Note: these courses do NOT count as core courses toward the Major or Minor
German Intellectual Tradition: Nietzche and his Legacy
Professor Friedrich Ulfers
COLIT-UA.244 / GERM-UA 244
The objective of the seminar is to show how Nietzsche revolutionized Western philosophy and how this transformation influenced significantly what is known as “Continental Philosophy,” which includes such figures as Heidegger, Derrida, and Deleuze. Particular attention will be paid to the meaning of Nietzsche’s pronouncement that “God is dead”; his declaration that the world is “Will to Power” and an “aesthetic phenomenon”; and his idea of “Eternal Recurrence.” Also discussed will be the role language plays in Nietzsche’s view on epistemology and ontology, his revaluation of morality, and his influence on the arts.
Sponsored by German
Introduction to German Theory: Introduction to Semiotics
Professor Leif Weatherby
COLIT-UA 249 / GERM-UA 249
It can feel today as if we are drowning in a world of signs, with digital technologies conveying unprecedented amounts of text and image all over the globe. Problems like misinformation, the politics and economy of social media, and conspiracy theories are all issues of how we make sense of the messages conveyed to us. Semiotics is the study of signs, the concrete forms these messages take. The course will visit major stations in the history of semiotics, from Augustine of Hippo to German Idealism, Karl Marx, and beyond. In modern semiotics, we will focus on the twin legacies of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce, with readings from figures like Roman Jakobson, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, Rosalind Krauss, Julia Kristeva, Max Bense, Stuart Hall, Harun Farocki, and Hito Steyerl. The block seminar will be split each week between this theoretical tradition and objects to be interpreted. In addition to literary and visual art (texts by Franz Kafka, W.E.B. Du Bois and Edgar Allan Poe, Otto Neurath's Isotype language, Farockis and Steyers film and digital works) we will analyze memes, data visualization techniques, political and targeted ads, and other forms of contemporary semiotics. Students will be asked to find semiotic objects for collective analysis. The goal of the course is to gain not only an overview of the semiotic tradition, but a critical orientation in today's world of signs.
Sponsored by German
Contemporary Lusophone Cinemas: Brazil, Portugal, Luso-Africa
Professor Jens Andermann
COLIT-UA.300 / PORT-UA 461
Spanning five continents and three oceans, filmmaking in Portuguese is among the most wide-spread in the world – but also the most difficult to watch, given the mutual remoteness of shooting locations and audiences, making for only a relatively small market share. Between East Timor, Mozambique, Brazil, Macau, and Portugal, no single, unified film culture exists but rather an archipelago of cinemas shot through with multiple Asian, African and Amerindian languages and cultures. And yet, film offers us an insight into this worldwide web of histories of colonization, revolution, migration and diaspora – themes that the Brazilian Cinema Novo of the 60s and 70s had already explored and that new African and Portuguese cinemas have revisited in recent years: racial and sexual difference, transnational migration, or the legacies of Empire and slavery, among others. Films studied include: Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francês (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Brazil 1971), Sambizanga (Sarah Maldoror, Angola 1973), Nhá Fala (My Voice, Flora Gomes, Guinea-Bissau/Cabo Verde 2002), O Herói (The Hero, Zézé Gamboa, Angola 2004), Virgem Margarida (Virgin Margarita, Licínio Azevedo, Mozambique 2012), Cavalo Dinheiro (Horse Money, Pedro Costa, Portugal 2014) and Bacurau (Kléber Mendonça Filho, Brazil 2019). The course will be taught in English but students and speakers of Portuguese will be offered additional critical readings in Portuguese.
Sponsored by Spanish & Portuguese
Asian American Literature
Professor Sukhdev Sandhu
COLIT-UA 301/SCA-UA 306.001
This overview begins with the recovery of early writings during the 1960s-1970s and proceeds to the subsequent production of Asian American writing and literary/cultural criticism up to the present. The course focuses on significant factors affecting the formation of Asian American literature and criticism, such as changing demographics of Asian American communities and the influence of ethnic, women, and gay/lesbian/bisexual studies. Included in the course is a variety of genres (poetry, plays, fiction and nonfiction, literary/cultural criticism) by writers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The course explores the ways in which the writers treat issues such as racial/ethnic identity; immigration and assimilation; gender; class; sexuality; nationalism; culture and community; history and memory; and art and political engagement.
Sponsored by Social & Cultural Analysis
Traditional Drama of China and Japan
Professor Moss Roberts
COLIT-UA.729 / EAST-UA 729
This course compares a selection of Chinese and Japanese pre-modern dramas and explores contrasts and parallels of incident, character, plot design, and theme in the two theatrical traditions. Attention to the historical background of each work and the social conditions and customs that each reflects. The cultural salience of each work is also considered.
Sponsored by East Asian Studies
Landmarks of Modern & Contemporary Arabic Literature
Professor Nader Uthman
COLIT-UA.798-001 / MEIS-UA 708-001
Significant prose works (in translation) of the Arabic literary tradition from approximately the last hundred years are considered through the prisms of their multiple contexts— including, but not limited to the historical, social, cultural, gender, and class—and also examined as works of art.
Sponsored by Middle East & Islamic Studies
Monsters and Jewish Modernity
COLIT-UA.951 / HBRJD-UA 90
What is a monster? How does it come into being? Why do monsters capture modern imagination and at what historical junctions do they tend to reappear? From the Golem of Prague to Frankenstein, monsters have figured the anxieties, fantasies, and distress of the societies from which they hail. Jewish modernity in particular saw the rapid reproduction of monstrous figures as allegories and metaphors for the ambivalent state of Jews vis-à-vis their surrounding societies. This course explores monstrosity as a critical framework through which we may reflect on such issues as belonging, gender, and race. By examining films, short stories, plays, essays, and pop culture, we shall consider the monstrous as it relates to “Jewish questions”, but also as a cultural figure with a life of its own that recurs across times, languages, and cultures, embodying different states of outsiderness and exception.
Sponsored by Hebrew & Judaic Studies