Courses

FALL 2019

COMPLIT 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts

Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / MW 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm / Bolton B92

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-19th century to the present day. Our survey will include the bewildering short stories of Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Franz Kafka; an eye-opening selection of human rights 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 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 & Culture.

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century
Topic: Zombie Metaphors

Drago Momcilovic [momcilov@uwm.edu]
Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / MW 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm / Bolton B92

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 Dinner 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; classic genre films like Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later; selected episodes from Les revenants [The Returned] and The Walking Dead; and more. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International reqs. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; and Film Studies.

COMPLIT 207: Global Literature from Antiquity to the 1600s

Demetrius Williams [williamd@uwm.edu]
Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / TR 11:00 AM-12:15 PM / CRT 209 / U

CompLit 207 serves as an introductory survey of world literature in translation from antiquity to the early 1600s and will cover literature from a broad array of cultures from the Middle East to Greece, from Europe to India, and from China and to Japan. One particular approach it will explore, although not exclusive, is to examine the ideology of a particular literary cultural production. For example, how might these texts present and construct categories of gender and sexuality? What does it mean to be a woman or a man in ancient societies?  Are these roles primarily sexual, or social, or religious?  What might this tell us about our conceptions regarding gender or sexuality? Another aspect of ideology explores the notion of power and authority – who has it and why? What gives kings the right to rule? What gives one class a status above another class? Does this authority or power come from a particular deity or is it somehow inscribed in nature or the cosmos? Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International reqs. Affiliated with Ancient Mediterranean Studies; Cultures & Communities; and Great Books & Liberal Arts.

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

Jay Xu [jianxu@uwm.edu]
Lec 002 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / MW 4:00pm-5:15pm / LUB S233 / U/G

In this class we’ll be exploring a modern literary experience that is mediated by a narrative encounter with otherness. This experience of otherness can be cultural, social, racial/ethnic, religious, or sexual, and is always embodied. We will focus on a range of well-known works from various parts of the world and examine how in these works the encounter with various kinds of otherness unsettles our normal ways of looking at the world, bringing to crisis our assumed values, cultural identities, and a sense of a stable and coherent self always in control… Central to our study are various textual formations that generate an embodied experience of the Other, creating an array of literary subjectivities capable of answering to the truth of others. We will examine how literary texts posit different epistemological relations to this truth and enable our experience of otherness to be authentic and richly rewarding. In this semester, we’ll be exploring also the topics of diaspora and immigration in the context of both postcolonial and global capitalist conditions worsened by the rise of nationalism. The general 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 literary and visual texts produced in diverse cultural and social conditions. In addition, they may assimilate a variety of critical ideas relevant for addressing some of the most urgent problems of society and find creative solutions. Satisfies the GER(HU) and L&S International reqs.

COMPLIT 316 World Cinema
Topic: French New Wave Cinema

Tami Williams [tamiw@uwm.edu]
Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / TR 12:00pm-1:50pm / CRT 104 / U

Jointly offered with ENGLISH 316 and FILMSTD 316.

COMPLIT 350: Topics in Comparative Literature [Online]
Topic: Global Sports Narratives

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

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 and A League of Their Own. Satisfies L&S International req.

COMPLIT 365: Literatures and Cultures of the Americas
Topic: Gender and Protest

Kristin Pitt [kepitt@uwm.edu]
Lec 001 / 3 cr / TR 12 :30pm-1 :45pm / LUB N130 / U/G

This course will explore multiple ways in which understandings of gender have shaped both the practices and targets of protest and dissent in the contemporary Americas. How do political and cultural protests challenge or enforce dominant narratives of patriarchy, gender binaries, or compulsory heterosexuality? How do narratives of gender and sexuality shape what we understand as protest at all? Course materials will include literature and other forms of art as well as cultural criticism, theory, and journalism. Satisfies L&S International requirement. Affiliated with Latin American & Caribbean Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latin@ Studies; and Women’s & Gender Studies.