Undergraduate Courses
Spring 2014

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

      094; 123; 126; 247; 391; 419

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

      065; 205; 215; 235; 266; 282; 283; 294; 364; 391; 392

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

COML 053.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Muller

Cross listed with MUSC 051/AFRC 053/AFST 053


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 postcolonial era.

COML 054.401

Arts and Letters
TR 10:30-12 Jaji/Perelman

Cross listed with ENGL 054, AFRC 054, MUSC 054


Never before has poetry been so inescapable -- hip hop, the soundtrack of our times, has made rhyme, meter, and word-play part of our daily lives. How did this happen? This course begins not on the page, but in the bardic traditions of Homer's Iliad, which encoded many of the values of its time in oral formulas. Poetry was, however, no mere encyclopedia, but also a source of risk, as we will read in Plato's warning against its hypnotic powers, and in the excesses of The Bacchae. We continue through 19th and 20th century attempts to recover these Classic traditions (Wordsworth, Longfellow, Pound). Yet Europe was not the only center of poetic production. How does the Homeric tradition relate to living traditions of West African singing poets (griots) and Southern African praise songs? And what traces of these traditions can we hear in the blues. We will listen to early blues recordings and discuss the politics of collecting folklore, and the genius of African American modernists (Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Georgia Douglas Johnson) who brought vernacular speech onto the page. Following their innovations we will read and listen to a number of 20th century poets inspired when page meets stage in jazz poetry, dub poetry, spoken word, and hip hop. Assignments will include 2 papers, 2 small-group performances, memorization exercises, and a creative adaptation of one poem

COML 059.401

MWF 1-2 Hyde
Cross listed with ENGL 059


This course begins with a plunge into the ferment of modern life in Paris, the capital of the 19th century. We will connect the new sensations and experiences available in the urban metropolis to the aesthetic, political, and social upheaval that characterized the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. What does it mean to be modern? What is the role of modern literature in a world of accelerating technological change, uneven development, and devastating war? This course will introduce students to the major philosophers of modernism and the key English-language writers of the period as we move to London in the aftermath of the first world war. Students will learn to read literary texts closely, to link their reading to historical contexts, and to assess modernism’s own claims about itself. In order to pursue this last goal, we will conclude with a counter-example: the Caribbean “irruption into modernity” described by Edouard Glissant and Paul Gilroy. From the Caribbean, the story of European modernity looks very different, and we will read works of Caribbean literature that reflect new ideas about what it means to be modern. Assignments will consist of short, exploratory writing spaced throughout the semester, a final paper, and a final exam. Writers will include: Baudelaire, Benjamin, Eliot, Freud, Gilroy, Glissant, Joyce, Marx, Rhys, Simmel, Walcott, Woolf.

COML 075.602

T 6-9 Devenot
Cross listed with ENGL 261.602


The concept of higher-dimensional hyperspace has taken on new meanings in light of the advances of modern physics and the prospect of multiple dimensions coexisting alongside our own. At the turn of the 20th century, new possibilities about the natures of space and time fascinated mathematicians, philosophers, and artists alike. Riemann's mathematical demonstration that the universe might exceed its standard three dimensions catalyzed projects of reconciling the "supernatural" within the frameworks of science and rationality and of contemplating the limits of human reason. In this course, we will examine the modes by which higher dimensions have been envisioned in literature as both space and time. How does thinking through the implications of these higher dimensions affect how we interpret these literary worlds—and our own reality? Authors may include H. G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Heinlein, and Edwin Abbott.

COML 076.601

T 4:40-7:30 Rosenberg
cross listed with ENGL 222.601


Stories of transformation have been central to our literary traditions for thousands of years. This course will ask why we find such a basic connection between literature and unstable identities – whether these narratives of metamorphosis show humans turning to beasts, trees, or stones, or inanimate objects coming to life and taking human form. While looking closely at a range of literary examples, we’ll ask ourselves what each of these categories means, and will draw on philosophy and science to help us think about what it means to be human, or, on the other hand, to be a plant. What, moreover, is the appeal of these narratives? Why do we want to see our own identities undermined and transformed? Class readings will draw on examples from Ovid, Shakespeare, and Kafka, as well as more modern science fiction, and, finally, contemporary iterations of the theme on shows like Extreme Makeover, as we explore the enduring appeal of such narratives of transformation.

COML 094.401

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


Literary historian Cathy Davidson has said that literature is not simply fictional writing, beautiful writing, or profound writing, but rather "a complex social, political, and material process of cultural production." In this course we will seek to understand what this claim about literature might mean and how we might study such a complex process. That is, we will learn of the many ways to read a cultural text by surveying the history of literary theory, paying particular attention to contemporary critical theory. We will address questions such as: What is literature? How does language generate meaning? How do we determine the meanings of a cultural text? What are the relationships among an author, a text, a reader, and a context? What role does a text play in representing or even producing ideas of race, class, nation, and gender? What is hate speech? Can pornography or video games or violent films be said to do harm? We will learn to read texts closely and carefully: that is, to read for a text's figures, themes, meanings, contexts, and structures. In addition, students will learn to ask and write about a text's social, political, and material aspects.

COML 100.401

Arts and Letters
TR 10:30-12 Cavitch

Cross listed with ENGL 100


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. This course will introduce you to fundamentals of literary style, form, and history, and to approaches to reading and interpretation. It will also mean paying close attention to your own writing, in a series of brief essays and blog contributions 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
MW 11-12 Struck


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 115.401

M 2-5 Bernstein
Permission Needed From Instructor
Cross listed with ENGL 111


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

COML 116.401

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


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 120.401

TR 10:30-12 Entezari
Cross listed with NELC 118/CINE 118/GSWS118


This seminar explores Iranian culture, society, history and politics through the medium of film. We will examine a variety of cinematic works that represent the social, political, economic and cultural circumstances of contemporary Iran, as well as the diaspora. Along the way, we will discuss issues pertaining to gender, religion, nationalism, ethnicity, and the role of cinema in Iranian society and beyond. Discussions topics will also include the place of the Iranian diaspora in cinema, as well as the transnational production, distribution, and consumption of Iranian cinema. Films will include those by internationally acclaimed filmmakers, such as Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Asghar Farhadi, Bahman Ghobadi, Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Dariush Mehrjui, Tahmineh Milani, Jafar Panahi, Marjane Satrapi and others. All films will be subtitled in English. No prior knowledge is required.

COML 121.401

TR 10:30-12 Silverman
Cross listed with ENGL 120


"No problem is as consubstantial with literature and its modest mystery as the one posed by translation." --Jorge Luis Borges

In this class we will study and translate some of the major figures in 20th century poetry, including Rainer Maria Rilke, Claire Malroux, Pablo Neruda, Cesare Pavese, Anna Akhmatova, and Bei Dao. While the curriculum will be tailored to the interests and linguistic backgrounds of the students who enroll, all those curious about world poetry and the formidable, irresistible act of translation are welcome. Those wishing to take the translation course should have, at least, an intermediate knowledge of another language. We will study multiple translations of seminal poems and render our own versions in response. Students with knowledge of other languages will have the additional opportunity to work directly from the original; students may also work in pairs, or groups. A portion of the course will be set up as a creative writing workshop in which to examine the overall effect of each others’ translations so that first drafts can become successful revisions. While class discussions will explore the contexts and particularity of (among others) Urdu, Italian, French, and Polish poetry, they might ultimately reveal how notions of national literature have radically shifted in recent years to more polyglottic and globally textured forms. Through guest speakers, essays on translation theory, and our own ongoing experiments, this course will celebrate the ways in which great poetry underscores the fact that language itself is a translation. In addition to the creative work, assignments will include an oral presentation, informal response papers, and a short final essay.

COML 123.601

Arts and Letters
T 4:30-7:30 Mazaj

Cross listed with CINE 101, ARTH 108, ENGL 091


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. Fulfills the Arts and Letters Sector (All Classes).

COML 124.401

Arts and Letters
TR 9-10:30 Corrigan

Cross listed with ENGL 092/ARTH 109/CINE 102


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

Arts and Letters
Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos

Cross listed with NELC 180, FOLK 125


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 and Letters
T 5:30-8:30 Chahine

Cross listed with CINE 125/RUSS 125/GSWS 125


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 130.401

MWF 1-2 Glauthier
Cross listed with CLST 107


This course will introduce students to some of the greatest works of dramatic literature in the western canon. We will consider the social, political, religious and artistic functions of drama in ancient Greece and Rome, and discuss both differences and similarities between ancient drama and modern art forms. The course also aims to achieve some broader goals: to improve students' skills as readers and scholarly critics of literature, both ancient and modern; to observe the implications of form for meaning, in considering, especially, the differences between dramatic and non-dramatic kinds of cultural production; to help students understand the relationship of ancient Greek and Roman culture to the modern world; and to encourage thought about some of the big issues, in life as well as in literature: death, heroism, society, action and meaning.

COML 197.401

Humanities and Social Science
Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Staff

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 197


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 203.401

Literatures of the World
Arts and Letters
TR 3-4:30 Del Soldato

Cross listed with ITAL 203/COLL 228
Prior Language Experience Required


Description TBA.

COML 209.401

MW 2-3:30 Wiggin
All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 239/ENGL 275/ENVS 239/STSC 368


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 texts 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 212.401

Arts and Letters
Cross Cultural Analysis
MW 5-6:30 Gold/Allen/Atwood/Onder

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with NELC 201


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.

COML 217.401

MW 2-3:30 Staff

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 222/NELC 222


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 and political movements produced in the East. In particular, students will analyze how Soviet Central Asian writers, Iranian Socialists, and contemporary Turkish writers were influenced by Russian literature and Soviet ideology. Ultimately, this course examines the impact of Russia's cultural and political history in 20th century Central Asia and the Middle East. Readings will include works by: Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Platonov, Chingiz Aitmatov, Sadek Hedayat, Orhan Pamuk, and others.

COML 220.401

Humanities and Social Science
Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 12-1:30 Staff

All Readings and Lectures in English
RUSS 220/HIST 220


This course will explore the representations of the West in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century Russian literature and philosophy. We will consider the Russian visions of various events and aspects of Western political and social life — Revolutions, educational system, public executions, resorts, etc. — within the context of Russian intellectual history. We will examine how 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 229.401

TR 10:30-12 Stoop
Cross listed with GRMN 230/DTCH 230/CINE 252


Since time immemorial people have gone on pilgrimages. The Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain is particularly popular in the Western world. Every year many thousands of pilgrims walk to the place where according to the legend the apostle St James the Greater was buried, thus putting themselves in along-standing tradition. In the Middle Ages the Way of St James was a very important Christian pilgrim route and one of the most travelled roads in Europe. Pilgrims travelled the long and dangerous road for religious reasons: they came to worship the Saint whose relics were discovered in the 9th century, thus aiming to redeem their pledges to God, to repent their sins, and to earn indulgences. Although these religious motives are less relevant for many people nowadays, modern pilgrims often experience the Camino not only as an athletic or cultural event, but also as a spiritual and transformative journey. This course seeks to explore the differences and similarities in pilgrimage to Compostela in the Middle Ages and in the 20th-21st centuries. What motivated medieval people to undertake the journey, and what moves modern pilgrims? How do they describe their journey? How do they show themselves as pilgrims? Which religious and cultural symbols do they find on their way, etcetera. We will read novels and travel reports (in modern English translations), watch movies, and discuss themes related to both medieval and modern pilgrimage based on scholarly articles.

COML 241.401

Arts and Letters
TR 1:30-3 Richter/Vinitsky

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 256/RELS 236/CINE 352/RUSS 188


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 259.401

Arts and Letters
TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos

Cross listed with NELC 254/JWST 102/FOLK 296


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

COML 265.401

Arts and Letters
TR 12-1:30 Hellerstein

All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 261/CINE 279/JWST 261/ENGL 279


From the 1922 silent film "Hungry Hearts" through the first "talkie," "The Jazz Singer," produced in 1927, and beyond "Schindler's List," Jewish characters have confronted the problems of their Jewishness on the silver screen for a general American audience. Alongside this Hollywood tradition of Jewish film, Yiddish film blossomed from independent producers between 1911 and 1939, and interpreted literary masterpieces, from Shakespeare's "King Lear" to Sholom Aleichem's "Teyve the Dairyman," primarily for an immigrant, urban Jewish audience. In this course, we will study a number of films and their literary sources (in fiction and drama), focusing on English language and Yiddish films within the framework of three dilemmas of interpretation: a) the different ways we "read" literature and film, b) the various ways that the media of fiction, drama, and film "translate" Jewish culture, and c) how these translations of Jewish culture affect and are affected by their implied audience.

COML 268.401

TR 3-4:30 Jarosinski
All Readings and Lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 248/PHIL 067/RELS 238


"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 273.401

TR 3-4:30 Jaji
Cross listed with ENGL 271/AFRC 276/AFST 272


Satire seems to be the dominant form of public discourse in our time. The Dave Chappelle Show, The Colbert Report, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay all use humor and exaggeration as smokescreens to make biting social critiques. In this class we will examine the comedic tactics of raced, gendered, and/or colonized subjects to "collapse into laughter" the structures of inequality that constrain them. We will focus on spaces shaped by British and American imperialism. Grounding our work in historical examples like the Irish satire of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” we will read contemporary novels (including Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, Salman Rushdie’s Midn’ight’s Children and Paul Beatty’s Slumberland), view films (including Spike Lee’s Bamboozled), and compare political cartoons from around the world. Assignments will include 3 short informal essays and a final paper of 8-10 pages.

COML 282.401

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

Cross listed with NELC 159/CINE 159/ENGL 079/JWST 102


This course focuses on the writers who shaped Israeli literature and, in some ways, Israel itself. Dubbed "The Generation of the State," they were the first to emerge after 1948, in the newly-established State of Israel and the first to embrace English models like T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden. The 1955 anti-war poem by Yehuda Amichai "I Want to Die in My Bed" led a generations rebellion against glorifying nationalism and sacrifice. Other writers like Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and Natan Zach fought for individual expression over the collective cause. Now considered the pillars of Hebrew literature, their lives are the subject of numerous documentaries and their works have been adapted into films.

COML 292.601

W 5-8 Ross
Cross listed with CINE 292.601/ENGL 292.601


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 301.401

MW 2-3:30 Dayioglu-Yucel
Cross listed with GRMN 301


Description TBA.

COML 322.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
W 2-5 Rajan

Cross listed with GSWS 322/SOCI 322


This course explores how women’s experiences of violence in conflict are guided by traditional patriarchal views of femininity, and further how this violence impacts their human rights. Through academic texts, documents produced by the U.N. and NGOs globally, and documentaries, we will consider women's experiences of violence in contexts such as: how rape is used to decipher the borders and boundaries of emerging nations, as in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda; the highly complex experiences of women suicide bombers in the Israeli-Palestinian and Sri Lankan conflicts; the relationship between domestic violence in the private/home space and the violence of war in the public space; and sexual violence against women in the U.S. military.

COML 333.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Brownlee

Cross listed with ITAL 333


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

COML 351.401

W 4:30-7:30 Francis
Cross listed with CINE 351/AFRC 349/ENGL 295/ARTH 301


History and aesthetics of twentieth-century experimental filmmaking. American post-war avant-garde artists and the ways in which they examined the perceptual capacities and formal properties of film. Includes one-day workshop on analog filmmaking methods.

COML 359.401

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

Cross listed with HEBR 359/COLL 227/JWST 359


This course is for students who are interested in taking a literature course in Hebrew and are proficient in it. Grading is based primarily on students' literary understanding. There will be four 2-page written assignments over the course of the semester. We will discuss literary works that reflect Israelis' struggle with their national identity, from the patriotic 1948 generation for whom self and country overlapped to contemporary writers who ask what it means to be Israeli. While Yehuda Amichai's 1955 poem "I want to die in my bed" was a manifesto for individualism, the seemingly interminable Arab-Israeli conflict returned writers to the national, social, and political arenas starting in the 1980's. Readings include poems by Natan Alterman, Am Gilboa, Meir Wieseltier and Roni Somek as well as ficition by Amos Oz, David Grossman, Sayed Kashua, Alona Kimhi and Etgar Keret. Texts, discussions and papers in Hebrew. The content of this course changes from year to year so students may take it for credit more than once.

COML 380.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 4:30-6 Cranz

Cross listed with NELS 250/JWST 255/RELS 224


Careful study of a book of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) as a literary and religious work in the light of modern scholarship, ancient Near Eastern documents, comparative literature and religion, and its reverberations in later Judaism, Christianity, and Western (particularly American) Civilization.

COML 383.401

Benjamin Franklin Seminar
MW 2-3:30 Copeland

Cross listed with CLST 396/ENGL 394


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 Canvas.

COML 384.401

R 3-6 Benini
Cross listed with ITAL 384/CINE 387
All Readings and Lectures in English


What was the Jewish experience in Italy during the 22 years of Mussolini's dictatorship? What was the Italian experience of the Shoah? In this course we will address these questions by exploring film and novels, from Primo Levi's "If this is a man" and "The drowned and the saved," to Roberto Benigni's "Life is beautiful"(1997), and Vittorio de Sica "The garden of the Finzi-Contini" (1970). We will remember and shed light on the experience of the thousands of Italian Jews who were arrested and deported to Nazi lagers. Only few survived. Their testimony is crucial to a full understanding of the present, and it is an important warning against repeating the mistakes of the past.

COML 411.401

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


This course will examines the writing, printing, dissemination, interpretation, and censorship of specific words, phrases, mottos, sentences, commonplaces, and proverbs in early modern England, France, Italy, Spain and America. We will begin by analyzing the significance of specific words, including “word” itself, with specific attention to the Bible and Shakespeare. We will also examine the extraordinary dissemination of innovative words in Early Modern Europe and America, including “cannibal” and “america.” Among the texts that we will read will be works by Montaigne, Shakespeare, Donne, and Benjamin Franklin. All the texts will be available in English and we will pay particular attention to the massive range of translations from the period.

COML 416.401

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


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 432.401

Literatures of the World
Arts and Letters
TR 9-10:30 Sryfi

Cross listed with ARAB 432/COLL 226


Readings in Arabic texts taken from a variety of literary genres from all periods. The course aims to improve reading skills and vocabulary by introducing students to extensive passages taken from Arabic literature.

Last modified January 14, 2014
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania