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Undergraduate Courses
Spring 2012




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

COML094, COML116, COML201, COML253, COML315, COML383

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

COML005, COML054, COML057, COML093, COML114, COML205, COML212, COML294, COML359, COML417


COML 005.401

Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Patel

Cross listed with SAST 004

India’s Literature: Love, War, Wisdom, Humor

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 representative works in translation from pre-modern India {ranging from the earliest Sanskrit and Tamil texts, through to the medieval literatures of South Asia's regional Languages -Kannade, Gujarati, Bengali, Marathi, Telegum Panajbi, Malayalam, Oriya, etc-and up to the 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 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 the cultural life that have historically informed and continues to inform the production of literature of South Asia. Our semester covers seminal genres that also serve as the organizing principles for the course: the hymn, the lyric, the epic, the gnomic, the dramatic, the political, the prosaic, the tragic and the comedic. No background in South Asia studies or South Asian languages is required for this course.

COML 016.401

Freshman Seminar
Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 1:30-3 Decherney

Cross listed with ENGL 015, CINE 015

Copyright and Culture

In this course, we will look at the history of copyright law and explore the ways that copyright has both responded to new media and driven art and entertainment. How, for example, is a new medium (photography, film, the Internet, etc.) defined in relation to existing media? What constitutes originality in collage painting, hip hop music, or computer software? What are the limits of fair use? And how have artists, engineers and creative industries responded to various changes in copyright law? A major focus of the course will be the lessons of history for the current copyright debates over such issues as file sharing, the on-line video, and remix culture.

COML 054.401

TR 10:30-12 Jaji/Perelman
Cross listed with ENGL 054, AFRC 054, MUSC 054

The Sound of Poetry, The Poetry of Sound: From Homer to Langston Hughes

We will conduct a wide ranging survey of some of the fundamental issues of specific manifestations of oral poetry and poetics. Our materials will be grouped in the following clusters:

1) the Homeric transition from oral to written poetry. This will include: Book 1 of the Iliad; The Bacchae; selections from Plato warning of the hypnotic dangers of poetry; chapters from Eric Havelock and others discussing the mechanics and entailments of oral composition. This background will inform a discontinuous survey of 19th-century attempts to recover the virtues of the classics (e.g., Longfellow's attempts to imitate Homer meter) and 20th/21st –centuries re-imagining of Homer, (e,g., Pound’s first two Cantos).

2) the legacy of the blues and other Afro-diasporic performance practices in 20th/21st written and spoken word forms. This will include a survey of West African epic poetry in song (particularly in the djeli/griot traditions of Mali, Guinea, Senegal and Gambia); early blues recordings and the politics of collecting folklore; the use of the blues in Harlem Renaissance writing as well as in the work of other American modernists; adaptations including Langston Hughes; jazz poetry; versioning; dub poetry; spoken word; hip-hop. Our methods will mix analysis and performance. We will ask the students to dwell attentively in the literate world (reading texts carefully and writing papers with care) and also to experience the very different attentions that the oral/aural world demands (memorizing, performing, and recreating poems).

COML 057.401

Arts and Letters Sector
TR 4:30-6:30 Carasik

Cross listed with JWST 141, NELC 156, RELS 027

Great Books of Judaism

The study of four paradigmatic and classic Jewish texts so as to introduce students to the literature of classic Judaism. Each text will be studied historically -- "excavated" for its sources and roots -- and holistically, as a canonical document in Jewish tradition. While each text will inevitably raise its own set of issues, we will deal throughout the semester with two basic questions: What makes a "Jewish" text? And how do these texts represent different aspects of Jewish identity? All readings will be in translation.

COML 093.401

TR 3-4:30 Barnard
Cross listed with ENGL 093

Introduction to Postcolonial Literature

The struggle to establish a non-racial democracy in South Africa was not the bloodiest anti-colonial struggle of the twentieth century, but it was the one that captured the global imagination most powerfully. Upon his release from prison, Nelson Mandela emerged as one of the world’s most revered political figures. The process of negotiation that led to the transition was seen, all over the world, as a hopeful sign that protracted conflicts could be peacefully resolved. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s inquiry into the human rights abuses of the apartheid era became a model for truth commissions in several other countries. South African writers like Fugard, Gordimer, Coetzee, and Mda have earned international renown for their literary response to this compelling historical transformation. But what is the future of South Africa and South African literature? Has the new democracy lived up to its promise? Has it generated new forms of cultural expression? How do the concerns of South African writers relate to postcolonial theory as it has been institutionalized over the past two decades? Has “South African literature” as a category perhaps ceased to exist in our era of cultural globalization, when many major writers publish and live abroad? These are the questions that animate this seminar.

We will start out by considering a few films and plays about the last years of the antiapartheid struggle (including a documentary about Mandela), before turning to three novels (Zakes Mda’s Ways of Dying, Ivan Vladislavic’s The Restless Supermarket and Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf), which capture the broad social transformation from a racist to a democratic state in terms of its impact on urban space. Next, we will look at the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and sample some of the films, poems, novels, and memoirs it inspired. The key texts here will be Antjie Krog’s County of My Skull, and the films Forgivenness and Long Night’s Journey into Day. We will then read two excellent novels that respond in a more generalized way to the TRC’s work of excavating the past: Zoë Wicomb’s Playing in the Dark (which deals with the repressed legacy of racial passing) and Mark Behr’s The Smell of Apples (which deals with the dark secrets of the apartheid regime in the domain of the white family). We will then attend to a number of persistent issues that plague South Africa, as well as other postcolonial nations. These issues include the AIDS pandemic; land reform; poverty and crime; and, finally, migration and xenophobia. Our focal texts here will be J. M. Coetzee’s famous and controversial novel Disgrace, Jonny Steinberg’s fascinating investigation into a real crime in Midlands, the academy award-winning gangster film Tsotsi, and the moving AIDS film Yesterday (the first internationally successful feature film to be made in isiZulu). We will end with recent writing by young black South Africans and some science fiction: the popular film District 9 and Lauren Beukes’s cult novel Moxyland. These texts will enable us to speculate about the future of South Africa and other postcolonial democracies. Requirements for this course will include two mid-length papers (roughly 8-10 pp.) Please note that students are not expected to have any expert knowledge of South Africa, only a lively interest in the relationship between contemporary culture and politics.

COML 094.401

TR 3-4:30 Eng
Cross listed with ENGL 094

Introduction to Literary Theory

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, deconstruction, 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 094.402

TR 12-1:30 Rabaté
Cross listed with ENGL 094

Theory as the Letter “B”

This course will provide an exposure to the discourses of modern and contemporary theory in a new key, by using one filter, that of the alphabet. By limiting our readings to authors whose names begin with a B, we will be able to go faster to the main concepts of contemporary theory. Theory has exploded and expanded, but still relies on an idea of the modern and modernity thast will serve as a red thread. We will study first the works of six “founders,” Baudelaire, Benjamin, Bataille, Borges, Bakhtin, and Barthes. For the rest, we will use mostly the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2010) supplemented by hand-outs (Badiou, Brehct, Bachelard). The full list of the authors we will study is: Baudelaire, Benjamin, Bataille, Borges, Bakhtin, Barthes, Brecht, Bachelard, de Beauvoir, Brooks, Baudrillard, Bloom, Bourdieu, Bordo, bell hooks, Bhabha, Badiou and Butler.

COML 100.401

Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Cavitch

Cross listed with ENGL 100, GSWS 102

Dangerous Writers

Literature does not exist for your protection. So dangerous is it, that Socrates argued poets ought to be banned from his ideal Republic. And Socrates himself--one of the most subversive of all poetic thinkers--was condemned to death for corrupting the young with his speeches. All great literature is unsettling and alarming. Along with its beauty and delicacy and rhetorical power and ethical force, it can be terrifyingly sublime and even downright ugly: full of contempt and horror and grandiosity and malice. From Socrates's day to our own, countless writers have been jailed, exiled, and murdered, their works censored, banned, burned, for daring to say what others wish would remain unsaid--about religion and the State; sexuality, gender, and the body; art, science, and commerce; freedom and order; love and hate--and for saying it in ways that are aesthetically innovative, surprising, seductive, ravishingly unanticipated. We will read a broad range of the world's greatest and most dangerous writers, such as Saint Paul, Shakespeare, and the Marquis de Sade; Emily Dickinson, James Baldwin, and Jean Genet; Confucius, Sigmund Freud, and Martin Luther King, Jr.; Tom Paine, Henry David Thoreau, and Jacques Derrida; very recent works might include Alaa Al Aswany's beautiful novel The Yacoubian Building, which helped bring down Egypt's Mubarak regime, and Kathryn Harrison's formally brilliant and jaw-droppingly frank incest-memoir, The Kiss. Taking this course will introduce you to fundamentals of literary style, form, and history, and to approaches to reading and interpretation. Taking this course will also mean paying close attention to your own writing, in a series of brief essays in which you'll learn better how to meet the demands of college-level writing while striving always to be a dangerous writer yourself.

COML 108.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters Sector
LEC MW 11-12 Struck

Registration required for LEC and REC (402-413)
Cross listed with CLST 100

Greek and Roman Myth

Myths are traditional stories that have endured many years. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as a few contemporary American ones, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? Are they a set of cultural blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? We will investigate these questions through a variety of topics including: the creation of the universe and the structure of the cosmos, relations between gods and mortals, religion and divination, justice, society, family, sex, love, madness, and death.

COML 113.301

Communication within the Curriculum
Critical Speaking seminar
TR 12-1:30 Al-naser

Malcolm X: Voicing Revolution

Malcolm X is remembered as one of the most commanding, radical voices of the 1950's and 60's, for representing and articulating a powerful critique of the ideological underpinnings of racial oppression in the United States. He is also remembered as a poignant orator, as a man capable of writing and delivering forceful speeches. However, these two legacies are not unrelated; in fact, Malcolm's ability to mobilize his audience relied on an intersection of the power of critique and the power of delivery. In this class, we will read texts and watch videos of some of Malcolm X's most poignant speeches and pay attention, on the one hand to some of the key themes and concerns, such as his call for a black revolution, his representation of race in America, his views on the place of African Americans in the world, and of course his thoughts on the ethics and politics of violent resistance. On the other hand, we will also search the texts for signs of the spoken moment: an awareness of audience, a reliance on emphasis and repetition, and strategies of conversion.

As a Critical Speaking seminar, this course will offer students the opportunity to improve their public speaking skills through class discussion, class debates, and individual and group presentations. Students will be encouraged to explore personal convictions, to articulate and defend different or opposing points of view, and to regularly participate in oral communication assignments.

COML 114.401

TR 10:30-12 Atwood
Cross listed with CINE 115, NELC 115

Youth Culture in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran sought to create for its citizens a new Islamic subjectivity, and today’s young people, all born after the Revolution of 1978-79, were the targets of that process. By probing the political, cultural, and artistic interests that the young people in Iran have engaged since the Revolution, we might evaluate the effectiveness of that project. To what extent has the Iranian youth conformed to or resisted the kind of citizenship that its government determined for it? Do we sense ambivalence or apathy towards that subjectivity? This course will provide students with the materials necessary to construct an ethnographic portrait of contemporary Iranian youth. Examining a wide range of sources, including films, documentaries, blogs, graffiti, photography, memoirs, music videos, and novels, we will specifically attempt to locate and explore the various languages – visual, musical, written, and spoken – that have emerged alongside these youth cultures.

COML 115.401

M 2-5 Bernstein
Permission Needed from Instructor
Writing Samples Required
Cross listed with ENGL 111

Experimental Writing Seminar

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@english.upenn.edu.

COML 116.401

TR 10:30-12 Mazaj
Cross listed with ARTH 107, CINE 103, ENGL 095

Introduction to Film Theory

This course offers students an introduction to the major texts in film theory across the 20th and 21st centuries. The course gives students an opportunity to read these central texts closely, to understand the range of historical contexts in which film theories are developed, to explore the relationship between film theory and the major film movements, to grapple with the points of contention that have emerged among theorists, and finally, to consider: what is the status of film theory today? This course is required for all Cinema Studies majors, but is open to all students, and no prior knowledge of film theory is assumed. Requirements: Close reading of all assigned texts; attendance and participation in section discussions; 1 midterm exam; 1 take-home final exam.

COML 117.401

Arts and Letters Sector
LEC MW10-11 Corrigan/Loomba

Registration Required for LEC and REC (402, 403, 404)
Cross listed with CINE 100, ENGL 101, GSWS 101

Shakespeare in Film

This class is designed for students interested in exploring Shakespeare's dramatic art and cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. We will read seven of Shakespeare’s plays in order to explore how they ask profound questions about power, gender relations, nationalism, race, sexuality, and freedom. We will do so by examining their historical context as well as their form, their language, and how they entertain their audiences. And we will do so by placing them alongside some of their most vibrant cinematic appropriations.

To “appropriate” is to make your own, and that process changes what is being appropriated. Shakespeare has been inspiring film makers all over the world since the very beginning of film technology. There are now hundreds of films that adapt Shakespeare’s plays into different languages, and varied social worlds. Some of these are masterpieces of cinema in their own right, others better known as adaptations. Some are celebrated for their faithfulness to the Bard, others criticized as violating the spirit of Shakespeare. Still others are worth watching precisely because in bending the original they alert us to aspects of Shakespeare that we may not have paid attention to, or they tell us something new about our own world.

The marriage of cinema and Shakespeare changes both, and studying the exchange means learning about the distinctions of literature and film and the grounds they share.

Classes will consist of two lectures and one recitation per week. Requirements: regular attendance, participation in recitation, three short response papers (1-2 pages), a midterm, and a final.

You will be required to watch selected films each week, all of which will be on reserve at Rosengarten.

COML 125.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos, D.

Cross listed with ENGL 103, FOLK 125, NELC 180

Narrative Across Cultures

The purpose of this course is to present a variety of narrative genres and to discuss and illustrate the modes whereby they can be analyzed. We will be looking at some shorter types of narrative: short story, novella, and fable, but also extracts from longer works such as autobiography. While some the works will be from the Anglo-American tradition, a large number of others will be from European and non-Western cultural traditions and from earlier time-periods. The course will thus offer ample opportunity for the exploration of the translation of cultural values in a comparative perspective. Among (familiar) authors to be read: Aesop, Borges, Chopin, Conde, Douglass, Gogol, Joseph's story (Bible and Qur'an), Joyce, Kafka, Marquez, Solzenitszyn, Twain, and Vonnegut, but there will also be many other writers from non-Western cultures. Once you have registered for the course, you can find a lot more detail about the course and its readings on the BLACKBOARD website.

COML 127.601

Arts and Letters Sector
T 6-9 Pagan-Mattos

Cross listed with RUSS 125, CINE 125, GSWS 125

The Adultery Novel

The course examines a series of 19th and 20th century novels and short stories about adultery, film adaptations of several of these novels, and several original adultery films. Through the reading we will examine novelistic traditions of the period in question, as well as film adaptations and the implications of filmic vs. literary representation. Course readings may include: Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, or other works. Films may include: Frears' Dangerous Liaisons, Vadim's Dangerous Liaisons, Nichols' The Graduate, Mikhalkov's Dark Eyes, and others. Students will apply various critical approaches in order to place adultery into its aesthetic, social and cultural context, including: sociological descriptions of modernity, Marxist examinations of family as a social and economic institution, Freudian/psychoanalytic interpretations of family life and transgressive sexuality, and feminist work on the construction of gender.

COML 128.601

Cross Cultural Analysis
W 4:30-7:40 Ben-Amos, B.

Cross listed with ENGL 103, GSWS 128

The Diary

This course examines the diary as a genre, exploring its functions, meanings, forms and conventions, comparing it with fictive and non-fictive autobiographical writings such as the diary novel, autobiography and the memoir. Historical and cultural analyses supplement the literary and comparative examination of the diary, while focusing on selected texts of individual diarists and exploring several diary corpuses across time and cultures. Historically there was a gender distinction in diary writing. The conventional perception was that women engage in private diary writing, while men, especially public figures, used this form for public self-presentation. Hence the course will examine comparative gender diary writing as well. As part of establishing historical and theoretical perspectives of the diary genre, the course examines early mutual influences between the personal diary, the epistolary novel and the diary novel. Students will learn how to read literary and autobiographical materials in historical context. They will learn to apply critical theories regarding cultural expectations, gender and the functions of language in autobiographical writing, and consider the theoretical debate of whether the writing subject or the self is a given or socially made. Selected texts for the course are some canonical individual diary texts as the 17th century English diaries of Pepys and Ann Clifford; and the 20th century diary of Anai?s Nin. The diary corpuses are the 19th century intimate journals of young French girls, Colonial and American Civil War women diaries and WWII European Holocaust diaries. Diary writing is an intimate mode of expression in which individuals seek to find meaning in their personal lives and relations, responding to the external realities in which they live. Their coping with both is subjected to their historical, educational and social contexts, and to the generic conventions of diary writing.

COML 197.401

Humanities and Social Science Sector
TR 1:30-3 Thorstensson

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 197

Madness and Madmen

This course will explore the theme 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 film-directors (Protazanov, Eisenstein), as well as non-fictional documents such as Russian medical, judicial, political, and philosophical treatises and essays on madness.

COML 201.401

MW 2-3:30 Mask
Cross listed with CINE 201, ENGL 291

Fright Night: The Ethics of Horror on Film

This is an advanced seminar in American horror cinema. It facilitates in-depth analysis and close readings of classic American horror films. This course explores the production, reception, aesthetics, politics and evolution of a genre. We begin with classic films of the 1930s & 40s. Next we examine Cold War politics and its influence on film culture. Landmark films responsible for shifts in the genre’s paradigm are considered and contextualized. We will read these films against the historical, political and industrial settings in which they were produced. The range of topics on the syllabus is necessarily limited, which means that your participation in discussions is essential. Please commit to attending class, being prepared to discuss each week’s topics and texts, and make use of the class email list. Our discussions of diverse, complex issues (i.e., race, class, gender, sexuality) will likely reveal differences of opinion, experience, and education. The work of Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, Brian DePalma, David Cronenberg and Mary Harron, among others, will be studied.

COML 201.402

M 2-5 Charney
Cross listed with ARTH 290, CINE 201

Realism in Film

This course examines the re-presentation of real life as an (the?) essential element of cinema, in both fiction and non-fiction films, from the earliest shorts of the Lumières in the 1890s through contemporary “mumblecore” and reality TV. Topics include German Expressionist and Kammerspiel films of the 1920s; French poetic realism of the 1930s; Italian neo-realism of the 1940s; Brazilian magical realism of the 1960s; American Direct Cinema documentaries of the 1960s; British social realism of the 1980s; Danish Dogme 95 films of the 1990s; American indies since 2002; and Romanian social realism since 2005. We will also explore such areas as the influential improvisational style of John Cassavetes films; the rise of the “mockumentary” and reality TV; the aesthetics of real time, long takes, and hyper-realism, especially in Warhol and Akerman; the role of realist style in themes of ethics and morality, especially in Kieslowski, Puiu, and the Dardennes; and alternative or experimental forms of realism. We will read such writers as Arnheim, Barthes, Baudrillard, Bazin, de Certeau, Derrida, Foucault, Jameson, Kael, Kracauer, and Metz, as well as examples of realist and magical realist fiction.

COML 203.401

Literatures of the World
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 3-4:30 Johnston

All Readings and Lectures in Italian Cross listed with COLL 228, ITAL 203

Italian Literature

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 expand their vocabulary, improve their skills in critical interpretation and reinforce their written and oral competence 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. The prerequisite for this course is the first semester Italian – Ital 202, now being renamed 201, or an equivalent course taken abroad. Italian 203 is a requirement for all majors and minors in Italian Literature. It may be taken any time in the curriculum after the fifth semester Italian (Italian 202/201) or, by permission, concurrently with it.

COML 205.401

TR 10:30-12 Fishman
Cross listed with JWST 213, NELC 383, RELS 203

The Religious Other

This course explores attitudes toward monotheists of other faiths, and claims made about these "religious others" -- their bodies, habits and beliefs -- in real and imagined encounters between Jews, Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages. Primary source readings from law, theology, literature, art and polemics. Attention will be paid to myths about the other, inter-group violence, converts, and cases of cross-cultural influence both conscious and unconscious.

COML 212.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters Sector
MW 5-6:30 Gold

Cross listed with NELC 201

Modern Middle Eastern Literature in Translation

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 216.401

Literatures of the World
Arts and Letters Sector
Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Jarosinksi

Prior Language Experience Required
Cross listed with COLL 225, GRMN 216

Introduction to German Literature

Prerequisite: GRMN 215 or equivalent.
All readings and lectures in German.


Develops students' basic skills of literary interpretation. Exposure to various reading techniques (e.g. close reading, reading for plot, etc.) and to literary terminology and its application. Readings will include selections from prose, drama and lyric poetry. In this course, we examine and explore over a thousand years of cultural history of the German-speaking lands with an eye toward clarifying the key cultural knowledge shared by German speakers. From the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, we examine what makes the German nations--and peoples--what they are today. We will pay attention both to mainstream tendencies as well as oppositional political and cultural movements. Special emphasis will be placed on cultural achievements such as literature, music, and architecture as well as on a basic understanding of the politics, economics and cultural formations of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the 20th century. The language of instruction, readings, and discussion is--with few exceptions--German.

COML 220.401

Humanities and Social Sciences Sector
(New Curriculum Only)
Cross-Cultural Analysis
(Class of '10 and after)
MW 12-1:30 Thorstensson

All Readings and Lectures in English Cross listed with RUSS 220, HIST 220



From the Other Shore: Russia and the West

This course will explore the representations of the West in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century Russian literature and philosophy. We will consider the Russian visions of various events and aspects of Western political and social life — Revolutions, educational system, public executions, resorts, etc. — within the context of Russian intellectual history. We will examine how images of the West reflect Russia's own cultural concerns, anticipations, and biases, as well as aesthetic preoccupations and interests of Russian writers. The discussion will include literary works by Karamzin, Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Leskov, and Tolstoy, as well as non-fictional documents, such as travelers' letters, diaries, and historiosophical treatises of Russian Freemasons, Romantic and Positivist thinkers, and Russian social philosophers of the late Nineteenth century. A basic knowledge of nineteenth-century European history is desirable. The class will consist of lectures, discussion, short writing assignments, and two in-class tests.

COML 221.401

W 2-5 Steiner
Cross listed with ENGL 221

Medieval Performances

Medieval literature is a literature deeply indebted to performative practices such as inquisition, revelation, confession, sacramentality, confession, miracle, and pilgrimage. In this course, we will read twentieth-century performance and linguistic theory alongside a wide variety of medieval texts written and performed in England between about 1200 and 1500. We will be reading plays from the great fifteenth-century biblical cycles performed on Corpus Christi day; sensational miracle tales; heresy trial records; saints' lives; selections from Chaucer's *Canterbury Tales* and *Piers Plowman*. Students will be asked to compose weekly reading responses, give an oral presentation in class, and write a final research paper (or final performance). Students are welcome from disciplines other than English, especially Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Judaic Studies, History, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies, among others.

COML 236.401

TR 1:30-3 Holquist/Vinitsky
Cross listed with HIST 333, RUSS 240

Napoleonic Era and Tolstoy

In this course we will read what many consider to be the greatest book in world literature. This work, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, is devoted to one of the most momentous periods in world history, the Napoleonic Era (1789-1815). We will study both the novel and the era of the Napoleonic Wars: the military campaigns of Napoleon and his opponents, the grand strategies of the age, political intrigues and diplomatic betrayals, the ideologies and human dramas, the relationship between art and history. How does literature help us to understand this era? How does history help us to understand this great novel?

This semester marks the two-hundredth anniversary of Napoleon’s attempt to conquer Russia and achieve world domination, the campaign of 1812. Come celebrate this Bicentennial with us! Because we will read War and Peace over the course of the entire semester, readings will be manageable – and very enjoyable.

COML 253.401

Humanities and Social Science Sector
LEC TR 10:30-12 Weissberg

Registration Required for LEC and REC (402-405)
Cross listed with GRMN 253, GSWS, 252, HSOC 253, STSC 253

Freud: The Invention of Psychoanalysis

Probably no other person of the twentieth century has influenced scientific thought, humanistic scholarship, medical therapy, and popular culture as much as Sigmund Freud. This seminar will try to study his work, its cultural background, and its impact on us today. In the first part of the course, we will learn about Freud's life and the Viennese culture of his time. We will then move to a discussion of seminal texts, such as excerpts from his Interpretation of Dreams, case studies, as well as essays on psychoanalytic practice, human development, neuroses, and culture in general. In the final part of the course, we will discuss the impact of Freud's work. Guest lecturers from the medical field, history of science, psychology, and the humanities will offer insights into the reception of Freud's work, and its consequences for various fields of study and therapy.

COML 259.402

Arts and Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos, D.

Cross listed with FOLK 296, NELC 254, JWST 102

Jewish Humor

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 269.401

TR 10:30-12 Macleod
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with CINE 250, GRMN 257

Nazi Cinema

This course explores the world of Nazi cinema ranging from infamous propaganda pieces such as "The Triumph of the Will" and "The Eternal Jew" to entertainments by important directors such as Pabst and Douglas Sirk. More than sixty years later, Nazi Cinema challenges us to grapple with issues of more subtle ideological insinuation than we might think. The course also includes film responses to developments in Germany by exiled German directors (Pabst, Wilder) and concludes with Mel Brooks' "The Producers". Weekly screenings with subtitles.

COML 272.401

TR 12-1:30 DeJean
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with FREN 250, GSWS 253

The Novel and Marriage

Historians have argued that early novels helped shape public opinion on many controversial issues. And no subject was more often featured in novels than marriage. In the course of the 18 th and the 19 th centuries, at a time when marriage as an institution was being radically redefined, almost all the best known novels explored happy as well as unhappy unions, individuals who decided not to marry as well as those whose lives were destroyed by the institution. They showcased marriage in other words in ways certain to provoke debate. We will both survey the development of the modern novel from the late 17 th to the early 20 th century and study the treatment of marriage in some of the greatest novels of all time.

We will begin with novels from the French and English traditions, the national literatures in which the genre first took shape, in particular Laclos’ Dangerous Liaisons, Austen’s Persuasion, Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. We will then turn to works from other European traditions such as Goethe’s Elective Affinities, Manzoni’s The Betrothed, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.

We will begin the course by discussing the novel often referred to as the first modern novel, The Princess de Clèves, an ideal beginning for this course, since it was written by a woman writer, Lafayette – more than any other genre, the modern novel was the creation of women writers. The Princess de Clèves was also the first novel centered on an exploration of questions central to the debate about marriage for over two centuries – everything from the question of whether one should marry for love or for social position to the question of adultery.

COML 276.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Macleod

Cross listed with GRMN 273

The Doll

More than only a child’s plaything, the doll has been the object of avant-garde experimentation in literature, art, and film, and of much theoretical discussion, especially in the fields of psychoanalysis and anthropology. A source of childhood nostalgia, imaginative engagement, and delight, the doll has, however, also been the starting point for countless horror movies, in its incarnation as a deviant monster. A magical, talismanic object that animates the world, it hints at the potency of the material world’s hold over us as human beings. What desires and anxieties are aroused by dolls? Do dolls have souls? What happens when dolls appear to acquire lives of their own? How have dolls been used as vehicles for social critique, in particular as they relate to representations of commodities, fashion, or the female body? Readings will include: Goethe, Kleist, Hoffmann, Baudelaire, Rilke, Freud.

COML 280.401

TR 10:30-12 Benini
All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with CINE 240, ITAL 204

Italian History on Screen

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

Students will independently view one film per week, available at Rosengarten Reserve. Film screenings will also be scheduled for those that prefer to watch the movies as a class. All students are expected to see all films and be prepared to participate in in-class discussion as well as to write journal entries. All readings are also required and students are expected to read carefully, prepare specific questions to share with the class and contribute thoughtfully to their own journal entries and time lines. Course taught in English; films with English subtitles, all readings available in English. No prerequisites.

COML 282.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Gold

Cross listed with JWST 102, NELC 159



Israeli Literature and Film: Voices

No description yet.

COML 284.601

M 6-9 Lamas
Cross listed with ENGL 270, LALS 291

Transamerican Literary Exchanges

In this course we read texts that challenge the disciplinary divide between U.S. American, Latin American, and U.S. Latino literature and history. We question whether Spanish texts written and published in the U.S. should be considered a part of the U.S. American canon, the Latin American canon, both or neither? Likewise, we ask ourselves whether texts written in English by Latin American authors and published in the U.S do the same? Ultimately, we question how these works challenge such terms as immigrant, exile, Latino and Latin American, or simply affirm them and how they fit into and/or fall outside of current paradigms for exploring the Latino/Latin American experience in the U.S.? We will read texts by the following authors: Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Tomás Rivera, Manuel Puig, Juan de Recacoechea, Ana Menéndez, Marie Arana, Yunot Díaz and Patricia Engel. All reading, writing and discussion are in English.

COML 292.401

TR 1:30-3 Mazaj
Cross listed with ARTH 292, CINE 202, ENGL 292

Film Festivals: Global Cinephilia, Culture, Politics and Business

This course is an exploration of multiple forces that explain the growth, global spread and institutionalization of international film festivals. The global boom in film industry has resulted in an incredible proliferation of film festivals taking place all around the world, and festivals have become one of the biggest growth industries. A dizzying convergence site of cinephilia, media spectacle, business agendas and geopolitical purposes, film festivals offer a fruitful ground on which to investigate the contemporary global cinema network. Film festivals will be approached as a site where numerous lines of the world cinema map come together, from culture and commerce, experimentation and entertainment, political interests and global business patterns. To analyze the network of film festivals, we will address a wide range of issues, including historical and geopolitical forces that shape the development of festivals, festivals as an alternative marketplace, festivals as a media event, programming and agenda setting, prizes, cinephilia, and city marketing. Individual case studies of international film festivals—Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Rotterdam, Karlovy Vary, Toronto, Sundance among others—will enable us to address all these diverse issues but also to establish a theoretical framework with which to approach the study of film festival. For students planning to attend the Penn-in-Cannes program, this course provides an excellent foundation that will prepare you for the on-site experience of the King of all festivals.

COML 292.402

MW 3:30-5 Mask
Cross listed with CINE 292, ENGL 292

Spike Lee: Filmmaker, Author and Auteur

This course is a seminar on the films by director Spike Lee. It facilitates in-depth analysis and close readings of a range of motion pictures directed by an individual working with other filmmaking professionals. Informed by auteur studies, the course explores the production, reception, aesthetics, politics and evolution of Sheldon Jackson Lee’s feature and documentary work. These films are situated in their political, cultural and industrial contexts. These contexts are central to our understanding of these films as palimpsests or texts upon which multiple meanings are layered. Rigorous discussions of diverse and complex issues (i.e., regarding race, gender, class, sexuality and nationality) will reveal differences of opinion, experience, and background. The interplay between identity and spectatorship will also be examined. Screenings, readings and presentations required.

COML 292.403

TR 3-4:30 Donovan
Cross listed with ARTH 292, CINE 202, ENGL 292

Modern Science Fiction Film

Science Fiction has been a cinematic genre for as long as there has been cinema—at least since Georges Melies’s visionary Trip to the Moon in 1902. However, though science fiction films have long been reliable box office earners and cult phenomena, critical acknowledgement and analysis was slow to develop. Still, few genres reflect the sensibility of their age so transparently—if often unconsciously—or provide so many opportunities for filmmakers to simultaneously address social issues and expand the lexicon with new technologies. Given budgetary considerations and the appetite for franchises, science fiction auteurs face a difficult negotiation between artistic expression and lowest common denominator imperatives, the controversy over Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) being perhaps the most infamous example. Nevertheless, many notable filmmakers have done their most perceptive and influential work in the scifi realm, including Gilliam, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg, James Cameron and Paul Verhoeven. This course will survey the scope of modern science fiction cinema, beginning with two films that inspired a rare wave of academic discourse, Scott’s Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), which attracted postmodernists, feminists, and film historians interested in how the works both drew from earlier movements (German Expressionism, Noir), and inspired new ones (Cyberpunk). We will look at smaller, more independent-minded projects, such as Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) and Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009) as well as risky, massively budgeted epics such as Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010).

COML 292.601

W 5-8 Ross
Cross listed with ENGL 292, CINE 292

Woody Allen

This course explores the work of Woody Allen, a major figure in American humor and among our most influential, controversial, and prolific filmmakers. A pioneer of the American personal film, Allen makes movies steeped in film history, technically masterful, intellectually ambitious and, despite all this, popular. Exploring European art cinema, satirizing American culture, transforming a genre, or criticizing himself, Allen invariably smartens whatever genre he embraces. He has created great roles for women, reinvented romantic comedy and wised up the crime story. What he has done with the musical we’ll talk about some other time. Entwining the everyday with the philosophical, Allen's films explore the meaning of life, love, and death, the value of art, the silence of God. Our course will likely view twelve of his films, including Love and Death, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Match Point, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Coursework includes film screenings, readings, short weekly writings, and a collaborative screenwriting and filmmaking project.

COML 294.401

MW 2-3:30 Ellis
Cross listed with CINE 294, LALS 296, ROML 296

Caribbean Poetry and Cinema: Repeating Islands

Arguably, the Caribbean’s best export continues to be the image of the islands themselves. One looks at a map and traces the curvature of possible pleasures from one warm, lush spot to another. What others from outside (and some from within) want, pay, destroy and exploit to see and what is experienced and seen by inhabitants is both the crisis and the bounty of the Caribbean – not just a blessing or curse, but something that invokes both. Throughout the 20th century, Caribbean poets have worked within this crisis of the image, and Caribbean filmmakers have progressively joined the mimetic fray. What repeats from one island to another, and from poetic to cinematic form, is an intense concern about historic and contemporary representation. In this course, we will study the crisis and the fecundity of the image in 20th Century Hispanophone, Anglophone and Francophone Poetry and Film, and will approach the arc of the Antilles with different desires. The final list of poets could include: Luis Palés Matos, Julia de Burgos, José Lezama Lima, Nancy Morejón, Reina María Rodriguez, Kamau Braithwaite, Derek Walcott, Aimé Césaire, Édouard Glissant and Monchoachi. The final list of films could include: Memorias del subdesarrollo/Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), La Carreta (1970), The Harder They Come (1972), Maluala (1979), Rue case-négres/Sugar Cane Alley (1983), Sucre Amer (1997), Suite Habana (2003), Biguine (2004), Heading South (2005) and Aliker (2009). Literary themes and movements (poesía negra, negritude, modernism, poetics of maroonage, conversational poetics) will be discussed alongside political and social shifts of the region (decolonization, revolution, nationalism, diaspora, globalization, sex tourism). We will discuss the registers of poetry and cinema in the study of the forms (prosody/poetic devices and cinematic devices, respectively). Students are welcome to write their final papers in English or Spanish.

COML 315.401

TR 12-1:30 Galloway
Cross listed with ARTH 315, CINE 315

Game Space

This course focuses on the expanded field of society and history at the new millennium, attempting to understand it as a “game space” pervading social networks, corporate board rooms, and battlefields alike. We begin with an examination of the concept of "play" using methods from literary criticism, cultural anthropology, poststructuralism, and cinema studies. For historical background we explore cybernetics and theories of postmodernity. The course will also consider the ramifications of informatic capture and the formation of coded objects and bodies. Themes will include simulation, social realism, and war games. The course will favor both close readings of specific games as well as social and cultural claims about the information age.

COML 333.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Brownlee

Cross listed with ENGL 323, ITAL 333

Dante’s Divine Comedy

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 359.401

Literature of the World
Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts and Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Gold

All Readings and Lectures in Hebrew
Cross listed with CINE 359, COLL 227, HEBR 359, JWST 359

Representation of a City

This course focuses on the artistic ways in which the city, be it Jerusalem, Haifa or Tiberias, is represented in Israeli literature and film. The emotional and physical connection between the writer/drector and his/her place of dwelling is transformed in the literary work. The depiction of the city in prose and poetry relfects the inner world as well as ideological and political conflicts. The city may become a locus for national expression, of gender identification, or even of 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's streets enable Dahlia Ravikovitch and Meir Wieseltier to examine questions of loyalty; how the Jerusalems of A.B. Yehoshua and Yehuda Amichai feflect their loves and hatreds.

This class is conducted in Hebrew and the texts are read in the original.

COML 380.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
W 2-5 Weiss

Cross listed with JWST 255, NELC 250, NELC 550, RELS 224



Bible in Translation: Psalms

For thousands of years, people have turned to the biblical book of Psalms in times of joy, anxiety, crisis, and gratitude. This course aims to understand the enduring allure of the book of Psalms by exploring the literary structure, historical context, and meaning of selected psalms. Using primary and secondary sources, this course will focus on psalms relevant to various faith traditions and psalms that raise interesting interpretive issues and ideas.

COML 383.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
MW 2-3:30 Copeland

Cross listed with CLST 396, ENGL 394

Literary Theory Ancient to Modern

This is a course on the history of literary theory, a survey of major debates about literature, poetics, and ideas about what literary texts should do, from ancient Greece to examples of modern European thought. The first half of the course will focus on early periods: Greek and Roman antiquity, especially Plato and Aristotle; the medieval period (including St. Augustine, Dante, and Boccaccio), and the early modern period ( such as Philip Sidney and Giambattista Vico). We'll move into modern and 20th century by looking at the literary (or "art") theories of some major philosophers, artists, and poets: Kant, Hegel, Shelley, Marx, the painter William Morris, Freud, and the critic Walter Benjamin. We'll end with a look at Foucault's work. The point of this course is to consider closely the Western European tradition which generated questions 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. During the semester there will be four short writing assignments in the form of analytical essays (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; a few readings will be on Blackboard.

COML 411.401

M 2-5 Chartier
Cross listed with ENGL 234, HIST 411

From Gutenberg to Google

This seminar taught in the Van Pelt Library and based on original materials is devoted to introduce the students to the long term history of written culture. It focused on material forms (manuscripts, printed books, pamphlets, digital screens), on textual genres (drama, novels, letters, archives), and cultural uses (among them reading practices).Its aims is to looks at the different "revolutions" that transformed the production, publication, and appropriation of the written word from late Middle ages to our present.

COML 416.401

TR 12-1:30 Kors
Cross listed with HIST 416

European Intellectual History in the 18th Century

A survey based solely on primary sources of the main currents of eighteenth-century European thought: the "Enlightenment;" deism; natural religion; skepticism; evangelical revival; political reform; utilitarianism; naturalism; and materialism. The course will focus on works widely-read in the eighteenth century and of enduring historical significance. There are no prerequisites, and one of the goals of the course is to make eighteenth-century thought accessible in its context to the twenty-first century.

COML 417.401

TR 12-1:30 Holod
Cross listed with ARTH 417

Later Islamic Art and Architecture (after 1250)

Istanbul, Samarkand, Isfahan, Cairo and Delhi as major centers of art production in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. Attention will be given to urban and architectural achievement as well as to the key monuments of painting and metalwork. The visual environment of the "gunpowder empires".


Last modified January 15, 2012 Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania