LITR 406 Revenge in World Literature
The concept of world literature, from its origins in eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism represented by Herder and Goethe up to contemporary critical debates (Apter, Casanova, Cheah, Damrosch, Dharwadker, I. Hesse, Moretti, Mufti, Pollock, Said, Spivak). World literature in relation to national literature, German-language, and Jewish literature; translation, untranslatability, the effect of markets, diaspora, politics. Literary critical readings supplemented by exemplary literary texts in multiple genres. Student contributions based on individual linguistic backgrounds.
LITR 407: Ecology, Ecocriticism, and Narration
The course takes up a pressing topic from the sciences and looks at it from the angle of the humanities: how are ecological crises, how is–most specifically and urgently–our current climate crisis represented and reflected upon in non-scientific public discourse: in journalism, in the social media, in literature, and in film? With a focus on, but not limited to literary texts, the course draws on established categories of literary analysis, such as plot patterns or the techniques of narration and/vs. description, and links them to philosophical concepts such as Karen Barad’s agential realism and Donna Haraway’s “chthulucene.” In so doing the course not only looks into (and questions) the common accusation that literature is conspicuously silent when it comes to the matter of the climate crisis, but also investigates (literary and non-literary) ecological narration as situated at the intersection of representation and ethics. Literary readings include Adalbert Stifter, Amitav Ghosh, W.G. Sebald, Ian McEwan, Judith Hermann, Ilija Trojanow, and Kim Stanley Robinson.
LITR 409: Internet Cultures, Histories, Networks, and Practices
Examination, through the lenses of histories, network studies, and cultural studies, of how human beings have seemingly overnight learned to use and depend on computer networks for various kinds of work, military operations, pursuits of scientific knowledge, religious proselytizing, political organization, searches for mates and social communities, illegal activities, and infinite varieties of play.
LITR 418: Politics of Modern Hebrew Literature
Overview of the Poetics, Culture, History and Political dynamics of Modern Hebrew Literature as a national literature over the last 300 years. The course will trace the literary development of its diasporic condition in Europe through the Hebrew Literature that is created in the Israeli Jewish sovereignty. Readings in translation.
No background in Jewish literature, Hebrew literature, or Jewish culture is required.
LITR 420: The Jungle Books
A study of novels, stories, and films about a journey to the jungle in search of personal fulfillment and the origins of history. Authors include Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, André Malraux, Alejo Carpentier, W. H. Hudson, Claude Lévi-Strauss, José Eustasio Rivera, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
Readings and discussion in English.
LITR 426: Feminist and Queer Theory
Historical survey of feminist and queer theory from the Enlightenment to the present, with readings from key British, French, and American works. Focus on the foundations and development of contemporary theory. Shared intellectual origins and concepts, as well as divergences and conflicts, among different ways of approaching gender and sexuality.
LITR 434: Cervantes & Don Quijote
This course dedicates an entire semester to a close reading of the two parts of Miguel de Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote de la Mancha. Announcing itself as a “true history,” yet, whose fictional devices clearly shine through, Don Quixote occupies the privileged space of first modern novel where, within its literary fabric(ations), a theory of the novel is devised. Our readings of Don Quixote examine how the classic novel inserts, parodies, and transforms all previous literary and non-literary discourses to ingeniously invent a new narrative form. To contextualize Cervantes and his literary-historic tradition, this seminar also explores questions of erotic and literary desire, the role of madness and mental health, empire and the circulation of material culture and material wealth, the Edenic narrative and ecologies of the natural world, censorship and the Inquisition, the status of representation and performance, translation, as well as the constructions of class, gender, race, and nation. We also study the legacy of Don Quixote and its quixotic narratives through contemporary art, essays, films, novels, science fiction, and television.
LITR 437: Judeo-Spanish Culture, Language, and Literature
This course explores the rich body of culture, language, and literature that emerged in the Sephardi (Judeo-Spanish) diaspora following the expulsion of Jews from Iberia in 1492, and continuing to the present. This course is taught in English. TR
LITR 439: Living Form: Organicism in Society and Aesthetics
Starting with Kant, the organic is defined as a processual relation of the part and the whole, thereby providing a new model of the individual as a self-contained totality. Students explore the implications of this conception in Goethe’s writings on morphology (The Metamorphosis of Plants, “Orphic Primal Words”), the Romantics’ Atheneum, Hanslick’s On the Beautiful in Music, Oswald Spengler’s cultural morphology, the concept of autopoeisis in Maturana and Varela, Luhmann’s systems theory, and Canguilheim’s critique of the analogy of organic life and society.
LITR 444: Modern Arabic Poetry and Poetics
Poetry was the preeminent art of the Arab world for much of the twentieth century. Poets served as the region’s public intellectuals, framing and shaping debates about the most urgent events and topics of communal concern. The post-WWII period was also a moment when the very definition of Arabic poetry—formally as well as historically—was subject to important transformations. This course serves as an introduction to the major Arab poets of the post-war period—including Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, Nazik al-Mala’ika, Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish, Sargon Boulus, and Iman Mersal—as well as central debates about the nature and scope of poetry. Topics include the poetics of exile, “committed literature,” poetry and myth, the dialectic of tradition and modernity, the prose poem, and translation. Primary readings are in Arabic, with occasional secondary readings in English.
Prerequisite: Arabic L5 or higher, or permission of instructor.
LITR 445 El Quijote en español
LITR 446: Experimental Literature, Theory, and Manifestoes
A survey of the French experimental prose of the 20th and 21st centuries. Corpus includes novels and plays, literary and political manifestoes, and landmark articles on literary theory, structuralism, and poststructuralism. Topics include: inspiration and creativity; the aesthetics of manifestoes and the politics of literature; automatic writing and constrained prose; feminist and queer writings; urban spaces in avant-garde literary movements. Works by: Bataille, Beauvoir, Beckett, Breton, Perec, Sarraute, Wittig. Theoretical excerpts by: Barthes, Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, Glissant, Malabou.
LITR 447: I and Thou – Dialogue and Miscommunication in Theory and Literature
Dialogue constitutes an integral part of human experience and culture ever since antiquity. Whether as a rhetorical or a dramatic device, written or oral, fictional or not, dialogue substantiates the core of any intersubjective communication, building bridges between the self and the Other while maintaining them as two separate entities. This seminar explores the form and function of dialogue through a wide range of theoretical and literary texts, focusing on a set of social, hermeneutical, poetical, and political questions. Specific attention is given to literary cases of failed dialogues and miscomprehension, aiming at the unique potential of the literary text to draw our attention beyond the limits of human communication and language. Readings include texts by Plato, Buber, Mead, Habermas, Bakhtin, Schleiermacher, Gadamer, Kristeva, Glissant, Shakespeare, Goethe, Austen, Beckett, Schnitzler, Gogol, Celan, Herta Müller, and others.
This course may be counted towards the German concentration in Comparative Literature.
Upon attending a weekly discussion section in German, the course may be counted towards the German Advanced Language Certificate.
LITR 449: Irish Literary Revival and Modernism
Study of the Irish Literary Revival, developed through a series of intersecting cultural movements during the last decade of the nineteenth century and in the first several decades of the twentieth century that furnished modern Ireland with its own national literature and made Dublin a cultural capital. Notable Anglophone authors discussed may include Matthew Arnold, Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, Elizabeth Bowen, and Samuel Beckett.
LITR 450 Film and Fiction in Interaction
Study of the dynamic exchange or relay between fiction and film, recognized by theorists just after WWII, while obvious in adaptations, also exists in the evolution of the styles and topics of both forms of cultural production. The French term “ecriture, ” applied to films after 1948, is newly relevant in today’s open cultural field where writers make films and where many adaptations begin as interpretations.
Prerequisite: Advanced course in literary or film studies.
LITR 450: Film and Fiction in Interaction
Beyond adaptations of complex fiction (Henry James, James Joyce) literature may underlie “original” film masterpieces (Rules of the Game, Voyage to Italy). What about the reverse? Famous novelists moonlighted in the film world (Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene). Others developed styles in contact with cinema (Marguerite Duras, Eileen Chang, Kazuo Ishiguro). Today are these art forms evolving in parallel and in parity under new cultural conditions?
LITR 453: Being a Person
The course explores the notion of personhood as a context for contemporary debates on human, animal, and environmental rights. The social and legal notion of a “person” in modernity has been deeply informed by how “persons” are formed and performed on stage and in narration, and vice versa. Readings focus on two areas: (1) basic texts on the history of the notion of “person” and “character” in legal, poetical, and philosophical contexts from Hobbes to contemporary debates in environmental law; (2) the performance of personhood on the stage and the narrative evocation of a new modern character in the rise of the modern novel. Gender, race, and social class are of relevance throughout, as well as the question of being a nonperson (a witch, a monster, an outcast). With the opening cases of Shakespeare’s Tempest and Goethe’s Werther we discuss what it means to appear as a person on stage and as a character in a novel. We pursue the discussion into modernity with modernist and contemporary narratives and how they test the limits and conditions of individual personhood (Woolf, Kafka, Handke, Sebald). We end with contemporary post-migrant theater (Jelinek, Ronen) and ecopoetics (Spahr).
LITR 454: Neurodiversity and World Literature
There have always been many kinds of minds. And literary traditions around the world have long recognized and registered the fact that there are diverse modes of thinking, perceiving, feeling, and behaving. In this course, we consider how literature both represents and comes to be inflected by different cognitive styles. Our aim is not to read with a pathologizing gaze, scanning texts (or their authors) for symptoms of mental disorder, disease, or deviation; instead, we take up what scholar-activist Nick Walker calls “the neurodiversity paradigm.” This is an approach that does not recognize any single “normal” or “right” way of being minded: in this paradigm, each neurocognitive style deserves to be accorded dignity and value. We range widely across times and geographies as we read prose fiction, philosophical narratives, poems, and first-personal accounts that reveal and revel in neurodiversity. Our discussions often turn to matters of form; for instance, when autistic author Tito Mukhopadhyay writes that “verse makes me free,” we consider what implications this statement holds for poetry as such. Primary texts are supplemented by readings in literary theory and the history of science; clustering literary and theoretical sources—often from non-adjacent traditions—help us observe multidirectional vectors of influence that extend across literary imagination, medical science, ethics, rhetoric, and creativity.
LITR 457 Structural Transformations of the Public Sphere
An in-depth discussion of the idea, the structure and the recent radical transformations of the “critical public sphere,” considered a cornerstone of liberal-democratic society. We explore the modern emergence of the critical public sphere from the public forums of critique and literary-critical discourse, followed by the two waves of “structural transformations of the public sphere” (Habermas). (1) Transformation through mass media and consumer culture, and (2) the most recent transformations of the public sphere through social media. These transformations have been welcomed as a democratization of public life, but at the same time may endanger the emancipatory ideals of enlightenment and critique at the heart of the public sphere. The ambivalent character of the recent changes, the fragmentation, capitalization, and surveillance of public life as well as strategies of resistance are highlighted.
LITR 459 Golden Age Theater
The development and apogee of the Spanish comedia, as well as contemporary minor subgenres such as the auto sacramental and the entremés. Exploration of how the theater synthesizes post-Garcilaso lyric, the commedia dell’arte, renaissance epic, the romancero, Spanish history, and the European renaissance literary tradition. Works by Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Guillén de Castro, Mira de Amescua, Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, Luis Quiñones de Benavente, Pedro Calderón de la Barca, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Comparison with English and French theater is encouraged.