Undergraduate Courses
Spring 2016

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.


TR 10:30-12 Harrison College House, M20

Cross listed with ENGL 001 Communication within the Curriculum (Speaking Seminar)

Instructor: Timothy Chandler (

How is the spoken word different from the written? How do we find music in language or even make it ourselves? This course will explore the performative and sonic aspects of writing and reading poetry-its orality, sounds, and rhythms-from antiquity to the 21st century. This trajectory will take us from traditional genres and forms such as pastoral, elegy, ode, and ballad, through to more recent work such as beat, slam, and sound poetry. In addition to poetry, we will also read theoretical and critical texts.

This course is being offered as a CWiC Critical Speaking Seminar. Class discussions and assignments will develop both analytic and creative skills, and the majority of the assessment tasks will be in-class presentations. Improve your public-speaking skills while learning about poetry!


MW 3:30-5:00 Communication within the Curriculum (Speaking Seminar)

Cross listed with ENGL 002

Instructor: Kaushik Ramu (

This seminar studies the diversity and planetary reach of the English language in the 20th century, through novels, newspapers and audio-clips from Africa, the Carribean, Wales, South Asia and New Zealand. Between freedom-struggles, bad marriages, fake mystics, exploding mangoes and sports-commentary, we will ask how English has found colour and second homes across the world, and how it has sustained or undone legacies of colonial dominance. We will also reflect, more broadly, on language itself, and on its historical and philosophical relation to political power and the need for belonging. Possible readings: Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jamaica Kincaid, Salman Rushdie, Keri Hulme, J.M Coetzee, Chinua Achebe, V.S Naipaul and Arundathi Roy. This is a 'critical speaking' seminar that requires, and offers training in, oral presentation, besides two short essays and a peek at some archives.


TR 3:00-4:30

Cross listed with ENGL 059

Instructor: Beth Blum (

Franz Kafka wrote, "a book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us." Today, Kafka's aesthetic declaration has become a Pinterest motif. Samuel Beckett's tortured sentences have been turned into a motivational cat tumblr ("Beckittns"), and Virginia Woolf's furrowed profile graces tote bags and screensavers across the globe. This course examines the commodification of canonized twentieth-century authors such as Beckett, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, Vladimir Nabokov, and Woolf in contemporary literature and popular, particularly digital, culture. What does it mean for literature to become a cultural meme? How did twentieth century novelists invite and/or attempt to circumvent this fate thought narrative form? We will explore the sociology of literary circulation in order to address these questions. The final research project will take the form of a collaborative tracing of the global reception of a chosen modernist text through a digital storymap. Together, we will use this project to reflect on the mechanisms of literary influence, appropriation, and subversion. Texts may include: Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Alison Bechdel's graphic narrative Fun Home, Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Stephen Daldry's film The Hours.


R 6:00-9:00

Cross listed with ENGL 278/SAST 066/RUSS 066

Instructor: Robin Seguy (

Among the recent trends in the humanistic disciplines, "Digital Humanities" has without any doubt been at the forefront in the past few years, but the fact remains that, beyond buzz-words such as data, metadata, text-mining or information extraction, few people know what exactly this label encompasses, and even fewer have tried to apply its methods and principles to their work. This course proposes a structured approach to some of the main tools used by digital humanists in real-life textbased projects; students will be introduced to XML and the TEI, to XSLT, to R (through the Stylo package) and to simple Python scripts (through NLTK, the Natural Language Tool Kit). All classes will be divided into two parts: a theoretical introduction and application exercises.


TR 1:30-3:00

Cross listed with ARTH 299/CINE 073/ENGL 073/THAR 073

Instructor: Jennifer S. Ponce de Leon (

This course examines intersections of artistic production and radical politics in the 20th and 21st centuries. It addresses art from across a wide array of media: street art, film, theater, poetry, performance art, fiction, graphic arts, digital media, muralism, and urban interventions. We will examine artistic movements and artists from across the Americas, including revolutionary Latin American theater, film, and literature; the Chicano Movement and its queer dissidents;
the Nuyorican Movement; street performance and theater produced in the context of dictatorship; and activist art from the 21st century. Through its focus on the relationship between art and politics, this course also introduces students to foundational concepts related to
the relationship between culture and power more broadly.

Students complete writing assignments in which they analyze artworks (e.g. visual art, literary works, film, etc.) they select from among those discussed in the course. Course assignments also include a creative project: working individually or in groups, students will apply strategies of political art making discussed in the course to design their own artistic project in a medium of their choice. No prior knowledge of this topic or of the visual arts is expected.



MW 5:00-6:30 Arts and Letters

Cross listed with ENGL 100

Instructor: Rita Barnard (

This course has three broad aims: first, it will introduce students to a selection of compelling and engaging contemporary narratives; second, it will provide prospective students of literature and film, as well as interested students headed for other majors, with fundamental skills in literary, visual, and cultural analysis; and, finally, it will encourage a collective meditate on the function of literature and culture in our world, where commodities, people, and ideas are constantly in motion. Abiding questions for discussion will therefore include: the meaning of terms like "globalization," "translation," and "world literature"; the transnational reach and circulation of texts; migration and engagement with "others"; environmentalism and sustainability; and the ethic of cosmopolitanism. Our collective endeavor will be to think about narrative forms as modes of mediating and engaging with the vast and complex world we inhabit today. In the course of the semester we will read six novels and six films, as well as a selection of pertinent critical essaysthat will provide the terminology and theoretical framework for our conversations. Novels that may be included are: Alejo Carpentier'sThe Lost Steps, Pat Barker's The Ghost Road, Lily King's Euphoria, David Mitchell's Ghostwritten, Michael Ondaatje'sAnil's Gift, Teju Cole's Open City, Alexandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project, Chris Abani's Graceland, Roberto Bolano'sThe Savage Detectives, Aravind Adiga's The White Tiger, Zadie Smith's On Beauty, and Chimanda Adichie Ngozi's Americanah. Films that may be included are: Babel, Lost in Translation, The Constant Gardener, Children of Men , District 9, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Written requirements: a 7-9 page mid-term and an 8-10 page final paper (topics will be provided). Students should feel free to ask for a precise prospectus and syllabus by December. Note that this course will count as one of the core requirements for the Comparative Literature major.


MWF 1:00-2:00 Freshman Seminar

Cross listed with ITAL 100/CINE 014

Instructor: Lillyrose Veneziano Broccia

This course explores representations of women in Italian literature and cinema from the Middle Ages to the present. We will analyze the figures of the angelic/redeeming woman, the embodied woman, the seductress, the femme fatale and the mother in works by canonical authors such as Dante, Ariosto, and D'Annunzio, and iconic film directors such as Visconti and Rossellini. Students will examine and compare literary texts and movies to determine how different media portray the same subject differently and will identify characteristic traits of the representation of women in relation to concepts such as patriarchal culture, female agency, and the viewer's gaze, within the broader cultural, social, and historical context


LEC: MW 11:00-12:00

Registration required for LEC and REC 402-413

Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts and Letters

Instructor: Joseph Farrell (

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.


TR 3:00-4:30

Cross listed with NELC 118

Instructor: Mahyar Entezari

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 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.



TR 3:00-4:30

Cross listed with ENGL 120

Instructor: Taije Silverman

"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 19th and 20th century poetry, including Gabriela Mistral, Wislawa Szymborska, Mahmoud Darwish, Anna Akhmatova, Rainer Maria Rilke, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Arthur Rimbaud, and Shu Ting. 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 major 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. 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 poetry writen in Urdu, Italian, Arabic, French, Bulgarian, and Polish, they might ultimately reveal how notions of national literature have radically shifted in recent years to more polyglottic and globally textured forms. Through famous poems, 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.


W 2:00-5:00 Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts and Letters

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

Instructor: Roger Allen

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.


T 5:30-8:30 Arts and Letters

Instructor: Robin Seguy (

The object of this course is to analyze narratives of adultery from Shakespeare to the present and to develop a vocabulary for thinking critically about the literary conventions and social values that inform them. Many of the themes (of desire, transgression, suspicion, discovery) at the heart of these stories also lie at the core of many modern narratives. Is there anything special, we will ask, about the case of adultery--once called "a crime which contains within itself all others"? What might these stories teach us about the way we read in general? By supplementing classic literary accounts by Shakespeare, Pushkin, Flaubert, Chekhov, and Proust with films and with critical analyses, we will analyze the possibilities and limitations of the different genres and forms under discussion, including novels, films, short stories, and theatre. What can these forms show us (or not show us)about desire, gender, family and social obligation? Through supplementary readings and class discussions, we will apply a range of critical approaches to place these narratives of adultery in a social and literary context, including formal analyses of narrative and style, feminist criticism, Marxist and sociological analyses of the family, and psychoanalytic understandings of desire and family life.


MW 3:30-5:00 All readings and lectures in English

Cross listed HIST 045/RUSS 113

Instructor: Julia Verkholantsev

This course covers eight centuries of Russia's cultural, political, and social history, from its origins through the eighteenth century, a period which laid the foundation for the Russian Empire. Each week-long unit is organized around a set of texts (literary text, historical document, image, film) which examine prominent historical and legendary figures as they represent chapters in Russia's history. Historical figures under examination include, among others, the Baptizer of Rus, Prince Vladimir; the nation-builder, Prince Alexander Nevsky; the first Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible; the first Emperor and "Westernizer," Peter the Great; the renowned icon painter Andrei Rublev; the epic hero Ilya Muromets; and the founder of Muscovite monasticism, St. Sergius of Radonezh.

Three modern-day nation-states - Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus - share and dispute the cultural heritage of Old Rus, and their political relationships even today revolve around interpretations of the past. This constructed past has a continuing influence in modern Russia and is keenly referenced, sometimes manipulatively, in contemporary social and political discourse. (Recently, for example, President Putin has justified the annexation of Crimea to Russia by referring to it as the holy site of Prince Vladimir's baptism, from which Russian Christianity ostensibly originates.) The study of pre-modern cultural and political history explains many aspects of modern Russian society, as well as certain political aspirations of its leaders.


MW 3:30-5:00 Cross Cultural Analysis; Humanities and Social Sciences

Cross listed with RUSS 197

Instructor: Molly Penney

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.


TR 1:30-3:00 Freshman Seminar

Cross listed with FREN 200

Instructor: Scott Francis

Tales of voyages to strange lands with strange inhabitants and even stranger customs have been a part of the Western literary tradition from its inception. What connects these tales is that their voyages are not only voyages of discovery, but voyages of self-discovery. By describing the effects these voyages have on the characters who undertake them, and by hinting at comparisons between the lands described in the story and their own society, authors use fantastic voyages as vehicles for incisive commentary on literary, social, political, and scientific issues.

In this course, we will explore the tradition of the fantastic voyage from Homer's Odyssey, one of the earliest examples of this type of narrative and a model for countless subsequent voyage narratives, to science fiction, which appropriates this narrative for its own ends. We will determine what the common stylistic elements of voyage narratives are, such as the frame narrative, or story-within-a-story, and what purpose they serve in conveying the tale's messages. We will see how voyagers attempt to understand and interact with the lands and peoples they encounter, and what these attempts tell us about both the voyagers and their newly-discovered counterparts. Finally, we will ask ourselves what real-world issues are commented upon by these narratives, what lessons the narratives have to teach about them, and how they impart these lessons to the reader.

Readings for this course, all of which are in English or English translation, range from classics like the Odyssey and Gulliver's Travels to predecessors of modern science fiction like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells to seminal works of modern science fiction like Pierre Boulle's Planet of the Apes, Karel Čapek's War with the Newts, and Stanislaw Lem's Solaris. Though this course is primarily dedicated to literature, we will also look at how films like the 1968 adaptation of Planet of the Apes and television shows like Star Trek, Red Dwarf, and Futurama draw upon literary or cinematic models for their own purposes.

This course is meant not only for SF fans who would like to become better acquainted with the precursors and classics of the genre, but for all those who wish to learn how great works of fiction, far from being intended solely for entertainment and escapism, attempt to improve upon the real world through the effect they have on the reader.


TR 10:30-12:00 Literatures of the World; Previous language experience required

Arts and Letters

Cross listed with ITAL 203/COLL 228

Instructor: Bellavitis

This course surveys the history of Italian literature through its major masterpieces. Beginning with Dante's Divine Comedy, Petrarca's love poems, and Boccaccio's Decameron, we will follow the development of Italian literary tradition through the Renaissance (Machiavelli's political theory and Ariosto's epic poem), and then through Romanticism (Leopardi's lyric poetry and Manzoni's historical novel), up to the 20th century (from D'annunzio's sensual poetry to Calvino's post-modern short stories). The course will provide students with the tools needed for analyzing the texts in terms of both form and content, and for framing them in their historical, cultural, and socio-political context. Classes and readings will be in Italian.


TR 4:30-6:00 Benjamin Franklin Seminar; All readings and lectures in English

Cross listed with RUSS 202

Instructor: Thomas Dolack

This course consists of three parts. The first, How to read Tolstoy? Deals with Tolstoy's artistic stimuli, favorite devices, and narrative strategies. The second, Tolstoy at War, explores the author's provocative visions of war, gender, sex, art, social institutions, death, and religion. The emphasis is placed here on the role of a written word in Tolstoy's search for truth and power. The third and the largest section is a close reading of Tolstoy's masterwork The War and Peace (1863-68), a quintessence of both his artistic method and philosophical insights.


MW 5:00-6:30 Cross Cultural Analysis; Arts and Letters

Cross listed with NELC 201

Instructors: Nili Gold, Huda Fakhareddine, Sylvia Onder, Mahyar Entezari

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


TR 1:30-3:00 All readings and lectures in English

Cross listed with GRMN 230/DTCH 230

Instructor: Hans Vandevoorde

How can we explain that one small literature has several Nobel prize winners and others have not even one? What does it mean that a literature is written in a small language? What consequences does this have for the literary field, for translations and for the development of this literature? And what different types of small literatures can we discern? Dutch literature is not really a 'minor literature' as defined by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in their famous essay Kafka: toward a minor literature (1975), because it is not produced by a minority in a dominant language (as was German for Kafka within the context of Czech literature). But as a small literature Dutch can be compared to small Slavic and Roman literatures or other Germanic literatures as Swedish and Danish. Its position raises the same questions on the hierarchy between literatures, on the relationship between 'centre' and 'periphery', the domination of certain languages, as problematised by Pascale Casanova in his World Literature of Letters (1999) In this course the premises of the texts mentioned will be put into practice with literary texts from the Low Countries in translation. These examples will be compared to those of other small/'minor' and major literatures in order to detect differences and similarities in their developments and characteristics. So, we will be able to discern their place within 'world literature'.


TR 3:00-4:30 Cross Cultural Analysis

Cross listed with ENGL 241

Instructor: Chi-ming Yang

How do our understandings of animals inform what it means to be human? This interdisciplinary course will combine contemporary issues in Animal Studies with early modern literature, art, science, and philosophy that explored newly emerging practices like pet-keeping, vegetarianism, species and racial classification, and zoo displays. The early modern period (16th-18th centuries) saw increased contact between Europe and other parts of the globe, and hence, the infusion of foreign characters, fashions, and perspectives into the world of Western literature. So-called discoveries of new worlds, cultures, and species lent themselves to literary innovations in narration-imagine the world as seen through the eyes of a pet monkey, parrot, or well-traveled poodle. Such animal-centric narratives mark a heightened consciousness about human-animal relations, and differences between European and non-European cultures and races. Readings will cover a range of 18th-century genres: Jonathan Swift's satiric novel Gulliver's Travels; poetry by Alexander Pope, William Cowper, and Anna Barbauld; natural histories by Linnaeus and Buffon; and even religious vegetarian manifestos. This course will introduce you to three key spheres of knowledge: 1) 18th century literature 2) Ideas about animals in the early modern period 3) contemporary Animal Studies. Course requirements include: class presentations, 2 short essays of 2-3 pages, and a 12-15 page final research paper.


Lecture TR 10:30-12:00 All readings and lectures in English

Recitation required for LEC and REC 402-405

Cross listed with GRMN 236/JWST 243/ARTH 284/ENGL 261/PSYS 236

Instructor: Liliane Weissberg

Witnessing, Remembering, and Writing the Holocaust What is a witness? What do the witnesses of the Shoah see, hear, experience? And how will they remember things, whether they are victims, perpetrators or bystanders? How are their memories translated into survivors' accounts: reports, fiction, art, and even music or architecture? And what does this teach us about human survival, and about the transmission of experiences to the next generation? The course will ask these questions by studying literature on memory and trauma, as well as novels, poetry, and non-fiction accounts of the Holocaust. We will also look at art work created by survivors or their children, and listen to video testimonies. Among the authors and artists discussed will be work by Primo Levi, Paul Celan, Jean Amery, Christian Boltanski, Daniel Libeskind. The course is supported by the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archives.


TR 3:00-4:30 Arts and Letters

Cross listed with ENGL 102/GSWS 102

Instructor: Max Cavitch

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.



TR 12:00-1:30 Arts and Letters

Cross listed with ENGL 102

Instructor: Jean-Michel Rabaté

What do we talk about when we talk about love? Is love just empty talk, or the stuff of dreams offered by novels, poems and plays? Can literature and film, if they contribute to the emotional swindle of popular romance, address our anxieties about the truth of love? Raymond Carver's title evokes disabused times, when it seems that love has lost its aura; love would be debased, reduced to weak sublimation or to mindless satisfaction. The Freudian thesis is that we only love our parents under different disguises and use a noble word because we have to sublimate out murderous impulses. There is a long genealogy for cynical discourses about love. This class will explore the theme of love when it ceases to be taken for granted and must be understood in a critical perspective. We will tackle the concept first with the help of philosophers, Plato's Symposium, Freud on the psychology of love, and Sloterdijk on cynicism. Then we will discuss relevant texts and films: Aristophanes' plays Lysistrata and Women in Parliament, Edith Wharton's critique of marriage in Custom of the Country, Carver's collected stories, Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and the political and erotic extravaganza of Jean Genet's Funeral Rites. We will screen and discuss films like Blue Valentine, Shortcuts, The Age of Innocence, L'Atalante, Journey to Italy, and Jules and Jim.


MW 2:00-3:30

Cross listed with NELC 231

Instructor: Huda Fakhreddine

This course is a study of modern Arabic poetry and prose with a focus on women's experiences of war. Works will be selected from writings by Arab women writers and works which are centered on representation of women and war. Selections will be made from the works of writers such as: Ḥanān al-Shaykh, Ghadah al-Sammān, Radhwā Ashūr, Samar Yazbek, Saḥar Khalīfah, Imān Mersāl and others.


TR 1:30-4:30

Cross listed with HIST 230

Instructor: Warren Breckman

Niccolò Machiavelli, the Renaissance author best known for The Prince, is frequently regarded as a consummate cynic. Yet he has been not only a provocation but an inspiration throughout the subsequent history of political thought. This was true for the entire twentieth century, which witnessed an ever-growing interest in the Florentine thinker among historians and philosophers alike. One of the most surprising dimensions of this modern engagement with Machiavelli is surely his recurring presence as figure and motif within left-wing philosophical discourse. In light of the failure of the twentieth-century's revolutionary experiments, as well as its own entanglements with those experiments, how could radical theory understand its past and imagine its future? What vision could supplant the dimming of utopia? Such questions have frequently led recent theorists into melancholic resignation, but they have also provoked innovative and rigorous attempts to rethink the project of radical politics as radical democracy. How is it that Machiavelli, a thinker indelibly associated with the cynical and amoral manipulation of politics, could become an inspiration for theorists of a robust democratic life? This course will examine this curious history of influence and transformation. Starting with an examination of key texts by Machiavelli himself, we will then trace his reception in European intellectual history, focusing upon the twentieth century. Among authors we will consider will be Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss, John Pocock, Quentin Skinner, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser, John McCormick, and Antonio Negri.


W 2:00-5:00 All readings and lectures in English

Cross listed with EEUR 250

Instructor: Peter Steiner

Employing the methods from the humanities and social sciences this interdisciplinary seminar will explore the variety of factors that contributed to dividing and uniting Europe. The continent will be considered as a geographical and cultural space and the construction of its identity will be examined through several historical periods-from the Middle Ages to Modernism--comprising the rich layer of pan-European civilization across the ethnic or national borders. Finally, the structure of the European Union will be scrutinized including its institutions, decision-making mechanism, monetary union, collective security, the Grexit, and Europe's changing relationship with Russia. Participants will be encouraged to select a particular topic in European studies and research it through assigned readings, film, literature, and other media. The individual projects will be developed through consultations with the instructor into a class presentation leading to a final paper (about 4,000 words).


TR 10:30-12:00 Arts and Letters

Cross listed with CINE 151/EALC 151/GSWS 257

Instructor: Ayako Kano

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


MW 2:00-3:30 All readings and lectures in English

Cross listed with GRMN 259/CINE 259

Instructor: Ian Fleishman

A fascinating look at the prolific career of one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Dubbed the master of darkness by the British Film Institute, Lang's more than forty features range from early Weimar Expressionism (Metropolis, M., the Mabuse trilogy) to Hollywood film noir (The Big Easy, Hangmen Also Die!, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt). Always at the interstices between high art and popular entertainment, Lang's work was both banned and courted by the Nazis, both German and-at moments-decidedly American. Suitable for beginners and more advanced students alike, this course will explore Fritz Lang's aesthetics within and against their political and historical context.


TR 3:00-4:30

Cross listed with ENGL 262

Instructor: Charles Bernstein

This seminar will focus on poetry after 1975, mostly from the U.S., but also including some poetry from Canada, the UK, and Europe. This will not be a period or survey course: the seminar will focus on poetry that pushes the envelope on formal and conceptual invention. Think: digital, (para- and post-) conceptual, site-specific, post-NY School, language, sprung lyric, eco-, and performance poetry as well as book art and possibly related work in film, theater, and visual arts. In addition, there will be a few poets visiting the class -- reading and discussing their work with the seminar.

The "creative 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.

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AND POETICS (1900-1945)

TR 1:30-3:00

Cross listed with ENGL 269

Instructor: Charles Bernstein

This "reading workshop" is an introduction to the unprecedented range of different types of poetry that emerged in the early decades of the last century in the U.S. as well as to contemporary North American poetry, with attention also to related developments in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in the visual arts. We'll read the best known "canonical" poets of the modernist period, such as Eliot, Frost, Pound, Williams, and Stevens; the more formally radical and experimental poets, such as Stein, H.D, and the Objectivists; African American poetry (James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Sterling Brown); the more conventional or popular poets (Sandburg, Amy Lowell); as well as the political poetry of the time, "high" academic poetry; and also explore other, harder to classify, directions. Sound recordings of many of the poets will be made available. There will also be a listserv class discussion and the use of supplemental resources on the web.

Works will be presented from well-known poets but there will be equally attention to a range of lesser known poets as well as occasional visits by contemporary poets now actively working to delight, inform, redress, lament, extol, oppose, renew, rhapsodize, imagine, foment . . .

This is a good course for those who know a lot about modern poetry but also for those who want a lively introduction.

This "creative reading workshop" combines aspects of a literature class with some of the formats of an experimental creative writing class. The 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.

For more information, go to


MW 3:30-5:00

Cross listed with FREN 311

Instructor: Yue Zhuo

In American academia, French thought after May '68 is often referred to as "French Theory," a heterogeneous corpus of philosophical and critical texts compacted into a set of poststructuralist premises, first introduced by and grew within humanities departments, then identified as a luxury by-product of the "literary" people. This course proposes to unpack the notion of "French Theory" and re-anchor it into its original social/historical background. We will read some of the most influential texts of its key figures, study how a post May 68 revolutionary energy is transformed into various innovative but also destabilizing ways of rethinking power relations, gender, language and subjectivity, and finally, consider in what capacities and limits these diverse critical approaches go beyond the simple label of "post-structuralism" and relate to our own epoch and personal experiences. The readings will be divided into four axes: 1. Philosophy of Desire (Lacan, Deleuze/Guattari); 2. Sexual Revolt and Body Politics (Foucault, Hocquenghem, Barthes); 3. Deconstruction and Its Impact on Feminism (Derrida, Cixous, Irigaray); 4. Consumer Society and Society of the Spectacle (Lipovetsky, Baudrillard, Debord). Several documentaries and feature films will be shown outside class time. Taught in English. Reading knowledge of French is welcome but not required.


W 2:00-5:00 Cross Cultural Analysis

Cross listed with GSWS 322

Instructor: Sara Mourad

How do sex and gender become sites of cultural production, identity-formation, and contentious politics? This seminar engages these questions in the context of the "Middle East" as a constructed geopolitical space for imperial politics and political intervention. The class is divided into three units. In the first unit, we engage feminist and queer theories to discuss the shifting meanings of "sex" and "gender" in transnational and postcolonial contexts. In the second unit we explore the contextual and shifting notions of "private" and "public" as they have been elaborated in political theory, feminist theory, and media studies. We also consider how different media technologies enable and constrain the performance and expression of gender and sexual identities. In the last unit, we examine the material and symbolic construction of sex and gender in the shadow of Orientalism,


TR 1:30-3:00 Benjamin Franklin Seminar

Cross listed with ITAL 333

Instructor: Marina Johnston

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.



TR 1:30-3:00 All readings and lectures in English

Cross listed with GRMN 249/RUSS 252

Instructor: Thomas Dolack (tdolack@sas.upenn.eduP

Two of 20th-century Europe's greatest poets, Osip Mandelstam and Paul Celan had much in common. Both were Jewish, both translated extensively, both were sent to labor camps. All three of these coincidences loom large in any comparison of the two poets, although the differences speak as much as the similarities. Celan would become one of the most eloquent witnesses of the Shoah while Mandelstam remained only culturally Jewish. Mandelstam died in a Soviet camp in Siberia as a result, almost the culmination, of his poetic work. Celan's mature poetic voice would emerge out of the horrors of the Nazi camps and give expression to them. However, the poetics of both poets can be considered "translational" as they are both predicated on the transfer of meaning and value from the past. Specifically they use the words of other poets to create their own new utterance. Both viewed poetry as a "message in a bottle" to be cast into the waves of time and found by those who would need it. Celan would view himself as just this "reader in posterity" when he translated Mandelstam's work into German. In addition to looking directly at the poetry and prose of both poets, we will examine the broader phenomenon of translation, imitation and the ethics of using other people's words in a work of art. Readings will include an overview of major figures in translation theory, a look at imitation in Classical and medieval literature, as well as work by theorists including Bakhtin, Levinas, and Adorno. English is the only required language. All readings will be available in translation, although students with competency in Russian and/or German are encouraged to read the originals.


W 2:00-5:00 Arts and Letters; Prior language experience necessary

Cross listed with COLL 227/HEBR 359/JWST 359

Instructor: Nili Gold

Modern Hebrew literature, an offspring of Zionism, has long rejected writing about one’s personal life as embarrassing narcissism. However, veteran Israeli artists want, at last, to tell their true stories. They are joined by the younger generation, who has grown up during an individualistic period where it is acceptable to share one's experiences. The new Israeli autobiographic works, then, may reflect our culture of exposure (e.g. reality TV, Facebook, etc.). The course examines memoirs, poetry, prose and films that deal with the artist's life story. Authors include: Yehuda Amichai, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Aharon Appelfeld, Amos Oz,  and S.Y. Agnon. Filmmakers include: Shemi Zarhin, Dror Shaul, and Ari Folman. All texts and discussions in Hebrew.


TR 4:30-6:00 Cross Cultural Analysis

Cross listed with JWST 255/NELC 250

Instructor: Isabel Cranz

This course is a careful textual study of the book of Exodus in the light of modern scholarship, including archaeological evidence and ancient Near Eastern documents, comparative literature and religion. Topics will include the events surrounding the Israelite exodus from Egypt, its date, the first Passover, the role of Moses as a prophet, the Ten Commandments, civil and religious law in the Bible, the golden calf incident, and the reverberations of Exodus in later Judaism, Christianity, and Western (particularly American) Civilization.


MW 3:30-5:00 Benjamin Franklin Seminar

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.



WF 2:00-3:30

Cross listed with ARCH 414, URBS 423

Instructor: Christina Svendson

This seminar introduces the notion of the city, or polis, as a powerful current in our cultural imagination. In contemporary discourse, cities have an edge of glamour: they elicit both fear and desire. Historically, however, cities have been understood as microcosmic models of the organization of human society; a walled city was a place of safety and order, not a site of danger or chaos. This course explores different moments in the cultural fantasies surrounding cities, paying special attention to topics such as the role of the imagination in experiencing cities, historical urban strata, subways and other subterranean spaces below the modern city, urban peripheries, and the modern aesthetic of transparency. The course is divided into three sections: urban imaginaries from the past; modern reimaginings of cities by inhabitants or visitors in the present; and fantasies of the city projected into a near future. The first section explores images of cities as mediated through imaginative filter of historical and personal memory, considering in particular Rome, Berlin, and the phantasmagoric cities in Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities and Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The second section investigates contemporaneous mental representations of cities by their own inhabitants or by visitors. The main case studies will be London and New York (particularly as seen from the perspective of its creative hothouse periphery, Coney Island). The third and final section examines postmodern, postcolonial, and post-totalitarian fantasies of possible urban futures, considering imagined cities by Le Corbusier, Paul Scheerbart, and Soviet dissident Sergey Zemyatin, as well as the megacities of New York and Lagos. This seminar introduces students to interdisciplinary work in the humanities. By investigating different fantasies of cities in cultural discourse, students will learn how to work with texts from different disciplines focusing on a single subject. Furthermore, they will learn to integrate visual analysis with textual analysis by confronting materials from different media, including film, photography, drawings, fiction, poems, sociological essays, a philosophical novel, and polemical journalism, paying attention to context while finding points of commonality that enable comparative work.




M 2:00-5:00

Cross listed with ENGL 234/HIST 411

Instructors: Peter Stallybrass, Roger Chartier

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 "fetish." Among the texts that we will read will be works by Las Casas, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Donne. 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.


TR 12:00-1:30

Cross listed with HIST 416

Instructor: Alan C. Kors

This course is a survey of the thought of one of the most revolutionary periods in the history of human interaction, the century when Europeans debated and often changed fundamentally the way they thought about knowledge, about authority, about the nature of religion and its place within their world, about human nature, about moral criteria, and about the possibilities of the human condition. Students will read solely primary sources-eighteenth-century texts themselves-seeking to understand the eighteenth-century meanings and receptions of eighteenth-century debates. Our goal never will be to summon authors before the bar of our "superior" wisdom, but to understand them in context, on their own terms. We shall examine the main currents of eighteenth-century European thought: challenges to inherited authority; deism; natural religion; skepticism; evangelical revival; political reform; diverse way of understanding nature and human nature; utilitarianism; materialism. The course will focus on works widely read in the eighteenth century and historically influential on the ages that followed. The course assumes no prior work in the subject, and there are no prerequisites. We shall read, in English, authors who transformed Europe's thought, debates, and civilization, either in their own right, or as part of broader movements of thought: the baron Montesquieu, Voltaire (twice), Joseph Butler, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (twice), Thomas Paine, John Wesley, David Hume, Cesare Beccaria, Julian Offray de La Mettrie, and Denis Diderot. We are a course on history, doing intellectual history, not a seminar on philosophy or political theory. That is to say, our goal will not be to judge or to argue the merits and demerits of our authors (you always can choose to do that on your own, apart from our course), but to understand how the world looked to different minds in a different time and place. The focus of our discussion will be analytic and comparative. We get to ask questions about an author's beliefs that an author may not ask himself or herself (for example, implicit views of human nature or of ethics). It may be that two of you who agree about what an author believes or not might hold two different views of the author's rightness or wrongness. Our subject will be the former (analyzing an author and comparing him to other authors), not the latter (judging an author). We're a class in history. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that we were studying Tibetan Buddhism or Medieval political theory. To summon those thinkers to judgment by our own contemporary or personal views of the world would be to study ourselves, not other minds or schools of thought. Our task is to understand other minds and other ways of thinking. The course will be organized around reading, lectures, and (voluntary) discussion. There are no required papers, because I want you to have the time to immerse yourselves in the readings, but if you have research interests or if you are uneasy about having only examinations determine your grade, you may choose to write a paper, not for extra credit, but to count as half of your final-exam grade. I shall set up a class list serve, and each week, before a reading, I'll send out some "Questions for Reading" to help you organize your work and to give us a place from which to start discussion. Discussions, however, will be wide open to your own interests and questions.

Last modified October 26, 2015
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania