Courses

SPRING 2018

 

COMPLIT 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts 3cr (U;HU)           Class# 49857 LEC 001 MW 2:00-3:15pm (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 100 years. This course is an introductory survey of some of the most gripping, imaginative narratives, images, and performances from around the world since the year 1900. Our survey will include bewildering short stories by Franz Kafka; popular detective fictions from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet Swan Lake; 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. All texts will be taught in English translation, and all media texts will be subtitled or close-captioned. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities and Digital Arts & Cultures.

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century: Zombie Metaphors 3cr (U;HU) Class# 54777 LEC 001 MW 3:30-4:45pm (Momcilovic)

The zombie, the zombie horde, the zombie precursor—for generations, these figures have haunted literature and folklore, the visual and performing arts, and contemporary mass media. In the process, they have unleashed troubling metaphors about modern identity, the nature of fear, the exercise and misuse of power, illness, death and mourning. How do these creaturely figures of the undead shape the way we see ourselves, our bodies and environments, our social order, life itself, and the world around us? What are the key genres in which zombies flourish and proliferate, and which artistic terrains do they have yet to conquer? How have zombies been understood, or misunderstood, in pre-modern artistic traditions, and what future awaits them in 21st-century artistic traditions? And finally, why do we love to watch them, read about them, think about them, talk about them so much? This course explores these questions and other zombie metaphors. Our texts tentatively include novels like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya; ethnographic “accounts” by Zora Neale Hurston and William Seabrook; various zombie- and mummy-themed short stories by Stephen King, Tadeusz Borowski, August Derleth and Naguib Mahfouz; classic genre films like Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later; selected episodes from Les revenants [The Returned], The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones; and more. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S international req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities and Digital Arts & Cultures.

COMPLIT 208: Global Literature from the 17th Century to the Present: Cross Cultural Contact and Exchange 3cr (U;HU)
Class# 49858 LEC 001 TH 9:30-10:45am (Pitt) 

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.

COMPLIT 230: Literature and Society: International Rock’n’Roll Cultures 3cr (U;HU)
Class# 55173 LEC 201 ONLINE  (Momcilovic)
Rock’n’roll is more than just a musical genre. It is a lifestyle, one that transcends historical boundaries and cultural borders. It is also a lifestyle that has been mythologized and critiqued in literary narratives and cinematic chronicles from around the world. This online course explores the various life stories, industry narratives and experimental visions of various international rock and pop legends and their protective impresarios, devoted fan followings, and self-righteous critics. We will study a variety of texts and films, as well as albums, songs, music videos, and live concerts, all of which raise fundamental questions about the meaning and general sustainability of the rock’n’roll lifestyle from its inception in the early 20thcentury to the present day. We will also pose the following questions: How do artists measure success or respond to failure? How does rock’n’roll become a vehicle for the formation of subcultures, youth movements, and emerging political ideas? In what way does the rock’n’roll lifestyle enable musicians and fans from around the world to claim generational, sexual, ethnic and national identities for themselves? Our readings will tentatively include Mikael Niemi’s best-selling Swedish novel Popular Music from Vittula and Ryu Murakami’s coming-of-age novel Sixty-Nine. We will also study films like A Hard Day’s Night, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, La vie en rose, and selected rock operas and concert tours. Students will also have the opportunity to create their own “rockzine,” a creative final project devoted to any aspect of the rock’n’roll lifestyle of their choice. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req.

COMPLIT 233: Literature and Film: The Gangster Film in East and West
3 cr (U;HU)
Class# 50836 LEC 001 T/TH 4:00-5:15pm (Xu)

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. The course satisfies the Humanities GER and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.

COMPLIT 316: World Cinema: Contemporary Chinese Cinema 3cr (U)                        Class# 55277 Lec 001 T/TH 2-3:50pm (Xu)

The course explores Chinese cinematic imagination through a series of films produced in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The point of entry is the surge of creative innovations taking place in the 1980s as the Chinese-speaking communities began to re-imagine their world and history, forming new cultural identities and building a symbolic universe that interfaces with the world at large. Focusing on some earlier contemporary works that have achieved classic status as well as new works that came out in the 21st century, the course examines how the region’s transnational filmmaking addresses the pressing issues of the world through cinematic affects and sensations unique to Chinese-language cinema. Our goal is twofold: as we study film forms and visual signs, we learn too the system of ideas, symbols, and beliefs by which modern Chinese societies justify rapid changes while also perpetuating an old way of life. The students learn to analyze Chinese-language films at the same time as they acquire an understanding of modern Chinese cultures that are plural and keep evolving. The course is jointly offered by English, Film Studies, and Comparative Literature and satisfies the L&S international requirement.

COMPLIT 350: Topics in Comparative Literature:  Global Sports Narratives 3cr (U/G) Class#52308 LEC 202 ONLINE (Momcilovic)

Sport is not just a business venture or an extracurricular activity. It can also shape the way we think about broader issues like illness and health, politics and identity, nationalism and internationalism, celebrity culture and spectatorship, and even the mind and the body. This online literature course introduces students to the full range of social, cultural, political, and even philosophical meanings of sport. Our survey will include a wide selection of texts dealing with sports and athletic activities around the world—from football, wrestling, and baseball, to horseback riding, hunting, and running, and even the Olympic games and the World Cup. Our texts will tentatively include Homer’s Odyssey and Pindar’s ancient Olympic odes; Yukio Mishima’s Sun and Steel; short stories by Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, Julio Cortazar, and Willa Cather; and films like Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, and Hoop Dreams. Satisfies L&S International req.

Topics in Comparative Literature: Early Christian Literature 3cr (U/G)              Class#55121 LEC 201 ONLINE (Williams)

What did the faithful of the early Church believe? How did they address the questions of politics, society, gender, and history? Why were women able to attain leadership roles in some Christian groups and not in others? Why were some Christian groups labeled “heretical” and others “orthodox”? Why has the literature, beliefs and doctrines of ‘heretical” groups been kept hidden from general readers? (As in the movie Stigmata!) Why are there so many different Christian groups and divisions among them? This course, composed as an upper level introductory course, is designed to address the questions above and others by critically exploring the diverse literature of early Christianity from the second through the fourth centuries of the Common Era (100s – 300s C.E.). While no prior knowledge of the literature is required, a close reading and serious engagement of the literature is expected. The purpose of this course is two-fold: (1) to introduce students to a broad array and of examples of early Christian literature outside of the New Testament canon; and 2) to critically examine and explore the variety of early “Christianities” and other related social and religious issues that are reflected in these writings. Satisfies L&S International req.