Note: these courses do not count as core courses toward the Major or Minor
Professor Valerie Forman
COLIT-UA.202.001 / IDSEM-UG 2052
3:30pm-4:45pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays
How does a nation’s understanding of its borders come into being? Conversely, how do borders contribute to fictions about a nation—the possibilities it offers and who is considered a legitimate member of its community? What stories get told about those who migrate or seek refuge or asylum? How do migrants document their own narratives as they cross, re-cross, and contest borders? How can their stories along with the work of artists, scholars and activists challenge dominant narratives and unravel the myths that help to give borders and related terms—refuge, asylum, immigrant, citizen--their meaning and even their power? “Fictions” in the title of the course also refers to one of the primary means (the reading of novels, plays, poetry, short fiction) by which we will explore alternatives to the limited realities that borders attempt to produce. Though we will focus on recent crises at the southern border of the United States, we will locate these crises in their longer histories and put struggles over the US/Mexico border in dialogue with other border and migrant struggles. The seminar will also draw from historical documents, the work of historians, visual artists, filmmakers, critical/political theorists, as well as scholars of the environment, indigeneity, and migration from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Possible authors/scholars/artists include: Valeria Luselli, Oscar Martínez, Gloria Anzaldua, Carlos Fuentes,Gregory Nava, John Sayles, Larissa Sansour, Boots Riley, Leo Chavez, Wendy Brown and Donna Haraway among many others.
Sponsored by Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Professor Nicola Cipani
ITAL-UA 152 / COLIT-UA 550
This course examines objects with a dual nature: literary artifacts that are also visual compositions — texts that function simultaneously as pictures. While a primary focus will be on Italian 20th century experimental literary forms (parole in libertà, poesia visiva, concrete poetry), students will also explore a wider historical range of such textual-visual hybrids, from the classical world through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque period. In order to trace the transnational circulation of visual models, comparative examples and references from English and other languages will be offered. Specific readings and discussions will address theoretical issues raised by iconic texts — how do we read visual poetry? What does it mean to be a reader and a viewer at the same time?
Sponsored by Dept. of Italian Studies
Modern South Asian Literature
Professor Gabriela Ilieva
MEIS-UA 717 001 / COLIT-UA 723
4:55pm - 7:35pm, Tuesdays
Addresses the rich literary product of modern and contemporary South Asia. Offers more 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) originally written in South Asian languages. Class Notes: This course will introduce you to a selection of writings in various Indian languages available in translation in English. The focus of this course is on the representation of gender and sexuality, as well as its relation to other factors such as class, caste, religion or ethnicity and how the depictions are mediated particularly through emerging fictional conventions in prose writing. We begin with pre-independence texts and then move on to the narratives of Partition. As we examine the cultural and historical contexts within which literature has evolved in South Asia, we also look at the voices of women and the role they play in the development of literary movements. Finally, we examine contemporary texts to gain a broader understanding of how tradition and modernity are embedded in South Asian literature with emphasis of gender representations.
Sponsored by Dept. of Middle Eastern / Islamic Studies
The New Documentary in Brazil (in English)
Professor Marta Peixoto
PORT-UA 706 / COLIT-UA 800
12:30pm-1:45pm. Tuesdays and Thursdays
How does documentary film represent reality? Is it a transparent window? Or is it a more complex form that may include elements of staging and fiction? In Brazil (as elsewhere) the last twenty years have seen a surge in documentary filmmaking and critical thinking about this kind of film. The increased production of documentary film is part of the Retomada or Renewal of Brazilian cinema of all kinds since the 1990s, made possible by favorable government policies. This course, CONDUCTED IN ENGLISH, will examine a selection of these Brazilian films from the 1990s to the present (with brief retrospectives to earlier films) and explore issues such as: the uses of fact and fiction and the multiple ways in which documentary film may go beyond offering realistic versions of preexistent realities; the scope of its political impact; ethical concerns about the respectful use of other people's images and words; the construction of layered and complex images of Brazil. Readings concern these and other aspects of documentary films.
Sponsored by the Dept. of Spanish & Portuguese
The Passions of Elena Ferrante
Professor Rebecca Falkoff
ITAL-UA 300 / COLIT-UA 852
12:30pm-1:45pm, Mondays and Wednesdays
The success of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels is astounding, not only because of the record-breaking sales, but also because of the strong emotions they thematize and arouse. In this course we will read novels, interviews, and essays by Ferrante, asking why her work inspires such passionate reading, and whether there is political efficacy in all this affect. Engaging with Sianne Ngai, Elspeth Probyn, Lauren Berlant and others, we will consider the political and aesthetic implications of ugly and opaque emotions like irritation, envy, disgust, and shame. We will also study major influences—including 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 Dept. of Italian Studies
Dante's Divine Comedy in Context
Professor Maria Luisa Ardizzone
ITAL-UA 269 / COLIT-UA 866
2:00pm-3:15pm, Mondays & Wednesdays
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. This course proposes a reading of Dante’s Commedia, considered in light of the ancient and medieval idea of learning. The objective of the course is to familiarize students with one of the most important author of Western culture. Through Dante’s texts, students will gain a perspective on the Biblical, Christian, and Classical traditions as well as on the historical, literary, philosophical context of medieval Europe.
Sponsored by Dept. of Italian Studies
Topics: Pop in Latino American Music
Prof. Licia Fiol-Matta
This course will consider several important moments in Latin American and US Latino popular music, approached as a transnational phenomenon. The focus is on the performance of music, from tango to narcorrido, traversing folk, revival, MPB, salsa, rock, and contemporary Latino genres. Yet, music is a cultural product and as such students will learn how to reflect on music critically, as a collective expression of emotions, desire, and affects, and as an arena where social and political experiences manifest through creative expression. We will also study the emergence of mass culture as decisive in our understanding of popular music and pay attention to broader music culture, especially the rise of consumer culture and the entertainment industry. By semester’s end, students will have a working grasp of major developments in modern and contemporary Latino American popular music; be able to discuss recorded music and performance footage with critical listening tools, in relationship to larger social and political developments; incorporate the following categories into an overarching discussion of the performative aspects of music: regionalism, nationalism, folklore, subcultures, social differences, and politics; become acquainted with models of music criticism in order to approach pop music beyond simple expressions of personal taste.
Knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is not required. When needed, paraphrases will be provided.
Sponsored by Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Marxism and Culture
COLIT-UA.955.001 / RUSSN-UA 810.002
Marx (and Engels) died without leaving a clear understanding how their theories would apply to culture. Ever since, cultural producers and critics have been trying to answer this question. The first decade or so of the Soviet state was probably the most prolific ground for Marxist art and art theory, until socialist realism became “the basic method of all Soviet art and criticism” in the early 1930s. In the ensuing decades of the twentieth century, leftist thinkers and artists from the West and subsequently, from the Third World, challenged Soviet hegemony on Marxism. The end of the Soviet bloc represented a blow to the left everywhere, especially in Russia, but even there, Marxism, with its attendant aesthetics, still exists. Shifting in and out of Russia, this course will populate this 150-year-long historical trajectory with such canonical texts, authors, and movements as Marx and Engels, Plekhanov, Gorky, Trotsky, the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920s, the socialist realism of the 1930s, Gramsci and Adorno, Mao and Latin American Third Cinema, and as well as such contemporary Russian leftist artists as the Chto Delat’ collective, Kirill Medvedev, Roman Osminkin, and Victoria Lomasko.
Sponsored by Department of Russian and Slavic Studies
Theatre in the French Tradition
Professor Judith Miller
COLIT-UA.975.001 / FREN-UA 829
9:30am-10:45am, Tuesdays and Thursdays
This course in English will examine several French and Francophone plays that deal with the fraught question of immigration to France. Authors include: Mrozek, Sartre, Grumberg, Genet, Koltès, Kwahulé, Alem, Mouawad, Kemeid, and the Théâtre du Soleil. From the Eastern European Jewish women who worked in sweatshops and had to deal with the results of the Holocaust in France, to the Central Asian refugees attempting to get to Western Europe but ending up in holding camps, to the African boys who froze to death on the landing gear of an airplane headed to Paris, contemporary stories have given rise to theatrical expressions that stage, in often innovative ways, one of the world’s most urgent problems: which people have the right to seek help and asylum in countries other than where they were born?
Sponsored by Department of French