Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Spring 2009



COML 005.401 India's Literatures: Love, War, Wisdom, Humor
TR 3-4:30 Patel
All readings in English
Cross listed with SAST 004

This course introduces students to the extraordinary quality of literary production during the past four millennia of South Asian civilization. Selecting for discussion only a few "masterworks" in translation from pre-modern India (ranging from early Sanskrit and Tamil texts through to the great Hindavi romance traditions of the 16th century), the course will also broadly investigate the processes of 'masterpiece'-making in South Asia, both through the lens of indigenous aesthetic formulations and expectations as well as from diverse contemporary perspectives of literary analysis. In doing so, the goal will be to come to some understanding of the immensely rich and complicated networks of language, literary form, and cultural life that have historically informed and continue to inform the production of literature in South Asia.

COML 021.001 Intro to Medieval Literature
MW 2-3:30 E. Steiner
Dist. Arts and Letters
Cross listed with ENGL 021

You need no previous experience of medieval literature to do well in this course - just bring your curiosity and enthusiasm!

We will be reading a wide variety of medieval prose and poetry from the later Middle Ages: tales from Chaucer, Arthurian romances, female saints' lives, travel narratives both real and imagined, political treatises, devotional poetry, plays, and chronicles. The goal of the course is to expose you to the wonderful diversity of 13th to 15th-century literature; thanks to Middle English Boot Camp, you will all become masters of Middle English as well. As we read, we will be asking questions about reading ,writing, and authorship relevant to literature of all periods. How do written technologies, such as manuscripts, shape the way we imagine the world, our past, and ourselves? What might it mean to write in a culture with multiple literary languages (French, Latin, and English), each of which comes with its own social "baggage"? How can a writer claim to have a public voice, if it takes several days to carry a message from the center to the periphery? When can an author be said to innovate in a culture that deeply values tradition and has staked everything on a sacred past?

Assignments will include a midterm exam, a final paper, and several short exercises, including a manuscript exercise in Van Pelt's Rare Books and Manuscript Library.

COML 059.401 Modernisms and Modernities
Dist. Arts & Letters
MW 3:30-5 Heffernan
Cross listed with ENGL 059

This course serves as an introduction to the literature of modernism with a particular focus on British literature in the opening decades of the twentieth century. These decades were marked by social and sexual revolution, colonialism in crisis, and the rise of mass culture and advertising. As we move through the syllabus, we will ask – along with the modernists themselves – what is the role of literature in this era of social change? Students will learn how to close read a literary text, as well as gain a critical understanding of concepts including modernity, representation, desire, avant-garde, and mass culture. Course readings may include: Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, H.G. Wells’s Tono-Bungay, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Rebecca West’s Return of the Soldier, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, T.S. Eliot’s "The Waste Land," and selections from the writings of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Walter Benjamin. Course requirements include two short papers and a final exam.

COML 062.401 20th-Century Poetry
Dist. Arts & Letters
W 6-9 Bernstein
Cross listed with ENGL 062

This "reading workshop" is an introduction to the unprecedented range of language exploration in the poetry that emerged in the 20th century from Europe, Latin America and others parts of the world. The basic course text will be Poems for the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry, edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris. The anthology features poets such as Mallarmé, Rilke, Tzara, Mayakovsky,Vallejo, Artaud, and Césaire, along with a sampling of some of the most significant movements in poetry and the other arts: Futurism, Expressionism, Dada, Surrealism, "Objectivism," Negritude. We will also look at sound and visual poetry and also the new digital poetry that is emerging on the Intenet. In addition, there will be a few poets visiting the class -- reading and discussing their work with the seminar.

The "reading workshop" is less concerned with analysis or explanation of individual poems than with finding ways to intensify the experience of poetry, of the poetic, through a consideration of how the different styles and structures and forms of contemporary poetry can affect the way we see and understand the world. No previous experience with poetry is necessary. More important is a willingness to consider the implausible, to try out alternative ways of thinking, to listen to the way language sounds before trying to figure out what it means, to lose yourself in a flurry of syllables and regain your bearings in dimensions otherwise imagined as out-of-reach.

The basic requirement for the class is a weekly response to the assigned readings - usually a notebook entry, imitation, or experiment. These responses are open-ended and can be in whatever form you choose - they are meant to encourage interaction with the poems and also serve as a record of your reading. The experiments are based on list of exercises (something like laboratory work!) aimed at getting inside the styles of the various poets studied. The responses and experiments will form the basis of workshop discussions.

The readings for this workshop are extensive and cannot all be discussed in class. The concept is for you to saturate yourself in 20th-century poetry. Works will be presented from well-known poets but there will be equal attention to a range of lesser known poets as well as on younger poets now actively working to delight, inform, redress, lament, extol, oppose, renew, rhapsodize, imagine, foment . . .

COML 094.401 Introduction to Literary Theory
Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 3-4:30 Eng
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 economic 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, feminism, postcolonial 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 114.401 Persian Mystical Thought: Rumi
Dist. Arts & Letters
T 1:30-4:30 Minuchehr
Cross listed with NELC 115/RELS 144

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 115.401 Experimental Writing Seminar
W 2-5 Bernstein
Permission needed from Instructor
Writing samples required
Cross listed with ENGL 111

This is a nontraditional "poetry immersion" workshop. The workshop will be useful for those wanting to explore new possibilities for writing and art, whether or not they have a commitment to writing poetry. The workshop will be structured around a series of writing experiments, intensive readings, art gallery visits, and the production of individual chapbooks or web sites for each participant, and performance of participants' works. There will also be some visits from visiting poets. The emphasis in the workshop will be on new and innovative approaches to composition and form, including digital, sound, and performance, rather than on works emphasizing narrative or story telling. Each week, participants will discuss the writing they have done as well as the assigned reading. Permission of the instructor is required. Send a brief email stating why you wish to attend the workshop (writing samples not required) to Charles Bernstein.

COML 125.401 Narrative Across Cultures
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with ENGL 103, NELC 180, FOLK 125

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 197.401 Madness and Madmen
Humanities & Social Science Sector (new curr. only)
MW 2-3:30 Vinitsky
Lecture and readings in English
Cross listed with RUSS 197

This course will explore the representations of madness in Russian literature and arts from the medieval period through the October Revolution of 1917. The discussion will include formative masterpieces by Russian writers (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Bulgakov), painters (Repin, Vrubel’, Filonov), composers (Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky), and directors of films (Protazanov, Eisenstein), as well as non-fictional documents, such as Russian medical, judicial, political, and philosophical treatises and essays on madness.

COML 200.401 Greek and Roman Mythology
Registration required for LEC and REC
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters Sector
LEC MW 11-12 Struck
REC 402 -411 (check various times on R & F)
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 203.401 World Literature: Intro to Italian Lit and Culture
Literatures of the World; Arts & Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Benini
Cross listed with COLL 228/ITAL 203

Ital 203 is an introductory course aimed to offer students the opportunity to discover Italian Literature and Civilization through readings and reflections upon significant texts of the Italian literary and artistic tradition. From the underworld of Dante to the love poetry of Petrarch, from the political vision of Macchiavelli to the scientific revolution of Galileo, from the modernist fragmentation of Pirandello to the postmodern creations of Calvino, up to the latest trends in Italian cinema, the course explores a wide range of literary genres, themes and cultural debates by analyzing texts within their socio-political context.

The course will help students to expand their vocabulary, to improve their skills in critical interpretation and to reinforce their written and oral competences in Italian through a variety of activities such as class discussions, presentations, short papers and research projects.

All readings and class discussion will be in Italian. The prerequisite for this course is Italian 202 or an equivalent course taken abroad. This course is a requirement for all majors and minors in Italian Literature. It may be taken any time in the curriculum after 202, and by permission, concurrently with 202.

COML 212.401 Modern Middle Eastern Literature
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters Sector
MW 5-6:30 Gold
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 216.406 Intro to German Literature
Cross Cultural Analysis; Literature of the World
Arts & Letters Sector
Prerequisite(s): GRMN 215 or the equivalent
The language of instruction, readings, and discussion is German
TR 1:30-3 MacLeod
Cross listed with GRMN 216/COLL 225

Why a course on German literature for the student learning language? Literature is where language is at its most versatile, inventive, and entertaining. Literature knows no shame in putting the fantasies, hopes, fears, and desires of a culture on display. This is a course for students intent on further developing their abilities in language and their knowledge of German culture. Ranging widely across the literary genres—from the fable, the aphorism and the joke to poems, songs, stories, and plays—students will discover what language and literature can do. Focus on speaking and writing.

COML 228.401 Studies in Hebrew Bible
Gen. Reg. III: Arts & Letters
TR 12-1:30 Tigay
Cross listed with HEBR 250/JWST 256/RELS 220

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the methods and resources 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. The course is designed for undergraduates who have previously studied the Bible in Hebrew either in high school or college. It presupposes a working knowledge of Biblical Hebrew grammar.

COML 235.401 Medieval Russia: Origins of Russian Cultural Identity
All readings and lectures in English
Cross Cultural Analysis; Dist. History and Tradition
TR 4:30-6 Verkholantsev
Cross listed with HIST 219/RUSS 234/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 241.401 The Devil’s Pact in Literature, Music and Film
Registration required for LEC and REC
Arts & Letters Sector
LEC MW 12-1 Richter
REC 402-405 (check various times on F)
Cross listed with CINE 352/GRMN 256/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 242.401 Religion and Literature
Registration required for LEC and REC
Arts & Letters Sector
LEC MW 2-3 Struck/Matter
REC 402-405 (check various times on R & F)
Cross listed with RELS 003/CLST 242

A consideration of how great works of literature from different cultural traditions have reclaimed and reinterpreted compelling religious themes. One religious tradition will be emphasized each time the course is taught.

COML 244.401 The Image of Berlin
All readings in English
Communication Within the Curriculum
TR 4:30-6 Swope
Cross listed with GRMN 238

Berlin was arguably the twentieth century’s most important city. It produced some of the world’s most innovative art, architecture, literature, theater and film during the 1920s, yet went on to become Hitler’s capital in the 1930s. It was the iconic city of the Cold War as its Western sectors received U.S. aid during the Berlin airlift and as its neighborhoods were torn asunder by the Wall in 1961. It is a city defined as much by its image and its symbolic force as by the reality of life along its boulevards and in its apartment buildings. This course will examine Berlin’s image in the twentieth century from the heyday of the cabarets to the new palaces of glass and steel in which today’s parliament and chancellor conduct the affairs of state. Key source material will include poetry, political manifestoes, travel guides, short stories and films by Berliners, Germans from other towns and visitors from the English speaking world. Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, John LeCarre’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, Bob Fosse’s Cabaret, Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others are important texts and films to be treated during the semester.

While exploring perceptions of Berlin in Germany and elsewhere, this course will give students the opportunity to improve their critical speaking skills. Two oral presentations, one at mid-term, the other at semester’s end, will constitute seventy percent of students’ final grades. The first of these assignments will ask each student to choose a major figure from the course and analyze the role of Berlin in that figure’s work and thought. The second assignment asks students to work in teams as “travel guides” giving a thoughtful “walk” through a given period in Berlin’s cultural history, complete with images of points of interest and sites represented by the artists and intellectuals featured in the course. Also, because Berlin’s history is so specifically tied to political agendas, we will stage lively classroom debates from time to time, participation in which will account for another fifteen percent of each student’s grade.

COML 247.401 Marx
All readings and lectures in English
MW 2-3:30 Jarosinski
Cross listed with GRMN 247

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

COML 248.401 Modernism and the Theory of Fashion
Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 12-1:30 Rabaté
Cross listed with ENGL 259

This class will take as its theme international modernism in literature and the arts from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. The specific focus will be the emergence of a concept of the "new" that can also be seen as "new fashion." The rise of modernism was accompanied by a self-conscious discourse on fashion, first put forward by Baudelaire and Mallarmé. We will study the social uses of the "new" in the context of the fashion industry; using the cultural history of "fashion" as developed by Lehman in Tigersprung. Baudelaire and Mallarmé will lead us to explore the ideas of Simmel; Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin. We will read Aragon's s groundbreaking Surrealist novel Paris Peasant, Benjamin's entire Arcades Project and Barthes's Fashion System.

COML 249.401 Ironic Romance
Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 12-1:30 Auerbach
Cross listed with ENGL 251

Romance is a palatable fictional mode in the nineteenth century. Since it endorses narrative symmetry, moral justice, emotional fulfillment, and true love, it was especially imposed on woman writers, despite--or because of--the fact that the genre breeds delusion and self-destructive fantasies in its readers. We will read a series of novels in which the author subverts her or his romance conventions, including works by Jane Austen, Flaubert, Mary Braddon, Daphne du Maurier, and perhaps Nabokov.

COML 256.401 Contemporary Fiction and Film in Japan
Dist. Arts & Letters
T 1:30-4:30 Kano
Cross listed with CINE 222/EALC 257/GSOC 257

This course will explore fiction and film in contemporary Japan, from 1945 to the present. Topics will include literary and cinematic representation of Japan’s war experience and post-war reconstruction, negotiation with Japanese classics, confrontation with the state, and changing ideas of gender and sexuality. We will explore these and other questions by analyzing texts of various genres, including film and film scripts, novels, short stories, manga, and academic essays. Class sessions will combine lectures, discussion, audio-visual materials, and creative as well as analytical writing exercises. The course is taught in English, although Japanese materials will be made available upon request. No prior coursework in Japanese literature, culture, or film is required or expected; additional secondary materials will be available for students taking the course at the 600 level. Writers and film directors examined may include: Kawabata Yasunari, Hayashi Fumiko, Abe Kobo, Mishima Yukio, Oe Kenzaburo, Yoshimoto Banana, Ozu Yasujiro, Naruse Mikio, Kurosawa Akira, Imamura Shohei, Koreeda Hirokazu, and Beat Takeshi.

COML 259.402 Jewish Humor
Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 3-4:30 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with JWST 102/NELC 254/FOLK 296

This course examines Jewish humor in the context of folklore research and the studies of ethnic humor. We will explore the particular circumstances surrounding the development of the concept of Jewish humor in scholarly literature and popular writings, and bring into the discussion general theories of humor as formulated in folklore, philosophy, psychology and anthropology. Course requirements: A field-based term paper and mid-term and final examinations.

COML 260.401 Translating Cultures
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Hellerstein
Cross listed with GRMN 264/JWST 264

"Languages are not strangers to one another," writes the great critic and translator Walter Benjamin. Yet two people who speak different languages have a difficult time talking to one another, unless they both know a third, common language or can find someone who knows both their languages to translate what they want to say. Without translation, most of us would not be able to read the Bible or Homer, the foundations of Western culture. Americans wouldn't know much about the cultures of Europe, China, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. And people who live in or come from these places would not know much about American culture. Without translation, Americans would not know much about the diversity of cultures within America. The very fabric of our world depends upon translation between people, between cultures, between texts.

With a diverse group of readings—autobiography, fiction, poetry, anthropology, and literary theory—this course will address some fundamental questions about translating language and culture. What does it mean to translate? How do we read a text in translation? What does it mean to live between two languages? Who is a translator? What are different kinds of literary and cultural translation? What are their principles and theories? Their assumptions and practices? Their effects on and implications for the individual and the society?

COML 279.401 Experiments in Modern Flemish and Dutch Fiction and Film
All readings and lectures in English
TR 10:30-12 Bernaerts
Cross listed with CINE 252/DTCH 280

In this seminar, we will study innovative twentieth-century Flemish and Dutch fiction and film against a cultural and historical background. We will mainly read postwar novels and discuss their context and importance. In our readings of concrete texts, we will pay special attention to new, experimental forms of narrative and their implication for the understanding of the text, as well as to the adaptation of these new forms to the movie screen. The course will be taught in English.

COML 282.401 Israeli Literature and Film: Love and War
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Gold
Cross listed with CINE 329/JSWT 102/NELC 159

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 291.402* Slought Foundation Seminar in Contemporary Culture: Post-History*
Dist. Arts & Letters
Permission needed from Instructor
Year long course
W 5-8 Levy
Cross listed with ENGL 294

This unique 2008-2009 undergraduate seminar will provide students with an opportunity to participate in a curatorial project at Slought Foundation, a non-profit cultural organization affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. This year-long course will combine critical theory and practice by providing students with classroom instruction as well as hands-on experience in realizing a major publication about contemporary culture.

In the first semester, students will explore the concept of post-history in the work of Braco Dimitrijevic, a renowned conceptual artist whose writings and visual practices (recently displayed on the façade of Fisher-Bennett Hall) question the whims of history, the vagaries of chance, and the fickleness of celebrity. What catapults certain people into the historical limelight, for instance, while others remain a mere "casual passerby"? The class will explore the concept of "post-history" as well as the related concept of the "post-human" through the work of authors, filmmakers, and theorists such as Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, Mary Shelley, Werner Herzog, Achille Mbembe, and Francis Fukayama. The second semester will culminate in a contribution to the publication about Braco Dimitrijevic as well as participation in the editorial process. The publication will consist of newly commissioned essays as well as Tractatus Post Historicus, a seminal work by the artist from 1976.

Course requirements include a two-semester commitment, the completion of assigned readings, and a final paper. Familiarity with contemporary culture is encouraged, but not required. Please note that students will be expected to occasionally meet outside of class to assist with the publication process and participate in museum visits.

Enrollment in this seminar is limited and permission from the instructor is required. To apply, please submit a brief letter outlining your experience and interest in this course, including contact information, school affiliation, and grade level, to Aaron Levy, c/o Department of English/FBH, as well as by email to adlevy@english.upenn.edu

COML 329.401 Poetry and Politics in Ancient Greece
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 10:30-12 Hall
Cross listed with ENGL 329/CLST 329

In this course, we will take up questions central to a liberal education, that is, the education worthy of a free person. Those questions are the makeup of the human soul, the nature of happiness, the connection between virtue and political action, the role of poetry in teaching virtue, and the connection between personal happiness and the polity to which the individual belongs. Addressing such questions will establish a foundation from which to consider these questions as they are taken up by other great writers of later periods.

Along the way, we will hit some of the great moments in Greek literature—the meeting between Priam and Achilles in the midst of the Trojan War, the victory of the Greeks over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis, the Funeral Oration of Pericles and the destruction of the Athenian army in Sicily, Socrates being lowered to earth in a basket, the story of Theuth, and the rich understatement of Socrates’ remark, as he decides to leave behind a simple city in favor of a city with philosophical leisure, “Perhaps it is for the best.”

Two short papers, one long paper. We will read the following works in whole or in part: Homer’s Iliad, Herodotus’ Persian Wars, Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, several dialogues of Plato (Apology, Meno, Gorgias, Republic, Phaedrus).

COML 359.401 Giants of Hebrew Literature
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts & Letters Sector
Literatures of the World
TR 10:30-12 Gold
Cross listed with COLL 227/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 post-modern 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 five 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 380.401 Bible in Translation: Exodus
Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis; Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 4:30-6 Tigay
Cross listed with JWST 255/NELC 250/NELC 550/RELS 224

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 382.401 Family and Society
Cross Cultural Analysis; Dist. Arts & Letters
M 2-5 Finotti
Cross listed with ITAL 380/CINE 340

Families play a prominent role in Italian Neorealism. We will examine the cultural construction of Family after the World War 2, drawing on the movies of Rossellini, De Sica, Pasolini, Fellini, Benigni, Amelio, Giordana, as well as on the novels of Calvino, Elsa Morante, Gianni Rodari. The course will investigate the issue of Familyhood exploring the interaction between adult and child characters. We will discuss the relationship between authority and freedom, history and creativity, tradition and innovation, normalization and difference, experience and innocence.

The class will be taught in English. The reading material and the bibliographical references will be provided in a course reader. Further material will be presented in class. Requirements include class attendance, preparation, and participation, a series of oral responses, and a final oral presentation.

COML 383.401 Literary Theory Ancient to Modern
Benjamin Franklin Seminar; Dist. Arts & Letters
TR 12-1:30 Copeland
Cross listed with CLST 396/ENGL 394

This is a course on the history of literary criticism, a survey of major theories of literature, poetics, and ideas about what literary texts should do, from ancient Greece to examples of modern European and American thought. The course will give special attention to early periods: Greek and roman antiquity, especially Plato and Aristotle; the medieval period (including St. Augustine, Dante, and Boccaccio), and the early modern period (where we will concentrate on English writers such as Philip Sidney and Ben Johnson). We'll move into modern and 20th century by looking at the literary (or "art") theories of some major philosophers, artists, and poets: Kant, Wordsworth, Marx and Engels, Matthew Arnold, the painter William Morris, T. S. Eliot, and the critic Walter Benjamin. We'll end with a very few samples of current literary theory. The point of this course is to look closely at the Western European tradition which generated debates about problems that are still with us, such as: what is the "aesthetic"; what is "imitation" or mimesis; how are we to know an author's intention; and under what circumstances should literary texts ever be censored. We'll have a number of small writing assignments in the form of "response" or "position" papers (approx. 3 pages each), and students can use these small assignments to build into a long writing assignment on a single text or group of texts at the end of the term. Most of our readings will come from a published anthology of literary criticism and theory.

COML 392.401 The Literature and Historiography of National Trauma: Partition and South Asia
Benjamin Franklin Seminar; Dist. Arts & Letters
W 2-5 Kaul
Cross listed with ENGL 393/SAST 323

Imaginative literature and film have addressed the difficult socio-political issues leading up to, and following from, the independence and partition of British India. Pakistan and India came into being as nation-states in moments of great national trauma: historians have long argued over the process that led up to Partition, and we will study some of these debates, but for the most part we will examine novels, short stories, poetry, and some films to think about the impact of Partition and Independence on communities and individuals in South Asia. In doing so, we will recognize the continuing role played by these events and experiences in shaping the cultural, social, and political realities of contemporary South Asia. We will also learn about the crucial role played by literary and creative texts in making available to us the full dimensions of human tragedy, especially those precipitated when the imperatives of nation-formation redefine the lives of individuals or of sub-national communities.

COML 396.401 Contemporary Caribbean Lit: Theory and Culture
TR 3-4:30 de la Campa
Cross listed with ROML 396/LALS 393/ENGL 270

This course will look at ways of conceptualizing, defining and situating Caribbean culture. Is it necessarily postcolonial? Is it a culture of resistance? Has its extraordinary multiplicity and historical diasporas found singular modes of representation? How does one approach its long list of great authors? What do they say about the Caribbean as such? Do they offer alternative views on the Americas? The course will be taught in English but will encompass writing from the major linguistic traditions that meet in the Caribbean, a place whose contours often reach beyond the main Caribbean Archipelago to South and North American sites such as Brazil, Colombia, New York, and Miami. We will look at major writers and theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Sylvia Wynter, CLR James, Alejo Carpentier, Nicolas Guilleén, Antonio Benítez Rojo, Junot Diaz, Aime Cèsaire, V.S. Naipaul and Derek Walcott, among others.

COML 402.401 Pushkin
Literatures of the World; Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Steiner
Cross listed with COLL 224/RUSS 402

The writer's lyrics, narrative poems, and drama. Conducted in Russian.


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COML 192.601 Classics of the Western World II
M 6:30-9:30 Iurascu
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 502.601 The Diary
T 6-9 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with COML 405, ENGL 490, GSOC 405

This course examines the diary as a genre with its own function, structure, conventions and expectations, comparing it, on the one hand with other forms of autobiographical writings such as the autobiography and the memoir, and on the other hand with fictive diary or the diary novel. During the 18^th and 19^th centuries in Europe there was a mutual influence between the personal diary and the diary novel, which over time achieved independence and separate developments. Historically there was a gender distinction in diary writing. Mostly women were seen as engaged in private diary writing, while men, especially public figures, resorted to this form of expression and self-presentation with the intent to publish. Hence the course will examine comparative gender diary writing. A special emphasis will be placed on the “Holocaust Diary”. It represents a case in which both, context and text deviate significantly from the norms and expectations of the genre, and from the circumstances in which diary writing is usually practiced. While Holocaust diaries share the quality of privacy and intimacy with other diaries, they also functioned as testimonies and eye-witness reports to historical events, combining writing of self and community. Yet, as a first person form it is concerned with the writer’s own identity and perceived meanings.

Course requirements: Two papers. One will be an analysis of a chosen diary presented in class during the semester; and a final paper.


Last modified October 28, 2008
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania