Undergraduate

Summer 2003 Undergraduate Courses

Session I

COML 242.910 Religion and Literature 
Crosslisted with RELS 003
TR 12-3:10 Harding 

This course explores some ways in which religious questions, beliefs and practices appear in works of literature from East Asia. We will discuss the religions and culture of East Asia while reading literature in translation ranging from classical Confucian and Taoist texts to T'ang poetry, the epic Monkey (Journey to the West). Japanese poetry and novels from The Tale of Genji to modern works, and explorations of religious values and aesthetics from Kamo no Chomei's An Account of my Hut and Yoshida Kenko's Essays in Idleness to Jun'ichiro Tamizaki's In Praise of Shadows. No specialized knowledge of these traditions is presumed; the necessary background will be presented in the lectures.

 

COML 250.910 The Whodunit
(Fulfills Gen Req. III: Arts and Letters)
TR 2-5:10 Shapple

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. 

 

COML 263.910 En-gendering Post-Colonial Literature: Bodies & Ghosts of Empires
Crosslisted with WSTD 266
TR 5-8 Popescu 

Why were vampires such a fashionable topic in late nineteenth century Britain and what anxieties did it betray? Why were the colonists frightened by "black sexuality"? How did the female body take upon new meaning within the colonial system and why did sex tourism emerge? How were the colonized turned into living ghosts by the cultures that oppressed them? And how did they take revenge? In this course we will discuss the impact of empires upon the lives and mentalities of people both in the colonies and the metropolis. We will also look at the cultural battles that led to changes in concepts of sexuality, gender and bodies, changes that often outlived decolonization. Moving between cultures--from India to the Caribbeans, from South Africa to Eastern Europe--the readings will include novels such as Bram Stoker's Dracula, E. M. Forster's A Passage to India, Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, Zoe Wicomb's David's Story, Ugresic's The Museum of Unconditional Surrender and critical texts by Edward Said, Michel Foucault, Bill Ashcroft among others. We will also have screenings of relevant movies. Course requirements will include in-class presentations, one 5-6 page paper, one 8-10 page final paper, and active participation in classroom discussions.

 

COML 290.900 The Voyage Out: Women Travelers in Fiction
Crosslisted with ENGL 290 and WSTD 290
W 6-9:10 Port (12 week course)

This course centers on the delights, dangers, and discoveries experienced by female travelers in twentieth-century fiction. Whereas women have traditionally been confined to domestic settings, we will read about women who leave home as tourists, travelers, immigrants, and adventurers. Often, the voyages "out" are at the same time voyages "in," allowing them to learn about themselves as well as about the world beyond the boundaries of their origins. Our texts will include novels by Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Doris Lessing, Jamaica Kincaid, Bharati Mukergee, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and films by Sally Potter and Trinh T.  Minh-ha. Requirements consist of an in-class presentation, a reading journal, and two papers (6-8 pages and 10-12 pages).

 

**CANCELED** COML 293.910 Accented Identities: Latino Literature in Context 
Crosslistsed with LTAM 293.910
MW 2-4:30 Lamas

What is Latino literature? What does this type of writing say about contemporary American culture? In this course, we will answer these questions by reading various novels and short stories by Latino authors from different groups (Chicano, Cuban-American, Dominican and Puerto Rican). Through essays from multiple disciplines such as anthropology, history and sociology, we will link the Latino experience depicted in literature with the lived realities of Latinos in the US. We will integrate such themes as gender and sexuality (the Latina bombshell, the macho Latin lover, the Maria paradox), language and bilingualism, conflicts between individual and family values, and the impact of class within each group through the writing of two essays and a take-home final exam. At the end of the course, we will read excerpts from several "minority" authors in order to compare the experience of Latinos in the US with that of other groups.

 

COML 301.910 War and Cinema: Masculinity, Technology, and Fascism
Crosslisted with FILM 301.910
TR 6-8:40 Kelso

This course will examine the roles played by fascism and masculinity in the incredible techological developments and in the mammoth militarizations of the 20th century. The course will elaborate a critical approach to the problem of war and its relationship to society, with three objectives in mind: (1) to introduce the idea that there is a reciprocal relationship between spectacles of war and the war machine; (2) to introduce a broad variety of theoretical tools for understanding texts (cinematic and literary) and social institutions (the military; the cinema); (3) to learn how to engage in critical social analysis. Course requirements will include in-class presentations, one 5-7 page paper, one 8-10 page final paper, other writing exercises, attendance of film screenings, and active participation in classroom and classlist discussions. 

 

Session II

**CANCELED** COML 267.920 War and Peace in Asian American Drama and Theatre
Fulfills Distribution Requirement III: Arts and Letters
Crosslisted with ENGL 272.920, ASAM 202.920, THAR 275.920
TR 10:00 - 1:10 Lafferty

This Asian American Studies Program course focuses on what Asian American playwrights say about war and peace and how they say it. Themes include internment of Japanese Americans during WWII; experiences of Asian war brides; Vietnam's history of invasion by foreign powers; China and cold war espionage; exclusion and stereotyping of Filipinos, Native Hawaiians, and Korean Americans; and perspectives of contemporary South Asian American Muslims. Plays may include Jeanne Barroga's Talk-Story, Wakako Yamauchi's And the Soul Shall Dance, Hiroshi Kashiwagi's Laughter and False Teeth, Velina Hasu Houston's Tea, Huynh Quang Nhuong's Dance of the Wandering Souls, David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly, Sung Rno's Cleveland Raining, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl's The Conversion of Queen Ka`ahumanu, Bina Sharif's Fire, the SLANT company's Big Dicks, Asian Men, and Rehana Mirza's Barriers.


Last modified June 18, 2003
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania