Courses

SUMMER 2017

COMPLIT135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century
Topic: Youth Culture in the Middle East through Literature, Art and Film

Instructor: Dr. Caroline Seymour-Jorn [csjorn@uwm.edu]
Lec 201/3 cr./U/GER [HU]/ ONLINE
Dates: May 30-July 8, 2017

What is life for young people like in the Middle East? It is as diverse and complicated as it is here in the U.S. This course will explore the many facets of emerging youth culture in the Arab world. We will learn about the rapidly growing “youth bulge” in the Middle East and its impact on family, society, and government through our analysis of new novels, short stories, and film emerging from the region. Through our analyses of these art forms we will examine how young people from Egypt to Yemen are re-imagining their worlds and how they are responding to trends including Islamic fundamentalism, consumer capitalism, feminism and globalization.

Required Texts: most very SHORT novels! Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (Saudi Arabia); Being Abbas el Abd by Ahmed Alaidy (Egypt); Always Coca Cola by Alexandra Chreiteh (Lebanon); The Honey by Zeina B. Ghandour (Israel/Palestine); I Want to Get Married! By Ghada Abdel Aal (Egypt). Books are available from UWM Bookstore. Selected texts available on the D2L course website. Course requirements include weekly online discussion board posts and five 2 page response papers reflecting on the novels. No exams. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; and Middle Eastern & North African Studies.

COMPLIT 230: Literature and Society
Topic: European Comics & Graphic Novels

Instructor: Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Lec 201 / GER [HU]  / 3 cr / U/ ONLINE
Dates: June 26–August 19, 2017

From the comic strip to the comic book and graphic novel, the cartoon arts have quickly become one of the most important types of storytelling in the modern world, particularly in Europe.  European comics have exploded and diversified into different genres and forms–including Hergé’s Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées about boy hero Tin Tin, Alan Moore’s dystopic sci-fi sagas about totalitarianism in 1980s Britain, and Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoirs about exile and trauma.  Clearly, European comics and graphic novels have quickly evolved from their 19th-century roots in caricature to become some of the world’s most innovative and gripping meditations on European identity, community, history, and artistry.  In this online course, we will trace the intellectual, cultural, social and historical dimensions of modern European life, as reflected in comics; we will also look at the development of European comics as a literary culture of its own and study key texts from philosophical, literary, visual and historical perspectives.  Our tentative texts will include the earliest “picture stories” by 19th-century Swiss master Rodolphe Töpffer and short visual novels by Flemish artist Frans Masereel; youth-oriented adventure tales from Europe’s “golden age” like Hergé’s Tin Tin in the Land of the Soviets, Peyo’s Smurf comics, and Hugo Pratt’s Italian sea-faring adventure Corto Maltese; and modern blockbusters like Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, and Jacques Tardi’s World War I masterpiece It Was the War of the Trenches. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. 

 

FALL 2017

Comp Lit 133 Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts [U]

Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / MW 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Lec 202 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / Online Web
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. Two sections of the class are available, including an online section and a traditional lecture.  All texts will be taught in English translation and subtitles.  Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International Req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities and Digital Arts & Culture.

Comp Lit 135 Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century: Magical Realism and the Fantastic in Literature and the Arts [U]

LEC 002 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / Online Web
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 International Req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; and Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latin@ Studies.

Comp Lit 192 (Freshman Seminar): Bible Blues and Black Religion [U]

SEM 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / TR 9:30 am – 10:45 am
Demetrius Williams

While this course recognizes the Bible as a culturally specific text, the Bible has been significantly appropriated and used as an important tool of liberation in the experience of people of African descent in North America. Although the Bible was used as a tool of oppression during the slave and Jim Crow eras, African Americans found the Bible to be a source of comfort and inspiration, with its themes of love and liberation from slavery, triumph in the face of daunting challenge, “wandering in the wilderness,” freedom, family, and foundational faith. This course will explore the Bible from the African American perspective and will include a range of topics from spirituals and the Blues, to autobiographies, literature, and Gospel music. It will also explore the potential and actual limitations of the Bible’s influence in African American culture and how some later political/religious movements sought to abandon it (and Christianity) altogether.  In addition, this course will: 1) introduce students to the art of reading and analyzing religious and non-religious texts; 2) college level analytical reading and writing skills; 3) oral presentation skills; and 4) library and appropriate internet research skills. No prior knowledge of the Bible or African-American literature and culture are required.

Comp Lit 207 Global Literature from Antiquity to the 1600’s: Monsters and Marvels in the Pre-Modern World [U]

Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / MW 12:30 – 1:45 pm
Drago Momcilovic

Supernatural monsters and enchanting marvels are certainly as old as literature itself.  Our understandings of humanity, community, power, heroism, death and the afterlife have been shaped since ancient antiquity by stories and myth cycles that dramatize the awe-inspiring and sometimes terrifying clash between the human and the divine, the marvelous and the monstrous.  This course offers students of literature a survey of some of the most canonical monster tales and supernatural narratives of the ancient and medieval worlds, including selections from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Ovid’s MetamorphosesThe Epic of GilgameshOedipus the King by Sophocles, selected stories from the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, Joan of Arc’s dictated letters, Sufi poetry by Rumi, and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.  Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Cultures & Communities.

Comp Lit 233 Literature and Film: Body and Desire from Hollywood to Bollywood [U]

LEC 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / TR 3:30pm – 4:45pm
Jian Xu

The human body, by dint of its placement in culture and history, is laden with meaning. Its movement in space, posture, stylization, affect and sensation, cannot but signify. But besides this semiotic inevitability, the body also lives a life in materiality. This material body, though unsymbolizable, is intensely explored in cinema, by way of crises that endanger its being, producing narrative tension and visual fascination. This being body in crisis reveals a complex of desire, desire both as a sociohistorical imprint that structures the body’s meaning and as a material transgression against that meaning. Through a group of films produced in different parts of the world, this class will study how the human body in cinema is often straddled between meaning and being, performing the paradoxical function of creating an otherness within the symbolic. We’ll examine how films from different cultures stage unusual situations to call forth the material body, and what critical agency such a body often brings forth. We’ll observe how such psychosomatic practices as religion (eastern), martial arts, music and dance, occult rituals, dragging, psychiatric therapy, scientific experiments, etc., mold, affect, or produce the body’s meaning and desire, and how film diegesis mediates that meaning and desire through its own cultural codes. We are to discover how this unique cinematic body opens up dimensions of truth that undermines the entrenched norms of society by overstepping many boundaries, from those of race, class, gender, sex, to what it means to be human. The course satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International requirements. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.

Comp Lit 309 Great Works of Modern Literature: Existentialism & the Absurd [U/G]

Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / Online Web
Drago Momcilovic

This course explores the rise of existentialist philosophy and the philosophies of the absurd in some of the most provocative novels, plays, short stories and mass media from around the world. Our global survey of existentialism and the absurd will interrogate the nature of existence and the responsibilities we bear in shaping our lives into something meaningful—particularly in relation to free will, action, faith, technology, politics, love, and finally, death.  Our readings and viewings will tentatively include Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni; the novellas The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, and Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky; Albert Camus’ classic novel The Stranger; the plays Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, A Tempest by Aimé Césaire, and No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre; the films The Exterminating Angel by Luis Buñuel, Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese, and Cléo from 5 to 7 by Agnès Varda; a selection of European paintings and sculptures; and selected episodes of the AMC original series Mad Men.  We will also draw from philosophical works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Miguel de Unamuno, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Frantz Fanon. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International reqs.

Complit 360 Literature and Cultural Experience: Possible Worlds in Literature and Film [U/G]

SEM 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / TR 2:00pm – 3:15pm
Jian Xu

The class studies a range of literary works and films that depart from representational realism by extending the virtual tendencies of our actual world to create possible worlds that are grounded on nothing but their own becoming. We start from the belief that if otherness is central to literary and filmic experience it is because the Other opens up a possible world different from our own by exposing us to affects and sensations beyond everyday perceptions and opinions. By sampling a selected group of literary and filmic types or genres from various parts of the world (e.g. mystery, sci-fi, philosophical fiction, American western, European art film, Chinese martial arts film, Japanese anime, etc.), we will investigate how in each example the verbal or visual production of meaning depends on a thought from the outside of the actual and how the thought from the outside is capable of sinking its teeth into matters that a mimetic realism glosses over or relegates to a safe historical past, thus enabling us to access an infinity of experience beyond totality. What we are after, therefore, is not just a chance to face up to those discomfiting matters but a special literary and cinematic experience of creativity and revelation that can decompose our finite positions of moralism and ideology, preparing us for an ever-changing world open to all possibilities of life. The class fulfills the L&S international requirement.

Comp Lit 365 Literatures and Cultures of the Americas: Narratives of Torture [U/G]

LEC 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr. / TR 3:30pm – 4:45pm
Kristin Pitt

What constitutes “torture”? How do we define it, legally, politically, or ethically? How do we convey experiences of torture? As Elaine Scarry has argued in The Body in Pain, human expression is frequently inadequate for representing any form of bodily pain; in the context of torture, the difficulties of verbal representation are directly related to challenges of political representation. This course examines fictional and non-fictional narratives of ideologically- or politically-motivated torture represented in international literature and film of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in order to explore the verbal and aesthetic possibilities of representing the physical and psychological experience of torture, including the inevitable shortcomings and gaps within narratives of torture, the possibilities for conveying such experiences, and the ethics of doing so, particularly as an act of resistance. Satisfies the L&S International req. Affiliated with Global Studies; International Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latin@ Studies; MA in Language, Literature, and Translation; MA in Liberal Studies; and Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution

 

SPRING 2017

COMPLIT 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts

Instructor: Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Class # 57829 LEC 001 / GER [HU]  / 3 cr / U/ MW 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm
Class # 58689 LEC 202 / GER [HU]  / 3 cr / U/ ONLINE

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. Two sections of the class are available, including an online section and a traditional lecture.  All texts will be taught in English translation and subtitles.  Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities and Digital Arts & Culture.

COMPLIT 208: Global Literature from the 17th Century to the Present
Topic: Cross-Cultural Contact and Exchange

Instructor: Kristin Pitt [kepitt@uwm.edu]
Class # 57830 LEC 201 /GER [HU] / 3cr / U/ ONLINE

Beginning with literature written just under a century after Columbus’ first voyage, this course explores intercultural contact as one of the defining features of modernity. As such, it is also one of the defining subjects of modern literature and one of the defining influences upon modern literary forms. In order to undertake this study, we will examine some of the cultural components of globalization, for while we all may recognize that today we are increasingly interconnected with societies and peoples around the globe, we do not always interrogate the nature of such connections. What are the possibilities, the difficulties, and the conflicts associated with cross-cultural contact and exchange? We will also examine the literary techniques employed to communicate and frame these cultural relationships through a survey of literature from the 17th to the 21st centuries and from a wide range of global perspectives portraying the negotiations, understandings, and misunderstandings of “contact zones” and other sites of cultural exchange where we have constructed notions of what constitutes literature as well as what constitutes the world. Works studied will include the literary forms of novel, poem, play, essay, autobiography, short story, novella, and film. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; and Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latin@ Studies.

COMPLIT 230: Literature and Society
Topic: The “Other” Europe: East European Literature & the Arts

Instructor: Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Class # 60253 Lec 201 / GER [HU]  / 3 cr / U/ ONLINE

Eastern Europe has long been regarded as the West’s mysterious “other”.  Yet its literary, artistic and cinematic traditions are as vibrant and memorable as any throughout the world. In this online class, we will survey some of the most canonical works by innovative writers and artists of former Yugoslavia, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Albania, Romania, the Czech Republic and Hungary.  We will explore the themes of social identity, community, and historical memory and experience in this “other Europe,” as they developed in relation to Western culture and the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires; the rise of the Orthodox Church; the popularity of folkloric heroes like Dede Korkut and Marko Kraljević and Eastern monsters like the Golem and Dracula; the rise and collapse of totalitarian and Communist regimes; and the emergence of post-communist subjects and spaces in the new millennium.  Our texts will tentatively include short stories by Franz Kafka, Nikolai Gogol and Ivo Andrić; Serbian and Turkish epic poems and folk tales; classical music and ballet by Béla Bartók, Frédéric Chopin and P.I. Tchaikovsky; Holocaust fiction and poetry; art pieces by Marina Abramović; and Academy Award-winning films like Bosnia’s No Man’s Land.  Cross-listed with International Studies and REES.

COMPLIT 231: Literature and Religion
Topic: The Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Jewish Literature

Instructor : Demetrius Williams [williamd@uwm.edu]
Class # 63964 LEC 001 / GER [HU] / 3cr/ U/ TR 9:30 – 10:45 am

This course will survey chronologically the vibrant and engaging Jewish literature written between the canonical Hebrew Bible (OT) and the New Testament (or Christian Canon). These religious writings have been grouped and organized under various categories: the so-called “Old Testament Apocrypha”, “Old Testament Pseudepigrapha”, the Dead Sea Scrolls or on the whole, the “Literature of Second Temple Judaism(s).” This diverse corpus of literature necessitates the exploration of questions regarding the social-historical situation, literary genre, thematic motifs and theological tendencies, the most engaging of which is perhaps the Dead Sea Scrolls. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea has been hailed as arguably the greatest find of ancient manuscripts of the 20th century. This fortuitous discovery of ancient Jewish texts has transformed the scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible (O.T.), early Post-Biblical (Second Temple) Judaism and Christian origins. Yet the discovery has also triggered many controversies, not the least of which involves the relationship of the scrolls and the community that produced, preserved and perpetuated them to early Christian origins. These and other issues will be addressed in this course. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Religious Studies and Middle Eastern & North African Studies.

COMPLIT 233: Literature and Film:
Topic: The Gangster Film in the East and West

Instructor: Jian Xu [jianxu@uwm.edu]
Class # 59000 LEC 001 / GER [HU] / 3cr/ U/ TR 11:00am-12:15pm

This class studies the gangster film as a genre originating in America and how after traveling to other parts of the world, especially Asia, it undergoes interesting changes while retaining important generic features. Although as in other continents the genre has been frequently bent, hybridized, or parodied to fit the cultural needs of the local, its transplant has also made it truly global. By comparing Asian gangsters with their Western counterparts in theme, style, visual content, and social function, we want to find out what common qualities bind them. A good knowledge of how this popular cultural form travels and finds home in the East may lead to a deepened understanding about the processes of global modernity that has been inexorably transforming the spatial and temporal structures of our lives. Our objectives are to learn to analyze film texts from different parts of the world with a comparative approach, and to learn to construct interpretive arguments that are clear, coherent, persuasive, and well organized. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.

COMPLIT 309: Great Works of Modern Literature
Topic: The Truth of Others

Instructor: Jian Xu [jianxu@uwm.edu]
Class # 63965 LEC 001 / GER [HU] / 3cr/ U/G/ TR 2:00pm-3:15pm

In this class we are going to explore an experience of modern literature mediated by a narrative encounter with otherness. This otherness can be cultural, social (e.g. class), racial/ethnic, religious, or sexual. We will focus on a range of influential works from different parts of the world and examine how in these works the encounter with otherness unsettles our normal ways of looking at the world, bringing to crisis our value systems, moral compasses, cultural identities, and sense of a stable and coherent self always in control… Central to our study are various textual formations that condition our experience of the encounter, producing an array of literary subjectivities in us capable of answering to the truth of others. We will thus examine how literary texts posit different epistemological relations to this truth and enable our experience of otherness to be productive and authentic. The goal of the course is to expose students to the transformative power of literature and to equip them with ethical and interpretive tools to make sense of a number of influential works produced in diverse cultures under different social conditions so that they can assimilate and critique them in a theoretically informed way. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req.

COMPLIT 350: Topics in Comparative Literature
Topic: Fashion and Identity in the Modern World

Instructor: Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Lec 201 / 3 cr / U/G/ ONLINE

Dressing for success, dressing to the nines, glamming it up—these catch phrases are more than just sound bytes.  They implicate fashion, textile design, aesthetic taste and personal style in larger narratives about identity and identity formation.  But what do clothing, jewelry and accessories really tell us about the modern individual, her origins and ambitions, her past struggles and social networks, her place in a world populated by so many other shoppers, critics, and style icons?  What does it mean to have style or taste, particularly when critics of fashion are so openly hostile to fashion’s famous excesses and apathies?  How does our understanding of fashion, beauty, and style evolve over time and shape the way we look at gender, sexuality, creativity, commerce, and aging?  This online course explores the many different literary, cinematic and artistic representations of fashion during the last 200 years, and the way these perspectives help us complete our view of self and world.  Our survey will include fashion writings and aesthetic musings from French critic Roland Barthes, Italian writer Umberto Eco, and Croatian essayist Dubravka Ugresic; body modification tales by Junichiro Tanizaki, Franz Kafka and Nikolai Gogol; symbolist poems by Charles Baudelaire and Barbie poems by Denise Duhamel; tales of performance and masquerade by Yukio Mishima and Arthur Schnitzler; the politicization of dress and style in Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi; and films and television shows marking important moments in modern fashion history and culture—including Desperately Seeking Susan, Coco Before Chanel, The Skin I Live In, and selected episodes of Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model.  We will also look at the ‘narratives’ of identity forming around unusual “texts”—including iconic fashion collections by Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior; photographic essays and editorials by Brassai and Guy Bordin; fairy tales and fables by Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen; and music concerts and videos by Madonna, Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, and more. Satisfies L&S International req.

COMPLIT 381: Honors Seminar
Topic: Cosmic Horror

Instructor: Peter Paik [pypaik@uwm.edu]
Class # 64051 SEM 001 / GER[HU]/ 3cr/U/ MW 12:30-1:45pm

Open to students in the Honors College. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International reqs.

COMPLIT 464: Seminar in Comparative Literary Criticism
Topic: Approaches to the Body

Instructor: Kristin Pitt [kepitt@uwm.edu]
Class # 60509 SEM 001 / 3cr/ U/G/ TR 3:30-4:45pm

This seminar will examine a variety of critical and theoretical approaches to the human body that have challenged traditional Western understandings of the body as inert, obvious, or undeserving of attention when compared to the human mind. How do the ways in which we write about and represent the body shape what we think about it and even what we are able to perceive? How do we construct the body through text, and how have these constructions been contested through literature and theory? Students will read scholarly work examining the body through a variety of lenses, including gender, race, sexuality, disability, technology, and medical and legal discourses, along with literary works that complement the critical and theoretical texts. Students will complete their research projects on artistic or cultural representations of the body within their fields of interest and expertise. Affiliated with Women’s and Gender Studies. Satisfies OWC-B GER.