Summer 2002 Undergraduate Courses

Session I

Selling Out: Art, Commerce, and Identity in the Modern World
COML 205.910 
Hock TR 6 - 8:40 PM

Recently, American author Jonathan Franzen refused to appear as part of Oprah Winfrey's book club, explaining, "I didn't want that corporate logo on my book." In this course, we will interrogate the perceived conflict between artistic integrity and commercial success, with an emphasis on contemporary literature. We will consider various literary representations of artists and others who wrestle with the problem of "selling out," whether commercially, aesthetically, or politically. Along the way, we will consider how this question relates to issues of postmodernism, identity, and postcolonialism. Texts will include novels by authors such as Kathy Acker, Sherman Alexie, Don DeLillo, Kazuo Ishiguro, V.S. Naipaul, George Orwell, and Thomas Pynchon, and critical texts by authors such as Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Fredric Jameson, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. We will also examine the question of "selling out" as it relates to contemporary films and ad campaigns. Course requirements will include in-class presentations, one 5-7 page paper, one 8-10 page final paper, other writing exercises, and active participation in classroom and classlist discussions.

The Whodunit
COML 250.910 (Fulfills Gen Req. III: Arts and Letters)
Sample MW 6 - 8:40 PM

As we enter the 21st century one of the most popular yet under-appreciated literary genres remains crime fiction, better known as "The Whodunit." What accounts for readers' enduring fascination with tales of murder, deception, justice, and retribution? What distinguishes recent crime fiction from the mysteries of fifty, sixty, or a hundred years ago? And how can we explain the paradox in which crime fiction expresses both the horrors and triumphs of life in the modern world? The course will begin by investigating the origins of the whodunit and will end by examining how crime stories have always engaged in the major social and intellectual issues of their times. In between the course will focus on the techniques used in both detection work and writing, from forensics, interrogation, and psychological profiling, to the more explicitly literary forms of suspense, narration, and signification. North and South American, European, and non-Western writers and filmmakers will all be considered. Authors may include E.T.A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Jorge Luis Borges, Agatha Christie, Haruki Murakami, Sujata Massey, Sue Grafton, and James Ellroy. Films may include The Big Sleep, Les Diaboliques, Rashomon, and Memento. All texts and discussions will be in English. A presentation and two 5-8 page papers are required.

Graphic Strips: Gender and Sexuality in Comics and Animated Film
COML 295.910
Crosslisted with WSTD 296.910 and ENGL 292.910 
Takahashi TR 2 - 5 PM

What do Jessica Rabbit, Power-Puff Girls, Princess Mononoke, and Ranma have in common? Why have American comics predominantly been a male genre, and where are all the women cartoonists? How does one draw gender into comic strips? How is sexuality depicted in animation films? This course examines gender and sexuality through comics and animation films, and how these genres reflect and / or undermine gender norms and stereotypes. We will view a number of animation films (ranging from Disney to Japanese Anime), analyze comic strips by incorporating gender and queer theory, and look at some of the cultural and historical influences at work in the gendering and eroticization of the graphic arts. Readings and screenings will include: Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Tank Girl, Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, and Susan J. Napier's Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke.

Session II

Courtly Love in the Modern World
COML 354.920
Crosslisted with WSTD 223.920 and ENGL 220.920
Rosenfeld TR 5-8

Why do we love the way we do? Historians and psychologists have often turned to literature for the answer, describing a modern unconscious  haunted by medieval courtly poetry's depictions of love as an experience of torture, debasement, and unsatisfiable desire. This course will examine the modern legacies of the courtly tradition in a variety of genres--from the romance novel to the horror film. We will begin by gaining an acquaintance with medieval courtly genres--the lyric poem, the romance narrative, instruction manuals on the "art" of love--and spend most of our time considering their modern incarnations--in the melodrama, The Rules, film noir, and elsewhere. Throughout the class we will address the consistently problematic role of women as writers,  readers, and idealized objects in this literary tradition.

Last modified November 08, 2002
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania