Chekhov, Tolstoy, and Bulgakov, as well as films by Protazanov and Kurasawa (yes, a Japanese director). All readings and lectures in English.

COML 215.401 Arabic Literary Heritage
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Allen
Cross listed with NELC 233

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 are 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 253.401 Freud: The Invention of Psychoanalysis
Registration required for Lecture and Recitation
RECITATION SECTIONS 402 through 408
Humanities and Social Science Sector
TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
Cross listed with GRMN 253/GSOC 252/HSOC 253/STSC 253

Probably no other person of the twentieth century has influenced scientific thought, humanistic scholarship, medical therapy, and popular culture as much as Sigmund Freud. This seminar will try to study his work, its cultural background, and its impact on us today. In the first part of the course, we will learn about Freud's life and the Viennese culture of his time. We will then move to a discussion of seminal texts, such as excerpts from his Interpretation of Dreams, case studies, as well as essays on psychoanalytic practice, human development, neuroses, and culture in general. In the final part of the course, we will discuss the impact of Freud's work. Guest lecturers from the medical field, history of science, psychology, and the humanities will offer insights into the reception of Freud's work, and its consequences for various fields of study and therapy.


COML 254.401 Metropolis: Culture of the City
Arts and Letters Sector
All readings and lectures in English
MW 3:30-5 MacLeod
Cross listed with GRMN 244/URBS 244

An exploration of modern discourses on and of the city.  Topics include: the city as site of avant-garde experimentation; technology and culture; the city as embodiment of social order and disorder; traffic and speed; ways of seeing the city; the crowd; city figures such as the detective, the criminal, the flaneur, the dandy; film as the new medium of the city.  Special emphasis on Berlin.  Readings by, among others, Dickens, Poe, Baudelaire, Rilke, Doeblin, Marx, Engels, Benjamin, Kracauer.  Films include Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run.

COML 266.401 Introduction to Modern Hebrew Literature: Literature and Identity
Fulfills: Cross Cultural Analysis; Literatures of the World
Arts and Letters Sector

TR 10:30-12 Gold
Cross listed with HEBR 259/HEBR 559/JWST 259/COLL 220

This course will follow the windings of Israeli national and political awareness in the last five decades, through its reflections in significant works of poetry and prose. Israeli literature 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 land’s first native writers during the Israeli War of Independence. Their national ideology and heroic pathos were challenged in the 1950s and early 1960s. Y. Amichai’s “I want to die in my bed” became a manifesto for this Western-influenced “Generation of the State.” Protests against the war in Lebanon in the 1980s and the tumultuous 1990s returned many writers to different sides of the national, social, and political arenas.

COML 282.301 Modern Jewish American Literature: Voice, Culture, and the
Jewish Writer in Postwar America

TR 4:30-6 Glaser
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 279

Guilt, devotion, exile, shtick, messianism, boredom, tradition, voice, sex. Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Cynthia Ozick, Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Allen Ginsberg. As critic Morris Dickstein put it, “The work of these writers proved deliberately provocative, hugely entertaining, always flirting with bad taste and often very funny, but with an edge of pain and giddiness that borders on hysteria.” This course will study the “deliberately provocative” postwar Jewish writer in modern America. What made the Jewish American writer so radical? How did the postwar Jewish American writer become the archetypical American author? Why have Jewish American writers turned out to be lightning rods for changes in twentieth century American culture, and its shifting landscape of race, ethnicity, gender, and the individual? Looking first at the core generation of postwar Jewish American authors (such as Bellow, Malamud, and Roth) and then at the newest wave of writers such as Michael Chabon, Dara Horn, Gary Shteyngart, and Nathan Englander, we will address the thorny question of just what makes a Jewish American writer in modern America.

COML 282.401 Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture in Translation: Holocaust in Israeli Literature and Film
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Gold
Cross listed with NELC 159/CINE 329/JWST 102

The momentous Holocaust narrative The Diary of Anne Frank appeared in 1947, one year prior to the establishment of the Jewish State. The Israeli psyche and therefore Israeli art, however, “waited” until the 1961 public indictment of a Nazi war-criminal to hesitantly begin to face the Jewish catastrophe. The Zionist wish to forge a “New Jew” was in part responsible for this suppression. Aharon Appelfeld’s understated short stories were the first to enter the modernist literary scene in the 1960s, followed in 1970 by the cryptic verse of Dan Pagis, a fellow child survivor. Only in 1988 did the Second Generation of survivors reveal themselves. Indeed, two Israeli-born pop singers – haunted children of survivors – broke the continuous practice of concealing the past and its emotional aftermath in the watershed documentary Because of That War. This course will follow and analyze the transformation of Israeli literature and cinema from instruments of suppression of the Holocaust into means for dealing with this historic national trauma. Although Israeli works constitute more than half of the course’s material, other works of film and fiction will play comparative roles. The content of this course changes from year to year, and therefore, students may take it for credit more than once.


COML 283.401 Jewish Folklore
Cross Cultural Analysis
History and Tradition Sector

TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos
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 288.401 Problems in the Interpretation of African American Poetry
MW 3:30-5  Beavers
Cross listed with AFRC 288/ENGL 288

As it has evolved during the 20th Century, poetry by Americans of African descent has demonstrated as great a concern with issues of form, technique, and language as that written by any other group in the United States. And yet, African American poetry is engaged in a constant negotiation for adequate critical and academic space. In this seminar, we will take up these issues in both their modern and postmodern settings. We will pay a great deal of attention to context: history, music, spirituality, and sexuality, as we investigate the politics of interpretation and audience. Poets studied in the course will include Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Sterling A. Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Ai, Lucille Clifton, Robert Hayden, Michael S. Harper, Elizabeth Alexander, Terrance Hayes, and Cornelius Eady. Coursework will consist of several short papers and a longer critical paper.

COML 300.301 The Art of Eating: Food and Culture of Italy

Distribution History and Tradition
TR 10:30-12 Finotti
Cross listed wtih ITAL 300

Food is culture. Food is language.  The course will explore the anthropology of food and the cultural aspects of gastronomy in Italian History. We will focus on the communication through food not only in social life but also in different textual genres: narrative, poetry, cinema, visual arts, advertising. The class will be taught in English. The reading material and the bibliographical references will be provided in a course reader. Further material will be presented in class. Requirements include class attendance, preparation and participation, a series of oral responses, and a final oral presentation.


COML 343.401 European Intellectual History: 1770-1870
Distribution History and Tradition
MW 2-3:30 Breckman
Cross listed with HIST 343

This course will examine major political, philosophical, and cultural issues during the period, beginning with the Enlightenment and its legacies and concluding with Nietzsche's dismissal of the entire Enlightenment project. Along the way we will consider the impact of the French Revolution, the birth of ideologies, Romanticism, the utopian tradition, philosophical idealism and its critics, Liberalism, Marx and socialist alternatives, and the challenge of Darwinism. The course is text-based, and readings are from primary sources only. Authors include Kant, Goethe, and Condorcet at the beginning of the course; Burke, Maistre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Mill; and end with Darwin, Spencer, and Nietzsche. Topics in art, music, and literature will also be considered.


COML 360.401 Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
Distribution Arts and Letters
TR 3-4:30 Rabate
Cross listed with ENGL 094

This course will provide an exposure to the main discourses and practices of theory understood both as literary and cultural theory. We will start with early formulations of the problem of interpretation with Plato and Aristotle, then move on to classical, modern and contemporary approaches. We will study systematically the main tenets and concepts of as Formalism, Structuralism, Post-structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Feminism and Deconstruction. We will later engage with Post-colonial studies, Cultural Studies and Queer Theory.  We will use the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2001). Requirements: One oral report and two short papers (10 pages). No final exam.

COML 383.401 Literary Theory Ancient to Modern
Distribution Arts and Letters
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Copeland
Cross listed with CLST 396/ENGL 394

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 critic 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"; what is "imitation" or mimesis; 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.


COML 418.401 European Intellectual History Since 1945
T 1:30-4:30 Breckman
Cross listed with HIST 418

This course concentrates on French intellectual history after 1945, with some excursions into Germany . We will explore changing conceptions of the intellectual, from Sartre's concept of the ‘engagement' to Foucault's idea of the ‘specific intellectual'; the rise and fall of existentialism; structuralism and poststructuralism; and the debate over ‘postmodernity.' One of the central themes of the course will be the debate between ‘humanism' and ‘anti-humanism'. If late nineteenth and early twentieth-century thinkers were preoccupied by the question of the “death of God,” much philosophical discussion in France in the later twentieth century was obsessed by the death of “ Man. ” Many of the dominant thinkers of the post-war period have exposed the idea of the human
“subject” -- the “self” or “ego” -- to unprecedented criticism. What is meant by the “death of Man”? Does the human “self” have a “center,” or is the self a linguistic construction or the fragmented product of relations of power and desire? What are the political and social implications of the critique of “humanism”? What are the implications for our conception of “reason,” “history,” and “progress”? Can “humanism” be reformulated in the face of its critics?


        CGS                        CGS                        CGS                           CGS

COML 110.601 Classical Athens to Elizabethan England
Arts and Letters Sector
M 6-9 Schlatter
Cross listed with THAR 110

This course will explore the forms of public performance, most specifically theatre, as they emerge from and give dramatic shape to the dynamic life of communal, civic and social bodies, from their anthropological origins in ritual and religious ceremonies, to the rise of great urban centers,to the
closing of the theaters in London in 1642.  This course will focus on the development of theatre practice in both Western and non-Western cultures intersects with the history of cities, the rise of market economies, and the emerging forces of national identity.  In addition to examining the history of performance practices, theatre architecture, scenic conventions and acting methods, this course will investigate, where appropriate, social and political history, the arts, civic ceremonies and the dramaturgic structures of urban living.


COML 191.601 Classics of the Western World I
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 290.601 Mothers and Daughters: Myth, Theory and Literature
W 5:30-8:30 Schanoes
Cross listed with ENGL 290/GSOC 290

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his." -- Oscar Wilde.  Despite Oscar Wilde's quip, need the relationship between mother and daughter be tragic? The romance as well as the antagonsim between  mothers and daughters have been beautifully addressed by some of the best writers of our time! In this course, we'll be examining the ways in which writers have represented the relationships between mothers, who are also daughters, and daughters, who see a possible future in their mothers. How does this first relationship inform what it means to be a woman? We'll start by examining a few influential myths regarding mothers and daughters: the stories of Persephone and Demeter, Snow White and her (step)mother, and Rapunzel. We'll then read contemporary literature alongside the work of feminist psychoanalytic theorists such as Nancy Chodorow and Luce Irigaray in order to gain an understanding of the complexity of these relationships. Writers may include: Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, Rita Dove, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Tanith Lee, and Edith Olivier. Films may include Lovely and Amazing, Crooklyn, and Curse of the Cat People.



Last modified August 8, 2007
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania