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Undergraduate Courses
Spring 2013




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

      116; 128; 209; 238; 260; 268; 282; 330; 334; 418

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

      007; 008; 122; 175; 202; 210; 212; 217; 235; 256; 282; 284; 359; 385; 391

Other courses may also be counted toward elective requirements, in consultation with the Undergraduate Chair.


COML 007.401

MW 3:30-5 Sreenivasan
Cross-listed with SAST 007

Introduction to Modern South India Literature

This course provides an introduction to the literatures of South Asia - chiefly India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh- between 1500 and the present. We will read translated excerpts from literary texts in several languages - Braj, Persian, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, and Tamil - and explore the relationship between these literary texts and their historical contexts.

COML 008.401

W 3:30-5 Rittenberg
Cross-listed with NELC 008
CWiC Critical Speaking Program course

Echoes of Prophets, Poets and Princesses in Arabic Intellectual Tradition

Through the power of their voices, Arab poets made and unmade rulers, mobilized armies, and immortalized the deeds and words of countless individuals. The voice of ‘Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, rang out loudly in the political and military affairs of the nascent Islamic Empire. Early debates about the nature of God’s speech led to a violent confrontation between religious and political authorities which shaped their interaction for centuries. In this CWiC critical speaking seminar, we will examine the role of the spoken word in the Arabic intellectual tradition. In particular, we will study its influence on the development of Arabic literature, theories of linguistic signification, the educational system, and identities of different groups. We will study in translation works of Arabic poetry, religious texts, speeches, debates, court cases, collections of stories, and works of dialectics. Although we will focus on texts that date from 500 C.E. to 1500 C.E., we will also examine contemporary examples of speech in order to better understand the performative context and continuity between pre-modern and modern traditions of speech in Arabic. Students will improve their speaking and listening skills through class discussions, debates, storytelling, and other types of presentations. All readings are in English and the course presumes no prior knowledge of the topic. No prior knowledge of South Asia is required.

COML 052.401

TR 12-1:30 Moyer
Cross-listed with HIST 054

Books that Made History

It is often said that books reflect the society in which they were written. Yet many books—and their authors—shaped society, and changed how people understood the world around them. In this course we will focus on a variety of texts from the world of Rome to 1600, the era in which European society took form. In each case, we will seek not only to understand the work itself, but also how it affected the lives and the thought of its readers. Works will range from Cicero and the Biblical New Testament to Luther and Machiavelli.

COML 053.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Muller

Cross listed with AFST 053, AFRC 053, MUSC 051

Music of Africa

African Contemporary Music: North, South, East, and West. Come to know contemporary Africa through the sounds of its music: from South African kwela, jazz, marabi, and kwaito to Zimbabwean chimurenga; Central African soukous and pygmy pop; West African Fuji, and North African rai and hophop. Through reading and listening to live performance, audio and video recordings, we will examine the music of Africa and its intersections with politics, history, gender, and religion in the colonial and post colonial era.

COML 062.401

M 6-9 Bernstein
Permission Needed from Instructor
Cross-listed with ENGL 062

20th-Century Poetry not from the U.S.

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 poet visiting the class -- reading and discussing his work with the seminar.

Note that we will concentrate on poems from Europe (including the UK) and Latin America in the first half of the century, though a good deal of postwar poetry will be included. Due to time constraints, we not be considering the wealth of 20th century poetry from Asia, or from Australia and New Zealand, or the poetry of analphabetic (tribal/oral) cultures as it emerged in the 20th century. 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.

Of special importance for this class: Translation/imitation. Imitation and translation are part of the wreading exercises, but in the cases of the non-English language poetry, my preference is for you to attempt an translation of any of the poems if you know the original language or to try a homophonic translation if you have the text of the original poem.

Syllabus is on-line at http://writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/syllabi/62.html see links there for "Introduction" and "Requirements." By permit only. Since the class has an unusual format, please review syllabus and requirements and then send an email expressing your specific interest in the approach of this class to Charles.Bernstein@English.Upenn.Edu.

COML 103.401

TR 3-4:30 St. George
Cross-listed with HIST 093

Performing History

From medieval processions to the Mummer's Parade, from military reenactments to Mardi Gras, communities do more than "write" or "read" history in order to feel its power and shape their futures. Drawing upon traditions in theater, spectacle, religion, and marketing, they also perform their history--by replaying particular characters, restaging pivotal events and sometimes even changing their outcomes--in order to test its relevance to contemporary life and to both mark and contest ritual points in the annual cycle. This course will explore diverse ways of "performing history" in different cultures, including royal passages, civic parades, historical reenactments, community festivals, and film.

COML 104.401

Arts & Letters Sector
LEC MW 11-12 Esty
REC 402, 403, 404, 405

Registration required for LEC & REC
Cross-listed with ENGL 104

The Twentieth Century

This course will offer an intensive, guided introduction to major movements and figures in literature since 1900 set in the context of the past century’s serial revolutions in art, science, music, philosophy, religion, economics, and politics. The course begins by considering the transformative effects of Darwin, Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche on prevailing concepts of human nature and historical destiny, and by exploring two short masterpieces of the late nineteenth-century, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilych. We will then pursue several opening themes – the specter of war and dehumanization, the rise of the professions, the divided psyche, the urban jungle, the war of the sexes, the growth of machine society, and the explosion of mass media– through the work of several landmark modernists: Kafka, Yeats, Eliot, Stein, Cather, Joyce, and Woolf. Poetry and short fiction will be complemented by one full-length novel (To the Lighthouse) and by background lectures in social history and the visual arts. In the second half of the course, we will track the same central themes over the dividing line of 1945. Along the way, we’ll investigate the aftermath of WWII in new moral realisms (Orwell, O’Connor), in Cold War existentialism and absurdism (Camus, Beckett), in poetry's return to lyric or confessional intensity (Larkin, Bishop), and in the history of decolonization (Achebe). Finally, we will conclude with a series of contemporary global fictions that bring the central concerns of the course into the present: Pat Barker’s Regeneration, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist.

COML 108.401

Cross Cultural Analysis Sector
Arts & Letters Sector
LEC MW 11-12 Struck
REC 402 through 413

Registration required for LEC & REC
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 blinders that all of us wear, though we do not realize it? Investigate these questions through a variety of topics creation of the universe between gods and mortals, religion and family, sex, love, madness, and death.

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 & Letters Sector
TR 3-4:30 Corrigan/Loomba

Cross-listed with CINE 100, ENGL 101

Shakespeare and Film: Shakespeare and his Afterlives:
Film, Theatre, Culture

Why have Shakespeare’s plays been performed and filmed so often all over the world? This course will discuss adaptations and appropriations of Shakespearean plays in film and in the theatre. To “appropriate” is to make something your own, and that process tells us as much about the work of art being appropriated as it does about who does the appropriations. This course will engage that dynamic by examining five plays in detail--Othello, Hamlet, Henry V, Macbeth and The Tempest--and by following their textual and cultural permutations across the globe. These will include Orson Welles’s Othello, Laurence Olivier’s Henry V, Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara and Aime Cesaire’s A Tempest. We will also engage with local Philadelphia productions where possible.

Our goal here is not only to open up these plays in all their textual complexity but also to think through the practices of adaptation especially as those practices have permeated and defined the literature, art, and cultures of the last one hundred years. Some of the larger questions shaping the course will be: What textual and technological pressures does cinematic adaptation involve? How have the practices of adaptation change through history? What do different cross-cultural adaptations reveal about specific societies and their values? Why and how has Shakespeare’s work remained such a dominant transnational and historical presence for so many centuries? When does Shakespeare stop being Shakespeare and become something new?

Within this framework, students will have the opportunity to look carefully at a selection of major plays from numerous critical angles and, at the same time, to consider the problematic of adaptation in all their practical and theoretical richness.

Requirements: regular attendance and reading, participation in class discussions, a short paper, a midterm, and a final. You will be required to watch selected films, all of which will be on reserve at Rosengarten. You will also have to watch local plays if we work with them.

No prerequisites needed. All are welcome.

COML 122.401

TR 10:30-12 Atwood
Cross-listed with NELC 114

Introduction to Persian Literature

This course, which requires no knowledge of Persian, aims to introduce students to the major trends and developments in the Persian literary tradition, which has spanned for more than a millennium. Introductory sessions will familiarize students with the history of Persian literature, especially the transition away from classical modes of representation, a tradition that was largely poetic, to modern genres and forms, including the novel, blank-verse poetry, and short stories. However, most of the course will be organized thematically rather than chronologically, and each unit will bring together literary texts from both the classical and modern traditions. Together we will examine how authors from different historical periods have utilized a limited number of motifs in order to represent and critique the dominant religious and social institutions of their time. We will conclude by considering the rapid politicalization of Persian literature in the 20th century and recent efforts to control systems of representation, and especially the written word, in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

COML 123.601

Arts & Letters Sector
T 4:30-7:30 Gaffney

Cross-listed with ARTH 108, CINE 101, ENGL 091

World Film History to 1945

This course surveys the history of world film from cinema’s precursors to 1945. We will develop methods for analyzing film while examining the growth of film as an art, an industry, a technology, and a political instrument. Topics include the emergence of film technology and early film audiences, the rise of narrative film and birth of Hollywood, national film industries and movements, African-American independent film, the emergence of the genre film (the western, film noir, and romantic comedies), ethnographic and documentary film, animated films, censorship, the MPPDA and Hays Code, and the introduction of sound. We will conclude with the transformation of several film industries into propaganda tools during World War II (including the Nazi, Soviet, and US film industries). In addition to contemporary theories that investigate the development of cinema and visual culture during the first half of the 20th century, we will read key texts that contributed to the emergence of film theory. There are no prerequisites. Students are required to attend screenings or watch films on their own.

COML 124.401

Arts & Letters Sector
TR 9-10:30 Corrigan

Cross-listed with ARTH 109, CINE 102, ENGL 092

World Film History 1945 to Present

Focusing on movies made after 1945, this course allows students to learn and to sharpen methods, terminologies, and tools needed for the critical analysis of film. Beginning with the cinematic revolution signaled by the Italian Neo-Realism (of Rossellini and De Sica), we will follow the evolution of postwar cinema through the French New Wave (of Godard, Resnais, and Varda), American movies of the 1950s and 1960s (including the New Hollywood cinema of Coppola and Scorsese), and the various other new wave movements of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (such as the New German Cinema). We will then selectively examine some of the most important films of the last two decades, including those of U.S. independent film movement and movies from Iran, China, and elsewhere in an expanding global cinema culture. There will be precise attention paid to formal and stylistic techniques in editing, mise-en-scene, and sound, as well as to the narrative, non-narrative, and generic organizations of film. At the same time, those formal features will be closely linked to historical and cultural distinctions and changes, ranging from the Paramount Decision of 1948 to the digital convergences that are defining screen culture today. There are no perquisites. Requirements will include readings in film history and film analysis, an analytical essay, a research paper, a final exam, and active participation.

COML 125.401

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

Cross-listed with 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 some of the ways they can be analyzed. We will be looking at many narratives including fables, short stories, novellas, and autobiographies. While some the works will be from the Anglo-American tradition, a large number will be from European and non-Western literatures. The course will thus offer ample opportunity for the exploration of different traditions in a comparative perspective. Among authors to be read: Aesop, Borges, Douglass, Joyce, Kafka, Maupassant, Munro, and Rhys as well such writers from non-Western cultures as Birago Diop, Taha Husayn, and Mori Ogai.

COML 127.601

Arts & Letters Sector
T 5:30-8:30 Blum

Cross-listed with CINE 125, GSWS 125, RUSS 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 4:30-7:30 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 auto-biographical 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 Anaïs 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 175.401

TR 10:30-12 Djagalov
All readings and lectures in English
Cross-listed with RUSS 175

The Peripheral Empire: Nation and Empire in Russian Lit & Film

Cultural forms such as literature and film not only reflect existing trends in nationalist and colonialist thought of their time: they often enable the public sphere where those are first formulated and then popularized. Such an assertion rings even truer in the Russian context, where starting from the second half of the nineteenth-century, literature achieved an unprecedented position of social authority. Over the course of the twentieth century, film came to rival it for the hearts and minds of Soviet (and then Russian) publics. In this seminar, with the help of secondary materials, we will reconstruct a number of instances in which particular novels, short stories, poems, and films affected their audience’s thinking, contributing towards social change. This dialectical perspective on culture—as both a reflection and an agent of social change; as a force behind the competing imperatives of nationalism and colonialism—will inform our readings of Russian literary and cinematic texts ranging from Alexander Pushkin’s narrative poem Bronze Horseman (1833) to Georgy Mamulia’s film Another Sky (2010). Helping us contextualize them will be a number of studies of Russian and Soviet history as well as selections from seminal theoretical writings on nationalism and colonialism such as Edward Said’s Orientalism, Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, and Immanuel Wallerstein’s Introduction to World-Systems Theory.

COML 202.401

M 2-5 Alfonso/Hollender
Cross-listed with JWST 206, NELC 285
All readings and lectures in English

Pride, Resistance, and Memory: Hebrew Poetry in the Middle Ages

Early in the 11th century, Samuel ha-Nagid, Jewish statesman and poet, wrote a collection of Hebrew war poems where he portrayed himself in battle, leading the armies of the Islamic king of Granada to victory under the protection of the God of Israel. More than four centuries later, Solomon Bonafed saw his Jewish friends and fellow poets in Aragon being forced to convert to Christianity, and composed Hebrew poetry for them in a desperate attempt to sustain their shared memories and common identity. These poets lived under completely different social and historical circumstances, Samuel ha-Nagid under Islamic rule and Bonafed in a Christian culture. But both used Hebrew poetry as a powerful vehicle for Jewish self-expression. The work of these two poets and other poets writing in medieval Iberia, central Europe, Italy, and beyond are windows onto medieval Jewish cultural history. In this course we will discuss the symbolic choice of Hebrew as the language of poetry, the interplay and tension between secular and religious poems, and the relationship between poetry written in Hebrew and in Arabic and in Romance languages by Jews and non-Jews. We will also consider the relationship between patron and poet, the use of poetry as a community building tool, and the later reception of the poems that became powerful icons for all future generations. All readings will be available in English translation and no prior background is needed.

COML 203.401

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

Cross-listed with COLL 228, ITAL 203
All readings and lectures in Italian

World Literature: Italian

This 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 209.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
MW 2-3:30 Wiggin

Cross-listed with GRMN 239

Sustainability and Utopianism

This seminar explores how the humanities can contribute to discussions of sustainability. We begin by investigating the contested term itself, paying close attention to critics and activists who deplore the very idea that we should try to sustain our, in their eyes, dystopian present, one marked by environmental catastrophe as well as by an assault on the educational ideals long embodied in the humanities. We then turn to classic humanist texts on utopia, beginning with More's fictive island of 1517. The "origins of environmentalism" lie in such depictions of island edens (Richard Grove), and our course proceeds to analyze classic utopian tests from American, English, and German literatures. Readings extend to utopian visions from Europe and America of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as literary and visual texts that deal with contemporary nuclear and flood catastrophes. Authors include: Bill McKibben, Jill Kerr Conway, Christopher Newfield, Thomas More, Francis Bacon, Karl Marx, Henry David Thoreau, Robert Owens, William Morris, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ayn Rand, Christa Wolf, and others.

COML 210.401

Cinema Sector
MW 3:30-5 Ellis

Cross-listed with AFRC 224, ANTH 221, CINE 224, LALS 224

Third Wave Cinema: Brazilian, Cuban, Martiniquan, and African

In this course, we will first read from the diaries of Christopher Columbus about the Antilles, the ethnographic essays of Claude Lévi-Strauss about Brazil, as well as the anthropological studies of Marcel Griaule about the Dogon people of Mali. These readings will crystallize a sense of the historical Euro-colonial gaze at peoples and places that it considered barbaric, feared, in some cases, as cannibalistic, and that it eventually came to categorize as “third world” by contributing to their economic underdevelopment. Rather than a lament of “Europe’s” history of havoc, this course will show the cinematic reckonings of “Third Cinema” with this violent history, which visually re-frame and question what is human, what is civilized, and what is not. We will move by the third week into select films of Brazil, Cuba, Africa (specifically Algeria, Mali, and Senegal), and Martinique, and see how they respond to Western Europe’s idea that it is the center of the gravity of civilization. The cinemas of Glauber Rocha, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Sara Gómez, Manthia Diawara, Abderrahmane Sissako, Ousmane Sembene, and Euzhan Palcy radically tangle the dangerous line between the human and the anthropological object of study, between civilization and barbarism. The director’s work that will be the conceptual hinge between the brief early readings and the aforementioned directors is that of Jean Rouch, specifically his pictures shot in Africa in the 1940s-60s. To accompany our viewings, we will also read the literature of the Antropofaga (Cannibalism) movement in early 20th century Brazil, poems by Aimé Césaire (Martiniquan), and a couple essays by the revolutionary thinker, Frantz Fanon (Martiniquan, Algerian). All of the films have English subtitles. Final essays may be written in English or Spanish.

COML 212.401

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

Cross-listed with NELC 201

Modern Middle Eastern Literature in Translation

The Middle East boasts a rich tapestry of cultures that have developed a vibrant body of modern literature that is often overlooked in media coverage of the region. While each of the modern literary traditions that will be surveyed in this introductory course-Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish-will be analyzed with an apprreciation of the cultural context unique to each body of literature, this course will also attempt to bridge these diverse traditions by analyzing common themes-such as modernity, social values, the individual and national identity-as reflected in the genres of postry, the novel and the short story. This course is in seminar format to encourage lively discussion and is team-taught by four professors whose expertise in modern Middle Eastern literature serves to create a deeper understanding and aesthetic appreciation of each literary trandition. In addition to honing students' literary analysis skills, the course will enable students to become more adept at discussing the social and political forces that are reflected in Middle Eastern literature, explore important themes and actively engage in reading new Middle Eastern works on their own in translation. All readings are in English.

COML 216.401

Literatures of the World
Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Richter

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

Introduction to German Literature

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. 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 217.401

Freshman Seminar
MW 12-1:30 Yountchi

Cross-listed with NELC 222, RUSS 222
All readings and lectures in English

Russia and the East

As 19th century Russian philosopher and poet Soloviev suggests in his Ex Oriente Lux, Russia’s relationship with the East is a fundamental aspect of Russian national identity. His suggestion is by no means unique. Throughout history, Russian writers sought to understand what it meant to be Russian through Russia’s relationship with Eastern peoples, cultures, and literatures. Beginning in the 19th century, as Russia expanded its borders further east, this search became more pressing.

This course examines the important role of the East in Russian literature and nationalism. Focusing specifically on the Caucasus, Central Asia, Iran, and Turkey, this course will analyze how Russian writers connected the East to Russian identity, and how their approaches implicate different artistic periods (Romanticism, Realism, Socialist Realism, Post-Modernism) and different political atmospheres (Tsarist Russia, Soviet Union, Post-Soviet).

Students will also ascertain how Russian literature on the East has affected and influenced literature produced in the East. In particular, we will analyze how Soviet Central Asian writers, Iranian Socialists, and contemporary Turkish writers were influenced by Russian literature and Soviet ideology. Readings will include works by: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Platonov, Aimatov, Hedayat, Pamuk, and others.

COML 229.401

MWF 12-1 Madelein
Cross-listed with DTCH 230, GRMN 230

The Novel in 19th Century Dutch and European Lit: Dutch Interiors

This course explores how the novel as a genre functioned in 19th Century Europe, in a period when newborn nations (e.g. Belgium and the Netherlands) and newborn classes (bourgeoisie, hired labour classes) had to find or construct new identities in the wake of recent developments on the political plane and other recent revolutions (in particular the French and the Industrial one), which had led to large upheavals in traditional society.

COML 235.401

W 2-5 Verkholantsev
Cross-listed with HIST 219, RUSS 234
All readings and lectures in English

Medieval Russia: Origins of Russian Cultural Identity

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 238.401

TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
Cross-listed with GRMN 235
All readings and lectures in English

Autobiographical Writing

How does one write about oneself? Who is the "author" writing? What does one write about? And is it fiction or truth? Our seminar on autobiographical writing will pursue these questions, researching confessions, autobiographies, memoirs, and other forms of life-writing both in their historical development and theoretical articulations. Examples will include selections from St. Augustine's confessiones, Rousseau's Confessions, Franklin's Autobiography, as well as many examples from contemporary English, German, French, and American literature.

COML 241.401

Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Richter/Vinitsky

Cross listed with CINE 352, GRMN 256, RELS 236, RUSS 188
All readings and lectures in English

The Devil’s Pact in Literature and Film

For centuries the pact with the devil has signified humankind's desire to surpass the limits of human knowledge and power. The legend of the devil’s pact has permeated literature, art, and cinema. In this course, students will focus on two masterpieces of world literature in which the Devil plays the most prominent role, Goethe’s Faust and Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita. Professors of German and Russian Literature will explore these works in “devilish” details.

COML 242.401

Arts & Letters Sector
TR 12-1:30 Matter

Cross-listed with RELS 003

Religion and Literature

A consideration of how great works of literature from different cultural traditions have reclaimed and reinterpreted compelling religious themes. The focus this semester will be on themes of creation, especially the creation of human beings,from ancient myths of different cultures to modern science fiction.

COML 256.401

T 3-6 Kano
Cross-listed with CINE 151, EALC 151, GSWS 257

Contemporary Fiction and Film in Japan

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 260.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 1:30-3 Hellerstein

Cross-listed with GRMN 264, JWST 254
All readings and lectures in English

Translating Cultures: Lit on and in Translation

"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, anthrology, 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 268.401

TR 3-4:30 Jarosinski
Cross-listed with GRMN 248
All readings and lectures in English

Nietzsche’s Modernity

God is dead." This famous, all too famous death sentence, issued by the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, also signaled the genesis of a radical challenge to traditional notions of morality, cultural life, and the structure of society as a whole. In this course we will examine both the "modernity" of Nietzsche's thought and the ways in which his ideas have helped to define the very concept of Modernity (and, arguably, Postmodernity) itself. In exploring the origin and evolution of Nietzsche's key concepts, we will trace the ways in which his work has been variously revered or refuted, championed or co-opted, for more than a century. We will survey his broad influence on everything from philosophy and literature to music and art, theater and psychology, history and cultural theory, politics and popular culture. Further, we will ask how his ideas continue to challenge us today, though perhaps in unexpected ways. As we will see, Nietzsche wanted to teach us "how to philosophize with a hammer."

COML 280.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Benini

Cross-listed with CINE 240, ITAL 240

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.

COML 282.401

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

Cross-listed with CINE 159, ENGL 079, JWST 102, NELC 159

Fantasy, Dreams and Madness in Israeli Lit and Film

This course analyzes Hebrew and/or Israeli fiction, poetry and film that feature dreams, fantasy and madness. The Zionist meta-narrative tells of an active, conscious and rational enterprise of Israeli nation-building. Yet its subversive shadow-side lurks in literary and cinematic nightmares, surrealist wanderings and stories packed with dreams. This tension exists in the Hebrew Literature of the twentieth century and persists in contemporary films and writings that question the sanity of the protagonist and artist alike. Although S.Y. Agnon, the uncontested master of Hebrew literature, denied ever reading Freud, his works are fraught with dreams and psychoanalytic insight. His literary heirs, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua, the pillars of the Israeli canon, often speak in the symbolic language of the subconscious. Older Israeli films like New Land, as well as newly-released works like Waltz with Bashir, also confront similar issues. Works by Freud, Kafka and Plath are included in the course. There will be 5-6 film screenings; the films are on reserve at Van Pelt for those unable to attend the screenings. The course content changes every year, therefore students may take it for credit more than once.

COML 284.401

Cultural Diversity in U.S.
MW 2-3:30 Ellis

Cross-listed with ENGL 270, LALS 291, ROML 290

Politics and Literature: Revolution, Dictatorship and Democracies in Latin America: Politics and Literature

While the words Revolution, Dictatorship, and Democracy signify radically different meanings, they exist in close relation to one another in discourse about Latin America. How does one imagine and articulate this dangerous proximity between the terms Revolution, Dictatorship, and Democracy that has yielded intense social, political, and economic effects for the lives of real peoples: civil war, genocide, recessions, migrations, diasporas, all of which today must be thought in relation to globalization. Yet out of these situations there also emerges aesthetics, and in this course we will focus on narratives. In our readings of several prominent novels that re-cast specific historical events in Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Haiti, we will think through the complex allure of these terms, their menacing and contradictory intimacies with one another, which on today’s strange political map, may be more entangled than ever. We may study the following writers: Carlos Fuentes, Rosario Castellanos, and Roberto Bolaño on Mexico; Miguel Angel Asturias and Rigoberta Menchú on Guatemala; Roque Dalton on El Salvador; Reinaldo Arenas and Ena Lucía Portela on Cuba; Alejo Carpentier and Edwidge Danticat on Haiti. We will also watch several films – Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Alfonso Cuarón’s Y tu mamá también, among others – which show how the discourse of Revolution can come to merge with that of nationalism, development, and neoliberalism, since – as opposed to the terms rebellion or insurrection – they are fundamentally concerned with the measured “progress” of nation-states. Final essays may be written in Spanish or English.

COML 284.402

Cultural Diversity in U.S.
TR 3-4:30 Ellis

Cross-listed with ENLG 270, LALS 291

Ecstasy, Vengeance and Politics in Latina/o Lit, Cinema, Music

“The border” between Mexico and the US is no longer imaginable just as a 2,000 mile line cutting through space – one violently guarded, yet porous. And given the recent increase in migrations of US citizens from Puerto Rico to the US, as well as the regularity of “returns” of Latinos and Latinoamericanos living in the US to their “homelands” (Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico), we find ourselves in a complicated moment in the history of citizenship, nationalism, as well as the politics and economics of being. If we are attentive to current debates about migrancy, “illegal aliens,” and “undocumented workers” throughout this country, we can read the deep fear being articulated: the border is everywhere. The entire US becomes a frontera of debates about definitions of citizenship, belonging, and language – while globalization and neoliberalism not only urge, but also benefit from these movements of bodies that are, likewise, movements of capital.

What do these movements mean to contemporary notions of American Literature and Cinema? To a Latina/o aesthetics? To philosophical questions of citizenship, kinship, and politics? In this course, we will move through major and minor texts of Latina/o literature, cinema, and music, and experience the circling themes of ecstasy and vengeance, and the persistent desire for a radical politics. We will trace representations of three grounding features of Latina/o aesthetics: one, the importance of working class urban-industrial and rural-agricultural imaginaries; two, images of the history of colonial oppression juxtaposed with contemporary forms of racism, sexism, and exploitative labor; and three, the contradictory mixture of the forces of assimilation, the policing of bodies and land, and the radical desire to belong to a place and articulate the existence of a people. We will read short stories and poetry by mid-20th century and new Latina/o writers: Tomás Rivera, Rolando Hinojosa, Ana Castillo, Richard Rodríguez, Pedro Pietri, Miguel Algarín, Julia de Burgos, Junot Díaz, Roberto Bolaño, and Eduardo Corral. We will watch a mixture of “classic” and contemporary films, among which may be: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly; Carlito’s Way; Scarface; I Love Lucy; El Súper; Piñero; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; Y tu mamá también; & Babel.

For the music component of the course, we will study a few recordings of son, salsa, bomba, ranchera, and corridos, and will be visited by live musicians and dancers.

COML 292.401

MW 3:30-5 Donovan
Cross-listed with CINE 202

Modern Science Fiction in 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 300.401

W 2-5 Juliani
Cross-listed with ITAL 300

Exploring Ethnicity: The Italian-American Experience

This course examines (1) the experience of Italians as immigrants to the United States from their earliest presence, then through the era of mass immigration, and now at a time of more recent arrivals; (2) their acculturation and assimilation in subsequent generations as Americans; and (3) the principal social, cultural, economic and political aspects of Italian American life today. While focusing on one of the largest immigrant groups in American history it has its own significance. But rather than being an isolated and self-contained matter, it has implications for other groups as well — whether they arrived before the Italians, or came with them, or have come more recently and are still coming — and together comprise the American people.

The Italian case tested the capacity of America to absorb the foreign born and their descendants, by asking whether and how these newcomers and their culture were accepted. As a reflection on race and ethnic relations, it provides a measure of what awaits more recent newcomers in their own encounter with America.

Although dealing with frequently controversial and provocative issues, the approach is clinical and analytic, rather than ideological, polemical or celebratory. Its interdisciplinary aspect includes history, anthropology, sociology, and social psychology. It is based on scholarly research and interpretation that seeks to connect the descriptive and the conceptual; the humanistic and the scientific; the personal and the objective. By studying this group and the social processes that serve to define its position in our society, students, whether they belong to that group or any other, should understand more about themselves

COML 302.401

TR 1:30-3 Murnaghan
Cross-listed with CLST 302

Odyssey and Its Afterlife

As an epic account of wandering, survival, and homecoming, Homer's Odyssey has been a constant source of themes and images with which to define and redefine the nature of heroism, the sources of identity, and the challenge of finding a place in the world. This course will begin with a close reading of the Odyssey in translation, with particular attention to Odysseus as a post-Trojan War hero; to the roles of women, especially Odysseus' faithful and brilliant wife Penelope; and to the uses of poetry and story-telling in creating individual and cultural identities. We will then consider how later authors have drawn on these perspectives to construct their own visions, reading works, or parts of works, by such authors as Virgil, Dante, Tennyson, Joyce, Derek Walcott, and Louise Gluck.

COML 330.401

MW 2-3:30 Madelein
All readings and lectures in English
Cross-listed with DTCH 330, GRMN 330

Poetics of the Sublime

"A storm at sea, hanging cliffs, volcano eruptions at night, threatening thunderclouds over a desolate mountain landscape: all these phenomena incite both fear and pleasure, astonishment and fascination. We call them sublime, after the feeling of the sublime. In the eighteenth century the sublime became the exciting alternative to the beautiful. Stemming originally from rhetoric, in the course of the eighteenth century it became an aesthetic, philosophical and literary concept. In this course we will read and analyze canonical texts on the sublime, ranging from Antiquity to modernity: from Plato and Aristotle to Kant and Schiller."

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 344.401


MW 2-3:30 Breckman

Cross-listed with HIST 344

20th Century European Intellectual History

This course will explore the intellectual and cultural history of Europe between 1870 and 1962. We will take a socio-cultural approach to this history, using primary and secondary readings to examine how European intellectuals, artists, writers, and other cultural actors contributed and responded to major developments of the early 20th century. Among the historical themes for consideration are psychology and the self; feminism, gender and sexuality; the mass politics of socialism, fascism, and totalitarianism; race, empire and decolonization. Possible readings include Darwin, Freud, Woolf, Sartre, and Fanon.

COML 359.401

Literatures of the World
Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts & Letters Sector
TR 10:30-12 Gold

Cross-listed with COLL 227, HEBR 359, JWST 359, JWST 556

Giants of Hebrew Literature

This course focuses on the central pillars of the Modern Hebrew literary canon and their impact on Israeli literature. Drawing from the ancient wells of Bible, Talmud, and Midrash, the poets H. N. Bialik (1873-1934), Saul Tchernichovsky (1875-1943), and the author S. Y. Agnon (1887-1970) provided future writers with the tools to express modern and post-modern sensibilities. They forged a new diction for passion and love and for representing the inner world, psychological insight and political assertions. Bialik’s personal/political poems echo in Dahlia Ravikovitch’s verse, and Tchernichovsky’s haunting lines resurface in the recent poems of Natan Zach. Agnon's short stories inspired Amos Oz and Yehuda Amichai. We will compare the classic to the contemporary, and discuss the lasting power of these giants in the context of modern Israel. The class is conducted in Hebrew and the texts are read in the original. The content of this course changes from year to year; therefore students may take it for credit more than once.

COML 380.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
M 3-5 Leuchter

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

Bible in Translation: Samuel

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

COML 385.401

F 2-5 Kano
Cross-listed with EALC 255, FOLK 485, THAR 485

Sex and Politics in Japanese Theatre

Japan has one of the richest and most varied theatrical traditions in the world. In this course, we will examine Japanese theater in historical and comparative context, with special attention to the sexual and political dimensions of performance. The readings and discussions will cover all areas of the theatrical experience (script, acting, stage design, costumes, music, audience). Audio-visual materials will be used whenever available and appropriate. Reading knowledge of Japanese and/or previous course-work in literature/theater will be helpful, but not required: the class will be conducted in English, with all English materials. Japanese readings can be made available to interested students.

COML 391.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Mazaj

Cross-listed with CINE 392, ENGL 392

Transnational Cinema

This is a course in contemporary transnational film cultures and world cinema. The course will examine the idea of world cinema and set up a model of how it can be explored by studying contemporary film in various countries. We will explore ways in which cinemas from around the globe have attempted to come to terms with Hollywood, and look at forces that lead many filmmakers to define themselves in opposition to Hollywood norms. But we will also look at the phenomenon of world cinema in independent terms, as “waves” that peak in different places and times, and coordinate various forces. Finally, through the close case study of significant films and cinemas that have dominated the international festival circuit (Chinese, Korean, Iranian, Indian, etc.) we will engage with the questions of which films/cinemas get labeled as “world cinema,” what determines entry into the sphere of world cinema, and examine the importance of film festivals in creating world cinema.

COML 411.401

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

Writing and Reading Early Modern Europe

Description TBA


COML 416.401

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

European Intellectual History in the 18th Century

This course is a survey of the thought of one of the most revolutionary periods in the history of human interaction, the century when Europeans debated and often changed fundamentally the way they thought about knowledge, about authority, about the nature of religion and its place within their world, about human nature, about moral criteria, and about the possibilities of the human condition. Students will read solely primary sources—eighteenth-century texts themselves—seeking to understand the eighteenth-century meanings and receptions of eighteenth-century debates. Our goal never will be to summon authors before the bar of our "superior" wisdom, but to understand them in context, on their own terms. We shall examine the main currents of eighteenth-century European thought: challenges to inherited authority; deism; natural religion; skepticism; evangelical revival; political reform; diverse way of understanding nature and human nature; utilitarianism; materialism. The course will focus on works widely read in the eighteenth century and historically influential on the ages that followed. The course assumes no prior work in the subject, and there are no prerequisites.

We shall read, in English, authors who transformed Europe's thought, debates, and civilization, either in their own right, or as part of broader movements of thought: the baron Montesquieu, Voltaire (twice), Joseph Butler, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (twice), Thomas Paine, John Wesley, David Hume, Cesare Beccaria, Julian Offray de La Mettrie, and Denis Diderot.

We are a course on history, doing intellectual history, not a seminar on philosophy or political theory. That is to say, our goal will not be to judge or to argue the merits and demerits of our authors (you always can choose to do that on your own, apart from our course), but to understand how the world looked to different minds in a different time and place. The focus of our discussion will be analytic and comparative. We get to ask questions about an author's beliefs that an author may not ask himself or herself (for example, implicit views of human nature or of ethics). It may be that two of you who agree about what an author believes or not might hold two different views of the author's rightness or wrongness. Our subject will be the former (analyzing an author and comparing him to other authors), not the latter (judging an author). We're a class in history. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that we were studying Tibetan Buddhism or Medieval political theory. To summon those thinkers to judgment by our own contemporary or personal views of the world would be to study ourselves, not other minds or schools of thought. Our task is to understand other minds and other ways of thinking.

The course will be organized around reading, lectures, and (voluntary) discussion. There are no required papers, because I want you to have the time to immerse yourselves in the readings, but if you have research interests or if you are uneasy about having only examinations determine your grade, you may choose to write a paper, not for extra credit, but to count as half of your final-exam grade. I shall set up a class list serve, and each week, before a reading, I'll send out some "Questions for Reading" to help you organize your work and to give us a place from which to start discussion. Discussions, however, will be wide open to your own interests and questions.

COML 418.401

W 9-12 Breckman
Cross-listed with HIST 418

European Intellectual History Since 1945

This course concentrates on French intellectual history after 1945, with some excursions into Germany. We will explore changing conceptions of the intellectual, from Sartre's concept of the 'engagement' to Foucault's idea of the 'specific intellectual'; the rise and fall of existentialism; structuralism and poststructuralism; and the debate over 'postmodernity.' One of the central themes of the course will be the debate between 'humanism' and 'anti-humanism'. If late nineteenth and early twentieth-century thinkers were preoccupied by the question of the "death of God," much philosophical discussion in France in the later twentieth century was obsessed by the death of "Man." Many of the dominant thinkers of the post-war period have exposed the idea of the human "subject" -- the "self" or "ego" -- to unprecedented criticism. What is meant by the "death of Man"? Does the human "self" have a "center," or is the self a linguistic construction or the fragmented product of relations of power and desire? What are the political and social implications of the critique of "humanism"? What are the implications for our conception of "reason," "history," and "progress"? Can "humanism" be reformulated in the face of its critics?

COML 440.601

R 5:30-8:30 Pellicone
Cross-listed with CINE 440, ENGL 492

Twentieth Century American Film: Italians in American Cinema:
A Cinema We Couldn’t Refuse

In the 1880’s the development of motion pictures heralded the rise of a new visual art that would not only shape but ultimately control the collective imagination of our nation. At the same time Italians left their home country in unprecedented numbers so that between 1880 and 1920 over four million Italians entered into the United States. As the film industry developed the sudden influx of Italians offered a backdrop on which to project the changing views of the nation. Beginning with silent films, such as The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino, we will consider the ways that Hollywood exploited the Italian diaspora to develop a stock of familiar characters including hot-blooded lotharios, ruthless gangsters, wily tricksters, and lovable losers with which we have become familiar. We will review the history of the Italian immigrant experience and simultaneously examine the development of the American film industry, ultimately to consider the ways that Italian images on screen projected the fears, desires, anxieties, and struggles of a growing American psyche. Films discussed will include: Scarface (1932), From Here to Eternity, Marty, Young Savages, The Godfather trilogy, Mean Streets, Moonstruck, and My Cousin Vinny.

Last modified January 11, 2013
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania