Note: these courses do NOT count as core courses toward the Major or Minor
South Asian Literature
COLIT-UA.717 / MEIS-UA.717
Offers advanced undergraduates a window on a rich and culturally varied area of the world, as well as an understanding of aspects of South Asian history and society as represented in translations of modern prose writing (short stories and novels). | Offers advanced undergraduates a window on a rich and culturally varied area of the world, as well as an understanding of aspects of South Asian history and society as represented in translations of modern prose writing (short stories and novels).
Sponsored by EAS
COLIT-UA.792 / GERM-UA.283
This course is an introduction to the dialectical tradition, which conceived of thought as dynamic and critical rather than static and representational. The course dwells at equal length on the modern dialectic's origins in the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel, its elaboration as critical economic thought in the work of Karl Marx, and its use as the basis of a critical theory by Theodor W. Adorno. Other authors to be considered may include but are not limited to György Lukács, Franz Fanon, Mao Zedong, Richard Lewontin, and Sylvia Wynter.
Sponsored by the Department of German
Pandemic Literature (in English)
COLIT-UA.852 / SPAN-UA.461
In the year 1348, at a time when many Christian residents of Spain blamed the bubonic plague that was raging all around them on their Jewish neighbors, a Jewish physician, Abraham Caslari, living in Barcelona offered a scientific explanation for the spread of disease, concluding that “no learned man could doubt that these are true pestilential fevers with terrestrial causes.” In other words, Dr. Caslari wanted to make clear that there were natural causes for the plague rather than human or divine ones. But this very small episode is emblematic of many different kinds of writing that occur in the wake of the spread of disease: people seek to explain what is happening around them with both science and fantasy. In this course we will read literary responses in a wide range of genres and forms (poetry, polemic, satire, sci-fi, chronicle, etc.) to different pandemics that have affected Spain, beginning with the bubonic plague outbreak in 1348, through the Covid-19 pandemic of today. We will also read texts that respond to the spread of smallpox and other European diseases in the New World, early modern and modern Spanish rabies and cholera epidemics, and the “Spanish” flu.
Sponsored by Department of Spanish and Portugese | Contact: Lourdes Dávila
The Passions of Elena Ferrante
COLOT-UA.852 / ITAL-UA.300
Close reading of novels, interviews, and essays by Ferrante. Engaging with Sianne Ngai, Elspeth Probyn, Lauren Berlant and others, we consider the political and aesthetic implications of ugly and opaque emotions like irritation, envy, disgust, and shame. We also study major influences, both writers Ferrante cites frequently in interviews—Adriana Cavarero, Carla Lonzi, Luisa Muraro, and Elsa Morante—as well as those she tends to refrain from naming—Christa Wolf and Ingeborg Bachmann.
Sponsored by the Department of Italian Studies | Julie Canziani: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dante's Divine Comedy in Context
COLIT-UA.866 / ITAL-UA.269
The Divine Comedy, is a very long poem traditionally judged to be one of the most important in Western culture. At the center of the poem is the human being, his condition in the after life and his punishment or reward. Taken literally, the theme is the state of the souls after the death. But allegorically, the true subject is moral life and thus the torments of the sins themselves or the enjoyment of a happy and saintly life. Since the beginning of its circulation the Divine Comedy has been seen as a text to be read in context, that is in light of the cultural tradition Dante was channelling and interpreting. The course proposes to contextualize the reading of Dante’s Commedia considering the entire corpus of Dante’s works. We read Vita nuova (The New Life) and a selection of Dante’s prose works: Banquet, On Vernacular Speech, the Monarchy. Attention is given to the context in which Dante lived and wrote, we focus not just on the Commedia but also on the culture that the Commedia inherits and on the circumstances in which the Poet operated. Readings include fragments of Aristotle (Ethics and Politics), Augustine( Confessions), Plato’s Timeus (Chalcidius). We consider the Commedia in the context of social history, rhetoric, poetry and poetics, literature, art, music, politics and economy, ancient and medieval science, philosophy and jurisprudence.
Sponsored by the Department of Italian Studies
The Unquiet Dead
RUSSN-UA.870 / COLIT-UA.866
Human life and artistic narrative can both be presumed to share one crucial defining feature: each always comes to an end. This course explores the persistent connections between various forms of storytelling (particularly fiction, poetry, film, and television) and imagined scenarios for life after death. While many of the most famous afterlife genres have strong roots in folklore (stories of vampires, ghosts, and zombies), one also finds stories that do not fit such conventional classifications. We will pay particular attention to the phenomenon of the posthumous narrator, a storytelling device that is deployed more often than many might think. As we examine a large variety of narratives that make use of these "afterlife" devices, our goal will not be simply to provide a typology, or to show the evolution of a particular character type over time. Rather, we will ask ourselves about the nature of the fascination with the "unquiet dead" (the dead who cannot or will not rest). How do tales of the unquiet dead affect the very nature of narration (which usually assumes a final stopping point)? What is the political and ideological potential for the deployment of the unquiet dead in popular and elite storytelling? In particular, we will examine the possible connections to socioeconomic anxieties (zombies and haunted houses), cultural and sexual purity (vampires), and collective guilt (ghost stories, and the perennial American trope of the desecrated Indian burial site). We will also be looking at the roles that race and gender play in the imagination of undead "monsters." Finally, we will pay close attention to the problem of the sovereign corpse: the body of the leader left in state to both reassure and haunt the body politic (Lenin will be our primary example). Though we will pay particular attention to the Slavic world (as the source of some of the most compelling tales of the unquiet dead), our primary sources will come from a wide range of times and linguistic traditions, including folk tales, novels, short stories, films, and television episodes. We will also read a number of critical works that will help illuminate the material.
Sponsored by the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies | Contact Leydi Rofman <email@example.com>
Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation: Modernism, Nationalism, Revival
COLIT-UA.951 / HBRJD-UA.76
Exploring a rich variety of literary prose fiction, this course focuses on the emergence of modernism in Hebrew literature at the turn of the 20th century. Ever since the 19th century Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), Hebrew literature has played a major role in the processes of permutation and transition within Jewish society, articulating new modes of thinking on matters such as body, identity, sexuality and language. In both its themes and aesthetics, Hebrew literature not only reflected these processes, but in fact created and shaped the public sphere within which these new ideas emerged. Identifying literature as an institution of the modern, intertwined with the rise of nationalism, this course examines the coincidence, as well as the discrepancy, between modernist poetics and the nationalist imagination. It asks how literature constructs national consciousness and whether, and in what ways, it ever exceeds it. Our weekly sessions will be dedicated to reading diverse texts (short stories, essays, novels and literary theory) and tackling some of the recurring issues they raise, including gender and sexuality, ideology, secularization and immigration. We will acquire methodologies of literary analysis, pay attention to rhetoric and style and practice close reading. No prior knowledge of Hebrew is required. All texts are available in English translation.
Sponsored by the Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies | Contact: Maeve Kozlark-Bustell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Korean Sci-Fi and Global Economy: Genre and Religion
COLIT-UA.972 / EAST-UA.951
This course explores the theme of parallel worlds in Korean science-fiction and how it reflects the uncertainty of Korea’s regional position in the global economy. As a genre, science-fiction is constituted of its own set of rules, and the recent sci-fi boom in Korean literature shows interesting variations of the genre while hinting at certain economic processes involved in the global market as well as world literature. Tracing the forking paths of different voices in short stories, novels, films, and TV dramas, we will examine the nonlinear logic of time and space that corresponds to multiple possibilities yet reproduces homogeneous rules to restrict radical alterities. By bringing together interdisciplinary discourses and cultural artifacts, the course will tackle regional boundaries and disciplinary divisions at once. Topics will include the bordering principles of parallel worlds, the transitory nature of the transhuman, robot industries, and discourses of the future. Readings will also include non-Korean writers, such as Ted Chiang, Kurt Vonnegut, and Jorge Luis Borges, for comparative analysis.
Sponsored by EAS | Contact Victoria Juste: email@example.com