Undergraduate Courses
Spring 2015

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 005.401

Arts & Letters
LEC MW 11-12 Patel

REC sections 402, 403, 404, 405
Cross listed with SAST 004

India's Literature

This course introduces students to the extraordinary quality of literary production during the past four millennia of South Asian civilization. We will read texts in translation from all parts of South Asia up to the sixteenth century. We will read selections from hymns, lyric poems, epics, wisdom literature, plays, political works, and religious texts.

COML 008.401

Communication Within the Curriculum—Critical Speaking
LEC TR 3-4:30
Section 401 Saba
LEC W 2-5
Section 402 Saba

Cross listed with NELC 008

Arab Voices of Dissent: From Muhammad to Tahrir

From Tunisia to Egypt to Syria to Iraq, dissent and rebellion seems to be on the upswing in the contemporary Middle East. The 'Arab Spring' brought about a renewed focus on the heritage of dissent in the Arab Middle East. This CWiC Critical Speaking Seminar will examine this heritage, starting with the religious and political dissent of the Prophet Muhammad against the polytheism of the Arabian peninsula, focusing on the different styles and kinds of dissent in, for example, literature, religion, and politics. In understanding this heritage, we will then look to how the actors in the 2011 Arab revolutions voiced their own dissent and interpreted this heritage of dissent.

COML 016.401

Freshman Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis
MW 2-3:30 Kaplan

Cross listed with ENGL 016/NELC 081

Contact and Conflict: Literatures of Israel and Palestine

The Palestinian/Israeli conflict is a subject of international headlines and intense controversy. This course introduces major Israeli and Palestinian novelists and poets, whose writing reveals the interior lives of individuals, communities, and social movements behind the slogans captured in the news. The course explores how Palestinians and Israelis narrate personal and collective stories to create a sense of identity, locate a place in history, and express longing for a homeland. Our discussions will contrast representations of common themes: loss and memory, exile and refugee, war and occupation, oppression and resistance. Readings include memoirs, novels, reportage, and poetry in English translation, and students who can read Hebrew or Arabic are welcome. Authors include Taha Muhammad Ali, Yehuda Amichai, Mahmoud Darwish, David Grossman, Emile Habiby, Ghassan Kanafani, Sahar Khalifeh, Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua, S. Yizhar. Assignments consist of one collaborative oral report, weekly responses to the readings, and two written essays.

COML 056.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters
F 9-12 Muller

Cross listed with AFRC 056/AFST 056/MUSC 056

Seeing/Hearing Africa

Students engage with South African performance and political history; the history of the festival in Grahamstown; and listen closely to the history of South African jazz; they are given guidelines for writing about live performances; students discuss program choices; and spend sometime talking about travel to South Africa and the lived experience of two weeks at the National Arts Festival. Everyone travels to the National Arts Festival in late June and spend two weeks attending live performances (4-6 per day), blogging on the performances, discussing these experiences with the Professor and fellow students; we visit a game park and do a "township tour" as part of the two weeks in the Eastern Cape. On returning home, students have about 4 weeks to write a substantial paper on the festival experience. While this is primarily a music class, the National Arts Festival includes all kinds of performances--theater, music, dance, and visual arts, of all kinds. This is two weeks of total immersion in the arts, and thinking deeply about the place of the arts in contemporary life and society.

COML 057.401

Ben Franklin Seminar
Arts and Letters
TR 3-4:30 Stern

Cross listed with JWST 151, NELC 156, RELS 027

Great Books of Judaism

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

COML 059.401

TR 9-10:30 Saint-Amour
Cross listed with ENGL 059

This is Modernism

This course introduces students to a broad range of literary modernisms, from well-known early-twentieth-century figures such as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Virginia Woolf to lesser-known writers and other times. Among our central questions: What do people mean by "modernity" in different contexts and moments? In what ways do the writers we associate with modernism experience, portray, embrace, critique, or reject modernity? What's the current state of the debate about modernity and modernism? Is anyone still modernist? Have we ever been anything but? Some English-language works, some in translation. We'll also touch, though more briefly, on modernist cinema, painting, and music.

COML 062.401

TR 1:30-3 Bernstein
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.

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, orexperiment. 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.

More information and syllabus:

COML 094.401

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

Introduction to Literary Theory: Ideology

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

COML 101.401

Humanities and Social Science
TR 10:30-12 Ben-Amos

Cross listed with Folk 101/NELC 181

Introduction to Folklore

The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the subjects of the discipline of Folklore, their occurrence in social life and the scholarly analysis of their use in culture. As a discipline folklore explores the manifestations of expressive forms in both traditional and modern societies, in small-scale groups where people interact with each face-to-face, and in large-scale, often industrial societies, in which the themes, symbols, and forms that permeate traditional life, occupy new positions, or occur in different occasions in everyday life. For some of you the distinction between low and high culture, or artistic and popular art will be helpful in placing folklore forms in modern societies. For others, these distinctions will not be helpful. In traditional societies, and within social groups that define themselves ethnically, professionally, or culturally, within modern heterogeneous societies, and in traditional societies in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, Folklore plays a more prominent role in society, than it appears to play in literate cultures on the same continents. Consequently the study of folklore and the analysis of its forms are appropriate in traditional as well as modern societies, and any society that is in a transitional phase. Key concepts in the study of folklore are "orality" and "literacy" and they will guide us through our lectures and discussions.

COML 104.401

LEC MWF 11-12 English
REC sections 403-411
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 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, Cather, Joyce, and Lu Xun (whose 1922 novella The Real Story of Ah Q registers many of these themes in a Chinese setting). Poetry and short fiction will be complemented by one full-length novel (Woolf's 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 World War II in new moral realisms (Orwell, O'Connor), Cold War existentialism and absurdism (Camus, Beckett), poetry's return to lyric or confessional intensity (Larkin, Bishop), and 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.

Course requirements will include regular attendance and participation, several brief in-class writing assignments, a 2000-word critical essay, a 50-minute midterm exam, and a 100-minute final exam. The reading load is wide-ranging and substantial but designed to be manageable for students of all backgrounds. There are no prerequisites; no prior experience with university-level arts and literature courses is required.

COML 108.401

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

REC sections 402-413
Cross listed with CLST 100

Greek and Roman Myth

Myths are traditional stories that have endured many years. Some of them have to do with events of great importance, such as the founding of a nation. Others tell the stories of great heroes and heroines and their exploits and courage in the face of adversity. Still others are simple tales about otherwise unremarkable people who get into trouble or do some great deed. What are we to make of all these tales, and why do people seem to like to hear them? This course will focus on the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as a few contemporary American ones, as a way of exploring the nature of myth and the function it plays for individuals, societies, and nations. We will also pay some attention to the way the Greeks and Romans themselves understood their own myths. Are myths subtle codes that contain some universal truth? Are they a window on the deep recesses of a particular culture? Are they entertaining stories that people like to tell over and over? Are they a set of 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 120.401

MW 10:30-12 Entezari
Cross listed with CINE 118, GSWS 118, NELC 118

Iranian Cinema: Gender, Politics, Religion

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 3-4:30 Silverman
Cross listed with ENGL 120

Working with Translation: The Translation of Poetry and the Poetry of Translation

"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 125.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters
W 2-5 Allen

Cross listed with ENGL 103/SAST 124/FOLK 125/NELC 180

Narrative Across Cultures

The purpose of this course is to present a variety of narrative genres and to discuss and illustrate the modes whereby they can be analysed. We will be looking at some shorter types of narrative: short story, the novella, and the fable, but also some extracts from longer works such as autobiography. While some the works will be from the Anglo-American tradition, a large number of others will be from European and non-Western cultural traditions and from earlier time-periods. The course will thus offer ample opportunity for the exploration of the translation of cultural values in a comparative perspective.

COML 127.601

Arts and Letters
T 5:30-8:30 Sessions

Cross listed with CINE 125/RUSS 125/GSWS 125

The Adultery Novel

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

COML 128.601

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

Cross listed with ENGL 103, GSWS 128

The Diary

Diary writing is an intimate mode of expression in which individuals seek to find meanings in their personal lives and relations, and respond to the external realities in which they live. Their historical, educational and social contexts and the generic conventions of diaries influence their writing. This course examines the form, functions, meanings and conventions of the diary as a genre. It explores the historical development of the diary and the critical theories that have been formulated for its analysis as well as its typology and study of historical corpuses. The diary types that will be examined are: travel diaries and their sub-types of relocation, pleasure, research and exploration diaries; personal diaries from around the world, and on-line diaries. Among the corpuses to be examined are: 19th century intimate journals of young French girls, Colonial and American Civil War women diaries and WWII European Holocaust diaries. A close attention is given to selected canonical individual diaries from the 17th to the 20th centuries, such as the diaries of Samuel Pepys, Marie Bashkirtseff, Henri-Frederic Amiel, Anaïs Nin, Anne Frank. Finally the course examines the uses of diaries in the social sciences, psychotherapy, political conflicts, and in literature, the diary novel.

COML 130.401

Arts & Letters
MWF 1-2 Glauthier

Cross listed with CLST 107

Ancient Drama

Description TBA.

COML 140.401

Communication Within the Curriculum--Critical Speaking
W 3-6 Devenot

Cross listed with ENGL 259

Drug Wars: The Influence of Psychoactive Rhetoric

Competing views about the dangers and potential benefits of drugs are ubiquitous. As the world transitions its drug laws regarding psychedelic medicines, the legalization of marijuana, and "mandatory minimum" jail sentences, how can we gain insight into the cultural history of drugs in our society? This Critical Speaking Seminar will provide the opportunity for students to directly engage with recent debates over drug legislation by critically reflecting on the evolution of literature about drugs over the past 250 years. In conversation with newspaper articles, scientific research, governmental reports, and literary texts, we will examine the history of drug use and legislation from America's early stages of prohibition through President Nixon's "war on drugs" to contemporary legal challenges. How does the cultural understanding of drugs change with shifts in rhetoric? How can we balance the need to protect society as a whole while still respecting individual freedoms and privacy? What role should the government play in regulating scientific research? How can the latest scientific and sociological research help to guide legislative decisions? We will respectfully explore opposing viewpoints through discussions, individual and group presentations, and in-class debates.

COML 197.401

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

Cross listed with RUSS 197

Madness and Madmen in Russian Culture

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

Literature and the World
Arts and Letters
TR 10:30-12 Consolati

Cross listed with ITAL 203/COLL 203

Italian Literature

Readings and reflections on significant texts of the Italian literary and artistic tradition exploring a wide range of genres, themes, cultural debates by analyzing texts in sociopolitical contexts. Readings and discussions in Italian.

COML 212.401

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

Cross listed with NELC 212

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 226.402

TR 10:30-12 Williams
Cross listed with SAST 227/SAST 527/COML 535

The Hindi Nation and its Fragments

This course will trace the formation and contestation of a Hindi national public during the colonial and post-colonial periods, utilizing the post-colonial critical thought of writers in English like Partha Chatterjee, Gayatri Spivak, and Aijaz Ahmed, but also of critics writing in Hindi like Namvar Singh, Ashok Vajpeyi, Rajendra Yadav, etc. Attention will be given to the manner in which the contours and character of this imagined community have been debated in the context of different literary, social, and political movements, with particular emphases given to aspects of gender, caste, and regional identity. Central to class discussions will be the question of what constitutes a language or literature, and consequently what relation those concepts can have to nation in a multilingual state such as India. Readings will be in translation.

COML 230.401

MW 2-3:30 Fakhreddine
Cross listed with NELC 232

The Free Verse Movement

This course offers a general survey of modern poetry in Arabic from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present. Students will be exposed to different movements and trends from different parts of the Arab world. Through poetry the course will look at major issues related to Arabic culture and identity in the modern and post-modern era. The aim of the course is to introduce students to key samples of modern Arabic poetry which trace major social and political developments in Arab society. Poems will be read in English translations.

COML 235.401

MW 3:30-5 Verkholantsev
All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 234

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 239.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 9-10:30 Yang

Cross listed with ENGL 241, EALC 126

China in the English Imagination

This course explores the china-mania that spread across England and Europe in the eighteenth century, from chinoiserie vogues in fashion, tea, porcelain, and luxury objects, to the idealization of Confucius by Enlightenment philosophers. How was Asia was imagined and understood by Europeans during a period of increased trade between East and West? The course will consist primarily of British and French literature and art of the 18th century. Texts range from Oriental tales, novels, plays, and poetry, to newspaper essays and economic, scientific, and philosophical tracts. The course is designed to provide historical background to contemporary problems of Orientalism, Sinophilia, and Sinophobia.

Assignments will include one class presentation + annotated bibliography and a choice of either three short essays (5 pages each) or one longer essay (15 pages).

COML 241.401

LEC T 1:30-3 Richter
REC sections 402, 403

All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 256

The Devil's Pact in Literature

For as long as we have been modern, the legend of the devil's pact has been the preferred metaphor for the desire to surpass the limits of human knowledge and power at any cost. Starting with the sixteenth-century Faust Book, which recounts the story of a scholar, alchemist and necromancer who sold his soul to the devil, and extending to the present, this course offers students a chance to explore our enduring fascination with the forbidden.

COML 245.401

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

Cross listed with ENGL 102.401

Tales of Study Abroad

For many of us, the first experience of travel is imaginary, through the portal of a novel, film, or memoir. This course combines these narratives of travel and stories of coming of age. At the center of our exploration will the contemporary rise of "Study Abroad" programs in U.S. universities. We'll place this in historical context as we consider how cross-cultural encounters have been portrayed, with particular attention to authors of color from the U.S. and the global South. No previous travel experience is assumed other than imaginative; this course is open to students, freshman to senior, from all majors -- especially the undeclared. Materials we'll consider together include selections from Don Quixote (the adventures of a knight errant and his servant in Spain by Miguel Cervantes), James Baldwin (an African American in Switzerland and France), Samuel Selvon (a Trinidadian in the UK), Faith Adiele (a Nigerian-American in Burma), Amitav Ghosh (an Indian in Egypt) and Kiana Davenport (a Hawai'ian in France). These readings will be complemented by films including two versions of Around the World in Eighty Days, The Motorcycle Diaries, Roman Holiday and Touki Bouki. Assignments will include regular journal entries and 2 essays.

COML 245.402

Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters
TR 3-4:30 Loomba

Cross listed with ENGL 102.402

Literature and Film in Age of Globalization

Globalization is the buzz word of our times. It is commonly understood as the breakdown of national and geographic barriers. Such a breakdown can have widely divergent results—from new types of food consumption to organ trade. Which parts of globalization are new, and which are based on older histories? How is globalization experienced in different parts of the world and by different people? How is it represented in different media? And how are these representations themselves part of global circuits?

We will explore these questions through acclaimed and controversial fiction and cinema produced in Europe, the United States, Asia and Africa. We will also examine how global marketing shapes these stories.

Films will likely include Spanish director Icíar Bollaín's Even the Rain (2010); British director Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things (2002); Brazilian director Fernando Meirielle's The Constant Gardener (2005), and Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako's Bamako (2006); literature will include Graham Greene's classic The Quiet American; Japanese-American writer Ruth L. Ozeki's My Year of Meats, Italian writer Amara Lakhous's Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio and Indian writer Manjula Padnabhan's play, Harvest.

Assignments include short (250 words) weekly responses and a final exam.

COML 245.403

Arts and Letters
MW 2-3:30 Cavitch

Cross listed with ENGL 102.403

Literature of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is one of the modern world's most important and diverse theories of human behavior, motivation (both psychic and cultural), and the nature of the subject. As the so-called "talking cure," language and narrative are fundamental to both its theory and practice. It is, among other things, a mode of interpretation, and thus it shares a great deal with the methods of literary analysis, to which this course will introduce you. Psychoanalysis has generated a vast body of writing—clinical, theoretical, and literary—of extremely high quality and compelling interest to students not only of literature but also of all fields in the humanities, social sciences, and medicine. No previous study of psychology or psychoanalysis is expected.

Along with its introduction to literary analysis, this course will provide an introduction to major psychoanalytic concepts (e.g. dreamwork, trauma, repression, the unconscious, the sexual and death drives, transference, the ego, dissociation, and unconscious fantasy) through the writings of a wide variety of its practitioners and commentators, from Sigmund Freud to the present day. In addition to Freud's foundational writings, we'll read key selections from later psychoanalytic works that will further explore psychoanalytic ideas and movements, as well as: feminist, LGBT, and other social and political uses and critiques of psychoanalysis; the genre of the case study; and the expansion of psychoanalysis beyond the U.S. and Europe. Literary works in genres such as the novel, the graphic novel, and the memoir will include Simone de Beauvoir, The Mandarins; Marie Cardinal, The Words to Say It; D. M. Thomas, The White Hotel; Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?; and Hanif Kureishi, Something to Tell You. Coursework will include numerous very short assignments—both in-class and take-home—and two short essays.

COML 253.402

Humanities and Social Science
LEC TR 10:30-12 Weissberg
REC sections 403, 404, 405

All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 253.402


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

COML 255.401

Ben Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Vinitsky

All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with RUSS 261

Russian Thinkers

This class focuses on the complex relations between philosophy, history, and art in Russia and offers discussions of works of major Russian authors (such as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Khlebnikov), religious and political thinkers (Chaadaev, Herzen, Lenin, Bogdanov), avant-garde artists (Filonov, Malevich), and composers (Skriabin) who created and tested in their lives their own, sometimes very peculiar and radical, worldviews. We will consider these worldviews against a broad cultural background and will reenact them in class in the form of philosophical mini-dramas. The only prerequisite for this course is intellectual curiosity and willingness to embrace diverse, brave and often very weird ideas.

COML 257.401

TR 12-1:30 Fishman
Cross listed with NELC 158, JWST 153, RELS 223, NELC 458

Cultural History of Jews in the Modern World

Course explores the cultural history of Jews in the lands of Islam from the time of Mohammed through the late 17th century (end of Ottoman expansion into Europe)—in Iraq, the Middle East, al-Andalus and the Ottoman Empire. Primary source documents (in English translation) illuminate minority-majority relations, internal Jewish tensions (e.g., Qaraism), and developments in scriptural exegesis, rabbinic law, philosophy, poetry, polemics, mysticism and liturgy. Graduate students have additional readings and meetings.

COML 260.401

Ben Franklin Seminar
Cross Cultural Analysis
Arts and Letters
TR 12-1:30 Hellerstein

All readings and lectures in English
Cross listed with GRMN 264/JWST 264

Translating Cultures:
Literature 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 depend 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 287.401

TR 1:30-3 Ben-Amos
Cross listed with NELC 287/FOLK 202

Ethnic Humor

Humor in ethnic societies has two dimensions: internal and external. The inside humor of an ethnic group is accessible to its members; it draws upon their respective social structures, historical and social experiences, languages, cultural symbols, and social and economic circumstances and aspirations. The external humor of an ethnic group targets members of other ethnic groups, and draws upon their stereotypes, and attributed characteristics by other ethnic groups. The external ethnic humor flourishes in immigrant and ethnically heterogenic societies. In both cases jokes and humor are an integral part of social interaction, and in their performance relate to the social, economic, and political dynamics of traditional and modern societies.

COML 288.401

TR 3-4:30 Bernstein
Cross listed with ENGL 288

Postwar American Poetry

English 288 in an introduction to postwar American poetry (1945-1975) – the Beats, San Francisco Renaissance, Black Mountain, Confessional, Black Arts, Chance, Talk, Performance, & New York School: poetry on and off the page, near and at the edge. Extensive use will be made of sound files of the poets readings their poems. Several sessions will be devoted to class discussion with visiting poets. English 288 is a discussion-based course, with much supplemental material available on our website. The course requirements consist of a weekly journal response to the readings and a creative/interactive experiment on one or more of the assigned poems (such as imitating, rewriting, performing, or reordering the poem). No previous experience with poetry required.

This "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.

For more information and the syllabus, go to:

COML 295.401

MW 3:30-5 Mukherjee
Cross listed with CINE 295, ENGL 295, SAST 296

Topics in Cultural Studies: Publics

Over the years, Publics has become a capacious framework to conceptualize wide ranging phenomena and practices: from mob behavior to crowdsourcing in social media, from televised debates to cinema-going spectators, from infrastructural failures to global pandemics, from celebrity scandals to environmental controversies that bring together affected communities. This course uses theories and ideas of public spheres, public cultures, issue-based publics, heterogeneous publics, and counterpublics to explore case studies of such events and processes. The study of publics has been an extremely productive area of research, with scholars examining and interpreting conversations happening in public arenas such as coffee houses and salons, forms of address to strangers that can be found in public speeches and performances, spread of rumor and news in society, formation of solidarities around a common concern, everyday practices that entangle humans and non-humans, and attempts to bolster democracies through public deliberations. The course engages with these different theoretical trajectories about publics in order to ask questions such as: How do we communicate and interact with each other in the digital media ecology? How does information circulate across various media through nodes and links consisting of humans and technologies? What political alternatives are available to populations groups that never get a chance to debate policies, which impact their lives and livelihoods? Can publics include objects, human experiences, and animal affect, and if so, with what consequences? How are publicssimilar to and different from networks and assemblages? What is the role of media and mediation in expanding and/or contracting publics? In what ways does a public controversy gather stakeholders around it? How do gender-and-environment-related campaigns become formidable social movements? The course pays particular attention to feminist interventions that question public-private divides and advocate for studying intimate publics. Additionally, the course provides conceptual sensibilities to compare publics in the West with those emerging in non-Western postcolonial contexts of Africa and South Asia. Assignments will consist of one reading presentation and a final paper (3000 words).

COML 295.403

MW 3:30-5 Brar
Cross listed with ART 293.403, AFRC 296.403, CINE 295.403, ENGL 295.403

Blackness Across Media

How is blackness produced, disseminated and received across sonic, visual and written media? It is understood as a racial category, a cultural aesthetic, or a politics? Can it ever be considered a color amongst other colors? This course is situated at the conceptually unstable but intellectually productive intersection of sound, optics and text. It seeks to use this intersection to speculate on the question of blackness within media, artistic and political practice. The intention is interrogate how the category of blackness animates and disrupts many of the sensory experiences of the world within global capitalism.

The content of the course will be built around two strands:

1. In-depth readings of critical theory largely sourced from the fields of black diasporic thought, art, radicalism, and cultural studies.

2. Intensive engagement with a wide range of cultural forms including popular and underground music, television, experimental film, poetics, performance and visual art.

COML 301.401

MWF 10-11 Fleischman
Cross listed with GRMN 301


Description TBA.

COML 322.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
W 2-5 Rajan

Cross listed with GSWS322

Violence Against Women in Conflict: Sexuality, Terrorism and Human Rights

Violence against Women in Conflict: Sexuality, Terrorism, and Human Rights 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 324.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
F 2-5 Patel

Cross listed with SAST 324, SAST 624, COML 624

Sanskrit Literature and Poetry

This course will focus solely on the specific genres, themes, and aesthetics of Sanskrit literature (the hymn, the epic, the lyric, prose, drama, story literature, the sutra, etc.) and a study of the history and specific topics of Sanskrit poetics and dramaturgy. All readings will be in translation.

COML 333.401

Ben Franklin Seminar
TR 1:30-3 Brownlee

Cross listed with ITAL 203/ENGL 323

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 text the original language and writing about their themes in Italian. This course may be taken for graduate credit, but additional work and meetings with the instructor will be required.

COML 343.401

TR 10:30-12 Breckman
Cross listed with HIST 343

19th-Century European Intellectual History

This course will examine major political, philosophical, and cultural issues during the period, beginning with the Enlightenment and its legacies and concluding with Nietzsche's dismissal of the entire Enlightenment project. Along the way we will consider the impact of the French Revolution, the birth of ideologies, Romanticism, the utopian tradition, philosophical idealism and its critics, Liberalism, Marx and socialist alternatives, and the challenge of Darwinism. The course is text-based, and readings are from primary ources only. Authors include Kant, Goethe, and Condorcet at the beginning of the course; Burke, Maistre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Mill; and end with Darwin, Spencer, and Nietzsche. Topics in art, music, and literature will also be considered.

COML 378.401

W 2-5 Kaul
Cross listed with ENGL 293

Making Nations/Breaking Nations: Partition and South Asia

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

COML 380.401

Cross Cultural Analysis
TR 4:30-6 Cranz

Cross listed with NELC 250

Bible in Translation: Isaiah

The Book of Isaiah spans over two centuries and documents one of the most turbulent periods in the histories of Judah and Israel. In this course, we read Isaiah's prophecies in the context of their historical settings and in consideration of their theological implications. We will align the biblical texts to ancient artifacts and inscriptions that were created during the time of the prophet. A close reading of the text will allow us to appreciate Isaiah's message of peace and salvation. We can then ask: how is Isaiah's message relevant for us today?

COML 383.401

Ben Franklin Seminar
MW 2-3:30 Copeland

Cross listed with CLST 396

Literary Theory Ancient to Modern [cancelled]

Description TBA.

COML 411.401

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

Topics in the History of the Book: Word, Phrase, Sentence: Reading, Writing, and Printing in Early Modern Europe and America

This course will examines the writing, printing, dissemination, interpretation, and censorship of specific words, phrases, mottos, sentences, common-places, 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 "fetish." 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.

We will draw wherever possible on the exceptional collections at Penn and in Philadelphia, including several dramatic examples of censored books.

COML 415.401

TR 12-1:30 Holod
Cross listed with ARTH 435

Medieval Islamic Art and Architecture

An introduction to the major architectural monuments and trends, as well as to the best-known objects of the medieval (seventh-to fourteenth-century) Islamic world. Attention is paid to such themes as the continuity of late antique themes, architecture as symbol of community and power, the importance of textiles and primacy of writing. Suitable for students of literature, history, anthropology as well as art history.

COML 416.401

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

European Intellectual History 18th Century

History 416 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.

Last modified January 6, 2015
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania