Summer 2002 Undergraduate Courses
Selling Out: Art, Commerce, and Identity in the Modern World
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.
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
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.
Courtly Love in the Modern World
|Last modified November 08, 2002
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania