Literary Genre: LG
Literature (Theory): LT
Literature (Before 20th-C): LC
General Literature: any course listed on this page
*Asterisked courses* include a creative writing component, and may be of interest to students; they do not indicate an additional requirement.
All courses listed here are approved to count towards the Creative Writing major as general literature courses. Course codes indicate approval specific distribution requirements. Students may register for eligible courses under any course number.
These courses are offered by departments, not the Program in Creative Writing. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course. The course descriptions below are to the best of our knowledge the most recent available.
Courses taken prior to 2018-19 or otherwise not on this list (such as language classes) must be approved by the DUS. Contact Julie Iromuanya (email@example.com) and Jessi Haley (firstname.lastname@example.org) about approval.
Page to be updated.
ENGL | English Language and Literature
CMST | Cinema and Media Studies
CLAS | Classics
CMLT | Comparative Literature
EALC | East Asian Languages and Civilizations
GRMN | Germanic Studies
NELC | Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
PHIL | Philosophy
RLLT | Romance Languages and Literatures
REES | Russian and East European Studies
SALC | South Asian Languages and Civilizations
TAPS | Theatre and Performance Studies
HIST | History
BIBL | Divinity
Any class offered by the Department of English Language and Literature can satisfy the general literature requirement for Creative Writing. Please see below for a selection of English classes that satisfy specific requirements in genre (LG), theory (LT), and period (LC). Browse the full English catalog at https://english.uchicago.edu/courses.
ENGL 21360/41360 Gender, Capital, and Desire: Jane Austen and Critical Interpretation (Schweiger), Tues/Thurs 9:40 -11:00 am, Remote
Today, Jane Austen is one of the most famous (perhaps the most famous), most widely read, and most beloved of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British novelists. In the two hundred years since her authorial career, her novels have spawned countless imitations, homages, parodies, films, and miniseries - not to mention a thriving "Janeite" fan culture. For just as long, her novels have been the objects of sustained attention by literary critics, theorists, and historians. This course will offer an in-depth examination of Austen, her literary corpus, and her cultural reception as well as a graduate-level introduction to several important schools of critical and theoretical methodology. We will read all six of Austen's completed novels in addition to criticism spanning feminism, historicism, Marxism, queer studies, postcolonialism, and psychoanalysis. Readings may include Shoshana Felman, Frances Ferguson, William Galperin, Deidre Lynch, D.A. Miller, Edward Said, Eve Sedgwick, and Raymond Williams. LC, LT
ENGL 20180/40180 Women Writing God (Sarah Kunjummen), Tues/Thurs 2:40-4:00 pm, Remote
This course examines imaginative works by women that take on the task of representing divine or supernatural being from the medieval era to the present. Drawing on the work of theorists such as Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, and Judith Butler, we will explore what strategies these writers employ to depict an entity understood to be unrepresentable. What kind of authority is required to present a representation of gods or God to readers, and how do women writers, in particular, establish such authority or manage its absence? What theories of embodiment or spirituality do we find presented in these writings? Is it possible or desirable to articulate a distinctively feminine relation to the body or transcendence across such varied texts? Readings may include Julian of Norwich’s fourteenth-century Revelations of Divine Love, the philosophical writings of Anne Conway, the poems of ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, and novels by Marilynne Robinson and Leslie Marmon Silko. LT
ENGL 12704/32174 Writing Persuasion: Health and Environment (Tracy Weiner), Mon/Wed 4:10-5:30 pm, Remote
A writing-intensive course in persuasive techniques that influence opinions and attempt to change behavior. This year our focus will be on an issue that presents a challenge for persuasion theory: the environment. People are notoriously slow to change their beliefs and behavior on environmental issues, and persuasion theory suggests reasons why this might be the case. Environmental problems ask readers to weigh costs that affect one group against benefits that might accrue to someone else. They involve time frames ranging from moments (which are easy to think and write about) to millennia (not so easy) to geological epochs, a time scale so remote from our experience as to be opaque to the imagination. Environmental problems are complex in ways that make them difficult to capture in a coherent, emotionally compelling narrative. Many individually innocuous and seemingly unrelated environmental events can converge over time to produce consequences that are counter-intuitively larger and graver than their causes. This felt disparity between actions and outcomes can violate an audience's sense of fairness, biasing the audience against a persuasive appeal. LT
CMLT 26112 (GNSE 26112, SALC 26112, HMRT 26112, CRES 26112) Queer Asia(s) 2 (Nisha Kommattam), Tues/Thurs 1:00-2:20 pm, Remote
While this course is conceptualized as a sequel to Queer Asia(s) 1 from last fall, it is nevertheless a standalone course that can be taken separately, without prerequisites. This course continues to explore representations of queerness, same-sex love and sexualities and debates around them by introducing students to a variety of literature and films in both Asian languages and English. The geographic regions represented include India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea and Singapore. There will be a focus on the modern/contemporary period as well as queer diasporas. We will also read scholarship that will help us place the production and reception of these primary sources in historical, political, cultural and religious contexts. Questions of cross-cultural and transnational dialogue and cultural specificity will be addressed. Students need to be available for 2 synchronous online meetings per week. LT
CMLT 25301/35301 (ENGL 25301/35301, SOCI 20525/30525) The Sociology of Literature (Larry Rothfield), Tues/Thurs 6:00-7:20 pm, Remote
This course explores the critical potential and limitations of a few key sociological approaches to literature, working with the literary scene of the 1890s as our case. We will focus on Bourdieu's theorization of the field of cultural production; Foucault's analytics of power/knowledge and discursive formations; and recent efforts by Moretti and others to import geographic, social network, and evolutionary models into literary studies. LT
ENGL 20212 Romantic Natures (Timothy Campbell)
Our survey of British Romantic literary culture will combine canonical texts (especially the major poetry) with consideration of the practices and institutions underwriting Romantic engagement with the natural world. We will also address foundational and recent critical-theoretical approaches to the many “natures” of Romanticism. Our contextual materials will engage the art of landscape, an influx of exotic and dangerously erotic flora, practices of collection and display, the emergent localism of the naturalist Gilbert White, the emergence of geological “deep time,” and the (literal) fruits of empire and vegetarianism. LC
Black in Colonial America: Three Women | ENGL 21785
Through a survey of texts by and about Sally Hemings, Phillis Wheatley and Tituba, “the Indian,” we will consider the lives of three black women in colonial America. In this period of expansion and contraction of the concepts of race and bondage, what kind of “tellings” were possible for these women? By reading texts written as early as 1692 and as late as 2008, we will also consider how representations of these women have changed over time. Simplified by history as a witch, a poet and a mistress, the details of the lives of Tituba, Phillis and Sally resists these epithets. This course will ask why and how they remain present in the written record today, and what this teaches us about the formation of literary and historical canons. (LC)
History of the Novel | ENGL 11004
This course examines the evolution of the novel from the 18th to the 21st century, and includes an introduction to theories of narrative. (LG – Fiction, LC, LT)
The World's a Stage: Performance in Politics, Culture, and Everyday Life | ENGL 18660
This course traces the history of the double-edged notion that the world might resemble a stage from its ancient roots to its current relevance in politics, social media, and gender expression, among other areas. We will explore these questions by reading performance texts and performance theory from classical to contemporary, by attending plays and watching films, and by visiting non-theatrical events in order to consider them as occasions for performance. (LT)
20th Century Short Fiction | ENGL 10703
This course presents America's major writers of short fiction in the 20th century. We will begin with Willa Cather's "Paul's Case" in 1905 and proceed to the masters of High Modernism, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Porter, Welty, Ellison, Nabokov; on through the next generation, O'Connor, Pynchon, Roth, Mukherjee, Coover, Carver; and end with more recent work by Danticat, Tan, and the microfictionists. Our initial effort with each text will be close reading, from which we will move out to consider questions of ethnicity, gender, and psychology. Writing is also an important concern of the course. There will be two papers and an individual tutorial with each student. (LG - Fiction)
"I, too, am America": Ethnic Minority Poetry in the US | ENGL 19920
This course is designed as a survey of the various minority traditions excluded from canonical understandings of the history of US poetry. Centered around the twentieth century yet bookended by earlier and later poetry, the course is divided into four sections: African American, Native American, Latinx, and Asian American. Among many others, we’ll read poems by Myung Mi Kim, Amiri Baraka, Simon J. Ortiz, and Claudia Rankine. (LG – Poetry, LT)
GNSE 20001 Theories of Sexuality and Gender
Instructors: C. Riley Snorton and Allison Reed
This is a one-quarter, seminar-style course for undergraduates. Its aim is triple: to engage scenes and concepts central to the interdisciplinary study of gender and sexuality; to provide familiarity with key theoretical anchors for that study; and to provide skills for deriving the theoretical bases of any kind of method. Students will produce descriptive, argumentative, and experimental engagements with theory and its scenes as the quarter progresses. (LT)
Borders, Migration, and Refugees | ENGL 20040
This course explores the complex geopolitical issues of migration and national borders through visual and literary representations of the refugee in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Artists, writers, and theorists will include Sam Selvon, Roberto Bolaño, Mounira Al Solh, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Ocean Vuong. (LT)
Early Modern Women Writing Trauma | ENGL 21350
This course examines 16th and 17th century women’s writing alongside the scholarship of trauma studies, with attention to themes of childbed suffering, loss, and geographical displacement. How did early modern authors employ a vocabulary for individual and collective encounters with death, illness, violence, and emotional disturbance prior to the modern conceptualization of trauma in the 20th century? What displaced histories are we able to access by bringing sustained focus to women’s writing? We will explore how early modern women articulate questions around suffering, personhood, and macro categories of identity (such as race, gender, class, and disability) as well as how their writing might reframe and/or disrupt the category of trauma in contemporary theory. Early modern authors of focus will include, among others, Aphra Behn, Elizabeth Carey, Margaret Cavendish, and Katherine Philips; we will also read widely across genres and time periods, with a syllabus that incorporates materials ranging from early modern midwifery treatises to contemporary drama. (LC)
Orientalisms | ENGL 19856
Orientalism: in the 19th century, this word referred both to the disciplined study of Asian cultures in Western academia, and to a school of European painting characterized by its fanciful and exotic depictions of Asia (and the Middle East in particular). Since Edward Said’s landmark 1978 book of the same title, Orientalism has come to name a complex and historically varied Western tendency to relate to Asia on the terms of stereotyping fantasy. Surveying the development of orientalist themes from about 1890 to the present—including the craze for japonisme in late-19th century European art, and the mix-and-match approach to Eastern (and other) spiritualities that constitutes the “New Age”—this course unravels the tropes and conventions that have historically shaped how Asia is imagined, perceived, and represented in the modern West. Along the way, we will ask how and why orientalist tropes have historically framed the exploration of issues like gender, sexuality, cultural decline, and futurity. Starting with Said as a springboard, we’ll read a series of literary and cinematic texts—Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Mikado, Wong Kar-Wai’s film In the Mood For Love—alongside more recent theoretical accounts of orientalism by scholars such as Anne Anlin Cheng, Grace Lavery, and R John Williams. We will also look at the ways in which Asian writers and artists have adopted orientalist modes of representation for their own critical purposes. LC, LT
Introduction to Old English | ENGL 28404
“Moððe word fræt.” These are the first words of a riddle that students will learn how to read in this course. As the first part of the Medieval Research Series, this course introduces students to the Old English language, the literary history of early medieval England, and current research tools and scholarship in the field of Old English. In studying the language, we will explore its diverse and exciting body of literature, including poems of heroic violence and lament, laws, medical recipes, and humorously obscene riddles. Successful completion of the course will give students a rich sense not only of the earliest period of English literary culture, but also of the structure of the English language as it is written and spoken today. (LC)
*This course is the first in a two quarter Medieval Research sequence. No prior experience with Old or Middle English is required. The second course in the Medieval Research sequence (Beowulf) will be offered in the Spring Quarter.
Screwing Up: Shame, Apology, and Gender Theory | ENGL 23130
What does it feel like to be wrong? How do we know when we have “erred”, and who decides what’s right? How does feeling shame change how we think of ourselves and how we might behave in the future? What does the “normative” in heteronormative mean? In this class, we will use the question of normativity—senses of wrongness and rightness and how those judgments are articulated, navigated, and enforced—to explore foundational concepts in and across theories of gender and sexuality. We will also examine the social performances of apology, guilt, regret, and remorse that occur when individuals believe they have erred. We will examine ways in which gender and bodily regimes of normativity occur in and around scenes of discomfort, uncertainty, and insecurity as well as through infrastructures of legality and policing. This course pairs our central theoretical texts from feminist, queer, critical race and disability studies with literary texts, works of poetry, and contemporary cultural objects in order to examine how these questions are enacted in a variety of lived and literary perspectives. (LT)
Queer Letters and LGBTQ+ Lifeworlds | ENGL 23127
This course asks after the social and aesthetic possibilities of queer literatures, with a particular interest in such life-writing forms as the personal letter and epistolary (or electronic) correspondence. What, we will ask, can attending to specifically LGBTQ+ correspondences and life-writings teach us about minoritarian lifeworlds and literary canons? And, vice versa, how does an attention to the sub- or counter-cultural spaces of queer literary production change the way we read even canonical literary texts? We will visit a variety of LGBTQ+ literary lifeworlds across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries – between London, Paris, New York, San Francisco – and engage a wide range of texts and media that represent and encode queer social circuits: collected correspondences, coterie literatures, auto/biographies, memoirs, poetry, and film. In so doing, we will develop a backdrop of queer theoretical scholarship devoted to questions of community-making, subcultural space and belonging, and queer time, including the work of José Esteban Muñoz, Juana María Rodríguez, Elizabeth Freeman, and Jack Halberstam. In addition to a self-designed archival, analytical, or creative final project, we will also hone archival research strategies through two excursions to local archives and experiment with creative and collaborative strategies for reading and writing as we challenge ourselves to think from the position of correspondents. (LT, LG - Nonfiction)
Empire and the Novel | ENGL 21690
This course investigates how the rise of the nineteenth-century British novel is intimately linked to the expansion of the British Empire. Many understand that this empire was based on unfair trade relations, indigenous genocide, and the exploitative labor of millions, but it can be difficult at times to see how this atrocious history fits into the domestic and metropolitan realism of the novel. How does the practice of imperialism impact the conventions of domestic fiction? How are the novel’s constructions of gender, race, and class related to the political status of colonized peoples? Our focus will be to connect narrative form with the realities of imperialism and colonial rule, but we will also draw on other genres of nineteenth-century cultural production such as print journalism, visual art, and political essays in order to help us trace the sociopolitical conditions that made empire possible. Fictional readings may include work by Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Olive Schreiner, and others. We will utilize our access to colonial archives in London with possible field trips to the British Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among other outings throughout the city. Assignments include weekly Canvas posts, a close-reading exercise, a 4-5-page reflection paper on an archival object, and a 6-7-page final paper. LG – Fiction, LC, LT
Black Speculative Fiction | ENGL 21223
This course familiarizes students with Black literary speculative fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy. The objective of this course is to read Black speculative fiction alongside the historical contexts the assigned works speak to, as well as orient students to the radical re/imaginings of Black pasts, presents, and futures in the novels and short films at the center of the course. This class will pay particular attention to Black diasporic/international contributions to the genre. LG – Fiction, LT
Romanticism | ENGL 25260
In depth study of the period literature across poetry and fiction. Poetry: not just the canonical “big six” but also selections from the expanded horizon that includes once neglected women poets, as well as Robert Burns, Thomas Moore, John Clare. Fiction might include works by Godwin, Austen, Mary Shelley, and Walter Scott. Some attention will be paid as well to Romanticism as a fertile source for criticism and theory over the decades. (LC, LT)
Introduction to Latinx Literature | ENGL 11008
From the activist literature of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement to contemporary fiction and poetry, this course explores the forms, aesthetics, and political engagements of U.S. Latinx literature in the 20th and 21st centuries. Theoretical readings are drawn from Chicanx Studies, Latinx Studies, American Studies, Latin American Studies, Hemispheric Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Postcolonial Studies, as we explore Latinx literature in the context of current debates about globalization, neoliberalism, and U.S. foreign policy; Latinx literature’s response to technological and socio-political changes and its engagement with race, gender, sexuality, class, and labor; and its dialogues with indigenous, Latin American, North American, and European literatures. (LT)
Coming of Age: Autobiography, Bildungsroman, and Memoir in Victorian Britain and its Empire | ENGL 20266
In this course, we will consider the broad generic category of “coming of age” stories that characterized the literary writing of the nineteenth century. Across several different kinds of writing, a focus on the growth and development of the child into adulthood became an obsessive focus. We will read autobiographies by Mill and Martineau, Bildungsroman by Bronte and Eliot, memoirs by Dickens but also lesser known figures: working class autodidacts, women in childbirth, colonial subjects. We will, along the way, learn more about Victorian childhood, the emergence of developmental psychology, psychoanalysis, and the socio-psychological “invention” of adolescence. (LC, LG - Nonfiction)
Brecht and Beyond| ENGL 24400
Brecht is indisputably the most influential playwright in the 20th century, but his influence on film theory and practice and on cultural theory generally is also considerable. In this course we will explore the range and variety of Brecht's own theatre, from the anarchic plays of the 1920's to the agitprop Lehrstück and film esp Kühle Wampe) to the classical parable plays, as well as the work of his heirs in German theatre (Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss) and film (RW Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge), in French film (Jean-Luc Godard) and cultural theory (the Situationists and May 68), film and theatre in Britain (Mike Leigh and Lucy Prebble), and theatre and film in Africa, from South Africa to Senegal. (LT)
* NOTE: This is *not* a basic intro course: background in one or more of the following areas is essential: Intro to film/international cinema AND/OR TAPS AND/OR German or French.
*This course also includes a weekly screening session.
Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies | ENGL 16500
An exploration of some of Shakespeare's major plays from the first half of his professional career when the genres in which he primarily worked were comedies and (English) histories. Plays to be studied include The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Richard III, Richard II, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and Henry V. A shorter and a longer paper will be required. (LC)
Some Versions of Apocalypse | ENGL 15107
From prophetic texts of the ancient world to today's fascination with zombie plagues, environmental disaster, and nuclear winter, the genre of apocalypse has given extraordinarily fertile expression to religious, moral, political, and economic beliefs and anxieties. In this course we will explore what is both fearful and alluring about catastrophe on an unimaginable scale, as we read and view apocalyptic works across a wide historical range.
Fundamentals of Literary Criticism | ENGL 11200
An introduction to the practice of literary and cultural criticism over the centuries, with a particular emphasis on theoretical debates about meaning and interpretation in the late 20th century and present. Critics and theorists will include Sigmund Freud, Roland Barthes, Barbara Johnson, Raymond Williams, Saidya Hartman, Eve Sedgwick, René Girard, Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Lauren Berlant, Catherine Gallagher and others. (LT)
Literature, Medicine, and Embodiment | ENGL 10620
This class explores the connections between imaginative writing and embodiment, especially as bodies have been understood, cared for, and experienced in the framework of medicine. We’ll read texts that address sickness, healing, diagnosis, disability, and expertise. The class also introduces a number of related theoretical approaches, including the medical humanities, disability studies, narrative medicine, the history of the body, and the history of science. (LC)
Gender and Sexuality in a Transnational World | ENGL 25262
This course, through attention to critical theory and expressive cultures, surveys gender and sexuality across time and place. Students will learn about theories of sex, gender, and sexuality; colonialisms and nationalisms; social movements; and war, migration, and technology. (LT)
The Declaration of Independence | ENGL 17950
This course offers an extended investigation of the origins, meanings, and legacies of one of the most consequential documents in world history: the Declaration of Independence. Primary and secondary readings provide a series of philosophical, political, economic, social, religious, literary, and legal perspectives on the text’s sources and meanings; its drafting, circulation, and early reception in the age of the American Revolution; and its changing place in American culture and world politics over nearly 250 years. (LC)
Religious Poetry from Donne to Eliot | ENGL 17516
This course will study some of the greatest religious poems in our language, focusing on major poets in the 17th century (Donne & Herbert), in the 19th century (Dickinson & Hopkins), and in the 20th century, where we will study T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets in its entirety. Mid-term exercise and final paper required. (LG – Poetry, LC)
*Prerequisite: Must have completed HumCore & 1 other poetry course
Battle of the Genres in Long Eighteenth-Century British Literature | ENGL 27340
This course investigates a battle of genres—primarily of poem versus prose—that twists and turns through much eighteenth- and early nineteenth century writing. Around 1700, the traditional poetic forms such as verse satire and the ode reigned; there were no novels per se, only genre-defying prose fictions by the likes of Eliza Haywood and Aphra Behn. Yet by 1800, not only was the novel a household name but poetry was undergoing an identity crisis of its own, also known as Romanticism: the expressive "I" of the lyric developed in tension with the narrative of epic, not to mention the narrative form of prose. Together, we will ask: How did the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century contend with the classical authority of poetry? How did poems and their reception change in relation to the novel's development and standardization? How did various literary genres differently revive old forms, like the gothic? We'll read works by authors including Dryden, Pope, Haywood, and Behn, as well as Richardson, Macpherson, Radcliffe, Cowper, Smith, Blake, Coleridge, and William and Dorothy Wordsworth. We'll draw critical readings from Aristotle's Poetics, Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Mikhail Bakhtin, Gérard Genette, Jacques Derrida, and Gabrielle Starr, among others. (LC, LG – Fiction, LG – Poetry)
Forms of Autobiography in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries | ENGL 24526
This course examines the innovative, creative forms autobiography has taken in the last one hundred years in literature. We will study closely works written between 1933 and 2013 that are exceptional for the way they challenge, subvert and invigorate the autobiographical genre. From unpublished sketches to magazine essays and full-length books, we will see autobiography take many forms and engage with multiple genres and media. These include biography, memoir, fiction, literary criticism, travel literature, the graphic novel and photography. Producing various mutations of the autobiographical genre, these works address some of the same concerns: the self, truth, memory, authenticity, agency and testimony. We will complement discussions of these universal issues with material and historical considerations, examining how the works first appeared and were received. Autobiography will prove a privileged site for probing constructions of family narratives, identity politics and public personas. The main authors studied are Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, Vladimir Nabokov, Roland Barthes, Paul Auster, Doris Lessing, Marjane Satrapi and W.G. Sebald. (LG - Nonfiction)
*Old English Riddles (Med. Research Sequence II) | ENGL 28405
In this course, we will read and translate all of the Exeter Book Riddles from Old English, attending closely to issues of language, paleography, textual cruxes, and—of course—interpretation. In an effort to understand these riddles within a broader early medieval tradition of enigmatic poetry, we will also read several Old English charms as well as Anglo-Latin riddles in translation. Emphasis will also be placed on the history of scholarship on early medieval riddles, and over the course of the term, each student will produce a piece original scholarly research that engages with a riddle or set of riddles and the critical tradition. (LC)
Text as Data: Interpretation in the Digital Humanities | ENGL 19570
In recent years, the digitization of large text archives has enabled new ways of researching culture and history at scale. This course gives students a conceptual, beginner-level introduction to these methods, which are sometimes referred to as the “digital humanities.” How does literary and cultural history look different when seen from the point of view of an entire nation or society rather than from the point of view of an individual reader? What can we learn about, for instance, the history of tabloids, the rise of the novel, or the political struggles of nineteenth century Black organizers? The course itself presumes no technical expertise whatsoever. Rather, we will explore tools and archives designed for beginners and non-specialists. Our focus will be on the philosophical and interpretive aspects of quantitative research in the humanities rather than on techniques. (LT)
Protest Puppetry: Materializing American Publicness | ENGL 16004
This course will explore the structural dynamics of protests through a close examination of giant puppets. We will engage with both practices and theories of protest puppetry. You will learn how to craft insurgent objects out papier maché and other found materials. We will think through this practice alongside theories of the public sphere and ethnographies of protests, uprisings and social movements (on the left and the right) from the 1960s to the present day. Rather than maintain the division between theory and practice, we will investigate the ways in which social movements mobilize theory as liberatory practice and how the practice of “puppetganda” generates theories of publicity from the mechanical and technical demands it makes on its puppeteers, participants and spectators. We will study specific protest events, from pioneers of the artform like Bread and Puppet in the 1960s to the height of protest puppetry during the environmental and global justice movements in the 1980s-2000s. We will ask why protest puppets were especially popular during the rise of neoliberalism and ultimately examine their usefulness in today’s political climate in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and Black uprising as well as the alt-right “rally.” (LT)
Women of the Avant-Garde | ENGL 12106
This course provides an introduction to the written materials of women artists who belonged to various twentieth-century avant-garde movements and circles. The institutions of “woman art” and “the avant-garde” will come under scrutiny as we consider the literary and archival miscellany of pan- & non-sexual, cross-generational, inter-aesthetic, multilingual, and transnational works by such makers as Gertrude Stein, Gwendolyn Brooks, Clarice Lispector, Frida Kahlo, and Yoko Ono. How do these artists conceive of their work and process as interventions into social, political, and historical realities? How does their subjective view of those realities provide an account of the identificatory powers of their gender and sexuality? We will examine the ways in which abstraction in writing becomes useful for commenting on issues raised by feminist and queer theory, periodization, canonization, and institution.
Taking to the Regenstein’s Special Collections Research Center, we will also open up the criticism, diaries, and letters of these artists to gain a new perspective on their creative processes. In addition to learning how to constellate these materials with the course readings, students will acquire hands-on experience in archival research, annotation, and curation as they make an archival project of their own. Students’ final projects will serve as the basis for a prospective library exhibition in concert with Special Collections. (LT)
Black in the City | ENGL 27008
Moving from literature written during the early Jim Crow era to contemporary hip hop, this course will look at the ways black artists have staged encounters with urban space. We will pay close attention to not just how black artists have represented the city but the methodologies they have experimented with in studying and surviving it. From the juxtaposition of Southern and Northern cities in pre and post-Great Migration literature, to Gwendolyn Brooks’ mid-century experiments in urban seeing, Spike Lee’s staged urban explosions and Kendrick Lamar’s Compton soundscapes, this course complicates both the dreams and the despairs yoked to being black in the city. (LT)
Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley | ENGL 19500
This course examines the major works—novels, political treatises, letters, travel essays—of two of Romanticism’s most influential women writers. We will attend to historical, intellectual, and cultural contexts as well as matters of literary concern, such as their pioneering development of modes like gothic and science/speculative fiction, Wollstonecraft’s stylistic theories, and Shelley’s scenes of imaginative sympathy. (LC)
Inventing Consciousness: Literature, Philosophy, Psychology | ENGL 12720
What is consciousness? What is it like to be conscious? This course answers these questions by examining the emergence and development of consciousness as a concept. As a phenomenon, consciousness probably came into being deep in evolutionary time. Yet as a concept consciousness is relatively new: the European notion of consciousness emerges in the late seventeenth century. This course draws on literature, history, philosophy, and psychology to examine how the concept of consciousness came to possess its explanatory dominance. We will start by acquiring a sense of what consciousness now means in philosophy, biology, neuroscience, and fiction, paying particular attention to how the concept differs from similar ideas in ancient Indian philosophy. We will then turn to two important historical moments. First, we will examine the interplay between philosophy and literature in the late seventeenth century, reading texts by René Descartes, John Milton, Thomas Traherne, and John Locke. Second, we will focus on how, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the psychology of William James relates to the “stream of consciousness” techniques in the work of Virginia Woolf. This course stresses historical contingency—consciousness has a birthdate—in order to explore a consequence that follows from this fact: the extent to which current uses of this concept are still shaped by the historical circumstances that conditioned its emergence. (LC)
The Future | ENGL 13512
This course focuses on the future as imagined by American science fiction of the 20th century. On the one hand, we will pay attention to the scientific, political, and cultural contexts from which particular visions of the future emerged; on the other, we will work to develop an overarching sense of science fiction as a genre. We will deploy different analytical paradigms (Formalist, Marxist, Feminist, &c.) to apprehend the stakes and the strategies for imagining future worlds. After some initial attention to the magazine and pulp culture that helped to establish the genre, we will spotlight major SF movements (Afro Futurism, Cyberpunk, Biopunk, etc.) and major authors (including Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel R. Delaney, William Gibson, and Octavia Butler). Finally, we will use this 20th-century history to think about 21st-century SF work in different media (e.g., film, radio, graphic narrative). (LG – Fiction, LT)
Girlhood | ENGL 22048
This course focuses on narratives in which the category of “girl” or “girlhood” is under construction, or called into question. We’ll begin with a number of works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (novels by Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Bronte), and will move into novels, films, comics, and memoirs from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that draw on or depart from some of those earlier texts. Throughout, the course will draw on work from fields like sociology, history, and feminist and queer theory to consider changing conceptions of childhood, adolescence, and development, as well as the way that intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability shape categories and narratives of “girlhood.” (LC, LT)
The Rise of Free Speech: Aesthetics, Politics and Censorship, 1857-2020 | ENGL 24545
This course will consider a variety of historical debates and controversies surrounding the concept of freedom of speech and expression, from 19th century obscenity law through instances of 20th century political and economic repression and on to the concept’s cooptation by right-wing free market discourse and debates about hate speech in the present. Case studies from 19C-21C literature in English and English-translation. (LT, LG – Nonfiction)
Milton | ENGL 17501
The course studies Milton’s major poetry with an emphasis upon his sense of history—poetic, national, and cosmic. (LC)
Human Rights Witness | ENGL 28612
This course examines contemporary narratives about human rights and their violation, focusing in particular on “witnessing” and “testimony” as political and aesthetic forms. We will consider novels, memoirs, legal and political documents, films, and reportage and activist writings in order to consider how these works register the experience of witnessing human rights violations, whether from a position of complicity (active or passive), engaged opposition, or as the victim/survivor of such violence. (LG – Nonfiction)
How to Read Difficult Poems | ENGL 26703
Different kinds of difficulty will be identified in English-language poems of different periods, and appropriate reading strategies developed. The aim is an education in the pleasures and rigors of difficulty, and subsequently in the art of making difficulties out of apparent simplicity and in attuning to the “possibles of joy” beyond difficulty. (LG – Poetry, LT)
Genre Fundamentals: Fiction | ENGL 10709
This course explores the various strategies and techniques that authors have used to tell stories that claim in one way or another to be realistic. As we take up how storytellers "make it real" we will address key elements of narrative, including point of view, characterization, voice, tone, diction, syntax, setting, symbolism, pacing, modes of mediation, intertextuality, motifs, and figuration. We will focus primarily on novels and short stories, with a nod to the graphic novel at the conclusion of the course. (LG – Fiction)
Black Shakespeare | ENGL 18860
This course explores the role played by the Shakespearean canon in the shaping of Western ideas about blackness, in processes of racial formation, and racial struggle from the early modern period to the present. Students will read Shakespearean plays portraying black characters (Othello, Titus Andronicus, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra) in conversation with African-American and post-colonial rewritings of those plays (by Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, Keith Hamilton Cobb, and Aimé Césaire, among others). (LC)
Nineties Feminisms | ENGL 18950
Caroline Heller (HTF)
This course will survey feminist literatures of the 1790s, 1890s, and 1990s. We will cover works by authors like Mary Wollstonecraft, Sarah Grand, and Greta Gaard as well as feminist movements from New Woman ideal in the 1890s to ecofeminism and material feminisms in the 1990s. (LC)
History That Never Was: The Counterfactual Novel | ENGL 27330
In this course, we will consider counterfactuality in fiction from the 19th century to the 21st. Following critic Catherine Gallagher, we will ask, what if things had happened otherwise? and wonder—along with a range of authors—abut the literary, generic, historical, and ethical stakes of the answers. Readings will focus on the counterfactual from the scale of the sentence to the scale of the (alternate) world. Readings will be drawn from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, L. Sprague de Camp, Philip Roth, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Kingsley Amis, and Abdourahman A. Waberi, among others. (LG – Fiction)
Unrequited Love in Fiction and Film | ENGL 15220
Unrequited love stories are some of the most beloved romances in literature and film. Why do readers and audiences find unique pleasure in the agonizing tragedy of feelings not returned? And what does “unrequited” really mean anyway? This class focuses on unrequited love from the perspective of mostly British women fiction writers and film writer/directors, toggling between eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and contemporary romances on screen. From Jane Austen to Céline Sciamma, Eliza Haywood to Sofia Coppola, we will consider how women tell stories of attractions plagued by lack of reciprocity, misunderstandings, persistent longing and social obstacles. Moving across centuries, genre and media, we will consider what changes and what remains consistent in how these women illustrate yearning and dissatisfaction. We will read theories of desire in literature and film by Lauren Berlant, Laura Mulvey, Renata Salecl and others in order to work towards a definition of “unrequited love.” Our class will examine unrequitedness across registers, including as a source of dark humor in The Favourite and Austen, and as an occasion for psychological and real violence in Mary Wollstonecraft and The Riot Club. Throughout the course, we will ask ourselves as readers and viewers to interrogate our own investment in the resolution (or, more importantly, the lack thereof) of unrequitedness. (LC, LT)
Medieval Death | ENGL 15240 Jack Dragu
This course will examine late medieval representations of death and dying, considering it in terms of both a conceptual problematic and a practice, especially as it appears in the literature and art of fourteenth and fifteenth century England. In addition to reading poetic, theological, and philosophical texts from the medieval period, students will examine visual art, architecture, and other media to the end of asking questions about how people and cultures understand and prepare themselves for death. (LC)
CINEMA AND MEDIA STUDIES
CMST 21650 Irish Literature and Film (James Chandler) | Autumn | This course will be fully remote.
Irish literature in English from Swift to Anna Burns (Milkman), including Thomas Moore, Maria Edgeworth, Bram Stoker, Yeats, Synge, Joyce, O’Casey, Brian Friel and Seamus Heaney); Irish Cinema including films by John Ford, Neil Jordan, John Huston, Ken Loach, Lenny Abramson, Jim Sheridan, Kirsten Sheridan, John Crowley.
CMST 27522 Experimental Futures (Desiree Foerster) | Winter
In this class students will get an outline of an emerging area of interdisciplinary research that reframes the category of the “human” in face of contemporary environmental challenges such as climate change and scarcity of resources. Students will become familiar with concepts and theories associated with post-humanism, new materialisms, and environmental humanities and use them to reflect on examples from architecture, design, and the arts. Assignments involve the reading and preparing of selected literature, written reflections on projects from architecture, design, and the arts, small lectures, and active participation in the class. (LT)
CMST 24568: The Underground (Robert Bird) | Spring
The ancient and multivalent image of the underground has crystallized over the last two centuries to denote sites of disaffection from--and strategies of resistance to--dominant social, political, and cultural systems. We will trace the development of this metaphor from the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s and the French Resistance during World War II to the Weather Underground in the 1960s-1970s, while also considering it as a literary and artistic concept, from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground and Ellison's Invisible Man to Chris Marker's film La Jetée and Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. Alongside such literary and cinematic tales, drawing theoretical guidance from refuseniks from Henry David Thoreau to Guy Debord, this course investigates how countercultural spaces become--or fail to become-- sites of political resistance, and also how dissenting ideologies give rise to countercultural spaces. We ask about the relation between social deviance (the failure to meet social norms, whether willingly or unwittingly) and political resistance, especially in the conditions of late capitalism and neo-colonialism, when countercultural literature, film, and music (rock, punk, hip-hop, DIY aesthetics etc.) get absorbed into--and coopted by--the hegemonic socio-economic system. In closing we will also consider contemporary forms of dissidence--from Pussy Riot to Black Lives Matter--that rely both on the vulnerability of individual bodies and global communication networks.
*CLCV 22216. Italian Renaissance (Ada Palmer) | Spring
Florence, Rome, and the Italian city-states in the age of plagues and cathedrals, Petrarch and Machiavelli, Medici and Borgia (1250-1600), with a focus on literature, philosophy, primary sources, the revival of antiquity, and the papacy's entanglement with pan-European politics. We will examine humanism, patronage, politics, corruption, assassination, feuds, art, music, magic, censorship, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Writing assignments focus on higher level writing skills, with a creative writing component linked to our in-class role-played reenactment of a Renaissance papal election (LARP). This is a History Department Gateway course. First-year students and non-History majors welcome. (LC)
CLCV 26119. Muses and Saints: Poetry and the Christian Imagination (Erin Galgay Walsh) | Spring
This course provides an introduction to the poetic traditions of early Christians and the intersection between poetic literature, theology, and biblical interpretation. Students will gain familiarity with the literary context of the formative centuries of Christianity with a special emphasis on Greek and Syriac Christians in the Eastern Mediterranean from the fourth through the sixth centuries. While theology is often taught through analytical prose, theological reflection in late antiquity and early Byzantium was frequently done in poetic genres. This course introduces students to the major composers and genres of these works as well as the various recurrent themes that occur within this literature. Through reading poetry from liturgical and monastic contexts, students will explore how the biblical imaginations of Christians were formed beyond the confines of canonical scripture. How is poetry a mode of "doing" theology? What habits of biblical interpretation and narration does one encounter in this poetry? This course exposes students to a variety of disciplinary frameworks for studying early Christian texts including history, religious studies, feminist and literary critique, as well as theology. Students will also analyze medieval and modern poetry with religious themes in light of earlier traditions to reflect on the poetry and the religious imagination more broadly. (LC, LT, LG – Poetry)
CMLT 20109 Comparative Methods in the Humanities (Olga Solovieva) | Autumn
This course introduces models of comparative analysis across national literatures, genres, and media. The readings pair primary texts with theoretical texts, each pair addressing issues of interdisciplinary comparison. They include Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” and Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan”; Benjamin’s “The Storyteller,” Kafka’s “Josephine the Mouse Singer,” Deleuze and Guattari, "Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature," and Mario Vargas Llosa’s "The Storyteller"; Victor Segalen’s "Stèles"; Fenollosa and Pound’s “The Chinese Character as a Medium of Poetry” and Eliot Weinberger’s "Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei"; Mérimée, “Carmen,” Bizet, "Carmen," and the film adaptation "U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha" (South Africa, 2005); Gorky’s and Kurosawa’s "The Lower Depths"; Molière, Tartuffe, Dostoevsky, "The Village Stepanchikovo and Its Inhabitants," and Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel”; Gogol, "The Overcoat" and Boris Eikhenbaum, “How Gogol’s Overcoat Is Made.” (LT)
CMLT 21200 Literature and Technology from Frankenstein to the Futurists (Ana Ilievska) | Autumn
Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it,” wrote Heidegger. In the year 2020, the year of COVID-19 and mass physical lockdown, this statement is more valid than ever. Keeping current events in mind, in this course we will pose anew the question concerning technology and go back to the First and Second Industrial Revolutions when humans first came into intense contact with machines and restructured life and literature around them. We will trace the ecological, economical, and emotional footprints of various machines and technological devices (automata, trains, phonographs, cameras) in major European literary works from Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), Zola's La bête humaine (1890) to Luigi Pirandello's The Notebooks of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator (1925), while inquiring into the nature of technology and what it means to be human through key philosophical texts from Plato to N. Katherine Hayles.
CMLT 21206 Buddhism and Chinese Literature (Alia Breitwieser) | Autumn
This course introduces late 16th- and 17th-century works of Chinese literature whose content, form, and concerns are shaped by Buddhism. At this historical moment, which hosted the buildup to and fallout from the collapse of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), writers and their audiences privileged conceptual diversity and ethical self-cultivation and drew freely on religious and literary systems of meaning to develop creative approaches to living during a time of profound uncertainty. We will begin by grappling with the philosophical nuances of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy by reading the Heart Sutra, one of the tradition’s most influential sources. From this foundation, we will examine and critique the ethical implications of Buddhist themes as they play out in significant works of fiction and Chan poetry. The course will finish with a critical reflection on how the modern conception of “literature” as a discipline apart from religion might detract from our understanding of pre-modern, pre-disciplinary sources while concealing the religious dimensions of modern “literary” endeavors. (LC)
CMLT 26111 Queer Asia(s) (Nisha Kommattam) | Autumn
This course explores representations of queerness, same-sex love and sexualities and debates around them by introducing students to a variety of literary texts translated from Asian languages as well as Asian films, geographically ranging from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea and Singapore. We will also read scholarship that will help us place the production and reception of these primary sources in historical, political, cultural and religious contexts. In particular, we will examine questions of history and continuity (recurrent themes and images); form and genre (differences of representation in mythological narratives, poetry, biography, fiction, erotic/legal/medical treatises); the relationship of gender to sexuality (differences and similarities between representations of male-male and female-female relations); queerness as a site for exploring other differences, such as caste or religious difference; and questions of cross-cultural and transnational dialogue and cultural specificity. This course is part one of a two-quarter sequence, with the second part offered in Winter Quarter 2021. Each quarter can also be taken separately. Students need to be available for 2 synchronous online meetings per week. (LT)
CMLT 28775/38775 Racial Melancholia (Kris Trujillo) | Autumn
This course provides students with an opportunity to think race within a psychoanalytic framework. In particular, we will interrogate how psychoanalytic theories of mourning and melancholia have developed over the past century, especially in relationship to the theories of racial melancholia that emerged at the turn of the twenty-first century. Thus, we will approach Asian America, African American, and Latinx archives, especially as they intersect with psychoanalytic formulations of race, gender, and sexuality. Throughout we will ask: How do literatures of loss enable us to understand the relationship between histories of racial trauma, injury, and grief, on the one hand, and the formation of racial identity, on the other? What might it mean to imagine literary histories of race as grounded fundamentally in the experience of loss? What forms of reparations, redress, and resistance are called for by such literatures of racial grief, mourning, and melancholia? And, finally, how can psychoanalysis retain theoretical currency, and how might the temporalities of grief, loss, and mourning even require a sustained tarrying with psychoanalytic theories of melancholia? (LT)
CMLT 21224 Against Interpretation: Philology at the Crossroads (Claudio Sansone) | Winter
Susan Sontag closed her essay “Against Interpretation” calling for “an erotics of art.” Such an “erotics” would avoid doing anything to tame the work of art—allowing its hold on the imagination to grow, without trimming down its excrescences. Eros here stands for the irreducibility of the presence of art—the finite or even infinitesimal presence that imposes itself as irrepressibly fractal in its growth. Sontag was challenging us to make a certain kind of intellectual and affective space available—and this challenge has been reprised in recent scholarship that attempts to trace the state of the Humanities and some of its more eminent toolkits. Both philology and close-reading have been exposed as disciplinarian “disciplines” of the Humanities—long having abandoned the “erotic” power reading as a strategy of unfolding in favor of what might be termed strategies of containment. But this was not always the case. This course seeks to recover what then remains, peeking into the backgrounds of these disciplines as they stand at the crossroads of relevance and retreat—hovering just short of the intimate space of textual experience described by Sontag.
CMLT 21748 Global Human Rights Literature (Nory Peters) | Winter
This course surveys key human rights texts (philosophical texts, literary works, and legal documents) of the 20th and 21st centuries. By reading global literatures alongside international human rights instruments, and by treating literature as an archive of ideas that circulate among a literary public invested in human rights, this course explores the importance of art and literature to legal and political projects and provides students with the opportunity to conceptualize the role of narrative for human rights advocacy and human rights imaginaries. We will chart the rise of the global human rights movement, beginning with the 1940s up to our contemporary moment, paying close attention to key human rights issues such as genocide, citizenship, enforced disappearance, detention, apartheid, refugee crises, and mass incarceration. Readings will include works by Anna Seghers, Primo Levi, Hannah Arendt, Jacobo Timerman, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Rigoberta Menchú, Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, Antije Krog, Dave Eggers, and Albert Woodfox.
CMLT 28446/38446 Apocalypse Now: Scripts of Eschatological Imagination (Mark Payne, Chris Wild) | Winter
Apocalyptic fantasies are alive and well today – in beach reads and blue-chip fiction; in comic books and YA novels; in streaming TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters, and ironic arthouse cinema. These apocalyptic fantasies follow well-established scripts that often date back millennia. Apocalypse scripts allow their users to make sense of the current crisis and prepare for an uncertain future. The course will be divided into two parts. The first half will be devoted to texts, art, and movies that dwell on the expectation of the end and narratively measure out the time that remains. We will begin with examining the biblical ur-scripts of an apocalyptic imaginary, the Book of Daniel in the Old and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, as well as Saint Paul’s messianism in the Letter to the Romans; and then move on to medieval apocalyptic fantasies of the Joachim of Fiore and others; and end with the apocalypticism underlying the religious reforms of Girolamo Savonarola and Martin Luther. The second half will focus on life after the apocalypse — the new freedoms, and new forms of political life and sociality that the apocalyptic event affords its survivors. Readings will include the political theory of marronage, capabilities, and neoprimitivism; literary theory of speculative fiction; and post-apocalyptic narratives by Octavia Butler, Jean Hegland, Richard Jefferies, Cormac McCarthy, and Colson Whitehead. Readings and discussions in English.
CMLT 21648 Languages of Migration: Literature, Law, and Language Justice (Yael Flusser) | Spring
For decades, human rights activists and lawmakers in the United States have been fighting for a person’s right to speak their native language before the law, implying that language justice could be achieved through the use of interpreters. At the same time, a new generation of poets and fiction writers has been exercising alternative approaches to language justice, shifting the focus from speakers to listeners, and from the legal to the personal. This course brings these seemingly separate discourses into conversation in an attempt to trace the assumptions that undergird different formulations of language justice in the late 20th century and 21st century. Drawing on Edward Said’s The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals, we will examine NGO statements and immigration court hearings side by side with poetry and fiction by Monica de la Torre, Antonio Ruiz Camacho, Irena Klepfisz, Joseph Brodsky and others. As we analyze theories of identity, desire, language and responsibility and engage with thinkers such as Andrea Long Chu, Hannah Arendt and Aamir Mufti, we will consider the potential implications of bringing literature and law into conversation with one another.
CMLT 21667 Poetics of Space in Travel: Performance and Place in Japan and Beyond (Anthony Stott) | Spring
How is space imagined and evoked across different media? How might attention to this question lead us to rethink the way that space mediates our experiences of our surroundings? In examining how spatial imaginings travel across time and medium, we will explore questions of space as they are bound up with problems of gender, exile, aesthetics, and performativity. While Japan will be our primary geographic topos, we will interrogate an understanding of these spatialities as ‘Japanese’ by surveying the role they come to play in discourses of both ‘Japanese-ness’ and Western modernism. We will pay special attention to performance (namely, noh drama); however, we will also take up short stories, novels, film and more. Centering our investigations on modern and contemporary cultural production, we will also deal with premodern texts to trace the multiple axes along which our diverse array of objects circulate. Figures considered include: Murata Sayaka, Hori Tatsuo, Miyazawa Kenji, Mishima Yukio, Ôe Kenzaburô, Virginia Woolf, and Zeami. No prior background required.
EALC/HIST 24811/34811 Modern Chinese Satirical Novel and History (Johanna Ransmeier) | Autumn This course takes the fictional genre of satire as a unique window on Chinese history. Placing novels and novellas from Republican China, the PRC, and Taiwan alongside excerpts from classic satirical novels from world literature, we will focus not only on the literary merits and themes of these diverse texts but also on their social, political, and historical contexts. What essential elements constitute satire, and how can we understand a historical moment better if we think with this form of literature? What does literature reveal and what does it deliberately or inadvertently obscure? We will consider the ways in which satire advances -- or declines to advance -- or advocate alternative realities (utopias/dystopias), the cultural critique offered by satire and its national and supra-national contexts. (LG - Fiction)
EALC 10602 Topics in EALC: Past, Present, & Future of the Novel (H. Long) | Autumn
This course will introduce students to the study of literature in modern East Asia. In particular, it examines the evolution of the novel in Japan, China, and Korea as a form of imaginative writing. We will examine major canonical works from each country: three from the early 20th century; three from mid-century; and three from the early 21st century. How did the novel form develop in East Asia relative to other parts of the world? How has it responded to the shifting geo-political and economic positions of Japan, China, and Korea? How has it attempted to represent social and cultural conflict? Authors to be read include Natsume Soseki, Lu Xun, Xiao Hong, Han Kang, Tawada Yoko, and Cixin Liu. All works will be read in English translation. (LG – Fiction)
EALC 10711 Topics in EALC: Mother Tongues – Language in East Asian Literature and Film (S. Su) | Autumn
What does it mean to write as a native speaker? How do we hear in our mother tongue? It is often said that people have a natural affinity with their native language, one which allows creators to more freely and wholly express their thoughts and experiences, and which allows audiences to understand the full nuances of a work. But there are also many who do not have a straightforward relationship with a native language. For instance, colonized writers who are forced to write in a language that is not their own, films which depict people in multilingual environments, writers who can speak but not write in their first language. This course surveys literary and artistic works from China, Japan, and Korea that mourn, celebrate, and push the boundaries and potentials of language. Through the analysis of these works, we will explore the ways in which language relates to larger social, political, and cultural contexts including ethnic minorities, diaspora, gender, technology, and more. All works will be provided in English translation.
*EALC 24616/34616 Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix Manga: Buddhism, Ethics, Science Fiction, and post-WWII Manga and Anime (A. Palmer) | Autumn
How can the Buddhist axiom "All Life is Sacred" describe a universe which contains the atrocities of WWII? Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy and father of modern Japanese animation, wrestled with this problem over decades in his science fiction epic Phoenix(Hi no Tori), celebrated as the philosophical masterpiece of modern manga. Through a close reading of Phoenix and related texts, this course explores the challenges genocide and other atrocities pose to traditional forms of ethics, and how we understand the human species and our role in nature. The course will also examine the flowering of manga after WWII, how manga authors bypassed censorship to help people understand the war and its causes, and the role manga and anime have played in Japan's global contributions to politics, science, medicine, technology, techno-utopianism, environmentalism, ethics, theories of war and peace, global popular culture, and contemporary Buddhism. Readings will be mainly manga, and the final paper will have a creative option including the possibility of creating graphic work.
EALC 25200 Early Daoist Texts (E. Shaughnessy) | Autumn
In this course, we will focus primarily on reading (in English) the Laozi and Zhuangzi, paying attention both to philosophical and historical issues. We'll also read several ancillary texts, such as the "Nei ye" chapter of the Guanzi and the "Yu Lao" and Jie Lao" chapter of the Han Feizi, as well as such unearthed manuscripts as the Tai Yi sheng shui and Heng xian. In all cases, we will be concerned first of all with what these texts may have meant to people in the Warring States period, and then only incidentally with how they have been understood in subsequent periods and places. (LC)
EALC 25301 Inventing the Chinese Short Story (A. Fox) | Winter
This class will trace the emergence of the vernacular short story as a new genre in the late Ming and early Qing. We will focus on the seveteenth-century story collections of Feng Menglong, Ling Mengchu, Aina Jushi, and Li Yu, whose stories map the social whole of late imperial China—from merchant schemes to courtesan romances, from the friendships of students to the follies of emperors. Alongside close readings of selected stories, we will examine the structure, sources, and publication histories of these collections and locate them in a broader discussion of the meanings and functions of vernacular literature. All readings in English. TTh 2:00-3:20 p.m. (LG – Fiction, LC)
EALC 10600 Topics in EALC: Ghosts and the Fantastic in Literature & Film (J. Zeitlin) | Spring
What is a ghost? How and why are ghosts represented in particular forms in a particular culture at particular historical moments and how do these change as stories travel between cultures? How and why is traditional ghost lore reconfigured in the contemporary world? This course will explore the complex meanings, both literal and figurative, of ghosts and the fantastic in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tales, plays, and films. Issues to be explored include: 1) the relationship between the supernatural, gender, and sexuality; 2) the confrontation of death and mortality; 3) collective anxieties over the loss of the historical past; 4) and the visualization of the invisible through art, theater, and cinema.
EALC 21667 Poetics of Space in Travel: Performance and Place in Japan and Beyond (A. Stott) | Spring
How is space imagined and evoked across different media? How might attention to this question lead us to rethink the way that space mediates our experiences of our surroundings? In examining how spatial imaginings travel across time and medium, we will explore questions of space as they are bound up with problems of gender, exile, aesthetics, and performativity. While Japan will be our primary geographic topos, we will interrogate an understanding of these spatialities as ‘Japanese’ by surveying the role they come to play in discourses of ‘Japanese-ness’ and Western modernisms. We will pay special attention to performance (namely, noh drama); however, we will also take up short stories, novels, film and more. Centering our investigations on modern and contemporary cultural production, we will also deal with premodern objects and genres to trace the multiple axes along which our diverse array of objects circulate. Figures considered include: Murata Sayaka, Hori Tatsuo, Miyazawa Kenji, Mishima Yukio, Murasaki Shikibu, Ôe Kenzaburô, Zeami, and Virginia Woolf. Noprior background required.
EALC 24950/34950 Fictions of Selfhood in Modern Japanese Literature (M. Bourdaghs) | Spring
As Japanese leaders in the mid 19th century faced the threat of colonization at the hands of the Western powers, they launched a project to achieve “Civilization and Enlightenment,” quickly transforming Japan into a global power that possessed its own empire. In the process fiction became a site for both political engagement and retreat. A civilized country, it was argued, was supposed to boast “literature” as one of its Fine Arts. This literature was charged with representing the inner life of its characters, doing so in a modern national language that was supposed to be a transparent medium of communication. Between the 1880s and the early 1900s, a new language, new literary techniques, and a new set of ideologies were constructed to produce the “self” in novels and short stories. As soon as these new practices were developed, however, they became the objects of parody and ironic deconstruction. Reading key literary texts from the 1880s through the 1930s, as well as recent scholarship, this course will re-trace this historical and literary unfolding, paying special attention to the relationship between language and subjectivity. All readings will be in English.
EALC 27014/37014 Voices from the Iron House: Lu Xun’s Works (P. Iovene) | Spring
An exploration of the writings of Lu Xun (1881-1936), widely considered as the greatest Chinese writer of the past century. We will read short stories, essays, prose poetry and personal letters against the backdrop of the political and cultural upheavals of early 20th century China and in dialogue with important English-language scholarly works.
GRMN 25721 Literature as Self-Help: The Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke | Ingrid Christian | Autumn
Rainer Maria Rilke’s writing is famous for its lyrical intensity. The pathos of his poetic language appears to “move” and “touch” readers in an unparalleled way. Soldiers going to fight in the Second World War carried volumes of Rilke’s poetry in their knapsacks and letters of fallen soldiers contained quotes from his verse (“Who talks of victory? To endure is all.”). Recent editions of his writings, such as Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties(1994), Rilke for the Stressed(1998) or Words of Consolation(2017), attest to Rilke being viewed as someone from whom readers expect insight into the value or vanity of life. In this course, we will read selections of Rilke’s poetry and correspondence alongside excerpts from his writings on art to critically examine his language’s purported ability to express our innermost feelings and to offer solace. Along the way, we will also pay attention to situating his work in the context of “modernism.”
Other readings by: Paul de Man “Tropes (Rilke),” Rita Felski “Uses of Literature,” Beth Blum “Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature,” among others.
Readings and discussions in English. Those who read German will read the texts in the original. (LT)
GRMN 25621 Philosophy and the Poem of Nature (Alexander Sorenson) | Autumn
Poetry and philosophy have not always been the best of friends. However, the German tradition presents a noteworthy exception to this, particularly when we look to how its epochal writers and artists came to share the same obsession by the year 1800: the natural world. In this course, we will study both philosophers who utilized poetry as well as poets who turned to philosophy in their respective quests to draw nearer to nature. Moving from Romanticism to Modernism to our current moment of ecological crisis, we will observe how all of these figures invoke an ancient conception of nature as a poem, on the one hand, and of poetic thought as a participation in the workings of nature, on the other. (LC)
NORW 26700 Literature of the Occupation (Kimberly Kenny) | Winter
The German Occupation of Norway, which lasted from April 9, 1940 to May 7, 1945 is indisputable the most significant event in modern Norwegian history. The aim of this course is to use literature of and about this period to characterize the Occupation experience in Norway. While our texts come primarily from Norwegians, one novel is German and two others, American. Given the context for these works, we will consider them not only as fiction, but also as history and even propaganda. Ultimately, we will address the issue of national myth-making: To what extent have Norwegians mythologized their Occupation experience and is this apparent in our texts?
YDDH 21721/31721 Women Who Wrote in Yiddish (Jessica Kirzane) | Spring
This course explores memoirs, plays, essays, poetry, novels, and journalistic writing of women who wrote in Yiddish, as well as a discussion of the context in which they wrote and their reception and self-perception as "women writers." Among the writers whose work may be represented in this course are Glikl, Yente Mash, Kadya Molodwsky, Chava Rosenfarb, Yente Serdatsky, Rosa Palatnik, Anna Margolin, Celia Dropkin, Rokhl Korn, Beyle Shaechter-Gottesman, Gitl Shaechter-Viswanath, Bella Chagall, Blume Lempel, Esther Kreitman, Debora Vogel, Rokhl Brokhes, Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, Malka Lee, Ida Maze, Roshelle Weprinski, Miriam Karpilove, Zina Rabinovitz, Rokhl Szabad, Rokhl Faygnberg, Paula Prilutsky, Shira Gorshman, Esther Shumiatsher-Hirshbein and Freydl Shtok. Many of these writers have been underexamined in the history of Yiddish literary studies and this course will bring renewed attention to their work. This course will be taught in English with readings translated from Yiddish.
GRM 25241 Babylon Berlin: Politics and Culture in the Weimar Period (Eric Santner) | Spring
This seminar will focus on the political and cultural turmoil of the Weimar Republic. Course material will include novels, poetry, political essays, philosophy, visual art, and film. Among authors and artists addressed: Ernst Jünger, Walter Benjamin, Alfred Döblin, Fritz Lang, Georg Grosz, Irmgard Keun, Hannah Höch, Bertold Brecht, Carl Schmitt.
GRMN 24921 Robert Musil: Altered (Sophie Salvo)
This course is an introduction to the work of Robert Musil, one of the major novelists of the twentieth century. We will focus on Musil’s idea of the “Other Condition” [der andere Zustand], which he once described—in contrast to our normal way of life—as a “secret rising and ebbing of our being with that of things and other people.” What is this “Other Condition”: what are its ethics and aesthetics, and how can it be expressed in literature? We will begin with readings from Musil’s critical writings and early narrative prose, then devote the majority of the quarter to his unfinished magnum opus, The Man without Qualities. Particular attention will be paid to Musil’s experimentations with narrative form and his development of the genre of “essayism.” (LT)
PHIL 20610/30610 Goethe: Literature, Philosophy, Science (Robert Richards) | Autumn
This course will examine Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's intellectual development, from the time he wrote Sorrows of Young Werther through the final states of Faust. Along the way, we will read a selection of Goethe's plays, poetry, and travel literature. We will also examine his scientific work, especially his theory of color and his morphological theories. On the philosophical side, we will discuss Goethe's coming to terms with Kant (especially the latter's third Critique) and his adoption of Schelling's transcendental idealism. The theme uniting the exploration of the various works of Goethe will be unity of the artistic and scientific understanding of nature, especially as he exemplified that unity in "the eternal feminine." German would be helpful, but it is not required.
PHIL 24803 Political Philosophy: Hume and Rousseau (Dan Brudney) | Winter
In this course we will look at central texts by Hume and Rousseau. We will be trying to understand them in their own terms, not as precursors to, say, Kant. We will connect these writers to other intellectual movements of their time, reading works of fiction along with the philosophical texts. Writers to be read include Butler, Diderot, Hume, Rousseau and Austen. (LC)
SPAN 22520 Slavery as Metaphor in Latin America (Isabela Fraga) | Autumn
This course will examine the long-lived trope of slavery as a metaphor—for love, sex, god, and imperial domination—in the Iberian Atlantic from the seventeenth to the late-nineteenth centuries. Focusing on literary, spiritual, and political texts, we will explore the ways in which slavery as a metaphor has informed understandings and conceptions of actual slavery in Ibero-America. What happens when a captive writes a poem about being enslaved to their lover? What does it mean for a slave master to define their relationship to Europe in terms of bondage? How must we read spiritual writings and religious sermons depicting God as a “true master” in slave-holding territories?
In addition to these questions, we will analyze the presence of enslaved people in literary texts written by white Creole authors in order to explore how they shape modern conceptions of freedom and whiteness. Readings will include literary texts by Cuban and Brazilian authors, religious sermons, literature written by slaves and former slaves, as well as independentist letters and pamphlets. In addressing the ubiquity of slavery both as a trope and as a concrete system of labor exploitation and capital accumulation, students will be able to better recognize the material implications of cultural artifacts, and to build connections between the Spanish, Portuguese, and Brazilian empires. (LC)
CATA 22350/CATA 32350 Speaking Truth to Power in Medieval Iberia (Noel Blanco Mourelle) | Autumn
In the multilingual and multireligious environment of the Iberian middle ages, poetry can express many things. And while literary history has granted a prestigious space to some of these things, such as love or spirituality, it has consistently neglected others, such as socio-political satire or vulgarity. This class will be paying attention to that other less talked-about poetry that gets into the political struggles of the period, that talks in profanities about profane things. In other words, the poetry that does not speak to the eternity of existence, but that gets its hands dirty with earthly matters. The poetry that savagely mocks and cuts through social conventions in a way that makes seem contemporary Twitter trolls benevolent in comparison. For this class we will be reading authors who wrote in Galician-Portuguese such as Joao Soares de Paiva or King Alfonso X, authors who wrote in Catalan such as Guillem de Bergueda or Ramon Vidal de Besalu, and authors who wrote in Spanish such as Juan Ruiz or Juan de Mena. Translations to Spanish will be provided or worked though class discussion. (LC, LG – Poetry)
28650 Migrant Words: Belonging and Displacement in Multilingual Writers (Silvia Guslandi) | Winter
How does mobility affect the writing of a migrant writer, exile, refugee or second generation immigrant? How do authors represent and negotiate national, racial and ethnic identities? How do those who experience exile or emigration conceptualize their condition in the economy of cultural loss and/or gain? Does defining an author as American rather Haitian-American influence the way we approach them? By looking at works by several immigrant or otherwise multicultural writers – John Fante, Emanuel Carnevali, Édouard Glissant, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Aimé Césaire, Jhumpa Lahiri, Junot Diaz, Amelia Rosselli, Pietro di Donato, Edwidge Danticat, Igiaba Scego – we will examine literary expressions of transnational flows of people and ideas. We will explore linguistic issues stemming from transnational mobility and post-colonialism, such as bilingualism, code-switching, creole, and self-translation, as well as the recurring themes of longing, belonging, nostalgia and displacement. We will also question key terms in today’s cultural discourse, such as cosmopolitanism, transnationalism and marginality. Are these concepts helpful in approaching the literary works of authors writing between languages and cultures? How and to what extent is our reading affected by these ideas? Our focus will be on literature, but our investigations will draw upon scholarship from a range of interdisciplinary fields including Migration and Diaspora Studies. (LT)
RLLT 24500/RLLT 34500 Digital Approaches to Text Analysis: opening new paths for textual scholarship (Clovis Gladstone) | Winter
The purpose of this course is to introduce students of literature, and more generally the humanities, to digital humanities methodologies for the study of text. Among the various digital approaches which will be introduced in class are concordances (retrieving occurrences of words), semantic similarity detection (finding similar passages across texts), sentiment analysis, stylometry (analysis of literary style), and topic modeling (automatic classification of texts). The course will highlight how these approaches to text can provide new avenues of research, such as tracing intellectual influence over the longue durée, or uncovering the distinguishing stylistic features of an author, work, or literary movement. Students need no prior knowledge of such methods, and the course will aim at providing the basics of computer programming in Python to give students the necessary tooling to conduct a digital humanities project. The source material for the course will be drawn from literary sources, and students will be free (and encouraged) to use texts which are relevant to their own research interests. Students will need to bring a laptop to class. (LT)
The Russian Novel | RUSS 25502 /35502 (William Nickell)
The course will focus on three of the greatest philosophical crime novels in modern literature: Gogol’s Dead Souls, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Bely’s Peterburg. Together they chart the course of development of the Russian novel, engaging literature’s essential questions, but also its “accursed” ones, as the Russians say—the ones that can never be answered, but provoke the most worthy of sort of debate. (LG – Fiction)
REES 24423 Russian Encounters with Blackness: History, Literature, Politics (Christy Monet) | Autumn
This course provides a historical, literary, and political survey of Russia’s encounters with black peoples, from the reign of Peter the Great to the administration of Vladimir Putin. Drawing on a variety of sources, including novels, autobiographies, film, media reports, and contemporary scholarly research, the course explores the concepts of race, belonging, and otherness/duality as they evolved in the varying historical contexts of Russia’s encounters with “blackness.” Particular attention is paid to comparisons of racialization and racial injustice in America and in Russia, as gleaned from the biographies of black “Russophiles” such as Frederick Bruce Thomas and Paul Robeson, as well as from the memoirs and writings of figures such as Alexander Pushkin, Langston Hughes, and Yelena Khanga. From classic Russian literature, to Soviet propaganda, to contemporary geopolitics, the course asks: How has “blackness” been historically understood and/or used by Russians, and what cultural and political legacies has that left in Russia’s post-imperial and post-Soviet space?
REES 25603 /35603 Media and Power in the Age of Putin and Trump (William Nickell) | Autumn
Over the past 200 years, various political and cultural regimes of Russia have systematically exploited the gap between experience and representation to create their own mediated worlds--from the tight censorship of the imperial and Soviet periods to the propaganda of the Soviet period and the recent use of media simulacra for strategic geopolitical advantage. During this same period state control of media has been used to seclude Russia from the advancement of liberalism, market economics, individual rights, modernist art, Freud, Existentialism, and, more recently, Western discourses of inclusion, sustainability, and identity. Examining this history, it is sometimes difficult to discern whether the architects of Russian culture have been hopelessly backward or shrewd phenomenologists, keenly aware of the relativity of experience and of their ability to shape it. This course will explore the worlds that these practices produce, with an emphasis on Russia's recent confrontations with Western culture and power, and including various practices of subversion of media control, such as illegal printing and circulation. Texts for the course will draw from print, sound, and visual media, and fields of analysis will include aesthetics, cultural history, and media theory. (SIGN 26029). (LT, LG – Nonfiction)
REES 29024 /39024 States of Surveilance (Angelina Ilieva) | Autumn
What does it feel to be watched and listened to all the time? Literary and cinematic works give us a glimpse into the experience of living under surveillance and explore the human effects of surveillance--the fraying of intimacy, fracturing sense of self, testing the limits of what it means to be human. Works from the former Soviet Union (Solzhenitsyn, Abram Tertz, Andrey Zvyagintsev), former Yugoslavia (Ivo Andrić, Danilo Kiš, Dušan Kovačević), Romania (Norman Manea, Cristian Mungiu), Bulgaria (Valeri Petrov), and Albania (Ismail Kadare).
REES 29009 /39009 Balkan Folklore (Angelina Ilieva) | Autumn
Vampires, fire-breathing dragons, vengeful mountain nymphs. 7/8 and other uneven dance beats, heart-rending laments and a living epic tradition.This course is an overview of Balkan folklore from historical, political and anthropological, perspectives. We seek to understand folk tradition as a dynamic process and consider the function of different folklore genres in the imagining and maintenance of community and the socialization of the individual. We also experience this living tradition first-hand through visits of a Chicago-based folk dance ensemble, “Balkan Dance.” (ANTH 25908 / ANTH 35908 / CMLT 23301 / CMLT 33301 / NEHC 20568 / NEHC 30568). Angelina Ilieva
REES 29023/39023 Returning the Gaze: The West and the Rest (Angelina Ilieva)
Aware of being observed. And judged. Inferior… Abject… Angry… Proud… This course provides insight into identity dynamics between the “West,” as the center of economic power and self-proclaimed normative humanity, and the “Rest,” as the poor, backward, volatile periphery. We investigate the relationship between South East European self-representations and the imagined Western gaze. Inherent in the act of looking at oneself through the eyes of another is the privileging of that other’s standard. We will contemplate the responses to this existential position of identifying symbolically with a normative site outside of oneself—self-consciousness, defiance, arrogance, self-exoticization—and consider how these responses have been incorporated in the texture of the national, gender, and social identities in the region. Orhan Pamuk, Ivo Andrić, Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleko Konstantinov, Emir Kusturica, Milcho Manchevski.
REES 25025/35025 *Gender and Translation (Ana Elena Torres)
The course will consider translation--both theory and practice--in relation to queer studies and gender and women's studies. Authors will include Naomi Seidman, Monique Balbuena, Yevgeniy Fiks, Raquel Salas Rivera, Kate Briggs, and others. For the final essay, students may write a research paper or translation project. (CMLT 25025 / CMLT 35025 / GNSE 25025 / GNSE 35025) (LT)
REES 20000 /30000 Tolstoy's Late Works (William Nickell) | Spring
This course examines the works written by Tolstoy after Anna Karenina, when he abandoned the novel as a form and gave up his copyright. Readings include his influential writings on non-violence and vegetarianism, his challenges to church and state authority, as well as later literary works, which some believe surpass the famous novels he had renounced. We will also explore the particularities of Tolstoy’s charisma in these years, when he came to be viewed as a second Tsar in Russia and as a moral authority throughout the world. (RLIT 32900 / RLST 28501).
REES 20013/30013 Dostoevsky (Robert Bird)
Dostoevsky was an inveterate risk-taker, not only at the baccarat tables of the Grand Casino in Baden-Baden, but in his personal life, his political activities, and his artistic endeavors. This course is intended to investigate his two greatest wagers: on the presence of the divine in the world and on the power of artistic form to convey and articulate this presence. Dostoevsky’s wager on form is evident even in his early, relatively conventional texts, like The Double. It intensifies after his decade-long sojourn in Siberia, exploding in works like The Notes from Underground, which one-and-a-half centuries later remains and aesthetic and philosophical provocation of immense power. The majority of the course will focus on Dostoevsky’s later novels. In Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky adapts suspense strategies to create a metaphysical thriller, while in The Demons he pairs a study of nihilism with the deformation of the novel as a genre. Through close readings of these works we will trace how Dostoevsky’s formal experimentation created new ways of exploring realms of existence that traditionally belonged philosophy and theology. The results were never comfortable or comforting; we will focus on interpreting Dostoevsky’s metaphysical provocations.
REES 20004 Lolita (Malynne Sternstein)
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul, Lolita: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate, to tap at three on the teeth.” Popular as Nabokov’s “all-American” novel is, it is rarely discussed beyond its psychosexual profile. This intensive text-centered and discussion-based course attempts to supersede the univocal obsession with the novel’s pedophiliac plot as such by concerning itself above all with the novel’s language: language as failure, as mania, and as conjuration.
REES 29010 /39010 Strangers to Ourselves: Emigre Literature and Film from Russia and Southeast Europe (Angelina Ilieva)
"Being alienated from myself, as painful as that may be, provides me with that exquisite distance within which perverse pleasure begins, as well as the possibility of my imagining and thinking," writes Julia Kristeva in "Strangers to Ourselves," the book from which this course takes its title. The authors whose works we are going to examine often alternate between nostalgia and the exhilaration of being set free into the breathless possibilities of new lives. Leaving home does not simply mean movement in space. Separated from the sensory boundaries that defined their old selves, immigrants inhabit a warped, fragmentary, disjointed time. Immigrant writers struggle for breath-speech, language, voice, the very stuff of their craft resounds somewhere else. Join us as we explore the pain, the struggle, the failure, and the triumph of emigration and exile. Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Brodsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nina Berberova, Julia Kristeva, Alexander Hemon, Dubravka Ugrešić, Norman Manea, Miroslav Penkov, Ilija Trojanow, Tea Obreht.
REES 29021/39021 The Shadows of Living Things: The Writings of Mikhail Bulgakov (Angelina Ilieva)
“What would your good do if evil did not exist, and what would the earth look like if all the shadows disappeared? After all, shadows are cast by things and people. . . . Do you want to strip the earth of all the trees and living things just because of your fantasy of enjoying naked light?” asks the Devil. Mikhail Bulgakov worked on his novel The Master and Margarita throughout most of his writing career, in Stalin’s Moscow. Bulgakov destroyed his manuscript, re-created it from memory, and reworked it feverishly even as his body was failing him in his battle with death. The result is an intense contemplation on the nature of good and evil, on the role of art, and the ethical duty of the artist, but also a dazzling world of magic, witches, and romantic love, and an irresistible seduction into the comedic. Laughter, as shadow and light, as the subversive weapon but also as power’s whip, grounds human relation to both good and evil. Brief excursions to other texts that help us better understand The Master and Margarita.
SALC 25320 Debate, Dissent, Deviate: Literary Modernities in South Asia (Supurna Dasgupta) | Autumn
This class introduces students to the modernist movement in 20th century South Asia. Modernism will be understood here as a radical experimental movement in literature, film, photography and other arts, primarily aimed at critiquing mainstream narratives of history and culture, especially with reference to identity categories such as race, gender, sexuality, class, and caste. The texts reveal the ways in which structures of knowledge and aesthetics circulated between the various parts of the globe, especially under the conditions of colonialism and decolonization. We will analyze a variety of texts over the ten-week duration of the class. These include novels, short stories, manifestos, essays, photographs, and films. The chronological span of the class is from the 1930s to the 1970s. Our aim will be to understand the diverse meanings of modernism as we go through our weekly readings. Was it a global phenomenon that was adopted blindly by postcolonial artists? Or were there specifically South Asian innovations that enable us to think about the local story as formative of a global consciousness? What bearings do such speculations have on genre, gender, and medium, as well as on politics? What effect does sexual politics have on aesthetic innovations? How do these non-mainstream aesthetic traditions contribute towards the formation of knowledge in modern South Asia?
I will help situate the readings of each week in their specific literary and political contexts. Students will be able to evaluate, experiment with, and analyze various forms of modernist literary expressions emerging out of South Asia. This class will provide them with critical tools to interpret, assess, compare, and contrast cultural histories of non-Western locations and peoples, with an eye for literary radicalism. No prior knowledge of any South Asian language or history is necessary.
SALC 22604 /32605 “A Poem in Every House”: Persian, Arabic, and Vernacular Poetry in North India and the Deccan (Thibaut d'Hubert) | Autumn
gehe gehe kalau kāvyaṃ …
In the Kali age, there is a poem in every house …
Vidyāpati (ca. 1370-1460, Mithila), Kīrtilatā
The Indian subcontinent is home to some of the most vibrant literary traditions in world history. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the main trends in the premodern (/pre-nineteenth century) literature of South Asia through a selection of poetic and theoretical texts translated from a variety of languages (Arabic, Bengali, Dakani, Hindi, Maithili, Marathi, Persian, Panjabi, Sanskrit, Urdu, etc.) . We will discuss issues of literary historiography, the relations between orality and writing, and the shared aesthetic world of poetry, music, and visual arts. Over two quarters, we will review the basic principles of Perso-Arabic and vernacular poetics through a selection of representative theoretical treatises and poems. We will also explore the linguistic ecology of the Subcontinent, the formation of vernacular literary traditions, multilingual literacy, and the role of literature in social interactions and community building in premodern South Asia. Every week the first half of the class will be devoted to the historical context and conceptual background of the texts we will read in the second half. Attention will be given to the original languages in which those texts were composed as well as the modes of performance of the poems and songs we will read together. (LT, LG – Poetry)
SALC 27904 /43800 Wives, Widows, and Prostitutes: Hindi Literature and the "Women's Question" (Ulrike Stark) | Spring
From the early 19th century onward, the debate on the status of Indian women was an integral part of the discourse on the state of civilization, Hindu tradition, and social reform in colonial India. This course will explore how Indian authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries engaged with the so-called "women's question." Caught between middle-class conservatism and the urge for social reform, Hindi and Urdu writers addressed controversial issues such as female education, child marriage, widow remarriage, and prostitution in their fictional and discursive writings. We will explore the tensions of a literary and social agenda that advocated the 'uplift' of women as a necessary precondition for the progress of the nation, while also expressing patriarchal fears about women's rights and freedom. The course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Basic knowledge of Hindi and/or Urdu is preferable, but not required. We will read works by Nazir Ahmad, Premcand, Jainendra Kumar, Mirza Hadi Ruswa, and Mahadevi Varma in English translation, and also look at texts used in Indian female education at the time.
HIST 26810 A Global History of South Asia: Migration in the Age of Empire (Z. Leonard, Teaching Fellow)
Departing from narratives that privilege the rise of a static, territorially bounded, Indian nation-state, this course will examine modern South Asian history (roughly 1600 to present) through the lens of migration and trans-regional encounters. Analyzing shifting perceptions of "the global" as a spatial concept, we will study labor flows in the Indian Ocean, the colonial state's myriad efforts to circumscribe the movement of its subjects, and population transfers between various colonial sites. Entering the later nineteenth century, we will chart the influence of migration, both historical and contemporary, on nationalist thought; we will also discuss the issues posed by the international circulation of political dissenters. Finally, we will engage with fictional representations of the Partition of India and accounts of the social tensions stemming from South Asian immigration into Britain proper. Featuring moral reform literature, petitions, family histories, and anti-colonial tracts, this course will equip students with the skills to interrogate a range of primary sources and familiarize them with recent trends in global and colonial history. (LC)
HIST 27006 Not Just the Facts: Telling About the American South (J. Dailey)
This course engages the various ways people have tried to make sense of the American South, past and present. Main themes of the course include the difference between historical scholarship and writing history in fictional form; the role of the author in each, and consideration of the interstitial space of autobiography; the question of authorial authenticity; and the tension between contemporary demands for truthfulness and the rejection of "facts" and "truth." We will read across several genres, including historical scholarship, biography, and fiction. (LG – Nonfiction)
HIST 18702 Race, Politics, and Sports in the United States (M. Briones)
Kneeling or standing for the national anthem? Breaking the glass ceiling, coming out of the closet, or crossing the color line in sports? This course will take up the question of why sports are so central to American identity and what historic role sports and athletes have played in American political life. Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Jackie Robinson, and Bill Russell are only a few of the athletes who fought for freedom, inclusion, and equality in sports and American life. Through close critical readings of popular and scholarly writing, memoirs, and visual culture (film and television), we will examine the seminal overlapping events in sports history and American history to understand the collision and convergence of our politics and sports culture. (LG – Nonfiction)
RLST 28705 – Christian Iconography (Karin Krause)
In Christian culture, visual images have for many centuries played a pivotal role in ritual, devotion, intellectual thought, and religious instruction. The most important aims of this course are that students understand images convey meaning in very unique ways and learn how to decode their visual messages. The study of iconography encompasses a variety of methods used to identify the subject matter of a pictorial image, describe its contents, and analyze its discursive strategies in view of its original cultural context. We will cover some of the most important themes visualized in the arts of Christianity by analyzing imagery spanning different periods, geographical regions, pictorial media, and artistic techniques. While special emphasis is placed on the intersections of art and literature, we will also examine pictorial themes that are independent of a specific textual basis. Alongside the study of Christian iconography, this course will address broader issues of visual inquiry, such as patronage, viewer response, emotions, and gender roles. In this course, students will acquire a 'visual literacy' that will enable them to explore all kinds of works of art fruitfully as primary sources in their own right. (LC, LT)