Graduate Courses

CPLT 547: Slavery, Dependency, and Genocide in the Ancient and Premodern World

Covers the subject of class and ethnic repression from the third millennium B.C.E. to the mid-second millennium C.E. Analyzes textual, epigraphic, and iconographic sources for slavery, dependency, and genocide in Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Han, Germanic, Angkorian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Malay, Mayan, and Aztec cultures.

Professor: Noel Lenski, Professor: Benedict Kiernan
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Monday 1:30p.m. - 3:20p.m.

CPLT 619: Walter Benjamin and Critical Theory in Latin America

This seminar studies transformations of European critical theory in a Latin American context. Taking one exemplary European critical theorist, Walter Benjamin, and one exemplary Latin American intellectual, cultural, and political milieu, Chile, it surveys the conjunctures among them. Critical theory names a cluster of intellectual methods and goals in early 20th-century Germany, which sees philosophy as too theoretical and Marxism as too untheoretical, and tries to fix the one with the other and visa versa. Later in the century, critical theory travels outward, occupying other discourses, becoming occupied by other histories, contributing to political occupations in systems not forseen in the original movement. We trace two Benjaminian motifs—violence and its relation to the image and critique—as these motifs migrate out of texts by Benjamin into artworks, films, and theoretical texts by Spanish-language thinkers and makers, against the singular backdrop of 20th-century Chilean political history. What interest us are the readings and misreadings, correspondences and responses, citations and fantastical reconstructions, turn arounds and cul de sacs of a reception and repurposing of critical theory. 

The course will be taught in English, with texts available in both Spanish and English. Some texts will be available in English translation for the very first time.

This seminar is partially funded by a Mellon Foundation program on Critical Theory in the Global South.

Professor: Paul North
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018

CPLT 639: Gender and Genre in Renaissance Love Poetry

This course interrogates a persistent theme in the literature of the European Renaissance: the love for a much-desired, frequently unobtainable beloved. How and why does love—erotic yearning, sexual passion, unfulfilled desire, religious devotion—become a key subject and metaphor from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century? Focusing on two main poetic genres of the Renaissance—the lyric and the epic-romance—we investigate how questions of desire, love, and gendered subjectivity become a potent means for articulating psychological, social, political, philosophic, and spiritual concerns. Engaging with normative views of gender, erotic discourse, and romantic love from a long historical perspective, this course investigates the development of modern poetry and sexuality in conjunction with each other.

Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 1:30p.m.-3:20p.m.

CPLT 646: Rise of the European Novel

In the eighteenth century, the novel became a popular literary form in many parts of Europe. Yet now-standard narratives of its “rise” often offer a temporally and linguistically foreshortened view. This seminar examines key early modern novels in a range of European languages, centered on the dialogue between highly influential eighteenth-century British and French novels (Montesquieu, Defoe, Sterne, Diderot, Laclos, Edgeworth). We begin by considering a sixteenth-century Spanish picaresque life history (Lazarillo de Tormes) and Madame de Lafayette’s seventeenth-century secret history of French court intrigue; contemplate a key sentimental Goethe novella; and end with Romantic fiction (an Austen novel, a Kleist novella, Pushkin’s historical novel fragment). These works raise important issues about cultural identity and historical experience, the status of women (including as readers and writers), the nature of society, the vicissitudes of knowledge—and novelistic form. We also examine several major literary-historical accounts of the novel’s generic evolution, audiences, timing, and social function, and historiographical debates about the novel’s rise (contrasting English-language accounts stressing the novel’s putatively British genesis, and alternative accounts sketching a larger European perspective).

The course gives special emphasis to the improvisatory, experimental character of early modern novels, as they work to reground fiction in the details and reality of contemporary life. Many epistolary, philosophical, sentimental, and Gothic novels present themselves as collections of “documents”—letters, diaries, travelogues, confessions—carefully assembled, impartially edited, and only incidentally conveying stories as well as information. The seminar explores these novels’ documentary ambitions; their attempt to touch, challenge, and change their readers; and their paradoxical influence on “realist” conventions (from the emergence of omniscient, impersonal narrators to techniques for describing time and place).

Professor: Katie Trumpener
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday, 1:30p.m.- 3:20p.m.

CPLT 686: Jewish Literary Masterpieces

Exploration of the nature of Jewish identity through a literary prism, focusing on novels, stories, poetry, and homilies. Study of texts written over a three thousand year period by Jews living in the Middle East, Europe, and America, from biblical writings through modern works composed by Franz Kafka, Philip Roth, as well as Israeli literature. Special attention given to the role of gender, minority identities, and the idea of nationalism. Taught in translation, readings in English.

Professor: Hannan Hever
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 3:30p.m.-5:20p.m.

CPLT 690: Politics of Modern Hebrew Literature

An overview of the poetics, culture, history, and political dynamics of modern Hebrew literature over the past 250 years. No background in Jewish literature and Jewish culture is required. All readings in English.

Professor: Hannan Hever
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday, 3:30p.m.-5:20p.m.

CPLT 809: Translating the Renaissance

Would there have been a Renaissance without translation? We approach this question by beginning with the first modern treatise on translation, by the Florentine chancellor Leonardo Bruni, and moving on to consider the role of translation in Florence’s and Tuscany’s growing cultural and political mastery over the peninsula—and in Italy’s cultural domination of Europe. We go on to explore the translation of “medieval” into “early modern” Europe, the translation of visual into verbal material, and the role of gender in the practice of translation. Students engage in their own translation projects as we dedicate the last part of the seminar to the diffusion of the Petrarchan sonnet tradition in early modern Europe.

Professor: Jane Tylus
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 3:30p.m.-5:20p.m.

CPLT 810: Renaissance Literature, Philosophy, and Art

Self-representations of radical novelty in Renaissance texts of literary, philosophical, and visual culture. Outlines of the path to modernity in works by Petrarch, Alberti, Leonardo, Machiavelli, Castiglione, Ariosto, Michelangelo, Aretino, Veronica Franco, Tasso, Cellini, Artemisia Gentileschi, Moderata Fonte, Bruno, Campanella, Galileo, and Vico.

Professor: Jane Tylus
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00p.m.-2:15p.m.

CPLT 822: Working Group on Globalization and Culture

A continuing collective research project, a cultural studies “laboratory,” that has been running since the fall of 2003. The group, made up of graduate students and faculty from several disciplines, meets regularly to discuss common readings, to develop collective and individual research projects, and to present that research publicly. The general theme for the working group is globalization and culture, with three principal aspects: (1) the globalization of cultural industries and goods, and its consequences for patterns of everyday life as well as for forms of fiction, film, broadcasting, and music; (2) the trajectories of social movements and their relation to patterns of migration, the rise of global cities, the transformation of labor processes, and forms of ethnic, class, and gender conflict; (3) the emergence of and debates within transnational social and cultural theory. The specific focus, projects, and directions of the working group are determined by the interests, expertise, and ambitions of the members of the group, and change as its members change.

There are a small number of openings for second-year graduate students. Students interested in participating should contact michael.denning@yale.edu.

Professor: Michael Denning
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Monday, 1:00p.m. - 3:20p.m.

CPLT 868: Speaking for Others: Advocacy and Representation in Law and Literature

Speaking for others (representing others) before a third party (judge or audience) is a basic constellation in Western literature rooted in legal, political, and religious practices. Speaking for others has been an alternative to and can function as reinterpretation of our usual dual idea of communication (Me speaking to You about Something in the world, G.H. Mead). Readings address the history and structure of speaking for others in three major sections: (1) ancient rhetoric and the Christian figure of speaking-for (Christ, the “paraclete”): Aristotle and Quintilian on rhetoric; Aeschylus, Eumenides; the Gospel of St. John; (2) political representation and speaking for others in (early) modern times: Hobbes and Rousseau on representation; Schiller, Don Carlos; Hölderlin, Empedocles; and (3) the critique of speaking for others in contemporary theory and literature: the Deleuze-Foucault debate on advocacy in the public space; Kafka, The Trial and related texts; Celan, The Meridian and related poems; Canetti on literature as art of becoming-the-other.

Professor: Rüdiger Campe
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Thursday 1:30pm.- 3:20p.m.

CPLT 917: Foundational Texts in Film and Media Studies

The course sets in place some undergirding for students who want to anchor their film interest to the professional discourse of this field. A coordinated set of topics in film theory is interrupted first by the often discordant voice of history and second by the obtuseness of the films examined each week. Films themselves take the lead in our discussions.

Professor: Dudley Andrew
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018

CPLT 925: The Practice of Literary Translation

Intensive readings in the history and theory of translation paired with practice in translating. Case studies form ancient languages (the Bible, Greek and Latin classics), medieval languages (classical Arabic and Persian literature), and modern languages (European poetic texts).

Crosslisted as JDST316/ENGL456/HUMS427/LITR348

Professor: Peter Cole, Professor: Robyn Creswell
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

CPLT 925: The Practice of Literary Translation

Intensive readings in the history and theory of translation paired with practice in translating. Case studies from ancient languages (the Bible, Greek and Latin classics), medieval languages (classical Arabic literature), and modern languages (poetic texts).

Professor: Peter Cole
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

CPLT 932: Scandinavian Cinema and Television

Contemporary Scandinavian film and television examined in relation to earlier cinematic highpoints. Europe’s first art cinema, early Scandinavian film was catalyzed and sustained by modernist breakthroughs in theater, literature, and painting. Contemporary cinema and television (Dogma films; Nordic Noir television; experimental music and genre film) continue to develop innovative aesthetic, funding, and exhibition models. The course explores regionally specific ideas about acting, visual culture, and the role of art; feminism and the social contract; historical forces and social change. Films by Bergman, Dreyer, Sjöström, Sjöberg, Vinterberg, von Trier, Östlund, Kaurismäki, Kjartansson; as well as contemporary television series selected by students.

Professor: Katie Trumpener
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Sunday, 7:00p.m. - 9:00p.m.

CPLT 935: French Cinema through the New Wave

This seminar uses a sample of twenty films (with clips from many others) to survey four decades of the tradition of French cinema crowned by the privileged moment of the New Wave. Graduate students are asked to challenge the idea of “national cinema” by reporting on some non-canonical or marginal film before midterm. Keeping the culture industry in view, we question the extent to which such a consistently robust cinema has been bound to—or remained partly independent of—a nation that from 1930 to 1970 underwent a depression, a socialist experiment, an occupation, a liberation, and the humiliations of decolonization abroad and social unrest (May ‘68) at home. In addition to the midterm contribution, graduate students write a substantial term paper.

Professor: Dudley Andrew
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018

CPLT 940: Magical Realism and Its Sequels in Modern Latin American Fiction

The course concentrates on the major writers who practiced what is called “magical realism”—Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and others—after studying the trend’s antecedents in the colonial, post-independence, and early twentieth century. The role of Jorge Luis Borges in the beginnings of magical realism, the works of writers such as Miguel Ángel Asturias and Juan Rulfo, and those of more recent writers who rejected the trend, such as Roberto Bolaño and Fernando Vallejo. The considerable critical corpus on the topic is studied. In Spanish.

Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2016
Day/Time: Wednesday 3:30p.m. - 5:20p.m.

CPLT 953: Topics in Sinophone and Chinese Studies

This seminar examines the current state of the field of Chinese and Sinophone studies from different geographical and theoretical perspectives. It is a research seminar and colloquium, and we use texts in the original as well as translated languages. Topics vary.

Professor: Jing Tsu
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 3:30p.m.-5:20p.m.

CPLT 959: Dissertation Workshop

Dissertation preparation course.

Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018

CPLT 986: Decolonizing Memory

This seminar introduces students to theories of memory, testimony, and trauma by bringing key works on these topics into dialogue with literary texts by writers of the former French and British empires in Africa. Literary readings may include works by Djebar, Ouologuem, Farès, Salih, Head, Aidoo. Theoretical readings by Arendt, Adorno and Horkheimer, Agamben, Césaire, Derrida, Fanon, Foucault, Mbembe, Spivak.

Professor: Jill Jarvis
Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018

Magical Realism and Its Sequels in Modern Latin American Fiction

The course concentrates on the major writers who practiced what is called “magical realism”—Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, and others—after studying the trend’s antecedents in the colonial, post-independence, and early twentieth century. The role of Jorge Luis Borges in the beginnings of magical realism, the works of writers such as Miguel Ángel Asturias and Juan Rulfo, and those of more recent writers who rejected the trend, such as Roberto Bolaño and Fernando Vallejo. The considerable critical corpus on the topic is studied. In Spanish.

Course Type: Graduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 1:30p.m.-3:20p.m.