Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Spring 2007

**Attention Comparative Literature Majors**

Courses satisfying "Theory Requirement:" 

             COML 055, 104, 111, 127, 200, 291, and 344

Courses satisfying "Non-western/Postcolonical Requirement:" 

             COML 065, 077, 114, 186, 235, 282, 311, 357, 359, and 362


COML 008.401 Tales of Travel
MW 3:30-5 Musacchio
Cross listed with NELC 008


No matter what the destination, whether Cairo or  Paris, Bangkok or New York, travel is captivating, so much so that many travelers, modern and ancient, have been compelled to record their experiences.  Starting with ancient Egypt and progressing through to the  modern world, Tales of Travel will explore the travel experience.  By reading and discussing written records of travel, this critical speaking course will  focus on using our understanding and appreciation of travel writing as a medium for developing and improving oral presentation skills.

COML 020.301 Ancient Rhetoric and Modern Speaking
This is a Critical Speaking Course
TR 1:30-3 Bromberg
Cross listed with CLST 008

As inhabitants of the earliest democratic communities, the Greeks of the fifth century B.C. considered effective public speaking a  necessary tool for social and political participation.  There, for  the first time, citizens were required to plead their own cases  before local magistrates, and intellectuals began carefully to  evaluate and teach the means of successful persuasion.  We are fortunate to have a wide variety of texts from the Classical world  concerned with public speech and presentation.  These texts, both  prose and poetic, span all ancient genres, from epic to philosophy,  and they have exerted a clear influence over the centuries.  ANCIENT  RHETORIC AND MODERN SPEAKING has three main goals: (1) to introduce  students to the tools and techniques of Classical rhetoric; (2) to  learn how to draw from these basic principles in putting together and  in evaluating articulate and persuasive speeches; and (3) to explore  the formidable role rhetoric plays in the construction of our own  world.  Students can expect to read standard Classical discussions by  Plato, Aristophanes, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, and others, alongside the words of modern speakers such as Lincoln, Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and others. It is my hope that we will leave the  course with a fuller understanding of the theory and practice of effective speaking.

 

COML 055.401 The 19th Century Novel
TR 12-1:30 Shawcross
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 055

Our study of the 19th-century novel will extend a discussion about realism and the novel form initiated by Ian Watt in his analysis of the 18th-century novel. Watt argues that modern realism begins from the position that truth can be discovered by the individual through his senses and that the novel is the logical literary vehicle to convey individual experience, which is always unique and therefore new.  The novels of the 19th century both expand and contort Watt’s assertions, with authors such as Walter Scott and Henry James attempting to classify and define the genre.  For Scott the marvelous and the Uncommon denote the romance rather than the novel, yet Gothic tendencies persist throughout the 19th century in the so-called novels of sensation, demanding, therefore, a more complex assessment of the genre.  Zola, on the other hand, envisions an “experimental novelist” who pushes the boundaries of literary realism by objectively depicting how heredity and environment shape our world. This course will center on these two strains: the Gothic tradition–Jane Austen’s parody of the Gothic novel, Northanger Abbey, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of Seven Gables, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula–and literary realism/naturalism–works by George Eliot,Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, and Thomas Hardy. Readings will be supplemented by essays and reviews from the nineteenth century and by modern criticism.  Requirements include class attendance, preparation, and participation; a series of written responses; and a final exam.




COML 065.401 British Colonial and Postcolonial Fiction
TR 9:10:30 Barnard
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 065, AFST 065

In this lecture-discussion class we will study a series of thematically connected novels by some of the century’s most important writers from England and its former colonies (including India, Pakistan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, and the Carribean). We will also read one excellent novel from the former French colonies of Mali and Senegal. Class discussions will explore, among other things, the following oppositions: “Englishness” (or Frenchness”) and otherness, civilization and barbarism, power and knowledge, the metropolis and the periphery, and writing and orality. The course will appeal to students with an interest in questions of race and gender and the relationship between literature and politics, but also to students who simply want to read interesting books and expand their literary horizons. The course will concentrate to some extent on Africa (since that is my area of specialization), but not at all exclusively. Students on a mid-term and final paper (around 8-10 pp. in length). Books are likely to include: Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Forster, Passage to India, Waugh, Black Mischief, Lessing, The Grass is Singing, Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea, Greene, The Quiet American, Ousmane, God’s Bits of Wood, Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day, Coetzee “Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee” and Waiting for the Barbarians, Malouf, An Imaginary Life, Rushdie, Shame and East/West. Films may include: Aquirre, the Wrath of God, The Battle of Algiers, Molaade.




COML 077.401 Literature and Empire
TR 3-4:30 Krishnan
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 077, SAST 124

In this course we will be exploring novels and films from different parts of the world that respond directly to political upheaval in the modern era. These texts examine how individual and collective identities are challenged and fashioned in new ways at key historical moments. We will explore the themes explored in some of these works in relation to the following contexts: European colonialism, the legacy of decolonization, and the promises of “globalization”.  Some of the writers we will discuss are E. M. Forster, Frantz Fanon, Orhan Pamuk, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Bessie Head, Amitav Ghosh, Jamaica Kincaid, Ousmane Sembene.



COML 090.401 Gender, Sexuality, Literature
MW 3:30-5 Burnham
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 090, GSOC 090

We’ll read novels and short stories, watch a film or two, and read some poems, all of which will help us explore the question:  who tells us how to behave, and why? The metaphor, and the historical reality, of the conduct book will connect the various works of fiction, all of which show girls and women trying to find their own paths through growing up and into adult life. We’ll begin with two canonical – and delightful! – texts, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jane Austen’s Persuasion. We’ll look at contemporary accounts of childhood in Ella Leffland’s Rumors of Peace, Jeanette Winterston’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Marilynn Robinson’s Housekeeping and stories by Toni Cade Bambara. We’ll continue with accounts of adulthood and marriage with Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea, Pearl Abraham’s The Romance Reader, and stories by Edna O’Brien and Alice Munro. In each, we’ll examine codes of behavior and patterns of control, and the characters’ resistance to them. Finally, we’ll look at fairy tale and myth for some alternate possibilities. We’ll also read from a collection of essays that will provide theoretical background on classic questions of gender. Writing assignments will include brief comments on each text, plus a midterm exam and a final paper. We’ll use the comments to spark discussion.



COML 104.401 The British 19th Century Enlightenment
Distribution Arts and Letters
Registration required for LEC and REC
LEC MW 3:30-5 Richetti
REC SECTIONS 104.402, 104.403,104.404, 104.405, 104.406
Cross listed with ENGL 104

The European Enlightenment is usually considered a largely French phenomenon, promoted by radical writers from the mid-18th century onwards such as Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu and others (“les philosophies,” as they are called). But, in fact, British philosopher and scientists, as well as poets, novelists, and authors from the later 17th and early to mid 18th century were in the vanguard of Enlightenment as they developed new rational ideas and methods in science, philosophy, and literature, exploring but also examining critically the basically secular and materialistic approach to experience that created the modern western world. We will study this distinctively British phenomenon, which was more moderate and less radical but more influential in many ways than the French version. By reading some British and French (in English translations) authors we will seek to understand the differences between these two versions of Enlightenment and older ways of understanding. Among the authors to be studied, some in whole works, some in shorter excerpts: Locke, Defoe, Swift, Pope, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Johnson, Gibbon, Goldsmith, Boswell, Voltaire, Richardson, Sade, Hume, Rousseau, and others. Midterm and Final Examinations and one paper (8-10 pages).



COML 111.401 Theatre, History, Culture:  Cities at Play from the Renaissance and the Rise of Realism
TR 12-1:30 Ferguson
Cross listed with THAR 111, ENGL 046, URBS 212

This course examines theatre and performance in the context of the broader urban, artistic and political cultures housing them from the Renaissance to the mid-19th century.   Encompassing multiple cultures and traditions, it will draw on a variety of readings and viewings designed to locate the play, playwright, trend or concept under discussion within a specific socio-historical context. The evolution of written and performed drama, theatre architecture, and scenography will be examined in tandem with the evolution of various nationalisms, population shifts, and other commercial and material forces on theatrical entertainments.  Readings consequently will be drawn not only from plays and other contemporary documents, but also from selected works on the history, theory, design, technology, art, politics or society of the period under discussion.




COML 114.401 Persian Mystical Thought: Rumi
W 2-5 Minuchehr
Cross listed with NELC 115

This course examines the works and ideas of the thirteen century sufi, and founder of the Mevlevi order, Mowlana Jalaluddin Rumi. Although Rumi composed his mystical poetry in Persian, numerous translations in a multitude of languages have made this poet an international personality. In this course, we will examine Rumi’s original mystical vocabulary and allegorical style in English translations. We will also look at Rumi’s reception in different parts of the world, especially in America, where he has been on the best-seller lists for over a decade
.



COML 125.401 Narrative Across Cultures
TR 10:30-12 Allen
Division Arts and Letters
WATU credit optional

Cross listed with NELC 180, ENGL 103

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. Thecourse 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 The Adultery Novel and Film Adaptation
TR 10:30-11 Platt
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with RUSS 125, GSOC 125

The object of the course is to analyze a series of novels (and a few short stories) about adultery from the late eighteenth through the late nineteenth centuries. At the same time, we will be examining a series of films concerning the same subject matter—half of them adaptations of the works that we will read and half original treatments of infidelity. Our reading will teach us about novelistic traditions of the periods in question and about the relationship of Russian literature to the European models to which it responded. Our film viewings will allow us to consider the meaning of adultery today through a different medium of communication, as well as problems of literary adaptation and the status of classic literature in contemporary society. 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 transgresssive sexuality, Feminist work on the construction of gender. In general, we will see the ways in which human identity is tied to gender roles, and the complex relationship tying these matters of the libido and the family to larger issues of social organization.



COML 186.401 Korean Film and Culture
F 2-5 Kim
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with EALC 186, CINE 221

In this course we will study Korean films to think about expressions of and contemporary uses of emotion. We will consider how these cinematic texts serve as a site for theorizing and historicizing emotion in modern Korea. In particular, we will explore the most extreme, but also the most basic, human emotions such as fear, pain, love, and sadness. The course will be divided into four sections: Korean horror films where we will ask if there is an aesthetics of fear; Pak Ch’anwook’s vengeance trilogy to explore psychosis and madness; Kim Kiduk’s controversial films to problematize love, affection, and jealousy; and the melodrama genre to interrogate whether or not we can indeed name a unique Korean emotion called han (often translated as extreme sorrow or bitterness). In addition, throughout the course we will ask how Korean films produce versions of emotional life that address various aspects of Korean history, class, gender, sexuality, and culture. Films will be supplemented with theory, history, and popular culture texts and draw on writings by both Eastern and Western thinkers such as Mencius, Yi Sang, Foucault, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty among others.


COML 192.601 Classics of the Western World II
M 6:30-9:30 Gaffney
Distribution Arts and Letters

This course is an introduction to selected major works of Western literature from the Renaissance to the present. Topics examined in the course will include the development of modern literary genres, such as the novel, as well as transformations in drama and poetry. We will also examine the rise of important literary movements, such as Romanticism, realism, modernism, and postmodernism. Texts may include works by Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe, Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Eliot, Woolf, and Borges. In addition to primary texts, we will also read selected criticism to aid our interpretations. The course is primarily designed to foster an understanding of the texts that are considered important to modern Western literature and society. At the same time, however, we will examine issues related to their status as classics: Why are they considered classics, and what function do they perform in today’s world?



COML 196.602 Fate and Chance in Literature and Film
T 5:30-8:30 Zubarev
Distribution Arts and Letters
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 432, CINE 365

Be a winner – manage all your situations and don’t let a pure chance to govern your life! With a chain of literary characters as a vivid illustration, you will explore a mysterious world of fate and chance and learn about various interpretations of the forces ruling human life. Slavic and Greek mythology, as well as folklore and modern literary works of Russian and Western writers and cinematographers will assist you in your journey to the world of supernatural. Screenings will include Zeffirelli’s and Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet.



COML 200.401 Greek and Roman Mythology
Distribution Arts and Letters
All readings and lectures in English

Registration required for LEC and REC
LEC MW Farrell
REC 200.402, 200.403, 200.404, 200.405, 200.406, 200.407, 200.408, 200.409
Cross listed with CLST 200

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 Middle Eastern Literature
MW 4:30-6 Allen, Gold
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with NELC 201


This course serves as an introduction to the modern literary traditions of the Middle East through the examination of texts translated from Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. It is team-taught, involving four specialists in Middle Eastern literature. The genres to be studies are: the novel, the poem, and the short story.  The sessions devoted to readings of the translated text will be preceded by four sessions in which the genres themselves and the four literary traditions will be surveyed. All readings, both literary texts and background materials, are in English.



COML 213.401 Saints and Devils in Russian Literature and Tradition
TR 1:30-3 Verkholantsev
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with Russ 213
Syllabus

Despite the title, this course is not simply about saints and devils in Russian culture.  Our primary goal is to trace cultural continuity and understand the dependence of the 19th and 20th century Russian literature and art on cultural paradigms and categories of pre-modern Russia.  In Russia, where culture and conscience had been nourished by Eastern Orthodoxy and Indo-European paganism, the 19th-century search for spirituality was invariably connected with Orthodoxy and religious pursuits.  The interest in Russian history kindled a fascination with medieval Russian literary and artistic productions.  Writers and artists turned for inspiration to medieval themes and genres.  In “Saints and Devils,” we will examine the literary images of the holy and the demonic in works from various periods and we will learn about the historic trends that have filled Russia’s national character with religious and supernatural spirit. All readings and films are in English and include such authors as Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Leskov, Bulgakov, and Nabokov, as well as films by Tarkovsky and Eisenstein.



COML 221.401 Medieval Historical Writing: From Bede to the Printing Press
MW 2-3:30 Steiner, E.
Distrubtion Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 221, HIST 221

In this course we explore the ways that medieval writers documented and theorized the past. Questions include the following: what constitutes a significant event, e.g., the brutal murder of Thomas Becket in 1170, the burning of the Savoy Palace by peasant rebels in 1381, the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290,  the fall of Jerusalem during the Crusades (1187), or the miraculous exhumation of a saint's bones? What does the past - biblical, classical, national - tell us about the state of the present or the time of the future? In what way do different genres - chronicles, saints' lives, encyclopedias, charters, sermons, romances, travel guides, genealogies - offer competing or affirming views of the past? How is historiography used to serve royal propaganda or calls for religious reform? And what happens when medieval historical writing is taken up by fifteenth- and sixteenth-century English printers, dramatists, antiquarians, and reformers?

Texts may include Ranulph Higden's popular universal history, the Polychronicon (c. 1350, later translated and updated by England's first printer, William Caxton), Wulfstan's Sermon of the Wolf to the English (c. 1000, about the Anglo-Saxon and Viking conquests); Bede's classic and continually recycled Ecclesiastical History of the English People (c. 731); accounts of Arthurian Britain such as Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (1138) and Thomas Malory's Death of Arthur (printed 1485); influential monastic chronicles such as Matthew of Paris's Chronica Majora (c. 1250) and Thomas Walsingham's Chronicle of Saint Albans (1422); alliterative poems such as St. Erkenwald (c. 1390) and the Siege of Jerusalem (c. 1370s); travel narratives such as Gerald of Wales's The History and Topography of Ireland  (1185) and John of Mandeville's Travels (c. 1360); and the Edward IV Roll (a splendid genealogical manuscript at the Free Library of Philadelphia).  Assignments may include weekly responses to the reading, an oral presentation, and a final research paper.



COML 222.401 Topics – Romance: Gender, Sexuality, Sovereignty in Romance
TR 9-10:30 Sanchez
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 222, GSOC 221

This course will examine the ways in which gendered identities, sexual desire, and political authority work as expressions of and analogues for one another in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century romance. We will consider a number of early modern English authors (Spenser, Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, Wroth, Cavendish, Milton, and Behn) in the context of their classical and medieval precursors (possible figures include Virgil, Achilles Taitus, Chretien de Troyes, Marie de France, and John Gower, among others) and their continental contemporaries (Ariosto and Cervantes). Of particular concern will be questions about the relation between gender and genre: How does romantic challenge or reinforce conventional gender roles? How does the author’s gender inflect our understanding of both that particular text and romance conventions as such? What do Renaissance adaptations of romance as drama, science fiction, and travel narrative tell us about the relation between historical change and generic form? And, finally, how does the critical impulse to set generic boundaries complement or conflict with the attempt to study “women’s writing” as an aesthetic and historical category? A series of short writing and research assignments will culminate in a final 15+ page research paper.



COML 235.401 Medieval Russia: Origins of Russian Cultural Identity
TR 4:30-6 Verkholantsev
Distribution History and Tradition
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 234, HIST 219, SLAV 517

This course offers an overview of the literary and cultural history of Medieval Rus' from its origins to the eighteenth century, a period which laid the foundation for the emergence of the Russian Empire. Three modern-day nation-states – Russia, Ukraine and Belarus – share and dispute the cultural heritage of Medieval Rus’, and their political relationships even today revolve around questions of national and cultural identity.

The course takes a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the evolution of the main cultural paradigms of Russian Orthodoxy viewed vis-à-vis a broader European context. Students will explore the worldview of medieval Orthodox Slavs by delving into such topics as religion, spirituality, art, literature, education, music, ritual and popular culture.

The legacy of the Middle Ages has a continuing cultural influence in modern Russia.  This legacy is still referenced, often allegorically, in contemporary social and cultural discourse as the society attempts to reconstruct and reinterpret its history.  The study of the medieval cultural and political history explains many aspects of modern Russian society, and, in particular, the roots of its Imperial political mentality and its spirituality.  Those interested in the intellectual and cultural history of Russia, and Eastern Europe in general, will find that this course greatly enhances their understanding of the region and its people.



COML 241.401 The Devil’s Pact in Literature, Music, and Film
Registration required for LEC and REC
LEC MW 12-1 Richter
REC  241.402, 241.403, 241.404, 241,405
Distribution Arts and Letters                        
Cross listed with GRMN 256, CINE 352
, RELS 236

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 the devil as cultural interloper; the devil and self-knowledge. 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; discussion of the novel Mephisto, which links the legend of the devil's pact with Hitler and the Nazi regime; a reading of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, another classic of world literature set in Stalinist Russia; a session devoted to blues legend Robert Johnson who supposedly sold his soul to the devil; an encounter between the devil, coyote, and rock and roll in American Indian writer Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues; clips from other films and popular culture such as The Simpsons, South Park, and Bedazzled. The victim, I mean student, who signs up for this course is guaranteed an enticing blend of intellectual and cultural titillation, a substantial acquaintance with the wide-ranging popular legends of the devil's pact, and an opportunity to explore some of the burning questions of our time. All readings in English.



COML 241.601 The Devil’s Pact in Literature, Music and Film
T 6:30-9:30 Richter
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with GRMN 256/CINE 352, RELS 236

For centuries the pact with the devil has signified humankind's desire to surpass the limits of human knowledge and power. From the reformation chap book to the rock lyrics of Randy Newman's Faust, from Marlowe and Goethe to key Hollywood films, the legend of the devil's pact continues to be useful for exploring our fascination with forbidden powers.



COML 245.401 Literature and Film in the Age of Globalization
Registration required for LEC and REC
LEC TR 10:30-11:30 English
REC 245.402, 245.403, 245. 404, 245.405, 245.406
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 102, CINE 112


This is an introductory course about “world fictions” (both literary and cinematic) in the age of global English. How are works of contemporary literature and film in English – the kinds of stories they tell, their ways of telling, and their fates in the marketplace – being reshaped by globalization? Are the growing media dominance of the English language and the increasing power of London, New York, and Hollywood as the major centers of cultural production effecting a kind of McNovelization of the developing world, in which poorer and more peripheral locations can only tell their stories in the forms approved by the media conglomerates and their large western readerships? Or are we seeing the breakdown of any clear standard or center: the emergence of new, weird and rogue forms of English, wild deformations of the conventional English novel and the normative Hollywood film, and ever more radically opposed narratives about the state of the world? In order to approach these and other questions, we will read six or seven mostly short novels and view a handful of films. Our syllabus will likely include The Joys of Motherhood by Bucchi Emecheta, Sozaboy by Ken Saro-Wiwa, Dogeaters by Jessica Yann Martel, and the films Trainspotting by Danny Boyle, Ratcatcher by Lynne Ramsay, Ararat by Atom Egoyan, and Bride and Prejudice by Mira Nair. Each of these works has attained a certain stature in the world system, some by winning major international prizes and awards, some by achieving massive commercial success, and some simply by being widely taught in high school and university English classes. We will consider not only texts in themselves, but the ways they have been advertised, distributed, and consumed. Work for this class will include six short quizzes, an essay of 3-5 pages (with the option to revise), and an essay of 6-8 pages. No previous study of literature or film is required or expected. This class satisfies the General Education Requirement in Arts and Letters.



COML 255.401 Mann, Hesse, Kafka
TR 12-1:30 Trommler
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with GRMN 255

Based on considerations of the cultural tradition and the intellectual currents of the twentieth century, the course presents a survey of the achievements of Mann, Hesse, and Kafka. The extensive study of representative works focus on the problems of the artist in the modern age.



COML 267.401 Immigration in Drama and Cinema
MW 2-3:30 Lafferty
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with THAR 275, CINE 225, GSOC 275, ENGL 256

We will explore representations of immigration, from West Side Story to Millennium Approaches to what’s new on youtube.com and more.  Whether original peoples who traveled to America in the ancient past; Africans, Asians, and Europeans who began arriving in the time of Christopher Columbus; immigrants to the United States during the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century; post-1965 arrivals to the U.S.; or undocumented individuals who find themselves embroiled in current controversies--all can be termed “immigrants.”  By exploring works of theatre and cinema, students will examine citizens’ attitudes toward immigrants and viewpoints of immigrants themselves: with a particular interest in representations of gender and sexuality, how immigrant status interacts with issues like women’s emancipation, gender roles, and sexual identification.  Students will research, write about, and deliver presentations on plays and films, addressing such varied topics as the Trail of Tears, the Middle Passage, the Colonial Period, Irish and Italian immigration to the U.S., plantation workers in Hawaii, the Chicano movement and La Raza, Asian American performance and new technologies affiliated with websites like yolk.com, Middle Eastern and Muslim Americans both before and after September 11, or even international theatre and cinema.  A major focus of the course is how digital technology supports theatre, film, and video.  In addition to undertaking traditional projects of study, we will also engage with these emerging forms in creative ways, for instance, by designing our own website on immigration.




COML 267.403 Tragedy and the Tragic
TR 1:30-3 Wilson
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with THAR 275.403, CLST 315, ENGL 229



COML 282.401 Israeli Lit and Film: Love and War
TR 1:30-3 Gold
Cross listed with NELC 159, JWST 154, CINE 329

While the American tradition sanctifies the “pursuit of happiness,” Israeli consciousness does not. The “tug of war” between the individual’s right to seek happiness on the one hand, and the commitment to collective, national causes on the other, is an overarching theme in Israeli literary and cinematic works. This struggle, as it is reflected in the arts, crosses lines of gender and genre, age and ethnic background. So deeply ingrained is the superiority of national concerns that a leading Israeli critic accused the renowned author A.B. Yehoshua of “desertion” when he wrote a mere love story. We will study works of fiction, poetry and film created by Israeli men and women from 1948-2006. Some of the works deal with the relationship between love and war, while others focus on one of the two. Readings include Yehoshua, Oz, Amichai,  Ravikovitch and Katzir. Films include works by Barbash, Agmon, Ben- Dor and Dotan. There will be six film screenings; the films will also be placed on reserve at the library for those students unable to attend the screenings. The content of this course changes from year to year, and therefore, students may take it for credit more than once.




COML 291.401 After Derrida
TR 10:30-12 Levy
Cross listed ENGL 294

As a philosopher and literary critic, Jacques Derrida (d. 2004) was a central figure in the profound reassessment of prevailing intellectual paradigms that has swept through virtually every domain of the humanities since the 1960s. For those who actively study the work of Jacques Derrida and deconstruction (a way of reading and thinking about literary texts with which he is associated) there was also the sense that he was the last of a certain generation, and that with his passing there is a renewed need to carry on the multiple legacies of his work.  Accordingly, this advanced undergraduate seminar will survey the legacy of Jacques Derrida and the legacy of deconstruction.  The course will begin with an introduction to some of the main tenants and texts of Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, followed by weekly readings of work by Derrida as well as articles, interviews and books by his colleagues and disciples.  In conjunction with the course, students will also attend public programs at Slought Foundation featuring some of the literary theorists whose work will be read in the course.  All course readings will take place in English; a familiarity with literature and an interest in literary theory is encouraged but not required.  Some of the authors we will read include Maurice Blanchot, Roland Barthes, Eduardo Cadava, Helene Cixous, Avital Ronell, Gayatri Spivak, and Samuel Weber.   Texts by Derrida will include canonical texts such as Writing & Difference, as well as The Politics of Friendship and Memoirs of the Blind.



COML 310.401 The Medieval Reader
TR 12-1:30 Kirkham
Distribution Arts and Letters

Cross listed with ITAL 310, GSOC 310


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 311.401 Fiction and Film in a Postcolonial Frame
R 3-6 Majithia
Cross listed with SAST 310, ASAM 310, CINE 310, ENGL 293

Fiction and Film in a Postcolonial Frame Scholars argue that the relationship between film and literature is confrontational, transgressive, dialogic, and ambivalent.  We will use those criteria for examining how postcolonial fiction and film mutually frame each other. Our examination of the traffic between film and literature will be organized around film adaptations and literary texts linked by genre, topic, and style. How do these works cross cultural, political and aesthetic boundaries? How are our understandings of "high" and "low" culture re-defined in this exchange?  What are the particular implications of these crossings in South Asian postcolonial contexts for thinking about how the following concepts are defined: modernism, realism, and translation?  How are vernacular, folk, and popular cultures recast in these texts?  Finally, what role does Bollywood cinema play in inflecting the particular aesthetics of magically realist literature in the South Asian context?  While the class will focus on South Asian texts, we will draw on film, literature, and theoretical frameworks from other postcolonial contexts to consider the licenses and limits of comparison for this study.



COML 344.401 European Intellectual History, 1870-1950
TR 3-4:30 Breckman
Distribution History and Tradition
Cross listed with HIST 344

European intellectual and cultural history from 1870 to 1950.  Themes to be considered include aesthetic modernism and the avant-garde, the rebellion against rationalism and positivism, Social Darwinism, Marxist theory and the crisis of Second International Socialism, the impact of World War One on European intellectuals, psychoanalysis, existentialism, and the ideological rigins of fascism. Figures to be studied include Nietzsche, Freud, Woolf, Sartre, Camus, and Heidegger.



COML 357.401 Myth in Society
TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with FOLK 229

In this course we will explore the mythologies of selected peoples in the Ancient Near East, Africa, Asia, and Native North and South America and examine how the gods function in the life and belief of each society.  The study of mythological texts will be accompanied, as much as possible, by illustrative slides that will show the images of these deities in art and ritual.



COML 359.401 Giants of Hebrew Literature
TR 10:30-12 Gold
Distribution Arts and Letters
Cross listed with HEBR 359, HEBR 659, JWST 359, JWST 556

The course focuses on the central pillars of the Modern Hebrew literary canon, and their Impact on Israeli literature. The poet Hayim Nachman Bialik (1873-1934) and the author Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1887-1970) provided future writers with the tools to express modern and postmodern sensibilities. Drawing from the ancient wells of Bible, Talmud, and Midrash, they forged a new diction for passion and love and for representing the inner world, psychological insight and political assertions. Agnon’s Kafka-like short stories inspired the works of writers as different as A.B. Yehoshua and Orly Kastel-Bloom. Bialik’s personal/political poems echo in Dahlia Ravikovitch’s verse. We will compare the classic with the contemporary, and discuss the lasting power of these giants in the context of modern Israel. The class will be conducted in Hebrew and the texts read in the original. Grading based on 5 two-page response papers in Hebrew, a final exam, preparation for class and participation. The content of this course changes from year to year; therefore students may take it for credit more than once.  



COML 360.401 Critical Issues in Global and Transnational Studies
TR 1:30-3 de la Campa
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Distribution Arts and Letters

Cross listed with ROML 390, ENGL 394

This course will focus on critical issues pertaining to global and transnational studies in the humanities.  We will clarify conceptual paradigms as much as possible, outlining their historical evolvement in the 20th-Century, as well as their spheres of dissemination and contradiction, particularly in the Americas. We will then test these notions in literary and cultural texts (short stories, novels, poems, films, videos, music or other forms).

The course will be specifically organized around the following questions and themes:
Postmodern, Postcolonial, Cosmopolitan and Subaltern proposals of the past twenty years. Do they offer new points of departure for literary and cultural studies?  How do they situate notions of modernity in various part of the world?  What role do notions such as hybridity and multiculturalism play in our understanding of transnational spheres?  Are historical differences between the English and Hispanic legacies of colonialism in the Americas highlighted or erased through these discourses?  What are the claims of diasporic, post-nationalist and post-humanist forms of writing and reading? What role does feminism play in them? Culture, Multitudes, New citizenry.  Are contemporary subjects susceptible to a powerful aesthetic pull cultural studies attempt to address? Is there such a thing as an aesthetic of globalization? Can it be studied critically? Is it mostly visual? Does literature or critical thinking play a role in it? Performativity and Immanence. A look at various notions surrounding these new tropes; specifically their modes of reshaping intellectual subjects and the notions of creativity, autobiography and culture brokering prevalent in the pull towards techno-mediatic globalization. The final list of writers, critics and theorists is still in progress.  It will constitute a world-wide representation of authors such as Jorge Luis Borges, Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Octavio Paz, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin. Stuart Hall, Lisa Lowe, Rey Chow, Clarice Lispector, Stephen Greenblat, Theodor Adorno, Gilles Deleuze, Paolo Virno, Allan Badiou, and others.



COML 362.401 Native American Folklore
TR 12-1:30 Berman

Cross listed with FOLK 360

An introductory survey of Native North American folklore that will explore primarily traditional forms of verbal art, music, dance, and material culture. The course will place Native American folklore in the context of indigenous cultures, the history of scholarship, and current issues such as cultural renewal, language endangerment, cultural representation cultural property rights, authenticity, and repatriation.



COML 380.401 Bible in Translation: Exodus
TR 4:30-6 Tigay
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Distribution Arts and Letters

Cross listed with JWST 255, NELC 250, NELC 550

This course is a careful textual study of the book of Exodus in the light of modern scholarship, including archaeological evidence and ancient Near Eastern documents, comparative literature and religion. Topics will include the events surrounding the Israelite exodus from Egypt, its date, the first Passover, the role of Moses as a prophet, the Ten Commandments, civil and religious law in the Bible, the golden calf incident, and the reverberations of Exodus in later Judaism, Christianity, and Western (particularly American) Civilization.



COML 385.401 Geisha and Samurai on Stage
T 1:30-4:30 Kano
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Distribution Arts and Letters

Cross listed with EALC 255, FOLK 485, THAR 485




Last modified October 22, 2006
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania