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Undergraduate Courses
Summer 2012




COML 120.910

MW 1-4:10 Strakhov
Cross listed with ENGL 021

Here Be Monsters

In this course we will be exploring the unknown and its monsters—-or is it the unknown and our monsters? From our childhood when we ask our parents to shut the closet door, we imaginatively fill the dark empty space with terrifying creatures, as if to leave it empty would be worse. Monster myths allowed medieval Europeans to construct socially acceptable ideas of masculinity and femininity, explore physical disability and condemn ethnic and religious difference. Imagining a perverse, deviant monster that would be anything but “us,” always “other,” was crucial in promoting a “correct” or normative Western identity in ways still relevant to today’s political discourse and popular culture. Readings will be culled from a wide array of medieval sources including Beowulf, Geoffrey of Monmouth, The Song of Roland, Bisclavret, Mandeville’s Travels and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and conclude by addressing modern political rhetoric, Lady Gaga and Twilight.

COML 127.910

Arts & Letters Sector
MW 1-4:10 Rosenberg

Cross listed with CINE 125,GSWS 125, RUSS 125

The Adultery Novel

The object of this course is to analyze narratives of adultery from Shakespeare to the present and to develop a vocabulary for thinking critically about the literary conventions and social values that inform them. Many of the themes (of desire, transgression, suspicion, discovery) at the heart of these stories also lie at the core of many modern narratives. Is there something special, we will ask, about the case of adultery – once called “a crime which contains within itself all others”? What might these stories teach us about the way we read in general? By supplementing classic literary accounts by Shakespeare, Pushkin, Flaubert, Chekhov, and Proust with films and with critical analyses, we will analyze the possibilities and limitations of the different genres and forms under discussion, including novels, films, short stories, and theatre. What can these forms show us (or not show us) about desire, gender, family and social obligation? Through supplementary readings and class discussions, we will apply a range of critical approaches to place these narratives of adultery in a social and literary context, including formal analysis of narrative and style, feminist criticism, Marxist and sociological analyses of the family, and psychoanalytic understandings of desire and family life.

Primary texts include:
Shakespeare, Othello
Pushkin, Eugene Onegin
Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Chrétien de Troyes, “Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart”
Chekhov, “The Lady with the Dog”
Selection from Proust, Swann’s Way

Films may include:
Nichols (dir.), The Graduate (1967)
Wilder (dir.), Double Indemnity (1944)
Field (dir.), Little Children (2006)
Brown (dir.), Anna Karenina (1935)
Lubitsch (dir.), That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
Logan (dir.), Camelot (1967)
Mikhalkov (dir.), An Unfinished Piece for a Player Piano

Critical texts will include selections from Tanner, Barthes, Rubin, Freud, Darwin, Engels, de Beauvoir, Friedan, Berman, Mulvey, Steegmuller, and others.

COML 150.920

Humanities & Social Science Sector
TR 5:30-8:40 Chahine

Cross listed with RUSS 193, ENGL 105

War and Representation in Europe, Russia and the U.S.

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.

Last modified May 10, 2012
Maintained by Cliff Mak
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania