Courses

Fall 2015

CompLit 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts (3 cr; U; HU)

Class Number: 27860, Lec202, ONLINE (Drago Momcilovic)

From Gothic terror to modern alienation, the artistic impulse and the human imagination have been prominent themes in literature and the visual and performing arts for the last 200 years. This course, which is taught in online and face-to-face sections, is an introductory survey of some of the most gripping, imaginative narratives, images, and performances from around the world. Our survey will include bewildering short stories by Franz Kafka; popular detective fictions from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; decadent poetry by Charles Baudelaire; various folk tales and oral epic songs from around the world; Mozart’s enchanting opera The Magic Flute; Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet Swan Lake; musical masterpieces from Beethoven to the Beatles; Fritz Lang’s sci-fi classic film Metropolis; Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso’s revolutionary art; Madonna’s controversial concert performances; Marjane Satrapi’s contemplative graphic novel Chicken with Plums; and so much more. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.

CompLit 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century (3cr; U; HU)

Topic: Magical Realism and the Fantastic in Literature and Film

Class Number: 29547, Lec201, ONLINE (Kristin Pitt)

Through this course, we will examine notions of reality and its artistic representation, asking what the role of the apparently magical is within our apprehensions of literary and cinematic reality. Is it possible that creative fiction must rely upon the magical in order to present “the real” or “the truth”? What are the possible artistic advantages of magical or fantastical representation, and what are the possible sociopolitical implications of these literary modes? Many of our readings will be examples of what has come to be termed “magical realism,” literature that does not quite fit traditional definitions of either realism or fantasy. Although many of the texts we read will come from the Spanish American tradition with which magical realism is perhaps most often associated, we will also explore other examples of magical realism and fantastical fiction, allowing us to develop a broader sense of the philosophical, political, ideological, and literary implications of the texts. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; and Latin American, Caribbean, & US Latin@ Studies. Online.

CompLit 192: First-Year Seminar. (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: The Undead: Vampires, Zombies, & Mummies in Literature & the Arts Class

Class Number: 31748, Sem001, MW 12:30-1:45pm (Drago Momcilovic)

From Egyptian mummies to Eastern European vampires and Haitian zombies, the “undead” have cast their shadows over the literary imagination for centuries, from classical antiquity to post-modern reality. As they continue to surge in popularity, now more than ever, we must ask: why do the “undead” continue to haunt us? And why do we love being haunted by them? This first-year seminar explores the wealth of literature and art that has been overtaken by menacing figures caught between life and death. Our exploration will focus on four archetypal figures of the “undead” – the vampire, the re-animated corpse, the ghost, and the mummy – and students will be given the opportunity to engage in a final research project about an “undead” figure of their choice. Our texts will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, various Japanese and Chinese ghost stories; zombie tales and “accounts” by Zora Neale Hurston and August Derleth; stories of the macabre by Edgar Allen Poe, Rabindranath Tagore, Alexander Pushkin, and Naguib Mahfouz; vampire poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Charles Baudelaire; paintings by Francisco Goya and Remedios Varo; classical music by Franz Liszt; and films like Let the Right One In, Nosferatu, The Others, Night of the Living Dead, and Cronos. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.

CompLit 230: Literature and Society (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Sublime Pursuits: Literary Inspiration and Intoxication

Class Number: 32171, Lec001, MW 2:00-3:15pm (Amy Olen)

In “The Philosophy of Composition” (1846), Edgar Allen Poe remarked, “most writers – poets in especial – prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy – an ecstatic intuition – and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes.” Poe’s debunking of creativity as an “ecstatic intuition” that ignites literary productivity must be understood within the context of a long history. In the Greek and Biblical traditions, “inspiration” is understood as the possession of an individual voice by some transcendent authority, be that muses or gods: the work of the poet is merely an inscription of this sublime or divine breath. Beginning with the Renaissance and the eighteenth century, however, the sources of creativity have moved continually inwards or “deeper,” such that inspiration is evoked as a desired or deliberate suspension of rational thought. Moving into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, inspiration and the insights associated with the artificial inducements of intoxication, be that through alcohol, drugs or other means, become more closely intertwined as divine or cosmic voices of authorities come under scrutiny by writers like Poe. This course will survey a range of works, from Greek philosophy to Romantic poetry and present day music and film, in order to explore the evolution of these theories of inspiration and intoxication. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.

CompLit 231: Literature and Religion (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Introduction to the New Testament

Class Number: 33615, Lec001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Demetrius Williams)

Who wrote the New Testament? How is it structured and when was it written? How has it been interpreted? The Introduction to the New Testament course is designed to answer these and other questions from a literary-historical perspective. For this reason, it will avoid confessional or doctrinal perspectives, focusing instead on issues of authorship, dating, theology, literary genre, and other special topics related to the scholarly or academic study of the New Testament. While this course is designed to be a survey of the New Testament literature, there will be some engagement with literature outside of the canonical New Testament; but only as it relates to special issues and topics in New Testament interpretation. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Religious Studies.

CompLit 233: Literature and Film (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Violence and Film Noir

Class Number 30618, Lec 001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Dan Haumschild)

Noir narratives, whether in literature or film, are commonly found at the corner of violence and meaninglessness. This particular nexus allows the noir genre to generate significant questions about the nature of human existence. For example, noir forces us to ask whether humans are inherently good or evil, if societies are built upon peace or war, and whether people are actually in control of their lives or if greater forces are at play. Through motifs that juxtapose light and dark and send characters on spiraling journeys of horrifying self-discovery, these stories expose us to the underbelly of humanity. In this course we will follow the development of noir narratives from early gothic literary precursors through German expressionist movies and on up to the successes of the Coen Brothers. Along the way we will identify how violence is utilized as a trope and underscore its contour and meaning in both the work itself and in our present lives. Course materials may include the following (subject to change): theoretical readings such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions and Slavoj Zizek, Violence; literature including Horance Wapole, The Castle of Otronto; Craig Clevenger, The Contortionists Handbook; and LeFanu, Carmilla; and films including Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920); Nosferatu (1929); M. (1931); Double Indemnity (1944); The Big Sleep (1945); The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946); Strangers on a Train (1951); Touch of Evil (1951); The Killing (1956); Blood Simple (1985); Fargo (1996); The Big Lebowski (1998); and No Country for Old Men (2007). Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Film Studies and Digital Arts & Culture.

CompLit 233: Literature and Film (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Monstrous Figures on Page and Screen

Class Number 35100, Lec 202, ONLINE (Drago Momcilovic)
Special-Session 7-Week Course beginning Monday, October 26, 2015

Supernatural beasts, mythical giants, Blobs and Things, human-animal hybrids, blood-sucking devils, flesh-eating cannibals, serial killers with no moral compass, Nazis, serial killers and evil clowns–for centuries, these monstrous figures have been at the center of literary and cinematic explorations of the abject “other”.  But what makes monster tales so appealing and enduring?  This special-session 7-week online course examines the rich history and cultural specificity of these monster tales, originating in the classical and medieval worlds and taking on strange permutations in the modern era.  We will ask: how do these gruesome bodies that defy our senses of order, proportion and civilization allow us – we, the living – to cope with the profoundly human anxieties about uncertainty, powerlessness and death?  How do those narratives shape our own narratives about past and future, self and world?  Our literary texts will most likely include a selection of international folk tales, myths and legends; canonical monster tales by Guy de Maupassant, Edgar Allan Poe, ETA Hoffmann, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, and Stephen King; selected passages from The Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses; and classic monster films like The BlobPan’s Labyrinth, and Gojira, the Japanese film that inspired the English-language remake Godzilla.  Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Film Studies and Digital Arts & Culture.

CompLit 309: Great Works of Modern Literature. (3 cr; U/G; HU)

Topic: Existential Fiction

Class Number: 30889, Lec201, ONLINE (Drago Momcilovic)

This course explores the rise of existentialist philosophy and theories of the absurd in some of the most provocative novels, plays and short stories from around the world. Our survey features work by writers who are preoccupied with the meaninglessness of existence and the responsibilities that consequently fall onto our shoulders in the wake of that proposition. We will also consider the stylistic and narrative strategies by which these writers represent the most familiar and troubling aspects of existentialist crisis – like despair, boredom, angst, sleeplessness, and alienation from modern life – and the ways these ideas often develop in response to personal and historical traumas. Literary texts tentatively include No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy, “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, and The Stranger by Albert Camus, as well as the plays Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco, No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Death & the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. We will supplement our discussions with selections from philosophical works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Blaise Pascal, Miguel de Unamuno, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req.

CompLit 350: Topics in Comparative Literature (3 cr; U/G)

Topic: Narratives of War

Class Number 31746, Lec 001, MW 2:00-3:15pm (Dan Haumschild)

Modern societies are continuously preparing for, engaged in, or recovering from warfare. War influences the policies that control our daily life, it defines our identities, and its annihilating force captures our imagination. In this course we will read stories of death, destruction, suffering, pain, and horror. We will examine accounts of rape, we will consider pictorial representations of mutilation, and we will hear from those who have witnessed genocide. In short, we will be learning about events so horrible that they defy representation; yet we will spend an entire semester studying these very representations. This course will offer a great number of lessons about war through the narratives that we read, but it will also challenge the very notion of bearing witness to an atrocity. We will read stories about the Spanish Civil War, child soldiers in West Africa, and the Rwandan genocide. We will look at sketches of mass atrocities and films about firebombing. Finally, we will examine how war itself can be used as a form of narration and how trauma continues to alter the way that we understand disasters of this magnitude. Throughout the course, we will play with the tension that exists between unspeakable acts of violence and the human desire to tell one’s story. Possible course materials include the following (subject to change): Susan Sontag – Regarding the Pain of Others; Cathy Caruth – selections from Unclaimed Experience; Roberto Esposito – selections from Bíos; Jacques Derrida – selections from Politics of Friendship; Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida – Demeure, The Instant of My Death; Achille Mbembe – Necropolitics; Uzodinma Iweala – Beasts of No Nation; Marie Umutesi – Surviving the Slaughter; George Orwell – Homage to Catalonia; Pat Barker – Regeneration; Francisco Goya – Disasters of War prints; Simon Schama – Power of Art, Picasso; and the film Fog of War. Satisfies the L&S International req. Affiliated with Global Studies and International Studies.

CompLit 360: Seminar in Literature and Cultural Experience (3 cr; U/G)

Topic: Feminist Narratives from North Africa and the Middle East

Class Number: 31747, Sem001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Dalia Gomaa)

This course focuses on narratives by and about feminist authors from the Middle East and North Africa. Our reading list includes critical and fictional texts from, but not limited to, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, and Iran. In addition, we will also watch some movies and documentaries related to the subject of the course. Goals and Objectives: familiarizing students with different trends of feminism in the Middle East and North Africa; addressing and analyzing intersections of gender with religion, colonialism, sexuality, as well as political and economic ideologies; dismantling the stereotypical representations of women from that region as intrinsically oppressed; and guiding students to expand their critical perspectives and their analytical skills about the theme(s) of the course. Satisfies L&S International req. Affiliated with International Studies; Middle Eastern & North African Studies; and Women’s Studies.

CompLit 457: Topics in French and Francophone Studies in Translation (3 cr; U/G)

Topic: Re-member-ing Women of Africa and the Caribbean

Class Number: 33609, Lec001, TR 2:00-3:15pm (Sarah Davies Cordova)

This course examines works that address the question of memory as a duty and a form of “home”work – un devoir de mémoire. We will explore the forms that memory can take and examine works that re-inscribe women within and beyond His-tory as witnesses, participants and agents. We will trace conceptions of the nature of engagement and corporeality in the context of human rights, and in the face of the violence of armed conflict as we explore the notion re-member-ing in novels, theater, film, music and dance. Our focus will be chiefly on authors and artists who have addressed the questions of the political and the personal, in the aftermath of genocide, familial violence and civil war in Africa and the Caribbean. (Taught in English with French option for written work). Jointly offered with FRENCH 457. Affiliated with French & Francophone Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latin@ Studies; and Latin American & Caribbean Studies.