Topics in Literary Theory: Narrative and Nation
COLIT-GA 2453.001 / HBRJD-GA 2453.001
If nationalism is to be understood not only as an ideology but as a mode of cultural signification, then what national entity exists prior to its artistic representation? How does the nation become perceptible as a form? Who may narrate the nation or speak in its name? This seminar explores the relationship between nationalism and literature as two, deeply entwined, modern institutions. Combining readings on the history of European nationalism with works in social and cultural analysis, postcolonial studies, and critical literary theory, it traces the ways in which national consciousness is constituted and reproduced within various sites of cultural imagination. We shall address particularly instances in which nationalist thinking has been internalized and transformed within minor or non-European cultures, thus creating a distorted mirror image of European nationalist ideas. Students are encouraged to contribute to the discussion primary sources, case studies, and literary or artistic works that speak to their own research.
COLIT-GA 2610.001 / FREN-GA 3898.001
Queerness—in its many forms—animates and energizes modern French/Francophone literature and film. This graduate seminar will explore gender and sexuality as generative forces for thought and vision, focusing especially on modes of desire and gendered being that fall outside of available categories. Among our questions: How are gender and sexuality entangled with the vectors of social class and race; to what styles of vision does this entanglement give rise? If queer people have historically been excluded from the temporalities of the state-sanctioned family, what other narrative and temporal modes has queerness enabled or inspired? How are eccentric or marginal sexualities expressed via heightened attention to style and form, from decadent aestheticism to camp and drag? Discussions will center on theoretical/ critical texts as well as fiction, photography, and film; authors/ artists will include Rachilde, Cahun/Moore, Proust, Genet, Wittig, Garréta, Louis, Leduc, Bouraoui, Sciamma, Demy, Sontag, Foucault, Sedgwick, Butler, Preciado, Amin, Kahan, Lucey, Dinshaw, Muñoz, Richards, and others.
ITAL-GA 2332 / COLIT-GA 2453.002 / ENGL-GA 2270 / MEDI-UA 285
This seminar will focus on a full reading of Boccaccio’s Decameron, a collection of 100 tales claimed to be told by 10 young people temporarily escaping from the fourteenth-century pandemic known as the Black Death, famously described in the work’s Introduction. Notoriously bawdy, the Decameron is often celebrated for its surprising modernity with regard to questions of gender, ethnicity, power, sex, ethics, economics, nature, institutional authority, and faith, and continues to pose the question of what, if anything, it means. At the very least, it illustrates the fundamental importance of the skillful use of language in society and the ineluctability of storytelling in a world framed by death. Reading will include portions of other, relevant works by Boccaccio, and a selection of scholarly bibliography. Students will be expected to participate actively in reading, discussion, and debate, as well as to produce an oral presentation and a research paper of around 5000-7000 words.
Lyric Poetry from the Sicilian School to Pasolini
ITAL-GA 2192 / COLIT-GA 2192.001 / ENGL-GA 2270.002 / EURO-GA 2162.007 / MEDI-UA.002
Since ancient times, lyric poetry has been a foundational structure in the everyday life of human beings. In its various forms—written, oral, accompanied by music or not—poetry is a linguistic exchange that transforms those who participate in this event (Heidegger). In the beginning, poetry, cosmology, and philosophy sprang from the same root, and the language of knowledge was poetic. The fragments of so-called Greek Wisdom testify that poetry was the language of the Eleusinian or Orphic liturgy. It took the form of prayer, magical formulas, and mythology. Later in Greek history, Empedocles will cast his physics in poetic language, followed by the Latin Lucretius, who does something similar. From a time now lost in a distant past, the language of poetry included the utterance of both the highest and the lowest things. It created a space where human imagination, sensibility, passions, and feelings had their voice. According to Maria Corti, poetry is an archetype that has survived over the ages: while monuments collapse, poetry endures throughout the millennia.
The course explores lyric poetry from the thirteenth century to the twentieth. Our selection includes texts by Provençal poets like William of Aquitaine, Jaufre Rudel, Arnaut Daniel, and Contessa de Dia. Our main focus will be on texts by Italian lyric poets from the Sicilian school to the so-called Stil Nuovo (Guinizzelli, Cavalcanti, Dante, Cino da Pistoia,) to Compiuta Donzella, to Petrarch, Boccaccio, and the Petrarchism of 1400- 1500 (Gaspara Stampa, Veronica Gambara, Vittoria Colonna, Michelangelo Buonarotti), the baroque poetry of G. B. Marino, the illuminated Settecento of Parini and Alfieri and the Romanticism of Foscolo, Manzoni, and Leopardi, to the Decadentism of Pascoli and D’Annunzio, to the Crepuscolarism of Gozzano, Campana and the Futurism of Marinetti and Palazzeschi. The last part of the course will be devoted to the reading of Ungaretti, Montale, Saba, Pavese, Bassani, Pasolini, and Caproni. A special attention will be given to women poets as Sibilla Aleramo, Antoni Pozzi, Amelia Rosselli and Patrizia Cavalli, as well as to the recent poetry of Giampiero Neri and Alessandro Carrera.
The course will be given in English and is conceived as a seminar. It is open to qualified undergraduates.Translation is part of the course. The requirements are as follows: active class participation, a mid-term oral presentation and a final paper. Final papers should be 10 pages for undergraduate students and 20 pages for the graduate. Papers must include a bibliography.
Documentary Italian Style
ITAL-GA 1986 / COLIT-GA 2956.004 / CEH-GA 2916.001 / CINE-GT 1986.001
Non-fiction films have been made in Italy since the beginnings of cinema, yet they are less well known than those made in France, Britain or North and South America, despite the cult status of a few Italian documentarists, such as De Seta and Grifi, and the fact that many Italian directors of features, from Antonioni and Bertolucci to Pasolini and Visconti, also made non-fictions. The course has three main aims: (1) to familiarize students with a sample of Italian non-fiction films of different types: instructional, industrial, newsreel, propaganda, ethnographic, social, memoir, found footage; (2) to equip them to engage critically with these films through close analysis and reading of key texts on documentary; (3) to help them produce high-level critical writing about Italian documentary, paying particular attention to film style. The course consists of weekly readings, viewings and seminars and is graded on class participation, regular assignments and a final paper of 15-20 pages. A few non-Italian films will be viewed, either whole or in part, for comparison and context. Students will be invited to make by the end of the course a visual project, not formally graded, to complement their written paper. A knowledge of Italian will be an asset, but all prescribed films will either have English subtitles or an accompanying written translation or summary and all required readings will be in English.
Between Berlin & Hollywood: A Cinematic Dialog
GERM-GA 2222.001 / COLIT-GA 2645
Wilder, who wrote the screen play for "Menschen am Sontag," directed the quintessential Film Noir with "Double Indemnity," and then returned to the ruins of Berlin in "A Foreign Affair." Finally, we will explore the difference between American and German cinema’s engagement with the traumatic aftereffects of WWII, looking at two seminal postwar films, "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "Zwischen Gestern und Morgen."
*This is a 7-week, 2-credit course running from 9/5 - 10/13. It is possible to register for this course and GERM-GA 2224.001 / COLIT-GA 2645.002 with no time conflict.
Plasticity & Anxiety: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis
GERM-GA 2224.001 / COLIT-GA 2645.002
This course revolves around three major reflections on anxiety. Philosophical, with Heidegger and the existential notion of being-for-death. Psychoanalysis, with Freud and the question of the origin of anxiety. Neuroscientific, with the study of stress and its possible epigenetic transmission. By crossing these studies, we will ask ourselves if anxiety is a threat to the plasticity of the subject, to their capacities for transformation and evolution, or if it does not act on the contrary as a power of metamorphosis and self-creation. We will start with the fundamental distinction between anxiety and fear, the first, unlike the second, having no object. What is this nothing of anxiety? This non-being that triggers anxiety? These questions have proven fundamental in the late Xxth century’s continental philosophy and psychoanalysis. They are currently lying at the heart of the most recent research in neuroscience and epigenetics. After exploring these different domains, we will approach political critiques of the concept of anxiety, like those developed by afro-pessimist thinkers, arguing that this concept is a pre-fabricated response to the absolute lack of plasticity of the non-being. Taught in English
*This is a 7-week, 2-credit course running from 10/20 - 12/8. It is possible to register for this course and GERM-GA 2222.001 / COLIT-GA 2645.001 with no time conflict.
Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, Division II)
GERM-GA 1116.001 / COLIT-GA 2917.001
Prof. de Vries
Description: Starting with a detailed rehearsal of its “Introduction” and of major themes of “Division One” (which was the subject of a graduate seminar in Fall 2022), the present seminar will offer an integral reading of the more controversial “Division Two” of Martin Heidegger’s 1927 magnum opus Sein und Zeit (Being and Time): a failed part of the project in the eyes of some, its pièce de résistance and lasting contribution, according to most. We will read this division against the background of its historical and philosophical origins and contexts as well as in view of its immediate reception at the time. We will, on each occasion, circle back to the corresponding paragraphs in the first division in other to familiarize ourselves with the topics and arguments of the whole book, but also in order to see how and why Heidegger, quite literally, repeats them while shifting terrain and adding more depth and complexity. In addition to a close reading of the text, aided by its translation and commentaries, the seminar further aims to bring not only phenomenological, hermeneutic, and deconstructive but also analytic, epistemological, and pragmatist methods, arguments and perspectives to bear upon the more recent interpretation and undiminished significance of this modern classic.