Undergraduate Course Descriptions

COML 104.910 The Twentieth Century

MTWR 2:40-4:15 Kintzele

COML 130.910 Imaginative Encounters: Europe and the “Middle” East
TR 5:30-8:40 Gursel

The unprecedented popularity of Antoine Galland's inventive "translations" of Arabian Nights in early 18th century reinforced the already prominent place of the Middle East in the European imagination, fiction, and travel literature. Perhaps less known but equally captivating is how Middle Eastern writers' interest in Europe began to change in the same time frame. How did the European and Middle Eastern representations of the other evolve in the last three centuries? What were the ways in which writers discussed the politics, culture, and gender roles of the other culture? How were literary productions shaped by and in turn influence the encounter of Europe and the Middle East? In this course we will study 'translations' of traditional storytelling, proto-anthropological scholarship, ambassadors' accounts, travel literature in epistolary form, the Realist and the Romantic novel, contemporary novel, and film. Our discussions will be enriched by theoretical texts about orientalism, colonialism and post-colonialism, gender, and globalization. Authors/directors may include Galland, Volney, Abdallah Bin Aisha, Lord Byron, Tahtawi, Flaubert, Gautier, Lady Duff Gordon, D. W. Griffith, Halide E. Adivar, Lawrence Durrell, David Lean, Hilary Mantel, Tayib Salih, Yahya Haqqi. An in-class presentation and two papers (5-6 pp and 8-10 pp) are required. All readings will be in English.

COML 206.910 Women, Gender, and Film
TR 6:00-9:10 Hock
Cross listed with WSTD 234/FILM 208

In recent decades, the study of film has provided rich opportunities for understanding constructions of gender identities. Film theorists have done important work in illuminating the ways in which an industry dominated by male directors and geared towards male audiences has constructed sexualized, even fetishized, images of women as objects of male desire and the male gaze. This course will examine a variety of films to investigate the ways that cinema has addressed questions of gender, especially the construction of images of women. We will begin by studying films by Josef von Sternberg and Alfred Hitchcock that demonstrate the subjection of women to the gaze of the male director and spectator. We will then examine films by a number of men and women - including directors such as Dorothy Arzner, Kathryn Bigelow, Lizzie Borden, Jane Campion, Niki Caro, Gurinder Chadha, Jonathan Demme, Darnell Martin, Sally Potter, and Tom Tykwer - to understand ways in which these films challenge or reinforce the conventions of representations of women in film. Films screened may include Blonde Venus, Christopher Strong, Vertigo, Working Girls, The Silence of the Lambs, Orlando, The Piano, I Like It like That, Strange Days, Run Lola Run, Bend It like Beckham, and Whale Rider. Criticism read will include texts by authors such as Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Mary Ann Doane, Jane Gaines, Laura Mulvey, Kaja Silverman, and Janet Staiger.

COML 224.910 Philosophy of Science
MTWR 12:00-1:30 Akhundov
Cross listed with PHIL 225

COML 250.910 Whodunit
TR 4:30-7:40 Taylor

One of the most popular literary genres is crime fiction, better known as “The Whodunit.” But this genre’s history is little-studied and underappreciated. What accounts for readers’ enduring fascination with tales of murder, deception, justice, and retribution? What distinguishes
recent crime fiction from the mysteries of fifty, a hundred or even, a thousand years ago? The course will begin by investigating the origins of the whodunit and will end by examining how contemporary crime stories continue to interrogate the major social and intellectual issues of our
time. In between the course will focus on the techniques used in both detection work and narrative invention, from forensics, interrogation, and psychological profiling, to the more explicitly literary forms of suspense, narration, and signification. We will consider both fictional
stories of crime, trial and punishment as well as modern theories of legal analysis. Authors may include Sophocles, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, and James Ellroy; films may
include The Big Sleep, 12 Angry Men, and Memento.


Session II

COML 208.920 Somewhere Else: Utopian Literature and Film
MW 6:00-9:10 Carranza

This course will be an introduction to the idea of utopia in literature and film, from ancient Greece to the present. We will explore the theme of utopia through texts which may include Aristophanes' Birds, Plato's Republic, Thomas More's Utopia, and H.G. Well's Modern Utopia, as well as films such as Pleasantville. We will also examine the other side of the coin: dystopian fiction and film, which critiques society by imagining a future where everything has gone wrong. Dystopian works may include Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, and films such as Blade Runner. During the course, we
will attempt to determine how the utopian/dystopian current in Western thought has affected our lives, from politics to city planning to environmentalism and beyond.


Last modified March 4, 2005
Maintained by Peter Gaffney & Elias Muhanna
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania