BACK


Undergraduate Courses
Fall 2012




The following courses fulfill the COML *theory* elective requirement for majors:

COML094, COML118, COML121, COML247, COML290, COML353, COML382, and COML391

The following courses fulfill the COML *non-Western or postcolonial studies* elective requirement for majors:

COML057, COML129, COML282, COML283, COML294, COML353, and COML391

Other courses may also be counted toward elective requirements, in consultation with the Undergraduate Chair.


COML 008.401

CWiC Critical Speaking Program course
MW 3:30-5 Rittenberg

Cross listed with NELC 008.401

Echoes of Prophets, Poets, and Princesses in the Arabic Intellectual Tradition

Through the power of their voices, Arab poets made and unmade rulers, mobilized armies, and immortalized the deeds and words of countless individuals. The voice of ‘Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, rang out loudly in the political and military affairs of the nascent Islamic Empire. Early debates about the nature of God’s speech led to a violent confrontation between religious and political authorities which shaped their interaction for centuries. In this CWiC critical speaking seminar, we will examine the role of the spoken word in the Arabic intellectual tradition. In particular, we will study its influence on the development of Arabic literature, theories of linguistic signification, the educational system, and identities of different groups. We will study in translation works of Arabic poetry, religious texts, speeches, debates, court cases, collections of stories, and works of dialectics. Although we will focus on texts that date from 500 C.E. to 1500 C.E., we will also examine contemporary examples of speech in order to better understand the performative context and continuity between pre-modern and modern traditions of speech in Arabic. Students will improve their speaking and listening skills through class discussions, debates, storytelling, and other types of presentations. All readings are in English and the course presumes no prior knowledge of the topic.

COML 031.401

TR 3-4:30 Loomba
Cross listed with ENGL 031

Renaissance Literature and Culture

This course will introduce you to some of the most exciting and vital issues and texts-- historical, cultural and literary-- of Renaissance England. We will read a variety of men and women, some well known, others not, who will take us into pre-modern worlds that are significantly different from our own, and yet help us understand our own modernity. Readings will range from Shakespeare's plays and love poetry of the period to the speeches of Queen Elizabeth I, Columbus's letter announcing the 'discovery' of America, and Edmund Spenser's controversial view of Ireland.

Through these various texts, we will explore how various ideas and practices changed during the Renaissance, particularly those about the human subject, God, gender relations, the family, love, authority, the nation and racial difference. And most importantly, we will see how literary texts contribute to these meanings in their own distinctive ways.

Students will be graded on the basis of a two short class presentations, a mid-term and a final paper.

COML 057.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Stern

Cross listed with JWST 151, NELC 156, RELS 027

Great Books of Judaism

The study of four paradigmatic classic Jewish texts so as to introduce students to the literature of classic Judaism. Each text will be studied historically--"excavated" for its sources and roots--and holistically, as a canonical document in Jewish tradition. While each text will inevitably raise its own set of issues, we will deal throughout the semester with two basic questions: What makes a "Jewish" text? And how do these texts represent different aspects of Jewish identity? All readings will be in translation.

COML 094.401

TR 3-4:30 Rabaté
Cross listed with ENGL 094

Introduction to Literary Theory

This course will provide an exposure to the discourses of contemporary theory. We will study a few precursors before focusing on the main schools of the twentieth century. Theory has exploded and expanded recently. It is used both to understand and to criticize our increasingly globalized world. We will survey the main concepts developed by the Formalist, Structuralist, Post-structuralist, Marxist and Feminist schools, before engaging with Post-colonial studies, Cultural Studies, Queer Theory, Translation Studies and new approaches to World Literature. We will use the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2010) and a few hand-outs.

COML 101.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos

Cross listed with FOLK 101, NELC 181

Introduction to Folklore

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 111.401

Arts & Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Ferguson

Cross listed with ENGL 097, THAR 111

Theatre, History, Culture II

What makes Jewish American literature Jewish? What makes it American? This course will address these questions about ethnic literature through fiction, poetry, drama, and other writings by Jews in America, from their arrival in 1654 to the present. We will discuss how Jewish identity and ethnicity shape literature and will consider how form and language develop as Jewish writers "immigrate" from Yiddish, Hebrew, and other languages to American English. Our readings, from Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, will include a variety of stellar authors, both famous and less-known, including Isaac Mayer Wise, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Celia Dropkin, Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Allegra Goodman. Students will come away from this course having explored the ways that Jewish culture intertwines with American culture in literature.

COML 118.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
MW 3:30-5 Todorov

Cross listed with CINE 111, RUSS 111

Poetics of Screenwriting: The Art of Plotting

This course studies scriptwriting in a historical, theoretical and artistic perspective. We discuss the rules of drama and dialogue, character development, stage vs. screen-writing, adaptation of non-dramatic works, remaking of plots, author vs. genre theory of cinema, storytelling in silent and sound films, the evolvement of a script in the production process, script doctoring, as well as screenwriting techniques and tools. Coursework involves both analytical and creative tasks. All Readings and Lectures in English.

COML 121.401

MW 3:30-5 Silverman, T.
Cross listed with ENGL 120

Translation Workshop

In this class we will study and translate some of the major figures in 20th century poetry, including Rainer Maria Rilke, Claire Malroux, Pablo Neruda, Cesare Pavese, Anna Akhmatova, and Bei Dao. While the curriculum will be tailored to the interests and linguistic backgrounds of the students who enroll, all those curious about world poetry and the formidable, irresistible act of translation are welcome. No knowledge of a language other than English is required: we will study multiple translations of seminal poems and render our own versions in response. Students with knowledge of other languages will have the additional opportunity to work directly from the original; students may also work in pairs, or groups. A portion of the course will be set up as a creative writing workshop in which to examine the overall effect of each others’ translations so that first drafts can become successful revisions. While class discussions will explore the contexts and particularity of (among others) Urdu, Italian, French, and Polish poetry, they might ultimately reveal how notions of national literature have radically shifted in recent years to more polyglottic and globally textured forms. Through guest speakers, essays on translation theory, and our own ongoing experiments, this course will celebrate the ways in which great poetry underscores the fact that language itself is a translation. In addition to the creative work, assignments will include an oral presentation, informal response papers, and a short final essay.

COML 123.401

Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Decherney

Cross listed with ARTH 108, CINE 101, ENGL 091

Film History and Analysis

This course surveys the history of world film from cinema’s precursors to 1945. We will develop methods for analyzing film while examining the growth of film as an art, an industry, and a political instrument. The course begins with the emergence of film technology and early film audiences. We will then look at the rise of narrative film and the birth of Hollywood before turning to a number of national film industries that flourished after World War I, including French, Italian, Soviet, German, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian film. Along the way, we will look at different genres and topics including African-American independent film during the silent era, animation, ethnographic and documentary film, censorship, and the coming of sound. We conclude with the transformation of several film industries into propaganda tools during World War II (including the Nazi, Soviet, and US film industries). There are no prerequisites. Requirements include a short essay, a research project, a midterm, and a final.

COML 124.601

T 4:30-7:10 Gaffney
Cross listed with ARTH 109, CINE 102, ENGL 092

World Film History, 1945 to Present

Focusing on movies made after 1945, this course allows students to learn and to sharpen methods, terminologies, and tools needed for the critical analysis of film. Beginning with the cinematic revolution signaled by the Italian Neo-Realism (of Rossellini and De Sica), we will follow the evolution of postwar cinema through the French New Wave (of Godard, Resnais, and Varda), American movies of the 1950s and 1960s (including the New Hollywood cinema of Coppola and Scorsese), and the various other new wave movements of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (such as the New German Cinema). We will then selectively examine some of the most important films of the last two decades, including those of U.S. independent film movement and movies from Iran, China, and elsewhere in an expanding global cinema culture. There will be precise attention paid to formal and stylistic techniques in editing, mise-en-scene, and sound, as well as to the narrative, non-narrative, and generic organizations of film. At the same time, those formal features will be closely linked to historical and cultural distinctions and changes, ranging from the Paramount Decision of 1948 to the digital convergences that are defining screen culture today. There are no perquisites. Requirements will include readings in film history and film analysis, an analytical essay, a research paper, a final exam, and active participation.

COML 129.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 10:30-12 Atwood

Cross listed with CINE 119, NELC 119

Middle Eastern Cinema

This course aims to introduce students to major trends in contemporary Middle Eastern cinemas. Organized thematically rather than geographically, the class encourages students to map cultural ties among the countries that constitute a region defined too often by its conflict. Together we will examine the representation of politics, religion, social structures, and war by films that can be classified as documentary, comedy, drama, and experimental. Our goal is to distill important cultural information about the peoples of the Middle East. Recognizing both these thematic links and the reality of multi-country production, we will also attempt to compound our understanding of national and transnational cinema. Do national cinemas exist in the Middle East? How do we make sense of the overwhelming success of Middle Eastern productions on the western film festival circuit and how do those films relate to films intended for local audiences?

COML 130.601

MW 6-7:30 Mowbray
Cross listed with CLST 107

Tragedy

Tragedy poses the fundamental questions of what it means to be human. What motivates our actions and interactions? What constitutes individual and collective identities? How do we grapple with the constraints of the past, present suffering, unknown futures? To what extent are we resilient after betrayal and disillusionment? Ancient tragedies stage a spectrum of human experiences and psychology (and pathology), from heroism to passion to grief and revenge. In this course we will train our interpretive gaze on Greek and Roman plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Seneca, examining such topics as ‘justice’, ‘love and madness’, ‘fate and self-knowledge’, ‘sweet revenge’, and ‘gods and mortals’. We will go on to trace the tragic tradition in post-classical plays by Marlowe, Shakespeare, Racine, and Dove. Finally, we will examine some inheritors of tragedy in non-dramatic media—film, music, the visual arts—with an eye to both continuities with and deviations from the ancient models. Selected critical and theoretical readings will complement our study of tragedy's central themes. Class will be run seminar-style: a combination of lecture and discussion. All readings will be in English; knowledge of Greek and Latin is not required. Course requirements consist of written responses, quizzes, oral presentations, and a choice of final exam or final paper.

COML 150.601

Humanities and Social Science Sector
T 5:30-8:30 Whitbeck

Cross listed with ENGL 105, RUSS 193

War and Representation

Representations of war have been created for as many reasons as wars are fought: To legitimate conflict, to celebrate military glory, 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 of the twentieth century.

COML 200.402

Freshman Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 10:30-12 Francis

Cross listed with FREN 200, ENGL 016

Fantastic Voyage from Homer to Sci-Fi

Tales of voyages to strange lands with strange inhabitants and even stranger customs have been a part of the Western literary tradition from its inception. What connects these tales is that their voyages are not only voyages of discovery, but voyages of self-discovery. By describing the effects these voyages have on the characters who undertake them, and by hinting comparisons between the lands described in the story and their own society, authors use fantastic voyages as vehicles for incisive commentary on literary, social, political, and scientific issues.

In this course, we will explore the tradition of the fantastic voyage from Homer’s Odyssey, one of the earliest examples of this type of narrative and a model for countless subsequent voyage narratives, to modern science fiction, which appropriates this narrative for its own ends. We will determine what the common stylistic elements of voyage narratives are, such as the frame narrative, or story-within-a-story, and what purpose they serve in conveying the tale’s messages. We will see how the voyagers attempt to understand and interact with the lands and peoples they encounter, and what these attempts tell us about both the voyagers and their newly-discovered counterparts. Finally, we will ask ourselves what real-world issues are commented upon by these narratives, what lessons the narratives have to teach about them, and how they impart these lessons to the reader. Though this course is primarily dedicated to literature, we will also watch several seminal sci-fi films to determine how cinematographic techniques can inform narratives of fantastic voyage.

This course is meant not only for sci-fi fans who would like to become better acquainted with the precursors and classics of the genre, but for all those who wish to learn how great works of fiction, far from being intended solely for entertainment and escapism, attempt to improve upon the real world through the effect they have on the reader. Readings and discussion are in English; an additional discussion group devoted to the original French versions of Cyrano, Verne and Boulle may be formed, as well, given sufficient interest.

Texts and Films
- Homer, The Odyssey (8th century BCE)
- Lucian of Samosata, A True Story (2nd century CE)
- Thomas More, Utopia (1516)
- Cyrano de Bergerac, The Other World: The States and Empires of the Moon (1657)
- Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Part Three: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan; Part Four: A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms
- Jules Verne, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea (1870)
- H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895)
- A Trip to the Moon (Dir. Georges Méliès, 1902)
- Karel Capek, War with the Newts (1936)
- Pierre Boulle, Planet of the Apes (1963)
- Planet of the Apes, (Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)

COML 203.401

Literatures of the World
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 3-4:30 Johnson

Cross listed with COLL 228, ITAL 203

World Literature: Italian

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 218.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Literatures of the World
Arts & Letters Sector
S TR 10:30-12 Goulet
S 402: MWF 11-12 Moudileno
S 403: TR 9-10:30 Richman

Cross listed with COLL 221, FREN 221

Perspectives in French Literature

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

Humanities and Social Sciences Sector (New Curriculum Only)
Cross-Cultural Analysis (Class of '10 and after)
MW 12-1:30 Vinitsky

Cross listed with HIST 220, RUSS 220

From the Other Shore: Russia and the West

This course will explore the representations of the West in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century Russian literature and philosophy. We will consider the Russian visions of various events and aspects of Western political and social life — Revolutions, educational system, public executions, resorts, etc. — within the context of Russian intellectual history. We will examine how images of the West reflect Russia's own cultural concerns, anticipations, and biases, as well as aesthetic preoccupations and interests of Russian writers. The discussion will include literary works by Karamzin, Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Leskov, and Tolstoy, as well as non-fictional documents, such as travelers' letters, diaries, and historiosophical treatises of Russian Freemasons, Romantic and Positivist thinkers, and Russian social philosophers of the late Nineteenth century. A basic knowledge of nineteenth-century European history is desirable. The class will consist of lectures, discussion, short writing assignments, and two in-class tests.

COML 237.401

Humanities & Social Science Sector
LEC TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
REC S 402: F 10-11
REC S 403: F 11-12
REC S 404: F 12-1
REC S 405: F 1-2

Registration required for LEC and REC
Cross listed with GRMN 237
All Readings and Lectures in English

Berlin: History, Politics, Culture

What do you know about Berlin’s history, architecture, culture, and political life? The present course will tell the history of Prussia, beginning with the seventeenth century, and focus on the unification of the small towns of Berlin and Coelln to establish a new capital for this country. It will trace 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. It will finally consider Berlin’s position as a capital in reunified Germany and European Union.

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). We will read literary texts about the city, 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.

This interdisciplinary course is also an ideal preparation for students who would like to spend a semester with the Penn Abroad Program in Berlin.

COML 247.401

Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 3-4:30 Jarosinski

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 247

MARX

"A spectre is haunting Europe--the spectre of Communism": This, the famous opening line of The Communist Manifesto, will guide this course's exploration of the history, legacy, and potential future of Karl Marx's most important texts and ideas, even long after Communism has been pronounced dead. Contextualizing Marx within a tradition of radical thought regarding politics, religion, and sexuality, we will focus on the philosophical, political, and cultural origins and implications of his ideas. Our work will center on the question of how his writings seek to counter or exploit various tendencies of the time; how they align with the work of Nietzsche, Freud, and other radical thinkers to follow; and how they might continue to haunt us today. We will begin by discussing key works by Marx himself, examining ways in which he is both influenced by and appeals to many of the same fantasies, desires, and anxieties encoded in the literature, arts and intellectual currents of the time. In examining his legacy, we will focus on elaborations or challenges to his ideas, particularly within cultural criticism, postwar protest movements, and the cultural politics of the Cold War. In conclusion, we will turn to the question of Marxism or Post-Marxism today, asking what promise Marx's ideas might still hold in a world vastly different from his own.

COML 266.401

Literatures of the World
Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Gold

COLL 227, HEBR 259, HEBR 559, JWST 259

Introduction to Modern Hebrew Lit: First Israelis: Amichai, Oz

"I Want to Die in My Bed," a young Yehuda Amichai's anti-war poem, led the rebellion of Israeli authors in the 1950s. These writers were weary of their predecessors' glorification of nationalism and sacrifice, and disillusioned by the post-war reality of statehood. They therefore rejected the ideological focus and pompous language of their literary 'fathers.' Scholars would later call them "The Generation of the State" because they were the first to publish in the newly-established State of Israel and they forged the future of Hebrew literature. For instance, poets like Nathan Zach and David Avidan promoted the use of colloquial language, while prose authors A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz published individualistic, anti-heroic short stories. The class is conducted in Hebrew and all texts are read in the original. The amount of material we cover depends on the pace of the class. The packet contains significantly more material than will be studied in class to compensate for the difficulty of obtaining Hebrew texts in America.

COML 272.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis
W 2-5 DeJean

All readings, writing, and discussion in English
Cross listed with FREN 250, GSWS 253


The Novel and Marriage

Historians have argued that early novels helped shape public opinion on many controversial issues. And no subject was more often featured in novels than marriage. In the course of the 18th and the 19th centuries, at a time when marriage as an institution was being radically redefined, almost all the best known novels explored happy as well as unhappy unions, individuals who decided not to marry as well as those whose lives were destroyed by the institution. They showcased marriage in other words in ways certain to provoke debate. We will both survey the development of the modern novel from the late 17th to the early 20th century and study the treatment of marriage in some of the greatest novels of all time.

We will begin with novels from the French and English traditions, the national literatures in which the genre first took shape, in particular Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons, Austen’s Persuasion, Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. We will then turn to works from other European traditions such as Goethe’s Elective Affinities and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

We will begin the course by discussing the novel often referred to as the first modern novel, The Princess de Clèves, an ideal beginning for this course, since The Princess de Clèves was also the first novel centered on an exploration of questions central to the debate about marriage for over two centuries – everything from the question of whether one should marry for love or for social position to the question of adultery.

COML 277.401

Cultural Diversity in US
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Hellerstein

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with ENGL 079, GRMN 263, JWST 261

Jewish American Literature

What makes Jewish American literature Jewish? What makes it American? This course will address these questions about ethnic literature through fiction, poetry, drama, and other writings by Jews in America, from their arrival in 1654 to the present. We will discuss how Jewish identity and ethnicity shape literature and will consider how form and language develop as Jewish writers "immigrate" from Yiddish, Hebrew, and other languages to American English. Our readings, from Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology, will include a variety of stellar authors, both famous and less-known, including Isaac Mayer Wise, Emma Lazarus, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Celia Dropkin, Abraham Cahan, Anzia Yezierska, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Allegra Goodman. Students will come away from this course having explored the ways that Jewish culture intertwines with American culture in literature.

COML 282.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Gold

Cross listed with JWST 102, NELC 159

Modern Hebrew Lit and Culture in Translation: Israeli Literary Auto/Biographies

Modern Hebrew literature, an offspring of Zionism, has long rejected writing about one's personal life as embarrassing egocentrism and self-exposure. However, many well-known Israeli artists have reached the age where they want to tell their true stories, and the younger generation has grown up in an individualistic period where it is acceptable to talk about open wounds and trauma. Israeli scholar of autobiography Nitza Ben-Dov sees this trend as a symptom of the culture of exposure in which we live (e.g. reality TV, Facebook, etc.). In addition to self-declared literary autobiographies, poems, films and novels often hide keys to the author's life. Therefore, the genres examined in this course are fluid: we will be studying memoirs; poetry and prose that conceal the author's life story; and even biographies (literary or not). Authors to be studied include: Yehuda Amichai, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Haim Be'er, Aharon Appelfeld, Amos Oz, Sami Michael, and S.Y. Agnon. Filmmakers include: Dror Shaul, Eli Cohen and Ari Folman. Not everything included in the syllabus will be studied. All works in translation. There will be 5-6 film screenings. Films will be placed on reserve at the library for those unable to attend the screenings. The content of the course changes from year to year, and therefore, students may take it for credit more than once.

COML 283.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Cultural Diversity in US
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos

Cross listed FOLK 280, JWST 260, NELC 258

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 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 285.401

MW 2-3:30 TBA
Cross listed with GRMN 284
All readings in English

Migration and its Cultural Impact on Germany

“We asked for workers. We got people instead.” This quote by Max Frisch has been frequently cited on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Turkish guest worker migration in 2011. Despite the permanency of the assumed temporary guest worker migration in the 1960s, it was not until the turn of the millennium that Germany was officially considered to be an immigration country. Nevertheless, integration and assimilation are key words not only in the debates on migration to Germany but also in terms of German identity as whole. This course aims to give an overview on migration in/to Germany after the 1960s by looking at significant events around issues of migration as well as by exploring how migration to Germany changed German culture. We will cover events such as the arrival of the guest workers, the fires of Solingen and Mölln and the disputes around the highly controversial book by Thilo Sarrazin, as well as texts in a broad sense such as literature, film or music by or on migrants and migration. The central question of the course will be how the cultural landscape in Germany has been influenced by migration in the past 50 years.

COML 290.401

T 4:30-7:30 Kant
Cross listed with ENGL 290

Gender Relations in the Romantic Ballet of the 19th Century: Sex, Drugs, and Crime

Ballet has had a bad press for a long time. It is seen as a “misogynist”, “conservative” art form and an “aristocratic” relic. In this course we’ll study the context and the content of romantic ballet as it emerged as a revolutionary movement in the early 19th century in France. We’ll read and analyze ballet libretti of French, English, German, Italian and Russian works and contextualize their stories. We are going to answer the following questions: When and why do women become the heroines of ballet narratives? What do these heroines stand for? What is their relationship to their male counterparts? Through the theories of Heinrich Heine and Théophile Gautier we are going to understand the concept of romanticism in dance and follow its development to the end of the 19th century into the early 20th century. Together with the narrative we shall trace the history of ballet from the 15th century to the French revolution, study the social reality of the dance world, the practice in the opera houses of Europe, and the development of a particular dance aesthetic that made ballet world famous.

COML 292.401

TR 10:30-12 Mazaj
Cross listed with ARTH 292, CINE 202, ENGL 292

Romantic Comedy

We may know what it is like to fall in love, but how do movies tell us what it is like? Through an exciting tour of American and World cinema, we will analyze the moods and swings, successes and failures of love in romantic comedy, one of the most popular but generally overlooked and taken for granted genres. We will turn a spotlight on it by examining what elements and iconography constitute the “romcom” genre, what specific qualities inform its sub-groupings such as screwball, sex comedy or radical romantic comedy, how they are related to their historical, cultural and ideological contexts, and what we can learn about their audiences. Watching classic as well contemporary examples of the genre, from City Lights (1931), It Happened One Night (1934) and Roman Holiday (1953), to Harold and Maude (1971), Annie Hall (1977), Chocolat (2000), and The Notebook (2004), we will problematize this overly-familiar cinema to make it new and strange again, and open it up to creative analysis. Assignments include a film-viewing journal, a critical film analysis and a creative final project.

COML 294.401

MW 2-3:30 Ellis
Cross listed with CINE 294, LALS 296, ROML 296

Mexico, Mexican American: Nation, Diaspora and Globalization in Literature and Cinema

The imaginaries of Mexican, Mexican American, and Chicana/o writers and film directors f orm this course, and three main movements will organize our readings and viewings throughout the fall. The first movement involves distinguishing the meanings of the word mestizaje in Mexican usages from its valences when used by Mexican American and Chicana/o artists in the US. Within this study of mestizaje, we will focus on different literary and cinematic portrayals of the icons of La Virgen de Guadalupe and La Malinche. Second, we will contrast romantic and violent narratives of the Mexican nation in the mid-20th century and today. Within this movement, we will also consider the oft-stated claim that the border crossed Mexican American subjects in the late 19th century, they did not cross it, how the geographic concept of Aztlán relates to this claim, and what it means today for the Mexican diaspora. In the third movement, we will study contemporary intensifications of the term “globalization” in literature and cinema. Mexico, la frontera, migratory changes, and the US southwest pose a tremendous quandary for the clear division of the world into three parts, and for globalization theories that discuss the macro-movements of capitalism and cities, but elide other nuances and re-alignments of bodies and spaces, and which politics and aesthetics are emergent therein. Moving imaginarily on foot, horseback, by car, train, and bus, through urban labyrinths and rural ranges, we will carry a Mexican and Mexican American compass to guide our critical thinking about the desire for place, the forces of displacement, and the aesthetic imperative of rendering alternative existences. The writers we may read are: Rulfo, Paz, Bartra, Anzaldúa, Castillo, R. Rodriguez, and Bolaño. The films we may study are: Nosotros los pobres (1947), El ángel exterminador (1962), Lugar sin limites (1978), El norte (1983), Sólo con tu pareja (1991), Amores Perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), Babel (2006), Sin Nombre (2009), and Machete (2010). All films in Spanish have English subtitles. The final paper may be written in English or Spanish.

COML 342.401

MW 2-3:30 Moyer
Cross listed with HIST 342


European Intellectual History, 1300-1600 * Cancelled.

Description TBA.

COML 353.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
W 2-5 Allen

Cross listed with COML 505, NELC 434

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 382.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Benini

All lectures and readings in English
Cross listed with ITAL 380

Italian Neorealism

Italian writer Italo Calvino says about the Post-war literary movement of Italian Neorealism: "The literary explosion of those years was, in Italy, a physiological, existential, collective fact. [...] Our coming out from an experience - the war, the civil war - which did not save anybody, established an immediate communication between writers and their public: we stood face to face, equal, loaded with stories to be told, each one had their own, each one had lived irregular, dramatic, adventurous lives, we were finishing each other sentences[...], we were moving in a multicolored universe of stories." After 22 years of silence under a dictatorship, a world war and a civil war, Neorealism was that universe of stories told in a new way, both in cinema and literature. We will explore that season of ruptures and continuities in literary Neorealism - with readings from Calvino, Pavese, and Fenoglio - and in the great Neorealist Italian cinema with films by Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, De Sanctis, and Antonioni.

COML 391.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 3-4:30 Barnard

Cross listed with CINE 392, ENGL 392

Cinema and Globalization

In this course, we will study a number of films (mainly feature films, but also a few documentaries) that deal with the complicated nexus of issues that have come to be discussed under the rubric of "globalization." Among these are the increasingly extensive networks of money and power; the transnational flow of commodities and cultural forms; and the accelerated global movement of people--whether as tourists or migrants. At stake, throughout, will be the ways in which our present geographical, economic, social, and political order can be understood and represented. What new narrative forms have arisen to make sense of contemporary conditions? Films will include: The Year of Living Dangerously, Perfumed Nightmare, Dirty Pretty Things, Monsoon Wedding, Babel, Y Tu Mama Tambien, Maria Full of Grace (or Sugar), In This Word, Darwin's Nightmare, Black Gold, Life and Debt, The Constant Gardener, Syriana, and Children of Men. In addition to studying the assigned films carefully, students will also be expected to read a selection of theoretical works on globalization (including Zygmunt Bauman's Globalization: The Human Consequences) and, where appropriate, the novels on which the assigned films are based. Advance viewing of the films is required. (I find it is best to place films on reserve for students' use, or to ask that students get their own DVDs from Amazon or Netflix, but screenings can certainly be arranged.) Writing requirements: either a mid-term and final paper, or an in-class powerpoint presentation and final paper.

COML 391.402

TR 1:30-3 Mazaj
Cross listed with ARTH 392, CINE 392, SLAV 392

Cinema of the Balkans

This course will be a study of Balkan cinema, with a focus on a wide range and variety of films that were made in response to the 1990s crisis in the Balkans. While the Balkans may be familiar as one of Hollywood’s favorite fantasy nightmares—the bloodthirsty Transylvanian count and vampire, Vlad Tepes-Dracula, orCat People’s horrific historical Serbs who morphed into ferocious black panthers now living in the heart of Manhattan—Balkan cinema is an often overlooked but one of the richest and most significant cinemas of Europe today. While tracing the history of Balkan cinema, the main focus of the course will be on films made during and after the Balkan war in the 1990s. by filmmakers such Milcho Manchevski, EmirKusturica, Srdjan Dragojevic, Goran Peskaljevic, and Danis Tanovic. These directors achieved great success in their native countries as well as abroad, and started appearing regularly at all major international film festivals. As such they not only mark a significant moment in thinking about the nation but show how a nation has come to depend on the persuasive power of cinema to articulate itself. As we recognize the difficulties in asserting Balkan culture as a unified one, the aim of the course will be to explore an astonishing thematic and stylistic consistency in the cinematic output of the Balkan region. Looking at these shared issues—the turbulent history and volatile politics, a semi-Orientalist positioning sometimes seen as marginality and sometimes as a bridge between East and West, encounters between Christianity and Islam, a legacy of patriarchy and economic dependency--we will examine how cinema of the Balkans testifies to a specific artistic sensibility that comes from a shared socio-cultural space.

COML 419.401

TR 12-1:30 Kors
Cross listed with HIST 415

17th Century Intellectual History

This course is a survey of the profound changes in European thought during the seventeenth century, and it is based solely on primary sources. It focuses above all on the transition from "scholastic" to diverse "new" ways of thought: skepticism, rationalism, empiricism; and he rise of the new sciences. The course is concerned with deep conceptual change as a historical phenomenon.

Last modified August 30, 2012
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania