Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Fall 2017 Undergraduate Courses


Courses Originating in the Comparative Literature Department


Prof. Basterra 
Junior Theory Seminar: Freedom 

Meeting Pattern: Wednesday, 12:30-3:15

This seminar focuses on the ethical responsibility we call freedom. This way of equating freedom and ethical obligation may come as a surprise, for what, we may ask, does our responsibility to others have to do with freedom? Isn’t freedom our most essential belonging, our intimate source of self-mastery, an inalienable right? Isn’t freedom what is owed us, the autonomy we fight for? 

As we consider works by Immanuel Kant, the phenomenological tradition, and ethical and political philosophy, we will set them in conversation with different theories of subjectivity, critiques of freedom, and historical and literary instances in which freedom has motivated women and men as they fought or lost their lives. We will devote particular attention to the interactions between sensibility, reason, thinking, and affect. Can freedom, an idea that enables thinking by providing it with a limit, become an experience? If so, how might ethical freedom be present and felt in times of trouble? 


Prof. Duffy 
Topics: What is Lyric? Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Explorations 

Meeting Pattern: Tuesday/Thursday, 12:30-1:45

This course will attempt to produce a working, historically-informed theory of the lyric form through a careful consideration of ancient, medieval, and early modern examples. Poets will include an ancient cluster (Sappho, Anacreon, Pindar, Horace, and Juvenal), a medieval cluster, both vernacular and in Latin (the Harley Lyrics, Troubadour verse, the Cambridge Lyrics, and the Carmina Burana), and a Renaissance cluster (Dante, Petrarch, Garcilaso de la Vega, Francisco de Quevedo, Pierre de Ronsard, Joachim du Bellay, Thomas Wyatt, Sir Philip Sidney, and John Donne). Some considerations of recent lyric theory by Jonathan Culler, Heather DuBrow, Ullrich Langer, and others will add to our discussion. 

Prof. Garcia
Senior Seminar: Honors Thesis

Meeting Pattern: Monday, 2:00-4:45


Prof. Halim 
Topics: Middle Eastern Anglophone Literature 

Meeting Pattern: Tuesday, 3:30-6:10

Although literature by Middle Easterners, particularly Arab-Americans, in English is not a new phenomenon, it has flourished in the past two decades. In addressing Middle Eastern Anglophone literature, this course covers the output of both writers resident in their country of origin and ones living in the diaspora. Attending to a range of theoretical and critical texts, we will discuss several genres, including poetry, fiction, essay, and memoir, as well as film. 

Drawing on postcolonial theory and transnational studies, the course will pose, among others, the following questions: How do the writers we study identify--Arab, Arab-American, British, American, Middle Eastern--and what is at stake in such labels? How do we parse the legacy of Orientalism in stereotypes about Middle Eastern émigrés? What risks of complicity might come with identities hyphenated across sides divided by imperialism and neo-colonialism? What translational strategies are adopted in the texts to be read and can we speak of such a thing as "Arabglish"? How do we relate the linguistic decisions in Middle Eastern Anglophone texts to earlier debates in the Indian and sub-Saharan African contexts? Are there certain genres that have been privileged over others by émigrés from the Middle East, and if so, how would we explain this? Readings by, among others: Chinua Achebe; Diana Abu-Jaber; Suheir Hammad; David Lodge; Gauri Viswanathan; Mohja Kahf; Hisham Matar; Nadine Naber; Ngugi wa Thiong'o; Edward W. Said; Marjane Satrapi; Anthony Shadid; and Ahdaf Soueif. 

Prof. Iampolski
Topics: Modernity

Meeting Pattern: Monday, 4:55-7:35


Prof. Matos-Martin
Topics: Fascism in the Modern World: A Comparative Perspective in Literature and Cinema

Meeting Pattern: Wednesday, 9:30-12:15

While Fascist States were established during the 1930s in several European countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal), the historical experience of fascism has not ended with the Second World War and continued in different contexts in Europe and beyond. The purpose of the course is to examine the notion of fascism and its complexities (gender, ideology, war, technology, eugenics, exile, enforced disappearance and extermination) in different geographical contexts, with a particular focus on European (Spain, Germany, Italy) and Latin American countries of the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay), and to address the broader implications of fascism today. Adopting a comparative framework to consider implicit and explicit interconnections and differences between different geographic contexts, we will analyze literary texts, films, and documentaries in addition to other artistic and cultural forms of expression (photography, painting). Primary materials will be paired with texts by leading cultural and political thinkers working on questions of biopolitics, political and ideological dynamics of war and fascism, representations of violence, memory and history, and social justice. 


Prof. Matos-Martin 
Topics: Exile, Migration, and Displacement in Literature and Film: A Transatlantic Perspective 

Meeting Pattern: Thursday, 9:30-12:15

This course proposes a cultural and historical examination of contemporary experiences of migration, exile or displacement with a particular focus on the Spanish-speaking world. With a cross-disciplinary and transatlantic perspective, we will analyze a selection of literary works (novels, short stories, poetry) and visual representations (documentaries, fiction movies) to gain insights into topics such as exile or deportation due to repressive dictatorships and governments, states of homelessness and estrangement, psychological and/or geographical displacements, migration movements from rural to urban settings, the journeys of Latin American migrants to the North, or of Africans to Spain. Primary materials will be paired with texts by leading cultural and political thinkers working on notions of citizenship, biopower/biopolitics, xenophobia, racism, nationalism, displacement, or memory. 


Prof. Sanders 
Law & Literature: An Introduction 

Meeting Pattern: Monday, 11:00-1:45

This seminar will explore formal, theoretical, ethical, and political issues emerging from slave narrative, testimonio, Holocaust testimony, South African truth commission testimony, and narratives by African ex-child soldiers. Theoretical explorations will take place through psychoanalysis, deconstruction, as well as literature, law, and human rights. Authors and filmmakers may include Harriet Jacobs, Mary Prince, Primo Levi, Claude Lanzmann, Charlotte Delbo, Rigoberta Menchú, Antjie Krog, Ishmael Beah, China Keitetsi and others.

Cross-listed Courses Originating in Other Departments

*These courses count toward major or minor requirements.

Prof. Garcia
Texts and Ideas: Scenes of Instruction
CORE-UA 400*

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. Gadberry
Proximity and Protest in the 18th Century Letter and its Afterlives

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. Zhang
Topics: Chinese Narrative - Between History and Fiction

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. Densky
Topics in German Cinema: Man, Monster, Machine

Meeting Pattern: Wednesday, 2:00-4:45

Prof. Lakhous
Topics in Italian Culture: Narrating the Mediterranean

Meeting Pattern: Monday/Wednesday, 12:30-1:45

Prof. Krauss
Topics in 20th Century Literature: Weimar on the Pacific: German Exile Culture in the United States

Meeting Pattern: Tuesday/Thursday, 3:30-4:45

Prof. Sandhu
Asian American Literature

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. Montale
Topics in World Literature: 20th Century Italian Poetry

Meeting Pattern: Monday, 3:30-6:10

Prof. Huber
What is Critique?

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. Huber
Subversion & Perversion: Queer Critique

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. de Vries
Of Miracles, Events, and Special Effects
COLIT-UA 852.001

Meeting Pattern: TBD

Prof. Cipani
Topics: Sounds of Italy

Meeting Pattern: Monday, 12:30-3:15

Prof. Foley
Topics in Asian Studies: East Asia and the Nobel Prize in Literature
COLIT-UA 950.001

Meeting Pattern: Tuesday/Thursday, 6:45-8:00