Undergraduate Courses
Fall 2015

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

      094; 123; 126; 247; 391; 419

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

      065; 205; 215; 235; 266; 282; 283; 294; 364; 391; 392

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

COML 001.401 Approaches to Genre:  Poetry Out Loud
Communication within the Curriculum (Critical Speaking)
TR 10:30-12               Dasbach/Chandler
Cross listed with ENGL 001
How is the spoken word different from the written? How do we find music in language or even make it ourselves? This course will explore the performative and sonic aspects of writing and reading poetry—its orality, sounds, and rhythms. We will begin with some foundational ancient Greek and Roman texts, the oral beginnings of poetry and its rhetorical and philosophical theorization. We jump forward in time to focus mainly on European and American poetry of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries (both Anglophone and in translation), with a strong emphasis on later works. This trajectory will take us from traditional genres and forms such as pastoral, elegy, ode, and ballad, through to more recent work such as beat, slam, and sound poetry. In addition to reciting and analyzing poetry, you will also have the option to complete creative assignments. This course will challenge you to speak and to listen, to think creatively and critically, to discover how poetry on the page sings out loud.

COML 002.401  Approaches to Genre: Literature and Science
Communication within the Curriculum (Critical Speaking)
TR 10:30-12               Ramu
Cross listed with ENGL 002

Some claim Darwin's theory of evolution is outrageous; others that it's among the greatest ideas in scientific history. What anxieties are its controversies charged with? What strategies of rhetoric does Darwin's prose deploy? What changes if we read it as literary fiction? We will explore such questions by studying Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859) in the context of nineteenth-century British imperialism, and trace its possible resonances with later texts on the human-inhuman threshold, such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899), D.H Lawrence's The Plumed Serpent (1926), Edward Wilson's The Diversity of Life (1992) and Mahashweta Devi's 'Pterodactyl, Puran Sahay and Pirtha' (1995). We will review debates on evolution's tensions with religious beliefs, note the theory's feeding of fascist and racist dogma – but also admire, hopefully, its illumination of the natural world in the depths of time. Around these materials, in an inclusive workshop-setting, we will fashion our own acts of critical thinking, speaking, listening, interpretation and conversation.



COML 075.601 Higher Dimensions in Lit
T 6-9  Schwartz
Cross listed with ENGL 261

The concept of higher-dimensional hyperspace has taken on new meanings in light of the advances of modern physics and the prospect of multiple dimensions coexisting alongside our own. At the turn of the 20th century, new possibilities about the natures of space and time fascinated mathematicians, philosophers, and artists alike. Riemann's mathematical demonstration that the universe might exceed its standard three dimensions catalyzed projects of reconciling the "supernatural" within the frameworks of science and rationality and of contemplating the limits of human reason. In this course, we will examine the modes by which higher dimensions have been envisioned in literature as both space and time. How does thinking through the implications of these higher dimensions affect how we interpret these literary worlds—and our own reality? Authors may include H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein, and Edwin Abbott.


COML 094.501 Introduction to Literary Theory
TR 1:30-3       Kaul
Cross listed with ENGL 094

This course is designed to allow students who wish to study Literature at an advanced level (as majors in English, for instance) to understand better key literary-critical methods and vocabularies. We will do so by examining closely different theoretical concepts that have been crucial to the development of such academic study. We will thus concern ourselves with the historical origins of literary and cultural studies, as well as debates which have proved important to the specialized study of literature. By the end of this course, students should understand the philosophical assumptions that define different critical approaches to the study of cultural phenomena, including those of New Criticism, Feminism, Cultural Materialism, New Historicism, Minority Discourse Studies, Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, and Cultural Studies. Students should also be able to identify their own critical interests, and thus to produce criticism that is self-conscious about its own assumptions and vocabulary.


COML 109.601  Literature  about Music from Beethoven to Kanye
T 5:30-8:40     Sessions
Cross listed with ENGL 254

This course will survey the different ways we have written about music from the Romantic era in the early nineteenth century to the social media of the present day.  Though we will read concert and album reviews, criticism from journals and periodicals, memoirs, manifestos, philosophical treatises, and tweets, the course will focus on writing that is somehow literary: taking writing as an art which identifies something desirable in music as a fellow art. Starting with Arthur Schopenhauer and E.T.A Hoffman’s veneration of music as the most powerful emotional experience we can know, the course will proceed through symbolist poetry by Stephane Mallarmé, the aggressive nonsense art of the Dadaists, musical counterpoint in Bach and James Joyce, jazz in the works of the Harlem Renaissance, the wild experimentation of John Cage and Black Mountain College’s musical “happenings,” the effortless aesthetic of the Velvet Underground and the New York School poets in the 60s, the implications of punk rock as a literary movement, and the emergence of hip hop in the late 2000s as a conceptual art form and high-cultural phenomenon. Above all, we will discover the astounding breadth of what the terms   “literature” and “music” can mean, and how neither can ever hope to separate itself, completely, from the other.


COML 113.601  Globalization and Science Fiction  
Sat 9-12        Staff  
Cross listed with ENGL 275

Globalization poses a challenge to our capacity to create what the theorist Frederic Jameson has termed a “cognitive map” of the world we live in. In particular, globalization poses problems to the study of society through literature, a discipline that has traditionally been segregated by nation. In this class, we will use the imaginative capacities of science fiction to think about ways to theorize a global world. By reading novels from authors around the world we will both escape some of the constraints of literary study based in a national context, while also considering what power dynamics remain in play in a study of world literature that uses only English-language texts. From bio-terrorism in Bangkok, to alternate histories of our world, to radically fluid genders and desires in the distant future, the novels in this class provide a multitude of ways to re-think the global and beyond.


COML 115.401  Experimental Writing
M 2-5  Bernstein
Cross listed with ENGL 111

This is a nontraditional "poetry immersion" workshop. The workshop will be useful for those wanting to explore new possibilities for writing and art, whether or not they have a commitment to writing poetry. The workshop will be structured around a series of writing experiments, collaborations, intensive readings, art gallery visits, and the production of individual chapbooks or web sites for each participant, and performance of participants' works. There will also be some visits from visiting poets. The emphasis in the workshop will be on new and innovative approaches to composition and form, including digital, sound, and performance, rather than on works emphasizing narrative or story telling. Each week, participants will discuss the writing they have done as well as the assigned reading. Before registering, please review the syllabus at <>


COML 118.401  Poetics of Screenplay:  The Art of Plotting
MW 3:30-5     Todorov
Cross Cultural Analysis
Cross listed with RUSS 111/CINE111

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 nondramatic 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.


COML 123.401  World Film History to 1945
TR 10:30-12   Mazaj
Art and Letters
Cross listed with CINE 101/ENGL 091/ ARTH 108

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, a technology, and a political instrument. Topics include the emergence of film technology and early film audiences, the rise of narrative film and birth of Hollywood, national film industries and movements, African-American independent film, the emergence of the genre film (the western, film noir, and romantic comedies), ethnographic and documentary film, animated films, censorship, the MPPDA and Hays Code, and the introduction of sound. We will conclude with the transformation of several film industries into propaganda tools during World War II (including the Nazi, Soviet, and US film industries). In addition to contemporary theories that investigate the development of cinema and visual culture during the first half of the 20th century, we will read key texts that contributed to the emergence of film theory. There are no prerequisites. Students are required to attend screenings or watch films on their own.




COML 125.401  Narrative Across Cultures
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters
MW 2-3:30     Loomba
Cross listed with NELC 180/ENGL 103/SAST 124/FOLK 125

In this course we will read several types of narratives—drama, frame tales, short stories, histories, and novels---written in different periods and in different parts of the world. We will also watch a few films. Through these we will look at how narratives can travel from one part of the world to another, and how they are changed as they do so, or how uncannily similar narratives can emerge in different parts of the world. We will discuss the different techniques of story-telling as they evolved over these travels in time and space, and what attitudes to love and war, sexuality and power, tradition and rebellion are inscribed in these stories. In this way, we will consider how literature reveals historical connections and conversations, as well as asks large philosophical questions shared across cultures.

Readings will likely include the Sanskrit masterpiece Shakuntala by Kalidasa and Sophocles' classic play, Antigone, selections from the Indian epic The Mahabharata and the Greek epic, The Iliad, and modern writings from around the world including novels by Joseph Conrad, Tayib Salih, Ama Ata Aidoo, Arundhati Roy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and David Henry Hwang.


COML 150.601 War and Representation in Europe, Russia, U.S.
T 5:30-8:30 Seguy
Humanities and Social Science
Cross listed with RUSS 193/ENGL 105

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.


COML 203.401  Italian Literature
TR 3-4:30       Mirra
Literatures of the World; Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ITAL 203/COLL 228

This course surveys the history of Italian literature through its major masterpieces. Beginning with Dante's Divine Comedy, Petrarca's love poems, and Boccaccio's Decameron, we will follow the development of Italian literary tradition through the Renaissance (Machiavelli's political theory and Ariosto's epic poem), and then through the Romanticism (Leopardi's lyric poetry and Manzoni's historical novel), up to the 20th century (from D'annunzio's sensual poetry to Calvino's post-modern short stories).The course will provide students with the tools needed for analyzing the texts in terms of both form and content, and for framing them in their historical, cultural, and socio-political context. Classes and readings will be in Italian.




COML 206.401 Italian History on Screen
MW 2-3:30     Locatelli
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ITAL 204/CINE 206

How has our image of Italy arrived to us? Where does the story begin and who has recounted, rewritten, and rearranged it over the centuries? In this course, we will study Italy's rich and complex past and present. We will carefully read literary and historical texts and thoughtfully watch films in order to attain an understanding of Italy that is as varied and multifacted as the country itself. Group work, discussions and readings will allow us to examine the problems and trends in the political, cultural and social history from ancient Rome to today. We will focus on: the Roman Empire, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Unification, Turn of the Century, Fascist era, World War II, post-war and contemporary Italy.


COML 207.401 Dostoevsky
TR 1:30-3 Aydinyan
Ben Franklin Seminar; all readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 201

This course explores the ways Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) portrays the "inner world(s)" of his characters. Dostoevsky's psychological method will be considered against the historical, ideological, and literary contexts of middle to late nineteenth-century Russia. The course consists of three parts — External World (the contexts of Dostoevsky), "Inside" Dostoevsky's World (the author's technique and ideas) and The World of Text (close reading of "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov"). Students will write three essays on various aspects of Dostoevsky's "spiritual realism."


COML 209.401 Sustainability and Utopia
TR 12-1:30     Wiggan
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 239/ENVS 239/ENGL 275

This seminar explores how the humanities can contribute to discussions of sustainability. We begin by investigating the contested term itself, paying close attention to critics and activists who deplore the very idea that we should try to sustain our, in their eyes, dystopian present, one marked by environmental catastrophe as well as by an assault on the educational ideals long embodied in the humanities. We then turn to classic humanist texts on utopia, beginning with More's fictive island of 1517. The "origins of environmentalism" lie in such depictions of island edens (Richard Grove), and our course proceeds to analyze classic utopian tests from American, English, and German literatures. Readings extend to utopian visions from Europe and America of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as literary and visual texts that deal with contemporary nuclear and flood catastrophes. Authors include: Bill McKibben, Jill Kerr Conway, Christopher Newfield, Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Karl Marx, Henry David Thoreau, Robert Owens, William Morris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ayn Rand, Christa Wolf, and others.


COML 217.401 Imaging Asia: Russia and the East
TR 4:30-6       Staff
All lectures and readings in English
Cross listed with RUSS 222/NELC 222

This course examines the important role of the East in Russian literature and nationalism. Focusing specifically on the Caucasus, Central Asia, Iran, and Turkey, this course will analyze how Russian writers connected the East to Russian identity, and how their approaches implicate different artistic periods (Romanticism, Realism, Socialist Realism, Post-Modernism) and different political atmospheres (Tsarist Russia, Soviet Union, Post-Soviet).

Students will also ascertain how Russian literature on the East has affected and influenced literature and political movements produced in the East. In particular, students will analyze how Soviet Central Asian writers, Iranian Socialists, and contemporary Turkish writers were influenced by Russian literature and Soviet ideology. Ultimately, this course examines the impact of Russia's cultural and political history in 20th century Central Asia and the Middle East. Readings will include works by: Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Platonov, Chingiz Aitmatov, Sadek Hedayat, Orhan Pamuk, and others.


COML 218.401 Perspectives  in French
TR 10:30-12   Francis
Section 402 TR 9-10:30 Goulet
Section 403 TR 1:30-3 Richman
Cross Cultural Analysis; Literatures of the World; Arts and Letters
Cross listed with FREN 221/COLL 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
TR 3-4:30       McGavran
Cross Cultural Analysis; Humanities and Social Science
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 220/HIST 220

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  Berlin: History, Politics, Culture
TR 10:30-12   Weissberg
Humanities and Social Science
Registration required for RECITATIONS 402/ 403/ 404/405
Cross listed with GRMN 237/URBS 237/HIST 237/ARTH 237

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 structre, 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 wil ready 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 undergraduage students who are considering spending a junior semester with the Penn Abroad Program in Berlin.

COML 247.401  Marx
TR 3-4:30       Staff
Humanities and Social Science; all readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 247/PHIL 247

"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 Introduction to Modern Hebrew Literature
TR 10:30-12   Gold
Arts and Letters
Cross listed with HEBR 259/HEBR 559/COLL 227/JWST 259

This course is designed as a first course in Hebrew and Israeli literatures in their original forms: no re-written or reworked texts will be presented. It aims to introduce major literary works, genres and figures. Texts and discussions will be in Hebrew. Depending on the semester's focus, fiction, poetry or other forms of expression will be discussed. Personal, social, and political issues that find expression in the culture will also be examined. This course is meant to provide methods for literary interpretation through close reading of these texts, and thus falls under the umbrella of the College's "Literatures of the World" course. Past topics include: "Poem, Song, Nation;" "Israeli Drama," "The Israeli Short Story;" "Postmodernist Israeli Writing;" and "Literature and Identity in Israel." Fall 2013 topic: INTRODUCTION TO MODERN HEBREW LITERATURE: ISRAELI SHORT STORY This course concentrates on contemporary Israeli short stories, post-modernist as well as traditional, written by male and female authors. The diction is simple, often colloquial, but the stories reflect an exciting inner world and a stormy outer reality. For Hebrew writers, the short story has been a favorite genre since the Renaissance of Hebrew literature in the 19th century until now, when Hebrew literature is vibrant in a country where Hebrew is spoken. The lion share of the course focuses on authors who emerged in the last 25 years like Orly Kastel-Bloom, Alex Epstein, Almog Bahar. Student level and literary taste will influence the choice of works. Class conducted in Hebrew. Texts read in the original language. There will be 3-4 short papers and a final exam.


COML 270.401  German Cinema
TR 12-1:30     Staff
Arts and Letters; all readings and lectures in English
Cross listed wit CINE 258/GRMN 258

An introduction to the momentous history of German film, from its beginnings before World War One to developments following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and German reunification in 1990. With an eye to film's place in its historical and political context, the course will explore the "Golden Age" of German cinema in the Weimar Republic, when Berlin vied with Hollywood; the complex relationship between Nazi ideology and entertainment during the Third Reich; the fate of German film-makers in exile during the Hitler years; post-war film production in both West and East Germany; the call for an alternative to "Papa's Kino" and the rise of New German Cinema in the 1960s.


COML 272.401 The Novel and Marriage
M 2-5 DeJean
Ben Franklin Seminar; Cross Cultural Analysis
Cross listed with FREN 250

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 Pride and Prejudice, 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. 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 282.401 Childhood in Israeli Lit and Film
TR 1:30-3       Gold
Arts and Letters
Cross listed with CINE 159/ENGL 079/JWST 154/NELC 159

This course examines cinematic and literary portrayals of childhood.  While
Israeli works constitute more than half of the course's material, European
film and fiction play comparative roles.  Many of the works are placed, and
therefore discussed, against a backdrop of national, collective or historical
conflicts.  Nonetheless, private traumas (such as madness, abuse or loss) or
an adult's longing for an idealized time are often the central foci of
stories.  These personal issues and the nature of individual memory will be
discussed from a psychological point of view.  Additionally, the course
analyzes how film, poetry and prose use their respective languages to
reconstruct the image of childhood; it discusses the authors' and directors'
struggle to penetrate the psyche of a child and to retrieve fragments of past
events, both personal and historical.


COML 283.401  Jewish Folklore
TR 10:30-12   Ben-Amos
Cross Cultural Analysis; Cultural Diversity in US
Cross listed with FOLK 280/JWST 260/NELC 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 292.401  American Independents
TR 1:30-3       Mazaj
Cross listed with CINE 202/ENGL 292

This course is a study of the independent sector of American cinema, which has produced many of the most distinctive films to have appeared in the US in recent decades, from the lowest-budget, most formally innovative or politically radical to the offbeat, the cultish and the more conventional. While the course will trace a long and broad history of the independent sector from the early history of cinema, our principal focus will be on particular versions of independent cinema that came to prominence since the mid 1980s, a period when an establishment of an industrial infrastructure (especially in distribution) was a key factor in the development of the indie scene. From milestone films such as Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch) and Sex, Lies and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh) in the 1980s, to Clerks (Kevin Smith), The Blair Witch Project and New Queer Cinema in the 1990s, and the latest ultra-low budget digital video features of the 2000s, we will examine a significant body of work that both stands out from and presents a challenge to Hollywood, but also one that has been co-opted and embraced by the commercial mainstream.  A study of important auteurs of independent cinema--John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Todd Haynes and Quentin Tarantino among others--the course is also an exploration of the various manifestations and dynamic meaning of the term “independent,” which will be examined not only in terms of industrial factors but also according to formal/aesthetic strategies and distinctive relationship to broader social and ideological landscape.


COML 344.401  20th Century European Intellectual History
TR 10:30-12   Breckman
Cross listed with HIST 344

This course will explore the intellectual and cultural history of Europe between 1870 and 1962. We will take a socio-cultural approach to this history, using primary and secondary readings to examine how European intellectuals, artists, writers, and other cultural actors contributed and responded to major developments of the early 20th century. Among the historical themes for consideration are psychology and the self; feminism, gender and sexuality; the mass politics of socialism, fascism, and totalitarianism; race, empire and decolonization. Possible readings include Darwin, Freud, Woolf, Sartre, and Fanon.


COML 353.401  Arabic Literary Theory
MW 2-3:30     Fakhreddine
Cross listed with NELC 434 

This course will explore different critical approaches to the
interpretation and analysis of Arabic literature from pre-Islamic
poetry to the modern novel and prose-poem. The course will draw on
western and Arabic literary criticism to explore the role of critical
theory not only in understanding and contextualizing literature but
also in forming literary genres and attitudes. Among these approaches
are: Meta-poetry and inter-Arts theory, Genre theory, Myth and
Archetype, Poetics and Rhetoric, and Performance theory.


COML 391.401  Cinema and Politics
TR 3-4:30       Barnard
Ben Franklin Seminar
Cross listed with CINE 392/ENGL 392
This seminar has a bold aim: it seeks to understand better what has happened in our world since the era of decolonization, by considering the term “politics” in its very broadest and most dramatic connotations: as the dream of social change and its failures.  Another way of describing its subject matter is to say that it is about revolution and counterrevolution since the Bandung Conference.  Together we will investigate the way in which major historical events, including the struggle for Algerian independence, the coup in Indonesia, the Cuban Revolution, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in Congo, the Vietnam War, Latin American and African dictatorships, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the Iranian revolution, the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, 9/11, the Iraq War, and its aftermath, have been represented in some of the most innovative and moving films of our time. Attention will therefore be paid to a variety of genres: including cinema verité, documentary, the thriller, the biopic, animation, the global conspiracy film, hyperlink cinema, and dystopian science fiction.  The ongoing and fraught question of race in America, as well as the American fixation on elections (which sometimes seems the be all and end all of politics here) may also come under scrutiny; but the idea is to have a more global reach. We will study 12 to 15 of the following titles (here grouped in terms of thematic connections), along with a rich collection of critical essays: Battle of Algiers, The Year of Living Dangerously/The Act of Killing, The Motor Cycle Diaries/Y Tu Mama Tambien, Lumumba/The Last King of Scotland, The Official Story/Missing/!No, The Lives of Others/Goodbye, Lenin, Persepolis, A Very British Coup, Invictus/ Endgame/ More than Just a Game, Mississippi Burning/American History X/ Crash, Caché, The Fog of War/W, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Ghost Writer, In the Valley of Elah, Waltz with Bashir, The Edukators/Die Welle/ Election, Children of Men. Note also that this course will be taught in a way quite similar to my earlier seminar on Cinema and Globalization: students will view the set film on their own in advance and read the accompanying critical articles; occasional and voluntary in-class presentations are possible.  Requirements: a midterm paper of around 8-10 pages and a final paper of around 8-12.

COML 419.401 17th Century Intellectual History
TR 12-1:30     Kors
Cross listed with HIST 415

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 21, 2015
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania