Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Spring 2008


Attention Comparative Literature Majors:

Courses Satisying "Postcolonial/Nonwestern Requirement:"

Courses Satisfying "Theory Requirement:"


COML 059.401 Modernisms and Modernities
TR 9-10:30 Heffernan
Cross listed with ENGL 059

This course serves as an introduction to the literature of modernism.  The course will span eighty years (1850-1930) and include literature from the urban centers of Britain, Europe, and Russia, as well as the rural peripheries of South Africa and the American South.  Our main question throughout the course will be: how does modernist writing relate to modernity?  We will discuss modernity in terms of social revolution, disenchantment, urban everyday life, changing sexual mores, colonialism, and capitalism.  We will consider how the writers on our syllabus respond to modernity with new modes of representation, from Gustave Flaubert’s subversive realism to Olive Schreiner’s novel of sketches to Luis Bunuel’s and Salvador Dali’s cinematic surrealism.  As we move through the syllabus, students will learn to compose a close interpretation of a literary text; they will also develop a critical understanding of key concepts such as modernity, subjectivity, desire, and representation.  Course readings may include: selections from the writings of Karl Marx, Charles Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals, Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm, selections from the writings of Sigmund Freud, James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Rebecca West’s Return of the Soldier, Luis Bunuel’s and Salvador Dali’s Un Chien Andalou, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Faith Baldwin’s Skyscraper.  Course requirements include three short papers and a final exam.

COML 093.001 Postcolonial Literature and Theory
TR 10:30-12 Saint-Amour
Dist. Arts and Letters - Cross Cultural Analysis
Cross listed with ENGL 093

Workshop on key questions and analytics in the study of colonial and postcolonial literatures. The course will attempt to avoid a catch-all model of postcoloniality by concentrating on the literature, history, and diasporic communities of the Indian Subcontinent. Primary texts by Anand, Rao, Narayan, Naipaul, Desai, Rushdie, Suleri, Roy, and others; secondary readings by Fanon, Said, Spivak, Bhabha, Mohanty, Loomba, Ahmad, and others.

COML104.401 Monsters in Film and Literature
TR 12-1:30 (Screenings M 7-9) Yang
Cross listed with ENGL 104

Why do monsters have such lasting popular appeal in film and literature? From medieval dragons to giant alien cars, monsters reveal our fascination with the supernatural and the grotesque, with scientific experimentation and the boundaries of what it means to be human. Every culture has its own way of representing the unknown and sublimating its deep-seated fears of contamination and invasion—often through the figure of the monster. In this course we will study films featuring a wide assortment of monsters and the literature that inspires and reproduces them across a range of genres, cultures, and time periods. Films may include: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Fly, 28 Weeks Later, The Elephant Man, The Host. Authors may include: Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, and Octavia Butler.

Film screenings are scheduled weekly on Monday nights. Assignments will include quizzes and in-class exams, two 5-7 page essays, and a collaborative research project on a monster of your choice.

COML 119.401 Middle Eastern Cinema: Law & Society
TR 1:30-4:30 Minuchehr
Dist. Arts and Letters – Cross Cultural Analysis
Cross listed with NELC 119

In the past two decades, films from the Middle East have gained exceptional international reception. This course is designed to explore the reasons behind this reception through a study of the prevalent social, political, and historical themes and issues in Middle Eastern cinemas. Questions such as women’s laws, literature and its function, familial issues and gender roles, historical legacies and political tensions, and religions, will be discussed. This course assumes no previous knowledge of film studies or languages of the region. Films from Israel, the Arab World, Turkey, and Iran will be shown in subtitled versions.

COML 125.401 Narrative Across Cultures
TR 10:30-12 Allen
WATU Credit Optional
Cross Cultural Analysis – Arts and Letters Sector
Cross listed with NELC 180

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 The Adultery Novel
TR 10:30-12 Platt
Arts and Letters Sector
Cross listed with RUSS 125/CINE 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 187.401 Possessing Women
MWF 11-12 Chance
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with EALC 017/GSOC 187

A man from Tennessee writes Memoirs of a Geisha. A Japanese novelist tells the story of the "comfort women" who served the Japanese army. A tenth century courtier poses as a woman writing the first woman's diary. Poets from Byron to Robert Lowell, through Ezra Pound to Li Po, have written as though they were women, decrying their painful situations. Is something wrong with this picture, or is "woman" such a fascinating position from which to speak that writers can hardly help trying it on for size? In this course we will look at male literary impersonators of women as well as women writers. Our questions will include who speaks in literature for prostitutes—whose bodies are in some sense the property of men—and what happens when women inhabit the bodies of other women via spirit possession. Readings will draw on the Japanese tradition, which is especially rich in such cases, and will also include Western and Chinese literature, anthropological work on possession, legal treatments of prostitution, and film. Participants will keep a reading journal and write a paper of their own choosing.

COML 200.401 Greek and Roman Mythology
Lecture MW 11-12 Struck
Recitation sections 402-409
Registration required for LEC and REC
Cross Cultural Analysis – Arts and Letters Sector
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 211.401 Global Fiction and Film
R 5-8 Majithia
Screenings W 12-3
Cross listed with ASAM 212/CINE 215/SAST 212

The spread of globalization, or the acceleration of transportation and information technologies, alters our notions of time and space. Described variously as colonial, postcolonial, and global, recent film and literature from South Asia suggest models for understanding the following processes: imperialism, nationalism, displacement, hybridity, migrancy, and travel. The resulting increase in the traffic in texts re-defines genres, canons, high/low cultures, as well as popular and mass culture. The new representations and circulations of fictions, films, and adaptations produce novel ways of thinking about community, borders, and belonging. While the class will focus on South Asian texts, we will draw on film, literature, and theoretical frameworks from other contexts to consider the licenses and limits of comparison for this study.

COML 212.401 Modern Mideast Literature in Translation
MW 3:30-5 Allen/Gold
Arts and Letters Sector
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 220.401 Russia and the West
MW 2-3:30 Vinitsky
Cross Cultural Analysis – Hum. and Soc. Science Sector
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 the 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 lecture, discussion, short writing assignments, and two in-class tests.

COML 235.401 Medieval Russia: Origins of Russian Cultural Identity
TR 4:30-6 Verkholantsev
Cross Cultural Analysis
All readings and lectures in English
Dist. History and Tradition
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 through the Late Middle Ages, 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 focus of the course will be on the Kievan and Muscovite traditions but we will also note the differences (and their causes) of the Ukrainian and Belarusian cultural histories. The course takes a comparative and interdisciplinary approach to the evolution of the main cultural paradigms of Russian Orthodoxy viewed in 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 Rus’ 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. Similarly, the study of the medieval cultural history of Rus’ explains many aspects of modern Russian society, and, in particular, the roots of its Imperial political mentality. 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 237.401 Berlin: History, Politics, and Culture
Lecture TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
Recitations 402-405
Registration required for LEC and REC
Cross listed with GRMN 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 structure, its significant architecture from the eighteenth century (i.e. Schinkel) to the nineteenth (new worker’s housing, garden suburbs) and twentieth centuries (Bauhaus, Speer designs, postwar rebuilding, GDR housing projects, post-unification building boom). In addition, we will read literary texts about the city, and consider the visual art and music created in and about Berlin. Indeed, Berlin will be a specific example to explore German history and cultural life of the last 300 years.

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

Requirements:

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

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

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

COML 241.401 The Devil's Pact in Literature, Music, and Film
Lecture MW 1-2 Richter
Recitations 402-407
Registration required for LEC and REC
Arts and Letters Sector
Cross listed with GRMN 256/RELS 236/CINE 352

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 245.401 Literature and Film in the Age of Globalization
Lecture TR 1:30-2:30 Loomba
Recitations R 3-4; sections 402-405
Registration required for LEC and REC
Arts and Letters Sector
Cross listed with ENGL 102

This is an introductory course about “world fictions” (both literary and cinematic) as they have been made possible by an increasingly global world. How are works of literature and film in English – the kinds of stories they tell, their ways of telling, and their fates in the marketplace –reshaped by globalization? What kinds of human relationships are visualized by literatures which are trans-national in their themes, and also whose marketing is made possible by new international publishing houses and reading publics? How does such literature and film find a new vocabulary, a new kind of English to narrate these stories?

In turn, what do such fictions tell us about globalization and the forms it is taking? Do they celebrate global connections, or do they tell a tale of  a world even more unequal and divided? How do the local and the global interesect in the imagination of artists from different parts of the world? In order to approach these and other questions, we will read six or seven (most short) novels and plays, and view a handful of films, chosen from among the following: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon, Sozaboy by Ken Saro-Wiwa, Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo,  Harvest by Manjula Padmanabhan, Small Island by Andrea Levy, Season of Migration to the North by Tayib Salih. Films: My Son the Fanatic (Hanif Kureishi), Mississipi Masala  (Mira Nair); The Constant Gardner (Fernando Mereilles); Dirty Pretty Things (Stephen Frears); Babel Alejandro González Ińárritu). 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. 

Work for this class will include six short quizzes, and two essays (3-5 pages for the first and 6-8 pages for the second), both of which will be submitted in draft form and then revised after feedback from your TA.  No previous study of literature or film is required or expected. This class satisfies the General Education Requirement in Arts and Letters.

COML 248.401 Aestheticism and Decadence
TR 1:30-3 Saint-Amour
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ASAM 202/ENGL 259

An in-depth look at two loosely-styled movements of the late Victorian period. We’ll consider, among other questions, the reception of Darwin; the New Imperialism, scientific racism, and the discourse of degeneration; the influence of French symbolism; mass culture and mass movements; anti-industrialism and utopia; the New Woman and the Woman Question; the rise and repression of incipient queer culture. Fiction by, for example, Huysmans, Wilde, Schreiner, Hardy, and Stoker; poetry by D. G. Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Morris, Swinburne, and Field; essays by Ruskin, Arnold, Pater, Nordau, Wilde, and others.

COML 255.401 Mann, Hesse, and Kafka
TR 12-1:30 Jarosinski
Arts and Letters Sector
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 255

Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, and Franz Kafka have become classics with their literary exploration of alienation, loss, and recovery of the individual in the modern world. This course offers immersion in some of their crucial novels, accompanied by the viewing of films (Visconti, Welles) and videos that reflect their work. Readings of such works as Kafka’s Metamorphosis and The Trial, Mann’s Death in Venice and The Magic Mountain, and Hesse’s Demian and Steppenworlf are discussed in the light of Germany’s dark history in the twentieth century. The course will provide an in-depth look at the dilemma of the modern artist and the ways in which literary and visual culture can contribute to a deeper understanding of ethical issues that continue to be with us in the twenty-first century.

COML 282.401 Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation: The Many Voices of Israel
TR 1:30-3 Gold
Cross Cultural Analysis – Art and Letters Sector
Cross listed with NECL 159/JWST 102/CINE 329

This course listens and responds to Israeli literary and cinematic expressions of “others,” such as new immigrants, women, Arabs, gays, orthodox Jews, first and second generations of Holocaust survivors, and those of Middle Eastern descent. The Zionist meta-narrative that dominated Israeli literature and film from its inception ignored or suppressed their varied voices until the late 20th century. Initially, authors and directors were predominantly Israeli-born (or educated), Ashkenazi (of European descent) men who tackled the nationalistic, territory-based aspirations of the people. Now that the “periphery” has invaded the “center,” a cacophony of voices replaces the mainstream ideological search for a Zionist utopia. We will analyze and examine how postmodernist and subversive writers and filmmakers use the different languages of film, prose and poetry to capture the outsider’s experience. Taught in English. There will be five film screenings. Grades are based on film response papers, one 6-page term paper, a final and class participation. The content of this course changes from year to year, and therefore, students may take it for credit more than once. Fulfills Arts & Letters Sector (all classes) and Cross Cultural Analysis – Class of ’10 and after. (NELC 159, COML 282, CINE 329)

COML 291.402 Beckett in Theory
TR 9-10:30 Rabate
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 294

In the last decades, Beckett’s importance for contemporary philosophical discourse has grown, and if no-one considers him to be a philosopher per se, he has attracted the attention of the most important recent theoreticians of literature, from Adorno to Badiou, from Cavell to Deleuze. Thus the focus of this course will be double—we will read Beckett’s main plays (Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Not I) and prose texts (especially the two trilogies), we will pay attention to his Film  and to the later television plays, while foregrounding theoretical approaches to these: Derridian, Lacanian and neo-Marxist readings will be systematically discussed. We will conclude with an introduction to Deleuze’s and Badiou’s readings of Beckett.

Bibliography: 

Samuel Beckett : Watt, The first Trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable), Collected Shorter Prose, Collected Plays, Nohow On. Dan Katz, Saying I no More. Thomas Tresize, Into the Breach. Thomas Cousineau, After the Final No.  Branka Arsic, The Passive Eye. Alain Badiou, On Beckett.

  

COML 333.401 Dante's Divine Comedy
TR 10:30-12 Brownlee
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ITAL 333

In this course we will read the Inferno, the Purgatorio and the Paradiso, focusing on a series of interrelated problems raised by the poem: authority, fiction, history, politics and language. Particular attention will be given to how the Commedia presents itself as Dante's autobiography, and to how the autobiographical narrative serves as a unifying thread for this supremely rich literary text. Supplementary readings will include Virgil's Aeneid and selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses. All readings and written work will be in English. Italian or Italian Studies credit will require reading Italian texts in their original language and doing the written assignments in Italian.

COML 344.401 20th Century European Intellectual History
MW 2-3:30 DiLiberto
Dist. History and Tradition
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 355.401 Culture Without the Cult
TR 1:30-3 Hall
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 359

This course looks at the reflections of a writer of great intelligence  and imagination  on the tensions and contradictions  of  modern culture.  According to Thomas Mann, the Enlightenment severed  culture  from the cult, that is, the Enlightenment  created a notion of the cultivated man who had no use for religion, in fact, congratulated himself on having overcome religion’s  superstitions.   As a result, the educated classes  declare their  intellectual sophistication  by announcing their disdain for the innocence of religious  belief.  With the demise of traditional religion and traditional morality,  then, terms that were once shared by aesthetics and ethics—beauty, order, balance—are used by thinking people only with irony.   Art descends to the merely chic.   Spiritual  intensity  descends to  violence.  Morality descends to the comforts of a well-upholstered bourgeois home.  In his two greatest books,  The Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus Mann argues that modern cultivated man despises the cult and yet, being homesick for it, attempts to cure that homesickness in either futile or destructive ways. We will read several short works by Kant, The First and Second Discourses of Rousseau, and Nietzsche's The Gay Science.  The course will culminate in Mann's Magic Mountain and Doctor Faustus.  1 short paper; one long final paper; consistent and informed class preparation.

COML 357.401 Myth in Society
TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos
Dist. 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 359.407 Seminar in Modern Hebrew Literature: The Representation of the City
TR 10:30-12 Gold
Cross Cultural Analysis – Arts and Letters sector
Cross listed with COLL 220/HEBR 359/JWST 359/JWST 556

The course focuses on the artistic ways in which the city, be it Jerusalem, Haifa or Tiberias, is represented in Israeli literature. In turn, the depiction of the city in prose and poetry will be read as reflecting the inner world as well as ideological and political conflicts. The emotional and physical connection between the writer and his/her place of dwelling is transformed in the literary work. It may become a locus for national expression, of gender identification, or even pure aesthetic enchantment. We will analyze how, through her portrayals of the Carmel mountain and the Haifa bay, Yehudit Katzir expresses the complex bond with her mother; how Tel Aviv streets enable Dahlia Ravikovitch and Meir Wieseltier to examine questions of loyalty; how Jerusalem of A.B. Yehoshua and Yehuda Amichai reflects their loves and hatreds. The class is conducted in Hebrew and the texts read in the original. Grading is based on five 2-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. Seminar. Fulfills Literatures of the World, Arts & Letters Sector (all classes) and Cross Cultural Analysis – Class of ‘10 and after. (COLL 220, HEBR 359, COML 359, JWST 556, HEBR 659)

COML 360.401 Critical Issues in Global and Transnational Studies
TR 1:30-3 de la Campa
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Dist. 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 360.402 Introduction to Literary Theory
TR 3-4:30 Eng
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 094

This class will provide an introduction to literary theory by focusing on the topic of ideology. We will explore how ideology becomes a name for investigating the social, political, and material processes underwriting cultural production. Throughout the semester we will read texts that help to establish a genealogy of ideology. At the same time we will examine a number of discourses and critical movements--such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, poststructuralism, deconstruction, postcolonial studies, queer studies, and critical race theory--that offer a framework for analyzing the complex relationships among language, representation, and social power in literature, popular culture, and public speech. Finally, we will place these theories in dialogue with a number of contemporary political debates, including feminist challenges to pornography, legal disputes over hate speech, and state rhetoric regarding the "war on terror."

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: Genesis
TR 4:30-6 Tigay
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis – Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with JWST 255/NELC 250/NELC 550/RELS 224

Careful textual study of a book of the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") as a literary and religious work in the light of modern scholarship, ancient Near Eastern documents, and comparative literature and religion. The book varies from year to year.


CGS CGS CGS CGS


COML 192.601 Classics of the Western World II
M 6:30-9:30 Hoffsten
Gen. Req. Arts and Letters (for stds. admitted prior to fall 06)

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 241.601 The Devil’s Pact in Literature, Music and Film
T 6:30-9:30 Richter
Distribution Arts and Letters (All Classes)
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.


Last modified October 30, 2007
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania