Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Fall 2010

Attention Comparative Literature Majors:

Courses Satisfying "Postcolonial/Nonwestern Requirement:"

  • COML 053.401 Music of Africa
  • COML 065.401 Colonial and Postcolonial Fiction
  • COML 118.401 Iranian Cinema: Gender/Politics/Religion
  • COML 213.401 Saints and Devils in Russian Lit
  • COML 256.401 Contemporary Fiction and Film in Japan
  • COML 273.401 Topics in the Lit of Africa and the African Diaspora: Cityscapes
  • COML 353.401 Arabic Literary Theory

Courses Satisfying "Theory Requirement:"

  • COML 353.401 Arabic Literary Theory
  • COML 383.401 The Human Animal

COML 053.401 Music of Africa
TR 1:30-3 Muller
Cross listed with AFST 053, MUSC 053

African Contemporary Music: North, South, East, and West. Come to know contemporary Africa through the sounds of it music: from South African kwela, jazz, marabi, and kwaito to Zimbabwean chimurenga; Central African soukous and pygmy pop; West African fuji, and North African rai and hop hop. Through reading and listening to live performance, audio and video recordings, we will examine the music of Africa and its intersections with politics, history, gender, and religion in the colonial and post-colonial era.

COML 057.401 Great Books of Judaism
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Gen Req III: Arts and Letters
TR 10:30-12 Stern
Cross listed with JWST 151, NELC 156, RELS 027

The study of four paradigmatic and 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.

CANCELLED --COML 059.401 Modernisms and Modernities
TR 10:30-12 English
Cross listed with ENGL 059

This course is an introduction to the various interrelated developments of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in art, literature, cinema, music, theater, and philosophy which have come to be thought of together as "modernism." Our approach will be international, taking in such movements as Impressionism, Futurism, Cubism, Vorticism, Dada, Jazz, Documentary, and Surrealism as they emerged in such locations as Harlem, Bloomsbury, and the Parisian Left Bank. We will consider some of the major debates that run through this period, in particular the longstanding debate over the merits of "modernism" vs. "realism." We will attempt to place the various modernisms in the historical context of modernity, relating them to the rise of new technologies (the telephone, the gramophone, the cinema), new political and military realities (the collapse of the European empires, the capitulation to Total War), new racial and sexual identities, and new modes of urban living.

This is an introductory class: no previous study of the literature and art of the period is required. Written work will include five or six exams, a short essay of 4-5 pages, and a longer essay of 6-10 pages.

COML 062.401 20th-Century Poetry
W 2-5 Bernstein
Cross listed with ENGL 062

This "reading workshop" is an introduction to the unprecedented range of language exploration in the poetry that emerged in the 20th century from Europe, Latin America and others parts of the world. The basic course text will be Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry, edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris. The anthology features poets such as Mallarmé, Rilke, Tzara, Mayakovsky,Vallejo, Artaud, and Césaire, along with a sampling of some of the most significant movements in poetry and the other arts: Futurism, Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, "Objectivism," Negritude. We will also look at sound and visual poetry and also the new digital poetry that is emerging on the Intenet. In addition, there will be a few poets visiting the class -- reading and discussing their work with the seminar.

The "reading workshop" is less concerned with analysis or explanation of individual poems than with finding ways to intensify the experience of poetry, of the poetic, through a consideration of how the different styles and structures and forms of 20th century poetry can affect the way we see and understand the world. No previous experience with poetry is necessary. More important is a willingness to consider the implausible, to try out alternative ways of thinking, to listen to the way language sounds before trying to figure out what it means, to lose yourself in a flurry of syllables and regain your bearings in dimensions otherwise imagined as out-of-reach.

The basic requirement for the class is a weekly response to the assigned readings - usually a notebook entry, imitation, or experiment. These responses are open-ended and can be in whatever form you choose - they are meant to encourage interaction with the poems and also serve as a record of your reading. The experiments are based on list of exercises (something like laboratory work!) aimed at getting inside the styles of the various poets studied. The responses and experiments will form the basis of workshop discussions.

The readings for this workshop are extensive and cannot all be discussed in class. The concept is for you to saturate yourself in 20th-century poetry. Works will be presented from well-known poets but there will be equal attention to a range of lesser known poets as well as on younger poets now actively working to delight, inform, redress, lament, extol, oppose, renew, rhapsodize, imagine, foment . . .

Syllabus is on-line at http://writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/syllabi/62.html. See links there for "Introduction" and "Requirements."

**By permit only. Send an email expressing your interest in the class to Charles Bernstein.**

COML 065.401 Colonial and Postcolonial Fiction
TR 3-4:30 Barnard
Cross listed with AFST 065, ENGL 065

In this lecture-discussion class we will study a series of thematically connected novels by some of the twentieth-centuryÕs most important writers from Britain and its former colonies. We will also read one excellent novel from the former French colonies of Mali and Senegal. Class discussions will critically examine the following oppositions: "Englishness" (or "Frenchness") and otherness, civilization and barbarism, power and knowledge, the metropolis and the periphery, and writing and orality. The course will appeal to students with an interest in questions of race and gender and the relationship between literature and politics, as well as students who simply want to read interesting books and expand their literary horizons. The course will concentrate to some extent on Africa (since that is my area of specialization), but not exclusively. Writing requirements: a mid-term and final paper of around 8-10 pp. in length). Books are likely to include: Conrad, Heart of Darkness or Coetzee, "The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee," Forster, Passage to India, Waugh, Black Mischief, Lessing, The Grass is Singing, Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea, Greene, The Quiet American, Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Ousmane, God's Bits of Wood, Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians, Ishiguru, The Remains of the Day, and Rushdie, Shame or East/West. Films may include: Aguirre, The Wrath of God, The Battle of Algiers, and Black and White in Color.

COML 069.401 Poetry and Poetics
TR 9-10:30 Jaji
Cross listed with ENGL 069

This class is an introduction to reading poetry and critical work on poetics with care and imagination. While poetry is often conceived within the framework of local networks (like the Black Mountain poets) or national frames (the British Romantics) this course proposes to trace the transnational relationships between poets reading and translating each others' works. It also considers how reading across a wide range of geographic locations draws attention to unexpected links in aesthetic, formal, and topical concerns. While we will read a range of authors, much of our attention will be devoted to African and Afro-diasporic poetic and critical practices. We’ll consider how such movements as négritude, créolité, the Harlem Renaissance, negrismo, the Black Arts Movement and other apparently local writers' communities may be read as forms of transnationalism. For example, how do we understand Langston Hughes, the quintessential Harlem renaissance "blues poet" more fully when we consider his translations of Federico Lorca (Spain), Nicolas Guillen (Cuba) and Jacques Roumain (Haiti)? And what do we learn about poetics when we think about how the figure of a rhizome works in the writings of Edouard Glissant and Deleuze/Guattari. Although all texts will be available in English, students with reading ability in other languages are encouraged to read in the original.

CANCELLED --COML 094. 401 Introduction to Literary Theory
TR 9-10:30 Gaedtke
Cross listed with ENGL 094

This course will examine the major theoretical and methodological approaches to literary and cultural studies that have evolved over the last few decades. Our readings will include some of the foundational texts of Russian formalism, structuralism, deconstruction, Marxism, new historicism, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, minority discourse theory, post-colonial studies, and new media theory. We will consider how these theoretical approaches have reconfigured the goals and methods of literary studies, and we will also critically assess their ideological agendas and practical implications. Finally, we will determine how best to “use” and engage theory in our own research and writing. Assignments will include several short essays, and an annotated bibliography/research paper.

COML 100.401 Introduction to Literature
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters sector
Registration required for LEC and REC
Lec MW 12-1
Cross listed with ENGL 100
Rec 402 F 12-1 cross listed with ENGL 100.402
Rec 403 F 2-3 cross listed with ENGL 100.403

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 101.401 Introduction to Folklore
Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with FOLK 101, NELC 181

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 104.401 Monsters in Film and Lit
Arts & Letters Sector
MW 2-3:30 Yang
Cross listed with CINE 104, ENGL 104

Why do monsters have such lasting popular appeal in film and literature? From medieval dragons to intergalactic aliens, monsters reveal our fascination with the supernatural and the grotesque, with scientific experimentation and the boundaries of what it means to be human. Every culture has its own way of representing the unknown and sublimating its deep-seated fears of contamination and invasion—often through the figure of the monster. In this course we will study films featuring a wide assortment of monsters and the literature that inspires and reproduces them across a range of genres, cultures, and time periods. Films may include: Nosferatu, Frankenstein, The Fly, 28 Weeks Later, The Elephant Man, Godzilla. Authors may include: Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, and Octavia Butler. This course includes an introduction to film analysis and readings in cultural studies and literary theory. There are no prerequisites.

Film screenings are scheduled weekly at nights. Assignments will include quizzes and in-class exams, two 4-5 page essays, and a collaborative research project on a monster of your choice.

COML 118.401 Iranian Cinema: Gender/Politics/Religion
Cross Cultural Analysis
MW 2-3:30 Minuchehr
Cross listed with GSOC 118, NELC 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 191.601 Classics of the Western World I
Arts & Letters Sector
W 6:30-9:30 Sarah Kerman

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 203.401 World Literature: Italian
Literatures of the World MWF 10-11 Johnson
Cross listed with COLL 228, ITAL 203

Italian 203 is an introductory course aimed to offer students the opportunity to discover Italian Literature and Civilization through readings and reflections upon significant texts of the Italian literary and artistic tradition. From the underworld of Dante to the love poetry of Petrarch, from the political vision of Macchiavelli to the scientific revolution of Galileo, from the modernist fragmentation of Pirandello to the postmodern creations of Calvino, up to the latest trends in Italian cinema, it explores a wide range of literary genres, themes and cultural debates by analyzing texts within their socio-political context. Students will expand vocabulary, improve skills in critical interpretation and reinforce written and oral competences in Italian through class discussions, presentations, short papers and research projects.

Readings and discussion in Italian. Prerequisite: Italian 202 (with which it may be taken concurrently by permission) or an equivalent course taken abroad. Required for Italian Literature majors/minors.

COML 213.401 Saints and Devils in Russian Lit
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 3-4:30 Verkholantsev
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RELS 218, RUSS 213

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 218.401 Perspectives in French Literature
Cross Cultural Analysis; Literatures of the World
Section 401: TR 10:30-12 Richman
Section 402: MWF 11-12 Prince
Section 403: TR 1:30-3 Moudileno
Cross listed with COLL 221, FREN 221

This course is designed to provide students with a knowledge of major aspects of the French literary tradition from the Middle Ages to the present and, at the same time, to unify a broad variety of works under the rubric of textual eroticism and romance. Texts will include prose narratives (Tristan et Iseut, Manon Lescaut, L’Amant), plays (Phèdre, On ne badine pas avec l’amour), and poetry (by Ronsard, Hugo, Baudelaire, Apollinaire). All readings and class discussion in French.

COML 220.401 Russia and the West
Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 1:30-3 Staff
Cross listed with HIST 220, Russ 220

COML 237.401 Berlin: History, Politics, Culture
Registration Required for LEC and REC
Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
Cross listed with GRMN 237
REC 402, 403, 404, 405

What do you know about Berlin’s history, architecture, culture, and political life? The present course will offer a survey of the history of Prussia, beginning with the seventeenth century, and the unification of the small towns of Berlin and Koelln to establish a new capital for this country. It will tell the story of Berlin’s rising political prominence in the eighteenth century, its transformation into an industrial city in the late nineteenth century, its rise to metropolis in the early twentieth century, its history during the Third Reich, and the post-war cold war period. The course will conclude its historical survey with a consideration of Berlin’s position as a capital in reunified Germany.

The historical survey will be supplemented by a study of Berlin’s urban structure, its significant architecture from the eighteenth century (i.e. Schinkel) to the nineteenth (new worker’s housing, garden suburbs) and twentieth centuries (Bauhaus, Speer designs, postwar rebuilding, GDR housing projects, post-unification building boom). In addition, we will read literary texts about the city, and consider the visual art and music created in and about Berlin. Indeed, Berlin will be a specific example to explore German history and cultural life of the last 300 years.

The course will be interdisciplinary with the fields of German Studies, history, history of art, and urban studies. It is also designed as a preparation for undergraduate students who are considering spending a junior semester with the Penn Abroad Program in Berlin.


Two brief papers, a final project, a final examination, attendance in class, participation in Blackboard discussion, attendance in Friday discussion session with a “Berlin Team Member.”

The two papers (about 5-7 pages each) will be scholarly essays, relating to the readings and discussions in class. The third project will be creative: it will be a project dealing with Berlin. The final examination will offer questions from the readings and discussions in class.

Questions will be posted weekly on the discussion board, which in turn will be divided into smaller groups; please engage in discussions there. The questions will also prepare your reading.

COML 244.401 The Other News: Gender, Minorities and Media in 20th Century Germany
MW 3:30-5 Wallach
Cross listed with GRMN 238

Extra, extra, meine Damen und Herren! From the press to cabaret, film, and hip-hop, different media have provided women and minorities with means for self-expression in modern Germany. Women as well as ethnic, religious, and sexual minority groups have utilized literature and media to differentiate themselves from the “majority” population and generate responses to discrimination or persecution. This course will explore literature, music, film, and advertisements in 20th-century Germany, from Yiddish cabaret songs and dramatic performances by Jews under Nazi supervision, to Turkish-German film, Afro-German poetry, contemporary klezmer and hip-hop, and LGBT poster campaigns. This course will offer students the opportunity to improve their public speaking skills as they analyze storytelling, performance, and staging techniques in a variety of speaking assignments including multi-media presentations. Classroom discussions and debates about topics such as censorship, memorials, and women’s and gay rights will provide additional speaking practice.

CANCELLED --COML 247.401 Marx
TR 3-4:30 Jarosinski
Cross listed with GRMN 247

COML 249.401 Topics in 19th C. Literature: Masterpieces and Mass Culture
MW 3:30-5 Quinn-Brauner
Cross listed with ENGL 251

Because 19th-century modernization swelled the reading public to an unprecedented size, authors and readers became increasingly concerned with literature’'s power to educate, entertain, enlighten, and mobilize the masses. At the same time, the distinction between high art and popular literature grew increasingly sharp. While some writers aimed to reach as wide a public as possible, many were very ambivalent about popularity; success with the masses might translate into money and influence, but it could also call into question the writer’'s status as a serious artist. In this course, we'’ll look at how 19th-century American and British novels, poems, short stories, essays, and memoirs represent the division between high art and mass culture, while also considering the cultural status of the works themselves. We'’ll ask: What is a masterpiece? Who decides? Does mass appreciation disqualify a work for masterpiece status? How have the terms of literary and aesthetic value shifted from the 19th century to our own times? Readings may include works by James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stephen Crane, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, Charles Dickens, and H.G. Wells.

Requirements: two short papers, one in-class presentation, and a final research paper.

COML 256.401 Contemporary Fiction and Film in Japan
R 1:30-4:30 Kano
Cross listed with CINE 222, EALC 257, GSOC, 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 273.401 Topics in the Lit of Africa and the African Diaspora: Cityscapes
TR 12-1:30 Jaji
Cross listed with AFRC 276, ENGL 271

This seminar examines fiction and films set in cities including Dakar, Palmares, Kingston, Paris, Bulawayo, Algiers, London, and Johannesburg. In each text experiences of urban space are central. We will consider what is unique about cities in the African diaspora and in Africa, and what may or may not justify calling metropolitan cities like Philadelphia part of the African diaspora. In addition to analyzing texts in the classroom we will engage with Penn’s neighborhood, West Philadelphia, where emerging relationships between recent black immigrants and the historical African American culture(s) of this city reveal new aspects of “diaspora.” We will draw upon critical essays on geography and space by authors such as Henri Lefèbvre, David Harvey, Achille Mbembe, Arjun Appadurai, Édouard Glissant, Brent Hayes Edwards as we work out our own definition(s) of a "cityscape." Although all texts will be available in English, students with reading ability in other languages are encouraged to read in the original.

COML 274.401 Contemporary Poetry: 1975 to Present
W 6-9 Bernstein
Cross listed with ENGL 262

This small seminar will follow the same form and structure as English 288 and English 62, but will focus on poetry after 1975, mostly from the U.S., but also including some poetry from Canada, the UK, and Europe. This will not be a period or survey course: the seminar will focus on poetry that pushes the envelope on formal and conceptual invention. The syllabus should be available in early summer. Think: digital, (para- and post-) conceptual, site-specific, post-NY School, language, sprung lyric, flarf, eco-, and performance poetries as well as book art and possibly related work in film, theater, and the visual arts. In addition, there will be a few poets visiting the class -- reading and discussing their work with the seminar.

The "reading workshop" is less concerned with analysis or explanation of individual poems than with finding ways to intensify the experience of poetry, of the poetic, through a consideration of how the different styles and structures and forms of contemporary poetry can affect the way we see and understand the world. No previous experience with poetry is necessary. More important is a willingness to consider the implausible, to try out alternative ways of thinking, to listen to the way language sounds before trying to figure out what it means, to lose yourself in a flurry of syllables and regain your bearings in dimensions otherwise imagined as out-of-reach.

The basic requirement for the class is a weekly response to the assigned readings - usually a notebook entry, imitation, or experiment. These responses are open-ended and can be in whatever form you choose - they are meant to encourage interaction with the poems and also serve as a record of your reading. The experiments are based on list of exercises (something like laboratory work) aimed at getting inside the styles of the various poets studied. The responses and experiments will form the basis of workshop discussions.

**By permit only. Send an email expressing your interest in the class to Charles Bernstein.**

COML 282.401 Modern Hebrew Lit and Culture in Translation
Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 1:30-3 Staff
Cross listed with JWST 102, NELC 159

The content of the 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; Cultural Diversity in U.S.
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with FOLK 280, JWST 260, EALC 258

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 migrations of Jews into different countries and the historical, social, and cultural changes that these countries underwent. The course attempts to capture the 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.

COML 289.401 Multiculturalism: Politics, Theory, Practice
T 1:30-4:30 Sanday
Cross listed with ANTH 290, GSOC 291

This course introduces anthropological theories of culture and multiculturalism and the method of ethnography as these apply to understanding diversity in contemporary life. After learning the basic concepts through reading key texts and writing response papers, students will apply the concepts by (1) writing an ethnic autobiography; (2) critiquing a film or novel with a multicultural theme; and (3) conducting a mini-ethnography of a multicultural site of their choice. These projects are designed to encourage students to reflect on the meaning of multiculturaliam from three different angles: personal experience, media representation, and participant observation of diversity in a multicultural site (which could be at Penn). The goal is to learn about the role and the impacts of diversity in the US vis-a-vis constitutionally guaranteed rights to liberty, equality, and democratic justice.

CANCELLED -- COML 292.403 Poetic Film: Word, Image, and the Avant-Garde
MW 3:30-5 Sheehan
Cross listed with CINE 202

COML 302.401 Odyssey and Its Afterlife
TR 3-4:30 Murnaghan
Cross listed with CLST 302

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.

COML 329.301 Poetry and Political Culture in Ancient Greece
MW 2-3:30 Hall
Cross listed with ENGL 329

The goal of this course is to grapple with authors who asked questions fundamental to a liberal education and who strove to answer those questions with a profundity that set a standard for great thinking after them. Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Plato asked the questions central to human life: wherein lie human happiness and human dignity? These authors also addressed the requisite corollary questions: what is the nature of the human soul? what is the best kind of polity? what virtue does a particular polity encourage? what virtue does a particular kind of literature teach?

We will read the following works in whole or in part: Homer’s Iliad, Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and the Oresteia, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, and five dialogues of Plato (Apology, Meno, Gorgias, Republic, Phaedrus).

Course requirements: 3 short papers, final paper, regular class participation.


Homer’s Iliad, trans. Fagles; Aeschylus I, trans. Grene, Lattimore, etc. (Chicago) and Aeschylus II, trans. Grene, Lattimore, etc. (Chicago); Four Texts on Socrates, ed. West and West (Cornell); Plato, Republic, trans. Grube (Hackett); Plato, Gorgias, trans. Zeyl (Hackett); Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars, trans. Crawley (McGraw-Hill); Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Nehemas and Woodruff (Hackett); Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, in The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner, trans. Kaufmann (Vintage).

COML 343.401 19th C. European Intellectual History
TR 10:30-12 Breckman
Cross listed with HIST 343

Click here to read course information and see syllabus.

COML 353.401 Arabic Literary Theory
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 372.401 Horror Cinema
Registration Required for LEC and REC
T 4:30-6 Met
REC 402-403
Cross listed with CINE 382, FREN 382

This version of the course will explore European Horror Cinema from the 1970s to the present time, focusing on a number of cult films that have helped rejuvenate and redefine the genre in a radically modern sense by pushing the envelope in terms of subversive representation of gore, violence and sex. We will look at various national cinemas (primarily Western Europe – Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands – with the occasional foray into Eastern Europe and Scandinavia) and at a range of subgenres (giallo, mondo, slasher, survival, snuff, …) or iconic figures (ghosts, vampires, cannibals, serial killers, …).

Issues of ethics, ideology, gender, sexuality, violence, spectatorship will be discussed through a variety of critical lenses (psychoanalysis, socio-historical and cultural context, aesthetics, politics…). The class will be conducted entirely in English.

Be prepared for provocative, graphic, transgressive film viewing experiences. Not for the faint of heart!

COML 383.401 The Human Animal
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 9-10:30 Rabaté
Cross listed with ENGL 394

To ask “what is an animal? ” entails wondering about what is being human. We have become increasingly aware that animals are not to be relegated to the category of pure otherness, can be disposed off and slaughtered at will, and that they may even have some rights. Taking a philosophical point of departure with Derrida (The Animal that therefore I am.) and Agamben (The Open: Man and Animal), we will explore a literary corpus (with Aesop, Cervantes, Poe, Soseki, Ted Hughes, Marianne Moore, Kakfa, J. M. Coetzee) as well as a few films (The Fly, Grizzly Man) so as to question our usual assumptions about the limits separating humanity from animality.

Giorgio Agamben, The Open, Man and Animal
Cervantes, Exemplary Stories
Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello
Derrida, The Animal that therefore I am
Ted Hughes, Collected Poems
Kafka, Complete Stories
Marianne Moore, Complete Poems
Soseki Natsume, I am a cat

Requirements: one film journal, two papers and one oral presentation.

Last modified March 14, 2010
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania