Spring 2003 Undergraduate Courses
COML 090.401 Women and Literature: Contemporary Women Writers
This course will cover a wide range of fiction by contemporary women writers from the U.S., Canada, England, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The first part of the
COML 100.401 Introduction to Literary Study
This course will introduce students to particular interdisciplinary methods that currently inform the theory and practice of literary study. We will focus primarily on literatures of the Americas from legal, anthropological, political, social, and historical perspectives. Issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality will inform these perspectives. Fundamental to our approach will be the close reading of the texts at hand in order to understand how language and literature operate as forms of social power. Readings will be taken from a list that includes: Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (Une Tempête); Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas; Paul Radin, The Trickster; Gary Witherspoon, Navajo Kinship and Marriage; Diné bahanè: the Navajo Creation Story; Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony; Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto; Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener, and Benito Cereno; Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn; Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark.
COML 104.401 The Twentieth Century
This course begins with two pivotal studies of consciousness from the beginning of the last century: Sigmund Freud's "On Dreams" and W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk. Taking these works together, in both complementary and antagonistic ways, we will use them to provoke a series of questions about subjectivity, formal innovation, and racial difference in twentieth century texts. After looking at some key African-American texts from the 1910s and 1920s, the course will devote some time to some key texts of "high modernism"--T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse--before considering the consequences of modernism for American writers of the later twentieth century, including Ralph Ellison, Chester Himes, Raymond Chandler, and Harryette Mullen. We will also listen to some musical recordings and study a few films, considering the importance of these new media in the literary field.
COML 125.401 Narrative Across Cultures
The purpose of this course is to present a variety of narrative genres and to discuss and illustrate the modes whereby they can be analyzed. We will be looking at some shorter types of narrative: short story, novella, and fable, but also extracts from longer works such as autobiography. While some the works will be from the Anglo-American tradition, a large number of others will be from European and non-Western cultural traditions and from earlier time-periods. The course will thus offer ample opportunity for the exploration of the translation of cultural values in a comparative perspective.
Among (familiar) authors to be read: Aesop, Borges, Chopin, Conde, Douglass, Gogol, Joseph's story (Bible and Qur'an), Joyce, Kafka, Marquez, Solzenitszyn, Twain, and Vonnegut, but there will also be many other writers from non-Western cultures. Once you have registered for the course, you can find a lot more detail about the course and its readings on the BLACKBOARD website.
COML 127.401 Adultery Novel In and Out of Russia
The object of the course is to analyze a series of 19C and 20C novels (and a few short stories) about adultery. Our reading will teach us about novelistic traditions of the period in question and about the relationship of Russian literature to the European models to which it responded. The course begins with a novel not about families falling apart, but about families coming together, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. We then will turn to what is arguably the most well-known adultery novel ever written, Flaubert's Madame Bovary. Following this, we investigate a series of Russian revisions of the same thematic territory that range from "great literature" to pulp fiction, including Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and other works by Tolstoy, Chekhov, Leskov, and Nagrodskaia. As something of an epilogue to the course, we will read Milan Kundera's backward glance at this same tradition in nineteenth-century writing, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. In our coursework we will apply various critical approaches in order to place adultery into its social and cultural context, including: sociological descriptions of modernity, Marxist examinations of family as a social and economic institution, Freudian/Psychoanalytic interpretations of family life and transgressive sexuality, Feminist work on the construction of gender. All Reading and Lectures in English.
COML 150.401 War and Representation in Russian, Europe, US
Representations of war are created for as many reasons as wars are fought: to legitimate armed conflict, to critique brutality, to vilify an enemy, to mobilize popular support, to generate national pride, etc. In this course we will examine a series of representations of war drawn from the literature, film, state propaganda, memoirs, visual art, etc., of Russia, Europe and the United States. We will pursue an investigation of these images of conflict and bloodshed in the larger context of the history of military technology, social life, and communications media over the last two centuries. Students will be expected to write two papers, take part in a group presentation on an assigned topic, and take a final exam. The goal of the course will be to gain knowledge of literary history in social and historical context, and to acquire critical skills for analysis of rhetoric and visual representations. All Readings and Lectures in English.
COML 200.401 Greek and Roman Myth
Myths are traditional stories that have endured many years. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as a few contemporary American ones, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? Are they a set of cultural blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? We will investigate these questions through a variety of topics including: the creation of the universe and the structure of the cosmos, relations between gods and mortals, religion and divination, justice, society, family, sex, love, madness, and death.
COML 212.401 Modern Mideastern Literature
This course is team-taught by four professors with specialties in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish literatures, and is conducted jointly with Rutgers University, New Brunswick via videoconferencing. The course deals with the modern literature within each tradition and focuses on poetry, short story and the novel (novels to be studied this semester are: Al-Shaikh's The Story of Zahra, Yehoshua's The Lover, Rachlin's Foreigner, and Pamuk's The White Castle). The readings are all in English. The course is conducted in a seminar format. Students are expected to participate in classroom discussion of the materials assigned for each session, and evaluation is partially based on the quality of that participation. A short paper is assigned on the poetry and the short stories, and there is a final, longer term paper.
COML 213.401 Indian Literature and the West
The highlights of Indian literature, the literary connections between India and the West, and some basic questions of comparative literature. Readings consist of translated materials (SARS 203), original sources (SARS 503), and secondary literature in English.
COML 217.401 The Partition: Literature and Historiography
This course deals with literary and historiographical responses to the Partition of the Indian subcontinent into India and Pakistan. It will examine the works of Urdu writers such as Saadat Hasan Manto and Intizar Husain, as well as the literary fallout on the Indian side of the border in the form of short stories and novels in various languages. All materials will be read in translation.
COML 228.401 Studies in Hebrew Bible
The aim of this course is to introduce students to the critical methods and reference works used in the modern study of the Bible. To the extent possible, these methods will be illustrated as they apply to a single book of the Hebrew Bible that will serve as the main focus of the course. Knowledge of biblical Hebrew and prior experience studying the Hebrew text of the Bible. Knowledge of Greek is not required. Language of instruction is English.
COML 241.401 The Devil's Pact in Literature
Welcome to a devil of a course. For centuries, but especially since the dawn of modernity, the legend of the devil's pact has served as a metaphor for the desire to surpass the limits of human knowledge and power at any cost. Starting with the sixteenth-century Faust Book which recounts the story of a scholar, alchemist and necromancer who sold his soul to the devil, and extending to the most recent cinematic, musical and literary versions of the devil's pact, this course offers an exploration of our enduring fascination with the forbidden.
Should you decide to accept this bargain you will be assured of discussing the following issues: the meaning of evil and history of the devil;
the infernal logic of political systems and ideology (Nazism and Stalinism); witchcraft, magic, and sexuality; the purported link between the devil and music
Throughout the semester we will move at a leisurely pace--no need to rush at a breakneck speed. It's my conviction that knowledge is more tempting when you give yourself time. We'll want to linger over the issues that intrigue us, spend time with the films, music, and literary works that we encounter. Among the course's real temptations are: a (ma)lingering reading of Goethe's
Faust, one of the classics of world literature; discussion of six outstanding films involving a devil's pact including
Angel Heart and Rosemary's Baby; an unpublished feminist adaptation of Marlowe's
Doctor Faustus that is set in Harvard and the halls of Congress;
COML 248.401 Topics in Modernism
"Modernist Ekphrasis." This class will attempt to explore the ways in which modernist writing responded to the overwhelming critical and economic success of modernist painting in the first four decades of the twentieth century. We will focus on literary works such as James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that attempt to engage painting and portraiture as a theme: works like Man, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, Marianne Moore's "When I Buy Pictures," and Gertrude Stein's Three Portraits of Painters. And we will consider the way in which the collage paintings of cubism and surrealism are meant to function as "texts." But we will also attempt to understand the marketplaces that supported both art forms, and compare the critical writings that surrounded and supported them (Clive Bell, Roger Fry and Clement Greenberg in art, Ezra Pound, Lionel Trilling, and the Scrutiny critics in writing) in order to try to understand the institutional fields in which each discipline worked. As part of our researches, this class will involve a field trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or possibly the Barnes Foundation.
COML 261.401 Topics in the Nineteenth Century Novel
Popular culture has always enjoyed punishing women, but audience attitude to that punishment depends on our times, our gender and class, and to a degree this course will examine the genre of the work.
We will examine punished women in literature of the nineteenth century and, probably, some films of the twentieth century. Among the questions we shall consider are the relation between punishment and the work's ideology of justice, the degree to which we are urged to enjoy or deplore a woman's punishment, the methods which turn that punishment into a cry of injustice and an inducement to social change.
Among the works we shall read are: Jane Austen, Emma; Tolstoy, Anna Karenina; George Eliot, Adam Bede; Dickens, Great Expectations; Ellen Wood, East Lynne; and Tennyson, Idylls of the King. Films might include Broken Blossoms, Psycho, and Fatal Attraction.
COML 262.301 Narrative and the Representation of Cultural Difference
The scourge of postcolonial studies, V.S. Naipaul, recently wrote, "In one Kipling story an Indian famine was a background to an English romance...the extraordinary distress of India was like something given, eternal, something to be read only as background." How is difference represented in modern European writings about alien peoples and practices, and how are such questions related to our understanding of literary value? How can literary analysis be brought into dialogue with contextual issues that seem opaque (if not opposed) to the concerns of the main story? We will also try to explore how issues of race, class and gender are framed in these narratives. We will read novels and short stories by Forster, Salih, Naipaul, Desai, Ishiguro, Coetzee among others. Requirements include an oral presentation and two 5-8 page papers.
COML 265.401 History of Theatre
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the basic materials and methods of theatre history and historiography, as applied to a particular topic, organized around a specific period, national group, or aesthetic issue. The topic for Spring 1999 is "Construction and Reconstruction." Our principal assumptions are that stage architecture reflects the aesthetic conventions (acting, scenography, dramaturgy) of the theatre pieces performed on them; that auditorium architecture reflects both the social functions of theatre-going and the class relationships among theatre-goers; and that both stage architecture and auditorium architecture shape the aesthetic, social, and cultural meanings of the theatre pieces as they were perceived by their original audiences. If this is so, then when theatre artists consciously reconstruct the stage and auditorium architecture of previous eras? Can the aesthetics of the theatre pieces written for that architecture be recaptured on the reconstructed stage? And can the social relationships and cultural meanings of these pieces be recaptured in the reconstructed auditorium? We will look at two periods of theatrical activity--ancient Greek theatre, and the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries--and then look at several theatre movements that tried to revive or reconstruct these theatres: Italian and French Neo-Classicism; Wagner at Bayreuth; the Elizabethan revival at the turn of the last century; and the current Globe reconstruction in London.
COML 266.401 Postmodern Israeli Drama and Prose
This course focuses primarily on works of drama (and some works of prose) written in Israel over the last few decades. The Pathos and Heroic-Historical mode that dominated Hebrew literature and theatre in the pre-state era as well as in the state's early years were replaced by low-diction and anti-heroic protagonists as time passed. Plays characterized by farce and humor, as well as by grotesque and absurd plots, became popular. This process, begun by the French-influenced Aloni who founded "Ha-Gashash Ha-Hiver", culminated with plays written and directed by Hanoch Levin. A post-modernist prolific genius, Levin wrote in a variety of genres. Inspired by Chekhov and classical Japanese drama alike, he thrust Israeli theatre on to unprecedented achievements. We will read plays and some short stories by the important play writes Levin and Y. Sobol as well as those written by D. Grossman and the feminist writer S. Lapid among others. We will analyze the political and ideological aspects of the works as well as their psychological and linguistic intricacies. The coursework will consist of a final and 2-3 short papers (~3 p.) The class will be conducted in Hebrew and the texts read in the original.
COML 268.401 British Films since 1970s
This class is a survey of some important British films of the last twenty-five years. Our particular points of emphasis will be as much political and sociological as aesthetic. The Thatcher years (1979-1990) represent a period of extreme political reaction, nationalistic jingoism, and drastic cuts in state sponsorship of the arts. And yet this is the very period of putative rebirth and rejuvenation of British cinema. We will attempt to understand the relationship between the significant social, economic, and political upheavals of this period and the emergence of new cinematic styles, projects, and funding much of the most respected work of the eighties; the rise of film festivals in the U.K.; the emergence of black and women filmmakers; and the changing relationship between the British film industry, American distributors, and international audiences. We will trace through the nineties, from the immediate aftermath of the Thatcher era to the hegemony of New Labor and down to the present day. And we will try to do some justice to the and to the particular qualities of each of the works we view together. Films may include: John Mackenzie,
The Long Good Friday (1979); Hugh Hudson, Chariots of Fire
COML 282.401 Modern Jewish Film and Literature: Childhood and
This course will examine cinematic and literary portrayals of childhood images. While Israeli works constitute more then half of the course's material, European film and fiction will play important comparative roles. Many of the works are placed against a backdrop of national, collective, or historical conflicts. However, longing for an idealized time, or more often, individual traumas (such as madness, abuse, or loss) are the central foci of these stories. Concentrating our attention on the child, we will analyze the different languages of film, prose, and poetry. We will discuss the nature of memory from a psychological point of view. We will study how authors and directors use symbols and metaphors; color and light; close-ups and flashbacks in order to reconstruct the past. We will see how artists struggle with their desires to retrieve fragments of past events and to penetrate the child's psyche, whether the memories are their own or someone else's. There will be 5 film screenings. The films will also be placed on reserve at the library for those students who are not able to attend these screenings. Taught in English. Texts in translation from Hebrew, French and German.
COML 310.401 The Medieval Reader
Through a range of authors including Augustine, Dante,Petrarch, Galileo, and Umberto Eco, this course will explore the world of the book in the manuscript era. We shall consider 1) readers in fiction-male and female, good and bad; 2) books as material objects produced in monasteries and their subsequent role in the rise of the universities; 3) medieval women readers and writers; 4) medieval ideas of the book as a symbol (e.g., the notion of the world as God's book; 5) changes in book culture brought about by printing and electronic media. Lectures with discussion in English, to be supplemented by slide presentations and a visit to the Rare Book Room in Van Pelt Library. No prerequisites.
COML 354.401 Epic Tradition
This course looks at a number of strands in the broad epic tradition: narratives of warfare, quest narratives (both geographical and spiritual), and the combination of the two in narratives of chivalry and love. We will start with Homer, reading good portions of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey", and then see how Homeric themes are reprised in Virgil's narrative of travel, conquest, and empire, the "Aeneid". We will then look at St. Augustine's "Confessions", which has some claim to being considered an "epic" of spiritual discovery, and consider how Augustine reflects back upon his classical narrative sources. From there we will move to one medieval epic of warfare, conquest, and empire, the "Song of Roland", which emerges from the same kind of oral poetic culture that produced the ancient Homeric epics. In the last part of the course we will read some Arthurian romances, which take up certain themes familiar from epic, but place them in a new context: the medieval institution of chivalry, where the ancient warrior is replaced by the medieval knight, where the collective battle is replaced by the individual quest, and where the psychology of sexual desire is now fore grounded as a motivation for heroic self-realization.
COML 360.401 Introduction to Literary Theory
This course aims at providing an exposure to the main discourses and practices of theory understood both as literary and cultural theory. We will start with earliest formulations of the problem of interpretation with Plato and then jump to a contemporary approaches. We will try to systematize the main tenets of schools of thought such as Formalism, Structuralism, Post-structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Feminism and with Post-colonial studies, Cultural Studies and Queer Theory. We will begin by reading two dialogues by Plato, Ion and Protagoras, and will look at Roland Barthes's Writing Degree Zero (1953) so as to situate the question of writing in history. The two other books used will be Jean-Michel Rabaté's The Future of Theory (2002) and the anthology Literary and Cultural Theory edited by Donald E. Hall (2001). Requirements: One oral report, three short papers and one research paper of fifteen pages. No final exam.
Bibliography: Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, translated A. Lavers and C. Smith (New York: Noonday, 1988). Selected Dialogues of Plato, The Benjamin Jowett Translation, (New York: Modern Library, 2001). Jean-Michel Rabaté, The Future of Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002). Donald E. Hall, Literary and Cultural Theory: From Basic Principles to Advanced Applications (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001).
COML 361.301 A Modernist Tour of the Mediterranean
To American, British, and European writers and travelers of the 20th century, the Mediterranean offered the pleasures of sun, sea, classical ruins, exotic cultures, erotic excitement, and escape from the oppressions of modern urban industrial society. This course will examine fiction and non-fiction about modern travel to the countries of the Mediterranean. Readings will include Hemingway and Fitzgerald in Spain and France, D. H Lawrence in Sardinia, Thomas Mann in Venice, Henry Miller in Greece, Lawrence Durrell in the Aegean Islands and Egypt, Mary Lee Settle in Turkey, Andre Gide in Tunisia, Albert Camus in Algeria, and Paul Bowles in Morocco. Paul Theroux's travel book, The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean, will provide the route of the course--from Spain eastward through France, Italy, the Balkan peninsula, Greece and Turkey, Israel and Palestine, then returning westward through North Africa. We'll focus on how modern writers romanticize peasant culture, Greek and Roman antiquity, and Islam. Possibilities for research include comparison of literary and film versions of such movies as Death in Venice, Zorba the Greek, The Stranger, or The Sheltering Sky; relation of Edward Said's Orientalism to the representation of Mediterranean Islamic societies; contrast of European and native writers; or the relation of literary modernism, post-colonialism, or the business of tourism to the literature of travel. Several short response papers and a longer research paper.
COML 372.401 Horror Cinema
Building on a previous course that provided an overview of the genre (NOT a prerequisite), we will look at lesser-known cult classics of horror cinema in an international context (including British, Japanese, Italian and Belgian films), but with an emphasis on American (30s-40s) and Italian (60s-70s) horror. Issues of ethics, gender, sexuality, violence, spectatorship will be examined through a variety of critical lenses (psychoanalysis, socio-historical and cultural context, aesthetics, politics, gender…). Films considered will include: Kenton's Island of Lost Souls, Ulmer's The Black Cat, Freund's Mad Love, Wise's Curse of Cat People, Tourneur's Curse of the Demon, Bava's The Body and the Whip, Margheriti's Castle of Blood, Shindo's Onibaba, Kümel's Daughters of Darkness, Roeg's Don't Look Now, Hardy's The Wicker Man, Argento's Inferno, and others. Taught entirely in English.
COML 378.301 Topics in Literature and Society: Engendering the
This course will explore the relationship between discourses of gender and those of nationalism, and how this shapes both imperial and postcolonial writing. Why are nations routinely imagined as women, and imperial conquest expressed in terms of sexual mastery? Are 'race' and 'gender' analogous? What are the differences between the way in which women and sexuality are used in the imperial imagination on the one hand, and anti-colonial, nationalist writing on the other? We will address these questions via a range of literary texts ranging from Shakespeare's The Tempest to recent postcolonial fiction (by Tayib Salih, Ama Ata Aidoo and Arundhati Roy, among others) as well as key theoretical and historical writings in the field.
CGS CGS CGS
COML 028.601 FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY
Feminist theory grows out of women's experience. In this course we will investigate how some contemporary feminist thinkers' consideration of women's experience has caused them to criticize society and philosophy. Traditional philosophical areas addressed may include ethics, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, philosophy of religion and epistemology.
* * * COML 192 CANCELED * * *
COML 192.601 Classics of the Western World II
This course will approach selected great works of Western culture from the Renaissance to the 20th century with an eye to understanding what it means to say something is (or is not) "great." What accounts for the endurance of these works as opposed to others? How do they continue to speak to us as well as to the concerns of their original age and place? Do they offer truths about a universal human condition? Do they represent technical perfection or groundbreaking new forms? As we range through the literature of several countries and time periods, we will also explore how different genres (drama, poetry, the novel) and historical movements (the Enlightenment, romanticism, realism, modernism) value different literary qualities. We will try to understand how something comes to be called a classic and what sort of cultural work it does for us. Texts may include works by Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, Flaubert, Ibsen, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Eliot, Woolf, and Camus.
COML 204.601 Hollywood Classics
This course will introduce students both to several foundational texts of classical literature and to the study of popular culture. We will accomplish this through a comparison of ancient works with popular film. Students will read a number of well-known texts from antiquity, one or two 20th-century works, and view 8-12 (mostly) recent popular films that in some way "translate" classical themes, ideas, or methods of narration. We will examine the texts and films first within their cultural contexts and then against one another. This comparative approach will allow us to address a number of different themes, issues, and reading strategies. Topics and films may change slightly from year to year, but some likely themes include: Homer's Odyssey, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Apuleius' Golden Ass, Euripides' Hippolytus, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, and a number of critical essays. Probable films include: Die Hard, Aliens, Angel Heart, and Mighty Aphrodite. Students should plan to attend weekly screenings in addition to the regularly scheduled course meetings.
COML 206.601 Desiring Heroines: Women in Gothic
Fiction and Film
Why do hauntings of all sorts enter into contemporary fiction, film, and television? What do they say about our relationships to our pasts and our histories, about where we've come from? Wildly popular in late eighteenth-century England, especially among women readers and writers, gothic fiction has left its mark on literature and culture up to the present day. Its winding passageways, hidden chambers, family secrets, and restless spirits pique our curiosity, while the narratives engage us in debates on power, sexuality, difference, and education. Questioning social norms, as well as the borders of reason and the human, the gothic romance and its subversive style speak to inquisitive readers, postmodernists, and contemporary feminists alike. In the words of Angela Carter, "We live in Gothic times." In this course we will read several classics such as Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, as well as more recent works by Daphne du Maurier, Jean Rhys, Angela Carter, and Salman Rushdie. Films may include Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Jane Campion's The Piano. Devoted class participation and several short papers comprise the requirements for this course.
COML 242.601 Religion and Literature: Adventure, Fantasy, Quest,
This course explores formulaic fictions and their intersections with religious, cultural, historical, and psychological concerns. We will read a wide, cross-cultural selection of narratives, including folk and fairy tales, quests, adventure stories and travelers’ tales, romances, and science fiction. A few short theoretical texts introducing elements of critical analysis will also be read. Requirements for the course include three short papers (5 pp. each, 60%), a journal (15%), and a final paper analyzing a narrative of the student’s choice (12pp. each, 25%).
|Last modified May 05, 2004
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania