Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Summer 2011

COML 101.910 Introduction to Folklore
Humanities and Social Science Sector
TR 6-9:10 Lee
Cross listed with FOLK 101, NELC 181, RELS 108

The purpose of the course is to introduce you to the subjects of the discipline of Folklore, their occurrence in social life and the scholarly analysis of their use in culture. As a discipline folklore explores the manifestations of expressive forms in both traditional and modern societies, in small-scale groups where people interact with each face-to-face, and in large- scale, often industrial societies, in which the themes, symbols, and forms that permeate traditional life, occupy new positions, or occur in different occasions in everyday life. For some of you the distinction between low and high culture, or artistic and popular art will be helpful in placing folklore forms in modern societies. For others, these distinctions will not be helpful. In traditional societies, and within social groups that define themselves ethnically, professionally, or culturally, within modern heterogeneous societies, and in traditional societies in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, Folklore plays a more prominent role in society, than it appears to play in literate cultures on the same continents. Consequently the study of folklore and the analysis of its forms are appropriate in traditional as well as modern societies, and any society that is in a transitional phase. Key concepts in the study of folklore are “orality” and “literacy” and they will guide us through our lectures and discussions.

COML 127.910 The Adultery Novel
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 1-4:10 Jones
Cross listed with CINE 125, RUSS 125

The course examines a series of 19th and 20th century novels and short stories about adultery, film adaptations of several of these novels, and several original adultery films. Through the reading we will examine novelistic traditions of the period in question, as well as film adaptations and the implications of filmic vs. literary representation. Course readings may include: Laclos' Dangerous Liaisons, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, or other works. Films may include: Frears' Dangerous Liaisons, Vadim's Dangerous Liaisons, Nichols' The Graduate, Mikhalkov's Dark Eyes, and others. Students will apply various critical approaches in order to place adultery into its aesthetic, social and cultural context, including: sociological descriptions of modernity, Marxist examinations of family as a social and economic institution, Freudian/ Psychoanalytic interpretations of family life and transgressive sexuality, and Feminist work on the construction of gender.

COML 150.920 War and Representation
Humanities and Social Science Sector
MW 1-4:10 Enelow
Cross listed with RUSS 193

Representations of war have been created for as many reasons as wars are fought: To legitimate conflict, to celebrate military glory, to critique brutality, to vilify an enemy, to mobilize popular support, to generate national pride, etc. In this course we will examine a series of representations of war drawn from the literature, film state propaganda, memoirs, visual art, etc. of Russia, Europe and the United States of the twentieth century.

COML 193.920 Great Story Collection
Arts and Letters Sector
TR 6:30-9:30 Azzolina
Cross listed with ENGL 099, FOLK 241

This course is intended for those with no prior background in folklore or knowledge of various cultures. Texts range in age from the first century to the twentieth, and geographically from the Middle East to Europe to the United States. Each collection displays various techniques of collecting folk materials and making them concerete. Each in its own way also raises different issues of genre, legitimacy, canon formation, cultural values and context.

COML 196.920 Fate and Chance in Literature and Film
TR 6-9 Zubarev
Cross listed with CINE 432, RUSS 432

In Fate and Chance in Literature and Culture, we will explore these two interrelated concepts in comparative perspective over a broad historical range. As a result, the students will learn how the philosophy of fate and chance has been reflected in works of different Russian authors and in different cultural and political environments. In Russian as well as western systems of belief fate and chance represent two extreme visions of the universal order, or, perhaps, two diametrically opposed cosmic forces: complete determinism, on the one hand, and complete chaos or unpredictability, on the other. These visions have been greatly reflected by various mythopoetic systems. In this course, we will investigate religious and folkloric sources from a series of Russian traditions compared to other Indo- European traditions (Greek, East-European). Readings will include The Song of Prince Igor’s Campaign, The Gambler by Dostoevsky, The Queen of Spades by Pushkin, Vij by Gogol, The Black Monk by Chekhov, The Fatal Eggs by Bulgakov, and more. All readings and lectures in English.

COML 197.910 Madness and Madmen
Humanities and Social Science Sector
TR 5-8:10 Vinitsky
Cross listed with RUSS 197

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.


Last modified April 21, 2011
Maintained by Daniel DeWispelare
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania