Undergraduate Courses

LITR 332 Philosophy as Literature: Nietzsche's Zarathustra

A scrupulous reading of Nietzsche’s “great” book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Beyond the three explicit doctrines taught in the book—god’s death, the will to power, and the eternal recurrence of the like—there is a landscape of riddles, paradoxes and parables, songs, screeds and speeches, wise animals, dumb wisemen, teachers who can’t teach, and students who learn everything but the lesson. In short, the book is a summa literarum. We ask what it means to philosophize in and as literature, and how this reckless experiment transforms both.

Professor: Paul North
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Monday, 3:30p.m. - 6:30p.m.

LITR 332: Narratives of Blackness in Latino and Latin America

Focus on the cultural and literary treatments of Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latina/o subjectivity in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin America and in the United States through the study of literature, historical first-hand accounts, film, and scholarship produced from the 16th century to the present. Themes include slave insurrections, the plantation system, piracy and buccaneering, the black roots of several Latin American musical genres, miscegenation, and the central role of sexuality in race-based social hierarchies.

Professor: Dixa Ramirez
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday, 1:30p.m.-3:20p.m.

LITR 334 Game of Thrones and the Theory of Sovereignty

Introduction to the classical and modern theory of sovereignty in the context of G.R.R. Martin’s popular Game of Thrones series and, secondarily, the television series. Although A Song of Ice and Fire is not a work of German literature, it addresses theoretical and literary‐historical discourses prominent in the German context. Emphasis on literary and theoretical analysis; literature as a testing ground for theory and theory as an analytical framework for evaluating literary and cultural depictions; questioning the basis of the contemporary relevance and popularity of Martin’s fictional universe in light of questions of tragedy, individual agency, myth (vs. history, modernity), realism (vs. fantasy), environmental catastrophe and geopolitics.

Students previously enrolled in GMAN 051 are not eligible to enroll in this course.

Professor: Kirk Wetters
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 9:00am-10:15am

LITR 334: Zombies, Pirates, Ghosts, and Witches

Study of the literature and history of the Atlantic Caribbean region (including the U.S. Northeast and Deep South) through its most subversive and disturbing icons—zombies, pirates, ghosts, vampires, and witches. Texts include Francis Drake on piracy, Katherine Dunham on zombies, Lauren Derby on vampires (chupacabras), Maryse Condé and Sandra Cisneros on witchcraft, and Toni Morrison and William Faulkner on ghosts. Films include documentaries and several horror classics, including White Zombie (1932), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), The Witch (2015), and Get Out (2017).

Professor: Dixa Ramirez
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 2:30p.m.-4:20p.m.

LITR 339 Global Shakespeares: Race, Gender, and the Idea of the Human

Shakespeare today is a global phenomenon: over five hundred years after his death, the playwright’s legacy continues to flourish with new performances, reworkings, appropriations, and adaptations continuously produced across the world in a range of languages and across various media. Once exported along with the ideologies and practices of empire, Shakespeare’s works have now become an index for the complex histories of colonialism and postcolonialism as well as a crucial site for studying processes of racialization and the universalizing idea of “the human.” How did Shakespeare become global? Was the cultural imagination of his plays always already global, written at a time with the very notion of the modern world as we know was being shaped? This course explores the political afterlives of “Shakespeare” as a cultural icon and aesthetic touchstone for the Western tradition through a close reading of four plays alongside their adaptations: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra. We look at films, novels, manga comics, memoirs, stand-up comic routines, along with classic stagings of the plays to elucidate the themes that have made Shakespeare global—in particular, questions of race, gender, sexuality, generational conflict, and political intrigue. Authors and directors include  Akiro Kurosawa, Vishal Bharadwaj,  Janet Suzman, Iqbal Khan, James Baldwin, Sulayman Al-Bassam, Tayeb Salih, Preti Taneja,  and Derek Walcott. This is the non-intensive writing version of LITR 340 and is worth 1 credit. It meets with LITR 340. Students may earn credit for LITR 339 (1 credit) or for LITR 340 (1.5 credits) but not for both.

Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2020
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 11:35a.m. - 12:25p.m.

Shakespeare today is a global phenomenon: over five hundred years after his death, the playwright’s legacy continues to flourish with new performances, reworkings, appropriations, and adaptations continuously produced across the world in a range of languages and across various media. Once exported along with the ideologies and practices of empire, Shakespeare’s works have now become an index for the complex histories of colonialism and postcolonialism as well as a crucial site for studying processes of racialization and the universalizing idea of “the human.” How did Shakespeare become global? Was the cultural imagination of his plays always already global, written at a time with the very notion of the modern world as we know was being shaped? This course explores the political afterlives of “Shakespeare” as a cultural icon and aesthetic touchstone for the Western tradition through a close reading of four plays alongside their adaptations: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra. We look at films, novels, manga comics, memoirs, stand-up comic routines, along with classic stagings of the plays to elucidate the themes that have made Shakespeare global—in particular, questions of race, gender, sexuality, generational conflict, and political intrigue. Authors and directors include  Akiro Kurosawa, Vishal Bharadwaj,  Janet Suzman, Iqbal Khan, James Baldwin, Sulayman Al-Bassam, Tayeb Salih, Preti Taneja,  and Derek Walcott. This is the non-intensive writing version of LITR 340 and is worth 1 credit. It meets with LITR 340. Students may earn credit for LITR 339 (1 credit) or for LITR 340 (1.5 credits) but not for both.

Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 9:25a.m.-10:15a.m.

LITR 340 (Writing Intensive) Global Shakespeares: Race, Gender and the Idea of the Human

This course explores the political afterlives of “Shakespeare” as a cultural icon and aesthetic touchstone for the Western tradition through a close reading of four plays alongside their adaptations: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. We look at films, novels, manga comics, memoirs, stand-up comic routines, along with classic stagings of the plays to elucidate the themes that have made Shakespeare global—in particular, questions of race, gender, sexuality, generational conflict, and political intrigue. Along the way, we consider the challenges of decolonizing the canon and the particular place Shakespeare occupies as an index of cultural value. Authors and directors include Akiro Kurosawa, Vishal Bharadwaj, Janet Suzman, Iqbal Khan, James Baldwin, Sulayman Al-Bassam, Tayeb Salih, Preti Taneja, and Derek Walcott. This is the intensive writing version of LITR 339 and is worth 1.5 credits. Meets with LITR 339. Students may earn credit for LITR 339 (1 credit) OR for LITR 340 (1.5 credits) but not for both.

Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2020
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 11:35a.m. - 12:25p.m.

This course explores the political afterlives of “Shakespeare” as a cultural icon and aesthetic touchstone for the Western tradition through a close reading of four plays alongside their adaptations: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. We look at films, novels, manga comics, memoirs, stand-up comic routines, along with classic stagings of the plays to elucidate the themes that have made Shakespeare global—in particular, questions of race, gender, sexuality, generational conflict, and political intrigue. Along the way, we consider the challenges of decolonizing the canon and the particular place Shakespeare occupies as an index of cultural value. Authors and directors include Akiro Kurosawa, Vishal Bharadwaj, Janet Suzman, Iqbal Khan, James Baldwin, Sulayman Al-Bassam, Tayeb Salih, Preti Taneja, and Derek Walcott. This is the intensive writing version of LITR 339 and is worth 1.5 credits. Meets with LITR 339. Students may earn credit for LITR 339 (1 credit) OR for LITR 340 (1.5 credits) but not for both.

Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9:25a.m.-10:15a.m.

LITR 342: 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: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Wednesday, 3:30p.m.-5:20p.m.

LITR 344 The Detective Story: Solving Mysteries from Oedipus to Sherlock

The course looks closely at detective stories, novels and films, with attention to the basic narrative structure of criminal enigma, logical investigation and denouement (whodunnit), and considers the meaning of “genre” more broadly. Starting with the proto-detective story Oedipus Rex—in which tragic drama takes the form of a murder mystery—we move on to Edgar Allan Poe’s invention of the genre proper in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter.” From there we go to Poe’s “golden age” inheritors Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Sayers, as well as the adaptation of Doyle’s tales for the BBC series Sherlock. We also spend time on American “hard boiled” writers (Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon and John Huston’s 1941 film adaption of the novel); fiction which draws upon the conventions of detective stories without being genre fiction (Nabokov, Borges), non-fiction works which have the structure of a detective story (Freud’s “Wolf Man” case study); neo-noir film (Chinatown); works that fuse detective fiction and science-fiction (Minority Report) and recent film homage to “golden age” whodunnits (Knives Out). Students write essays making interpretive claims and using evidence from works on the syllabus, with emphasis on writing clear prose in support of an original argument.

Professor: Paul Grimstad
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

LITR 345 Climate Change and the Humanities

What can the Humanities tell us about climate change? The Humanities help us to better understand the relationship between everyday individual experience, and our rapidly changing natural world. To that end, students read literary, political, historical, and religious texts to better understand how individuals both depend on, and struggle against, the natural environment in order to survive.

Professor: Katja Lindskog
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Monday & Wednesday, 7:30p.m.-8:45p.m.

LITR 346: Ends of the Enlightenment

Kant’s question “What is Enlightenment?” traced through literature, philosophy, theory, and the arts. Classic theories through the mid-twentieth century from works by Rousseau, Voltaire, Nietzsche, Spengler, Schmitt, Weber, Adorno, Heidegger, Habermas, Foucault, and Derrida. Theoretical work is paired with literature, art, and film.

Professor: Kirk Wetters
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2018
Day/Time: Tuesday, 1:30p.m.-3:20p.m.

LITR 348 The Practice of Literary Translation

This course combines a seminar on the history and theory of translation (Tuesdays) with a hands-on workshop (Thursdays). The readings lead us through a series of case studies comparing, on the one hand, multiple translations of given literary works and, on the other, classic statements about translation—by translators themselves and prominent theorists. We consider both poetry and prose from the Bible, selections from Chinese, Greek, and Latin verse, classical Arabic and Persian literature, prose by Cervantes, Borges, and others, and modern European poetry (including Pushkin, Baudelaire, and Rilke). Students are expected to prepare short class presentations, participate in a weekly workshop, try their hand at a series of translation exercises, and undertake an intensive, semester-long translation project. Proficiency in a foreign language is required.

Professor: Peter Cole
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 2:30p.m. - 3:45p.m.

This course combines a seminar on the history and theory of translation (Tuesdays) with a hands-on workshop (Thursdays). The readings lead us through a series of case studies comparing, on the one hand, multiple translations of given literary works and, on the other, classic statements about translation—by translators themselves and prominent theorists. We consider both poetry and prose from the Bible, selections from Chinese, Greek, and Latin verse, classical Arabic and Persian literature, prose by Cervantes, Borges, and others, and modern European poetry (including Pushkin, Baudelaire, and Rilke). Students are expected to prepare short class presentations, participate in a weekly workshop, try their hand at a series of translation exercises, and undertake an intensive, semester-long translation project. Proficiency in a foreign language is required.

Professor: Peter Cole
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Tuesday, 2:30 p.m.-3:45p.m.

LITR 348: The Practice of Literary Translation

This course combines a seminar on the history and theory of translation (Tuesdays) with a hands-on workshop (Thursdays). The readings lead us through a series of case studies comparing, on the one hand, multiple translations of given literary works and, on the other, classic statements about translation—by translators themselves and prominent theorists. We consider both poetry and prose from the Bible, selections from Chinese, Greek, and Latin verse, classical Arabic and Persian literature, prose by Cervantes, Borges, and others, and modern European poetry (including Pushkin, Baudelaire, and Rilke). Students are expected to prepare short class presentations, participate in a weekly workshop, try their hand at a series of translation exercises, and undertake an intensive, semester-long translation project. Proficiency in a foreign language is required.

Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2022

LITR 356: Scandinavian Cinema and Television

Contemporary Scandinavian film and television examined in relation to earlier cinematic highpoints. 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, Gad, Sjöström, Sjöberg, Sjöman, Troell, Widerberg, Vinterberg, von Trier, Ostlund, Kaurismäki, Scherfig, Kjartansson; as well as contemporary television series selected by students.

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

LITR 359 Italian Film from Postwar to Postmodern

A study of important Italian films from World War II to the present. Consideration of works that typify major directors and trends. Topics include neorealism, self-reflexivity and metacinema, fascism and war, and postmodernism. Films by Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller, Tornatore, and Moretti. Films in Italian with English subtitles.

Professor: Millicent Marcus
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2020
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.; Screening Wednesday, 7:30p.m. - 10:00p.m.

A study of important Italian films from World War II to the present. Consideration of works that typify major directors and trends. Topics include neorealism, self-reflexivity and metacinema, fascism and war, and postmodernism. Films by Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller, Tornatore, and Moretti. Films in Italian with English subtitles.

Professor: Millicent Marcus
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2021
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.

LITR 359: Italian Film from Postwar to Postmodern

A study of important Italian films from World War II to the present. Consideration of works that typify major directors and trends. Topics include neorealism, self-reflexivity and metacinema, fascism and war, and postmodernism. Films by Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller, Tornatore, and Moretti.

Most films in Italian with English subtitles.

Professor: Millicent Marcus
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00pm-5:15pm

LITR 362: Intermediality in Film

Film is a hybrid medium, the meeting point of several others. This course focuses on the relationship of film to theater, painting, and video, suggesting that where two media are in evidence, there is usually a third. Topics include space, motion, framing, color, theatricality, tableau vivant, ekphrasis, spectatorship, and new media. Readings feature art historical and film theoretical texts as well as essays pertinent to specific films. Films by Fassbinder, Bergman, von Trier, Jarman, Godard, Haneke, Antonioni, Greenaway and others.

Professor: Brigitte Peucker
Course Type: Undergraduate
Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Thursday, 1:30pm-3:20pm Screening Wednesday, 7pm-10pm