Spring 2002 Undergraduate Courses

COML 001.305 Writing About Literature: Sexuality and Literary Style Since 1700
Harzewski TR 10:30-12
Crosslisted with ENGL 001.305 and WSTD 006.305
Fulfills College Writing Requirement

"In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo," so poet T.S. Eliot muses. We will not talk of Michelangelo in this course, but we will discuss gender and art-specifically, the representation of sexuality and identity in literature. We will investigate in a historical context and across genres how masters of style since 1700 have explored the interplay of literary creation and sexuality. You will learn how to write about a rich sampling of literature and will discover how through writing you can create and recreate yourself as well. You will develop valuable essay-writing skills as we examine how authors use forms of sexual representation to reaffirm, resist, or simply engage societal norms. Authors may include Alexander Pope, Toni Morrison, Kate Chopin, Jean Genet, Nellie Wong, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Anaïs Nin, Henrik Ibsen, Cherrié Moraga, Jeanette Winterson, Eliza Haywood, and James Joyce. The course will also serve as an introduction to key themes and issues in sexuality studies and Women's Studies. Requirements include class participation and essays of various lengths; no final exam.


COML 057.401 GREAT BOOKS OF JUDAISM
STERN TR 10:30-12
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. GENERAL HONORS. Non-honors need permission.
Crosslisted with AMES 151.401, JWST 151.401, RELS 027.401

The study of four paradigmatic classic Jewish texts so as to introduce students to the literature of classic Judaism. Each text will be studied historically--"excavated" for its sources and roots--and holistically, as a canonical document in Jewish tradition. While each text will inevitably raise its own set of issues, we will deal throughout the semester with two basic questions: What makes a "Jewish" text? And how do these texts represent different aspects of Jewish identity? All readings will be in translation.


COML 080.401 INTRODUCTION TO ITALIAN FILM
Kirkham M 6-9; W 4:30-6
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with ITAL 080.401, FILM 204.401

This course will introduce major directors, movements, and genres in Italian cinema from World War II to the present. Both classic "auteurs" (Blasetti, Rossellini, De Sica, Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni) and newer directors (Olmi, Scola, Samperi, Amelio) will illustrate trends from Neorealism to Postmodernism and exemplify such eminently Italian forms as the historical drama and "commedia all'italiana". The distinct national identity of Italian cinema will be emphasized with reference to the "Risorgimento" (Unification), Mussolini's Fascism, regional diversity, gender roles, and minority communities. Readings will be on Italian cinema, modern Italian history, and the vocabulary of film analysis. Course conducted in English, no prerequisites.


COML 100.401 INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY STUDY
Cheyfitz TR 9-10:30
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with ENGL 100.410

This course will introduce students to various ways of understanding literature that currently inform the theory and practice of literary study. We will look at interdisciplinary relationships to literature from legal, anthropological, social, and historical perspectives. Issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality will inform these approaches. Fundamental to all these methods will be the close reading of the texts at hand in order to understand how language operates to construct the range of social forms that literature represents. Readings will be taken from a list that includes: Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Aimé Césaire, A Tempest (Une Tempête); Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas; Paul Radin, The Trickster; Gary Witherspoon, Navajo Kinship and Marriage; Diné bahanè: the Navajo Creation Story; U.S. v. Rogers, James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans; Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto; Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener, and Benito Cereno; Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark, and The Bluest Eye; Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina.


COML 104.401 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
English TR 1:30-3
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with ENGL 104.401

This is a general introduction to twentieth-century British and American literature, with special emphasis on the relation of literature to other cultural forms and on the relation of "high" or elite to "low" or popular culture. We will read some of the most challenging and academically respected works of the century, including Eliot's The Waste Land and Joyce's Ulysses, along with some of the contemporaneous reviews and essays that served to promote these texts as exemplary works of Modernism. But we will also consider some works whose cultural status is much lower or less stable, including works by women and minority authors and a few works of popular music and film. Our broad aim will be to learn not only about the literature and culture of this century but about how determinations of literary and cultural value are arrived at. Written work for the class will be one short essay of 5-6 pages (with a required revision and resubmission) and one longer essay of 10-12pages. There will also be six brief quizzes and a comprehensive final exam.


COML 125.402 NARRATIVE ACROSS CULTURES
Allen TR 10:30-12
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with AMES 135.401, ENGL 103.401

The purpose of this course is to present a variety of narrative genres and to discuss and illustrate the modes whereby they can be analyzed. We will be looking at some shorter types of narrative: short story, novella, and fable, but also extracts from longer works such as autobiography. While some the works will be from the Anglo-American tradition, a large number of others will be from European and non-Western cultural traditions and from earlier time-periods. The course will thus offer ample opportunity for the exploration of the translation of cultural values in a comparative perspective. 

Among (familiar) authors to be read: Aesop, Borges, Chopin, Conde, Douglass, Gogol, Joseph's story (Bible and Qur'an), Joyce, Kafka, Marquez, Solzenitszyn, Twain, and Vonnegut, but there will also be many other writers from non-Western cultures. 

Once you have registered for the course, you can find a lot more detail about the course and its readings on the BLACKBOARD website.


COML 200.401 GREEK AND ROMAN MYTHOLOGY
Struck MW 11-12 LECTURE
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. REGISTRATION REQUIRED FOR LECTURE AND RECITATION. Crosslisted with CLST 200.401. Recitation sections: 402 through 409.

An introduction to classical mythology through close analysis of selected texts. Topics include: the definition of myth; its social, political, and religious contexts; the variety of methodologies available for its study (e.g. comparative anthropology, structuralism, psychoanalysis); the literary development of myths, divine and heroic; the Roman adaptation of Greek myths; and the relationship of myth to historical, philosophical, and scientific modes of thought. No prior background is required. Students come to the study of mythology from a variety of disciplines. This course should be particularly useful to those interested in literature, the fine arts, anthropology, folklore, and religion.


COML 204.401 HOLLYWOOD CLASSICS
Sadashige TR 1:30-3
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with CLST 204.401, FILM 204.401, WSTD 202.401. Film screenings will be held Mondays at 6:30 p.m.

This course will introduce students both to several foundational texts of classical literature and to the study of popular culture. We will accomplish this through a comparison of ancient works with popular film. Students will read a number of well-known texts from antiquity, one or two 20th-century works, and view 8-12 (mostly) recent popular films that in some way "translate" classical themes, ideas, or methods of narration. We will examine the texts and films first within their cultural contexts and then against one another. This comparative approach will allow us to address a number of different themes, issues, and reading strategies. Topics and films may change slightly from year to year, but some likely themes include: Homer's Odyssey, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, Apuleius' Golden Ass, Euripides' Hippolytus, Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, and a number of critical essays. Probable films include: Die Hard, Aliens, Angel Heart, and Mighty Aphrodite. Students should plan to attend weekly screenings in addition to the regularly scheduled course meetings.


COML 212.401 MODERN MIDEASTERN LITERATURE
Witty MW 3-4:30
WATU credit optional, see instructor. Gen.Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with AMES 225.401.

This course is team-taught by four professors with specialities in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish literatures; all four attend all the sessions of the course. The course deals with the modern literature within each tradition and focuses on poetry, the short story and the novel (among which have been in recent years: Al-Tayyib Salih's Season of Migration to the North, Yehoshua's The Lover, Hedayat's The Blind Owl, and Kemal's Memet My Hawk). The readings are all in English.The course is conducted in a seminar format. Students are expected to participate in classroom discussion of the materials assigned for each session, and evaluation is partially based on the quality of that participation. A short paper is assigned on the poetry and the short stories, and there is a final examination.


COML 241.401 THE DEVIL'S PACT IN LITERATURE
Richter MW 12-1 LECTURE
REGISTRATION REQUIRED FOR LECTURE AND RECITATION 402 through 406. All readings in English. Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with GRMN 256.401, FILM 252.401 

For centuries the pact with the devil has signified humankind's desire to surpass the limits of human knowledge and power. From the age of Martin Luther to the epoch of Mick Jagger, from Marlowe and Goethe to key Hollywood films, the legend of the devil's pact continue to be useful for exploring our fascination with forbidden powers. 


COML 242.401 RELIGION AND LITERATURE
Behl MW 12-1
Gen. Req. III: Arts and Letters. REGISTRATION REQUIRED FOR LECTURE AND RECITATION sections 402 through 404. Crosslisted with RELS 003.401.

This course will be an exploration of the intersections of literature and religion as we focus on two themes: the Spiritual Quest and the Underworld. Although our emphasis is on the Judeo-Christian tradition, we will also read works that draw on Native American and Eastern religious experience. 

Among the works to be studied are Virgil's Aeneid, Dante's Divine Comedy, medieval legend of Saint Patrick's Purgatory, Carlos Castaneda's Journey to Ixtlan, Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha and Maugham's Razor's Edge. Readings will be supplemented by films. 


COML 251.401 LITERARY RESPONSES TO HOLOCAUST
Geerts MW 3-4:30
Crosslisted with GRMN 251.401, DTCH 251.401, JWST 247.401

This course will discuss some of the major literary and cinematic responses to the Holocaust. Much has already been written on this subject and therefore this course will specifically focus on such problems as: how can the Holocaust be translated into literature? Does our notion of literature change once the Holocaust has become its topic? Are fiction and testimony compatible with each other? Can the Holocaust be a topic even if it is not mentioned at all in the text? How do comedy and the Holocaust topic relate to each other? Can history and philosophy be part of a literary treatment of the Holocaust? Influential texts and films from major literatures and cultures in the world will be our starting point.


COML 265.401 Topics in Theatre History
Mazer TR 12-1:30
Crosslisted with ENGL 078.401 and THAR 140.401

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the basic materials and methods of theatre history and historiography, as applied to a particular topic, organized around a specific period, national group, or aesthetic issue. 


COML 268.401 BRITISH FILM SINCE 1970's
English TR 10:30-12
Crosslisted with ENGL 261.401, FILM 261.401

This class is a survey of some important British films of the last twenty years. Our particular points of emphasis will be as much political and sociological as aesthetic. The Thatcher years (1979-1990) represent a period of extreme political reaction, nationalistic jingoism, and drastic cuts in state sponsorship of the arts. And yet this is the very period of putative rebirth and rejuvenation of British cinema. We will attempt to understand the relationship between the significant social, economic, and political upheavals of this period and the emergence of new cinematic styles, projects, and systems of production. We will consider such topics as the role of television in funding much of the most respected weighties; the rise of film and video collectives in the U.K.; the emergence of black and women filmmakers; and the changing relationship between the British film industry, American distributors, and international audiences. We will trace these developments onwards through the nineties, from the immediate aftermath of the Thatcher era to the hegemony of New Labour. And we will try to do some justice to the specificity of film as an art form and to the particular qualities of each of the works we view together. Each student will work on a single sustained piece of scholarly research throughout the semester, culminating in a 20-page essay. There will be five or six exams, covering not only the films that have been screened but also the reading assignments and lectures.


COML 282.401 VOICES OF ISRAEL
Gold TR 1:30-3
Distribution III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with AMES 154.401, FOLK 154.401, JWST 154.401

This course will listen and respond to voices that, beginning only in the late 20th century, were allowed to be heard in Israeli literature. These voices, of new immigrants, women, Arabs, Holocaust survivors (first and second generation), gays, writers of Middle Eastern descent and religious authors, among others comprise the new chorus.

Conversly, the Zionist super-narrative dominated Israeli literature from its inception. Its predominantly male, Israeli-born (or educated), secular, Ashkenazi (of European descent) writers controlled the cultural scene at the time. These authors followed traditional and Modernistic models. Their works tackled the national, territory-based, aspirations of the Jewish people. Voices of the "others" --those who deviated from the central narrative-- were rarely heeded. They were often muted, suppressed or marginalized by the readership and critics or by the writers themselves. Only in the last two decades, with the debates over Postmodernist attitudes and practices in Israel, are those "others" allowed to be heard in voices that are loud and clear. The resulting cacophony of voices has now replaced the virtually singular voice of earlier ideological struggle and search for a Zionist utopia. We will examine this phenomenon over the course of the semester through readings of literary texts by Aharon Applefeld, Ronit Matalon, Eitan Glass, Anton Shamas, Binyamin Shvili and others.

Grades will be based on a paper, final exam and class participation. The contents of the course changes each semester, and therefore may be taken more than once.


COML 300.401 ITALIAN HISTORY AND FILM
Marcus/Steinberg MW 3-4:30; T 4:30-7
Distribution II: History and Tradition. Crosslisted with ITAL 300.401, FILM 340.401, HIST 322.401

Modern Italy has added to the traditional belle arti of painting, sculpture and architecture new fields like fashion, industrial design and film. "Made in Italy" has come to stand all over the world for quality workmanship and fine design. Yet this same country has been involved in the last hundred years in two terrible world wars, a brutal fascist dictatorship, violence both political and criminal and a flood of emigration. In this course we will review that history, its triumphs and disasters by combining film and written texts. Both media are equally important and ought to enrich each other. The weekly film is part of that work and you will be expected to do the assigned reading as well. The course will be open to seniors, juniors and sophomores (with special permission). Italian is not required. 


COML 354.401 EPIC TRADITION
Copeland TR 1:30-3
Distribtion III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with CLST 360.401, ENGL 220.401

This course looks at a number of strands in the broad epic tradition: narratives of warfare, quest narratives (both geographical and spiritual), and the combination of the two in narratives of chivalry and love. We will start with Homer, reading good portions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and then see how Homeric themes are reprised in Virgil's narrative of travel, conquest, and empire, the Aeneid. We will then look at St. Augustine's Confessions, which has some claim to being considered an "epic" of spiritual discovery, and consider how Augustine reflects back upon his classical narrative sources. From there we will move to one medieval epic of warfare, conquest, and empire, the Song of Roland, which emerges from the same kind of oral poetic culture that produced the ancient Homeric epics. In the last part of the course we will read some Arthurian romances, which take up certain themes familiar from epic, but place them in a new context: the medieval institution of chivalry, where the ancient warrior is replaced by the medieval knight, where the collective battle is replaced by the individual quest, and where the psychology of sexual desire is now foregrounded as a motivation for heroic self-realization. Among Arthurian romances we will read at least one by the French poet Chrtien de Troyes, as well as the English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and selections from Malory's Morte D'Arthur. All readings will be in modern English. Course requirements will consist of several short papers and one longer (research-based) paper which will be presented in two stages, draft and final version.


COML 360.401 INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY THEORY
Rabate TR 9-10:30
Distribution III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with ENGL 204.401

This course aims at providing an exposure to some of the main discourses of contemporary literary theory by focusing on three important writers who have marked last century's theory, Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin and Julia Kristeva. We will start with Barthes's approach to popular culture in Mythologies, and explore the new concept of writing he defined before launching engaging structuralist semiotics. We will move on to Barthes's later work and read his book on photography. We will then link this different approach with Walter Benjamin's theses on mechanical reproduction and read systematically the two collections of essays, Illuminations and Reflections. Finally we will see how the work of Julia Kristeva renews the critical debate by pushing it beyond formalism and structuralism. We will then read most of the essays in the Portable Kristeva. Requirements: Four short papers, one research paper, one oral report. No final exam. Bibliography: The Roland Barthes Reader, ed. S. Sontag; Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida; Walter Benjamin, Illuminations and Reflections; The Portable Julia Kristeva.


COML 378.402 CARIBBEAN WOMEN WRITERS
Clarke TR 12-1:30
Distribution III: Arts and Letters. Crosslisted with ENGL 378.402, WSTD 226.402, AFAM 293.402

Caribbean folk culture inherits a vestigial West Africanism in the figure of the "market woman." In some West African cultures the market was the sphere of women and provided forms of autonomy for women. In the Caribbean, this social formation appears during slavery (and after) as the "market-day " (usually on a Saturday) the day plantation owners allowed slaves to sell their produce and create and participate in circuits of economic exchange. And of course, running alongside this there was the creation and exchange of cultural capital; what Caribbean sociologists will later claim as "folk culture." Curiously enough, the first generation of writers did claim this folk culture, but gendered it male for the most part. That tradition, some have argued, has exhausted itself; and indeed, the tradition of Anglophone Caribbean writing would have ended with this first generation, were it not for the explosion of the female voice in Anglophone Caribbean fiction. The now legendary gathering of women writers at the "Caribbean Women Writers Conference" held at Wellesley College in 1988 and organized by the noted Caribbeanist Selwyn Cudjoe was a public signal of what many had privately noted. Why the sudden silence from the male pen? How do these women writers write themselves into the (Caribbean) social contract? How do these writers engage with the earlier tradition? How do these women claim and (re)construct the lives of Caribbean women? If "the pen," as two of the key players in the elaboration of North American feminist criticism have argued, "is a metaphorical penis" which writes across a blank (female) page, what do Caribbean women writers encounter at their (metaphorical) blank pages?


COML 380.401 BIBLE IN TRANSLATION
Tigay TR 4-5:30
Distribution III: Arts and Letters. GENERAL HONORS. Non-honors students need permission. Crosslisted with AMES 255.401, JWST 255.401

Careful textual study of a book of the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") as a literary and religious work in the light of modern scholarship, ancient Near Eastern documents, and comparative literature and religion. The book varies from year to year.


COML 383.402 BORDERS AND BODIES IN 20TH CENTURY ANGLOPHONE LITERATURE 
Potok T 1:30-4:30
Distribution III: Arts and Letters. GENERAL HONORS. Non-honors students need Permission. Crosslisted with ENGL 393.402

What does it means to lay claim to the body, to occupy a territory of land, and to master language as a narrative system? In what ways do body, land, and language inform one another? This course will address questions such as these, and will investigate the ways in which these "bodies" are represented as occupied territories in 20th-century English, Irish, Indian, and American novels. This course is intended to provide an understanding of the politics of occupation through a comparative analysis of the literature produced in various colonial and postcolonial regions. Our focus on bodies and borders will help us illuminate the interlacings between bodies (especially the female body) and borders; it will also help us explore the implicit conversation between works of fiction, history, and critical theory. Our readings may include works by Edna O'Brien, Salman Rushdie, Arundati Roy, James Joyce, Jeanette Winterson, Martin Amis, and others; we will also examine theoretical writings on gender, colonialism, border politics, and the politics of identity. Requirements: one short paper and one brief oral presentation will be given in the first 5 weeks of the semester. The remainder of the term will be devoted to preparing a lengthy seminar research paper. Each student will prepare a proposal, outline, draft, and completed version of this seminar paper. The final classes will be devoted to conference-style presentations on the paper topics.


CGS COURSES

COML 192.601 CLASSICS OF THE WESTERN WORLD II
Terrell T 6:30-9:10
Gen. Req. III: Arts & Letters

This course will approach selected great works of Western culture from the Renaissance to the 20th century with an eye to understanding what it means to say something is (or is not) "great." What accounts for the endurance of these works as opposed to others? How do they continue to speak to us as well as to the concerns of their original age and place? Do they offer truths about a universal human condition? Do they represent technical perfection or groundbreaking new forms? As we range through the literature of several countries and time periods, we will also explore how different genres (drama, poetry, the novel) and historical movements (the Enlightenment, romanticism, realism, modernism) value different literary qualities. We will try to understand how something comes to be called a classic and what sort of cultural work it does for us. Texts may include works by Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, Flaubert, Ibsen, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Eliot, Woolf, and Camus.


COML 180.610 THE QUEST FOR LITERATURE: VENTURING OUT, COMING HOME
Carranza W 5:30-8:10

This course will examine the theme of the quest in western literature. Throughout history literature has focused on quests and journeys: Odysseus' quest for home, the Arthurian knight's quest for the Grail, Don Quixote's quest to make himself into the ideal knight-errant and win the love of Dulcinea. We will attempt to understand the meaning of the quest in narrative, and how it became a vehicle for treating such themes as love, death, and one's place in the wider world. Texts may include selections from the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's Odyssey, stories of the Grail legend, Dante's Divine Comedy, and Cervantes' Don Quixote. We will also examine the theme's survival in the modern world by reading portions of modern quest stories by authors such as Kafka, Conrad or Joyce. All readings will be in English.

 


Last modified November 08, 2002
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania