Courses

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.

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. Affiliated with Women’s and Gender Studies. Approval for OWC-B GER pending.