Courses

FALL 2022

COMPLIT 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu
Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3 cr / Online / Asynchronous
How have artists, writers and musicians taken inspiration from the traumas of colonialism, authoritarianism and the Holocaust to reshape the moral and creative landscapes of our contemporary world and its demands? How do creative figures situate themselves and adapt their work in relation to existentialism, magical realism, post-modernism, post-socialism, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, and post-humanism? What sense of the contemporary world—and of the subjects, stories and material objects inhabiting it—emerge when we compare and contextualize the most canonical works of modern and contemporary literature, media, material culture and performance? This hybrid course, which consists of two weekly traditional class meetings and occasional online sessions, is an introductory survey of some of the most gripping, imaginative narratives, images, and performances from the late-18th century to the present day. Our survey will include  Mozart’s enchanting final opera The Magic Flute and Tchaikovsky’s iconic ballet Swan Lake; the bewildering short stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Junichiro Tanizaki, and Franz Kafka; an eye-opening selection of human rights poetry; a new look at classic European fairy tales and folk tales; iconic paintings spanning Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, Postmodernism and Pop Art; Madonna’s controversial concert The Girlie Show Tour; Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir 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.

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st CenturyTopic: Zombie Metaphors
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu
Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3 cr / Online / Asynchronous
The zombie, the horde, the reanimated dead—for generations, these figures have haunted literature and folklore, the visual and performing arts, and contemporary mass media. In the process, they have unleashed harrowing 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, forms and modes in which zombies flourish and proliferate, and which artistic terrains and cultural landscapes do they have yet to infiltrate? How have zombies been understood, or misunderstood, in pre-modern artistic traditions, and what future awaits them in 21st-century representational traditions? This online course examines the figure of the zombie as it appears in literature, art, cinema, and television, as well as the metaphors it incarnates and lays to rest about modern existence. Our texts tentatively include Mary Shelley’s FrankensteinDinner by Cesar Aira; 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; genre films like Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later; and selected episodes from Les revenants [The Returned] and The Walking Dead. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture.

COMPLIT 207: Global Literature from Antiquity to the 1600s
Topic: Monsters & Marvels in the Pre-Modern Worlds
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu
Lec 201 / GER(HU)  / 3 cr / Online / Asynchronous
Supernatural monsters and enchanting marvels are certainly as old as literature itself and appear in many pre-modern literary traditions around the world. Our understandings of family, 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, the awesome and the awful. 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 The Epic of GilgameshOedipus the King by Sophocles, selected stories from the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, Dante’s InfernoBeowulf, poetry by Rumi and Sappho and poetic tributes to Mulan and Joan of Arc. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.

COMPLIT 316: World Cinema
Topic: Global Road Movies
Gilberto Blasini, gblasini@uwm.edu
Lec 001 / 3 cr / MW 1:30-4:00pm
Jointly offered with FILMSTD 316 and ENGLISH 316

COMPLIT 360: Seminar in Literature and Cultural Experience
Topic: Early Christian Literature

Demetrius Williams, williamd@uwm.edu
Lec 201 / 3 cr / Online / Asynchronous
What did the early Church believe? How did it 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 did some Christian groups reject sex, even within marriage? 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? Why are there so many different Christian groups and divisions among them? This 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.), which was an explosive era of growth and debate within the emerging new religion of Christianity. While no prior knowledge of the literature is required, a close reading of the literature provides insight to the above and other intriguing questions. The purpose of this course is two-fold: (1) to introduce students to a broad array 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. Affiliated with Religious Studies.

SUMMER 2022

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century
Topic: Apocalyptic Worlds
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu
Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3 cr / Online / Asynchronous
6-Week Summer Session: June 13-July 23, 2022
Dreams and revelations about the world’s end are almost as old as literature itself. Why are so many writers and thinkers drawn to the notion of “apocalypse” as a recurring theme across so many different literary and film genres, and what does apocalypse look like in different cultural contexts and time periods? Which similarities or difference emerge when we compare ancient religious iterations of end-times with modern visions of cataclysm precipitated by environmental and economic collapse and terrifying outbreaks of disease, war, and even supernatural monsters? If we follow the Greek etymological root word apokálypsis, meaning an unveiling or disclosure, then which worlds, values, or types of relationships and interactions emerge in such stories? This online, asynchronous summer course will explore the ways writers, artists and film makers envision and talk about apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic worlds. Our list of readings will tentatively include selections from Genesis, Daniel, and Revelation; Albert Camus’s novel The Plague; Ingmar Bergman’s philosophical film The Seventh Seal; Chris Marker’s haunting short film La Jetée; selections from the Japanese war manga series Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa; the gripping first season of AMC’s The Walking Dead; and more. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Global Studies.

SPRING 2022

COMPLIT 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3cr / Online / Asynchronous

How have artists, writers and musicians taken inspiration from the traumas of colonialism, authoritarianism and the Holocaust to reshape the moral and creative landscapes of our contemporary world and its demands? How do creative figures situate themselves and adapt their work in relation to existentialism, magical realism, post-modernism, post-socialism, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, and post-humanism? What sense of the contemporary world—and of the subjects, stories and material objects inhabiting it—emerge when we compare and contextualize the most canonical works of modern and contemporary literature, media, material culture and performance? This online, asynchronous course offers literature and humanities students an introductory survey of some of the most gripping, imaginative narratives, images, and performances from the late-18th century to the present day, from Mozart to Madonna. Our survey includes Mozart’s enchanting final opera The Magic Flute and Tchaikovsky’s iconic ballet Swan Lake; a selection of folk and fairy tales from around the world; short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Franz Kafka; cinema classics like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard; a selection of stirring human rights and Holocaust poetry and Ariel Dorfman’s post-authoritarian drama Death and the Maiden; Madonna’s controversial concert The Girlie Show Tour; Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir 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. 

COMPLIT 208: Global Literature from the 17th century to the Present
Topic: The Rise of the Machines
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201/ GER(HU) / 3cr / Online / Asynchronous 

From Enlightenment-era celebrations of rationality and knowledge to 19th-century visions of the Industrial Revolution to modernist parables about the alienated individual in a bureaucratic world contoured and supported by the latest technology, the human being and the machine have been mutually inter-dependent figures in modern world literature. How does our sense of the human, and of humanism more generally, intersect with visions and realizations of the mechanical, the electrical, the robotic, the industrialized, the weaponized, and the computerized “other”? How does the image of the machine, in turn, shape the way we understand and talk about individual and collective identity, belonging, mobility, comfort, eroticism, intelligence, labor, and creativity? What impact does literary genre or mode—including science fiction, coming-of-age, testimony, memoir, and mystery—shape the way we understand or re-imagine the relationship between humanity and machinery? This online, asynchronous course gives students an overview of the most powerful poems, stories, and plays from around the world that chart the unpredictable co-evolutions of the human being and the machine. Our texts tentatively include selections from Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes; Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel Frankenstein; Karl Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots); Osamu Tezuka’s manga classic Metropolis; and short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Franz Kafka, E. M. Forster, Tadeusz Borowski, Julio Cortázar, and Haruki Murakami. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities, Global Studies, and International Studies. 

COMPLIT 233: Literature and Film
Topic: Global Eco-Crisis
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3cr / Online / Asynchronous 
Climate change and environmental disaster are emergent topics of interest not only in scientific and political debates but also in literary and cinematic traditions. In fact, novels, memoirs, short stories, comic books, and documentary and fiction films use a wide range of narrative tropes and carefully curated images to help us better imagine the barely perceptible forms of ecological degradation that have been in the making for centuries. How do writers and filmmakers express the discernible and unimaginable dimensions of ecological crisis and environmental degradation—from meteorological disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis to radiation leaks and oil spills? In what way are the impacts of climate change most powerfully felt, and how do these reverberations engage questions of gender, race, class, and geographical location? This online, asynchronous course gives students an overview of the most powerful stories on page and screen from around the world that chart the unpredictable co-evolutions of the human being and the machine. Our texts tentatively include Wu Ming-Yi’s lyrical novel The Man with the Compound Eyes, about a “trash vortex” in the Indian Ocean; Octavia Butler’s sci-fi novel Parable of the Sower, about climate change and social inequality; J. A. Bayona’s film The Impossible, which traces the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004; selections from Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich; Susanne Bier’s Netflix sensation Bird Box; the Oscar-nominated “bee” documentary Honeyland by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov; the post-apocalyptic graphic novel series Snowpiercer; and critical essays by Rachel Carson, Bruno Latour, Rob Nixon, Amitav Ghosh, and Susan Sontag. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Film Studies, Global Studies, and International Studies. 

COMPLIT 309: Great Works of Modern Literature
Topic: Existentialism & the Absurd
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU) / U/G / 3cr / Online / Asynchronous

What does it mean to be free, and how does freedom compel us to embrace certain responsibilities? How do we face life and find meaning in our day-to-day existence, knowing that one day we will die? How does action sculpt our lives, particularly during limit situations that test our strength, faith, and will? This online, asynchronous course about existentialism and the absurd, two powerful philosophical movements in 20th-century intellectual history, explores these very questions and more. Our readings and viewings will tentatively include Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony” and The Metamorphosis, Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, Camus’ The Stranger; and Sartre’s No Exit; the films Taxi DriverBlade Runner, and Cléo from 5 to 7; and selected episodes of the AMC original series Mad Men and the French-language TV series The Churchmen. We will also draw from philosophical works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, Miguel de Unamuno, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Frantz Fanon. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. 

COMPLIT 316: World Cinema
Topic: Contemporary Chinese Cinema
Jian Xu, jianxu@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / 3cr / Online · Partly synchronous, Thursdays, 2:00-3:50pm
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 in the field 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. Jointly offered with ENGLISH 316 and FILMSTD 316. Satisfies L&S International req. Affiliated with Global Studies and International Studies.

COMPLIT 365: Literatures and Cultures of the Americas
Topic: Intersections of Disability and Gender
Kristin Pitt, kepitt@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / U/G / 3cr / Online / Asynchronous
How does literature represent disability? How do word choices and narrative strategies frame our perceptions and understandings of who we are, who others are, and how we can imagine ourselves and our relationship to our community and the world? Drawing on theoretical and activist frameworks including disability justice, reproductive justice, and intersectional feminism, this class will explore contemporary literature, essays, and other media from South America, North America, and the Caribbean that examines intersecting representations of disability and gender. Students will develop analytical tools to discuss how word choices, narrative strategies, and images create, reinforce, or challenge societal conceptions of gender, sexuality, and disability. Satisfies L&S International req. Affiliated with Global Studies; International Studies; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and US Latinx Studies; and Women’s and Gender Studies. 

FALL 2021

COMPLIT 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / Online
How have artists, writers and musicians of the “Long 20th Century” shaped our visions of the contemporary world, and what inspired them to do so? How deeply are their works shaped by the most devastating political traumas, like World War I and the Holocaust, or philosophical movements of the 20th century, like surrealism, existentialism, post-modernism, environmentalism, and the rise of digital humanities? How does the contemporary artist envision the present moment, and what does she see when she looks back at the past or ahead to an uncertain future? This online, asynchronous course is an introductory survey of some of the most imaginative narratives, images, and performances from the late-19th century to the present day. Our survey will include the bewildering short stories of Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Luis Borges, and Franz Kafka; eye-opening examples of human rights and Holocaust poetry; iconic paintings from Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and British graffiti artist Banksy; the famous 1963 performance of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake, performed by real-life couple Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev; Madonna’s controversial concert The Girlie Show Tour; Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis; 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.

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century
Topic: Reimagining the Witch
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / Online
The figure of the witch thrives in the artistic imagination as a powerful symbol of difference, particularly in relation to her gender, age, agency, knowledge, and sexuality. As a universal archetype of the outisder looking in, the witch reveals the various norms and taboos of the cultures that have created and condemned her. However, the witch is also an evolving figure, always re-imagined in different cultural and historical contexts and appearing in stories and works of art that raise a broad range of themes, including race, national histories, the environment, and even the digital turn in modern technology. In this online, asynchronous class, we will follow the witch’s unpredictable movements and reinventions, across time and space and in a wide variety of literary texts, paintings, performing arts, and mass media. Our survey will tentatively include Medea from Euripides; witch-themed folk tales from around the world, including “Baba Yaga,” “Snow White,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Little Mermaid”; a selection of witch-themed poems and paintings; excerpts from the comic book Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Japanese manga Kiki’s Delivery Service; Arthur Miller’s classic play The Crucible; Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima; Maryse Condé’s I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; and Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch. We will also watch Häxan, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Eve’s Bayou, The Witch Part 1: The Subversion, and selected episodes of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Siempre Bruja [Always a Witch], Marianne, and Luna Nera. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies.

COMPLIT 207: Global Literature from Antiquity to the 1600s 
Topic: Monsters and Marvels in the Pre-Modern World
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER [HU]  / 3 cr / online
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, the awesome with the awful. 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 The Epic of GilgameshOedipus the King by Sophocles, selected stories from the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, Dante’s InfernoBeowulf, poetry by Rumi and Sappho and poetic tributes to Mulan and Joan of Arc, and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req.

COMPLIT 233: Literature and Film
Topic: Globalization and Cultural Identity
Jian Xu, jianxu@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3 cr / ONLINE (online synchronous, virtual class R 2-3:15PM)
If social sciences have discussed the many risk factors of our increasingly globalized world, it is in the humanities, in literature, art and film that the impact of those risks on the acquisition and maintenance of cultural identity is more urgently explored. As globalization increased the interconnectedness of the humanity around the world, it also tended to uproot, disjoin, scatter or mix large populations of people, creating dislocation, fragmentation and the loss of certainty in our sense of cultural belonging. This course studies literary and filmic works that respond to this problematic, covering a broad range of epochs and geographies (from Western colonial expansion to our neoliberal present and from the former colonies or “developing economies” to the metropoles or the centers of global capital). Most of these works address the aftermath of some fundamental changes on a global scale that have permanently altered the lives of a whole society. By meticulously examining both the advantages (in the name of “progress”) and disadvantages or risks of such changes in people’s daily lives, the works’ narratives and dramatic situations offer a type of embodied, affective knowledge unable to be replaced by statistics, diagrams and charts. As a result, we’ll gain a deeper understanding about the nature of what we call globalization and develop ethical responses to it. Satisfies the GER(HU) and L&S international requirements. 

COMPLIT 316: World Cinema
Topic: French New Wave Cinema
Tami Williams, tamiw@uwm.edu / Lec 001 / 3 cr / T/R 12-1:50 PM, Curtin 104
In a few short years, from 1958 to 1963, a group of daring young critic-turned-filmmakers made a series of films that transformed the cinematic landscape in France and abroad. This course will explore the origins and development of this movement or “New Wave,” from its pioneering approaches to screenwriting, adaptation, mise-en-scène and signification to its intentional blurring of the boundaries between reality and artifice, documentary and fiction, personal and collective history. We will examine some of its influences and legacies, while focusing on its most innovative directors or “auteurs”: Agnès Varda, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker. 

COMPLIT 316: World Cinema
Topic: Latina and Latin American Women Directors 
Gilberto M. Blasini, gblasini@uwm.edu / Lec 002 / 3 cr / M/W 2:00 – 4:30 PM
The class explores the works of Latina and Latin American women directors mostly since the 1980s.  We will study their cinematic texts and how they engage with discourses of gender, politics and aesthetics in relation to notions of Latinidad and Latin Americanness.  A fruitful way to understand the similarities and differences between Latina and Latin American communities is through the exploration of issues that pervade these communities but might find a range of diverse expression given the specificity of the different national contexts under consideration.  Two of these issues are the ubiquity of patriarchy and the shared history of colonization that have influenced the formation of Latina and Latin American identities, both individual as well as collective, in the U.S. and Latin America.  Since women directors tend to focus their films on explorations about the unbalanced power stratifications of their societies, we will emphasize questions related to the construction of gender and sexuality as a unifying thread among all the films/videos.  In addition, we will pay attention to the way that other axes of cultural difference such as race, age, class and nationality, just to mention three, further complicate discourses about gender and sexuality.  

COMPLIT 461: Film-Fiction Interaction
Topic: Possible Worlds in Literature and Film
Jian Xu, jianxu@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / U/G / 3 cr / ONLINE (online synchronous, virtual class every Tuesday 2:00-3:15)
The class examines a range of works from world literature and cinema that depart from representational realism by extending the virtual tendencies of our actual world to create possible worlds grounded on nothing but their own becoming. Such possible worlds are fundamental to the formation of literary/filmic experience by virtue of their otherness that exposes us to affects and sensations beyond everyday perceptions and opinions. They are a source of narrativity sensitive to the thought from outside and to creative revelation. From a broad range of genres and types we’ll distill a knowledge about literary and cinematic worldmaking and about the roles that body & desire play in the worlding. We approach possible worlds as both theory and methodology and endeavor to keep our analysis on a philosophical plane of creative multiplicity allowing for an infinity of world experience beyond totality. The study aims to restore us to the immanence of force-encounters and affective intensities and to decompose the finite positions of moralism and ideology that trap us in Logos, preparing us for an everchanging world open to all possibilities of life. The course satisfies the L&S International Requirement.