Courses

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 Digital Arts & Culture and 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. 

COMPLIT 233: Literature and Film
Topic: Eco-Crisis in Literature & Film
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. 

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

COMPLIT 365: Literatures and Cultures of the Americas
Topic: Intersections of Disability and Gender
Kristin Pitt, kepitt@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 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 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.

SUMMER 2021

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century 
Topic: Apocalyptic Worlds 
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / Online
6-Week Summer Session: June 14—July 24, 2021
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 what kind of world, fate, or future is unveiled 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’ The Plague; J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World; Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal; Chris Marker’s La Jetée; the first volume of 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.

SPRING 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 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-18thcentury 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, Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Franz Kafka; an eye-opening selection of human rights poetry; iconic paintings from the French Impressionists, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and British graffiti artist Banksy; 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 Century
Topic: Zombie Metaphors
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu/ Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3 cr / ONLINE
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 Frankenstein; 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; 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 and Film Studies.

COMPLIT 208
Global Literature from the 17th Century to the Present
Topic: The Affect of Modernity
Jian Xu, jianxu@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU) / 3 cr / ONLINE (partly synchronous: R 3:00-4:15PM)
This course will study world literature since the 17th century when modern systems of thought, beliefs and values began their historical formation. Interesting as they may be, we’ll not study the modern thought and beliefs themselves, but the affective forces produced in literature that led to their emergence and propagation. We’ll study affect rather than ideas because thinking is not always intellectualist, a model of the Cartesian subject. But what is exactly affect and how do we identify it in a text? In what way is it different from feelings and emotions? What do we gain by shifting our attention from such conventional categories to affect? These are among the questions our studies seek to answer. Suffice it here to say that the affect of modernity came often to impinge upon our physiology like a shock, because it is not structured, qualified, or recognizable the way an experiential state of anger, joy, or sadness is. Modernity and its present stage of globalization have drastically changed our traditional ways of being-in-the-world while opening new possibilities of life. It is not just interesting but of great significance to learn how literary affect composes new values and ethos as well as new ways to embody them in response to the mutability of our world and our ways of life. The literary works we study will be selected from a broad time period across centuries and from a wide range of cultures and civilizations. We include too a few films of great affective intensity for contemporary times. we aim to gain an insight into how literary affects help make and unmake the world. This course fulfills GER(HU) and L&S International requirements.

COMPLIT 231
Literature and Religion
Topic: Intro to the New Testament
Demetrius K. Williams, williamd@uwm.edu / Lec 201 /GER(HU)/ 3 cr / ONLINE
Should the “New Testament” be referred to more accurately as “the Second Testament”? Who wrote the New Testament? How is it structured and when was it written? How has it been interpreted? What is its position on the place of women in society? What is its position on slavery? What have been the implications of some of its interpretations? This Introduction to the New Testament course is designed to answer these and other questions from a literary-historical and ideological perspective. These approaches focuses on issues of authorship, dating, theology, literary genre, and notions of gender, worldview and empire. Other special topics related to the scholarly or academic study of the New Testament will also be explored. While this course is designed as a survey of the New Testament literature, there will be some engagement with literature outside of the canonical New Testament, but only as it relates to special issues and topics in New Testament interpretation. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International reqs. Affiliated with Religious Studies.

COMPLIT 316
World Cinema
Topic: Scottish Cinema
Zachary Finch, zfinch@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / 3 cr / ONLINE
This course provides an introduction to many of Scottish cinema’s most important and influential themes and issues, films, and filmmakers. One of our goals is to add to the ongoing discussion concerning how to make sense of Scotland’s cinematic traditions and contributions. Through seven units we will explore a broad range of films, filmmaking traditions, and new frontiers for Scottish cinema. COMPLIT 316 is jointly offered with ENGLISH 316 and FILMSTD 316. Satisfies L&S International req.

COMPLIT 316
World Cinema
Topic: Body and Desire in World Cinema
Jian Xu, jianxu@uwm.edu / Lec 202 / 3 cr / ONLINE (partly synchronous, T 3:00-4:15PM)
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. The objective of our study is to discover how this unique cinematic body opens up dimensions of truth we do not normally see, 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. COMPLIT 316 is jointly offered with ENGLISH 316 and FILMSTD 316. Satisfies L&S International req.

COMPLIT 350
Topics in Comparative Literature
Topic: Global Fashion Narratives
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 at the individual and collective levels. 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 rich inner life, or 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, race, religion, commerce, the body, and aging? This online course explores the many different literary, cinematic and artistic representations of fashion during the last 200 years. Our survey will include body modification tales by Junichiro Tanizaki, Franz Kafka and Nikolai Gogol; symbolist poems by Charles Baudelaire and Barbie poems by Denise Duhamel; masquerade tales by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Collette, and Yukio Mishima; selected music videos by Madonna, Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Yelle, and Culture Club; and iconic fashion films Desperately Seeking Susan, Elizabeth, and Coco Before Chanel; and selected episodes of Absolutely Fabulous!, Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. We will also frame our discussions about fashion and identity with readings from philosophers and theorists like Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Georg Simmel, Elizabeth Wilson, Simone de Beauvoir, and Michel Foucault. Satisfies L&S International req. Open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

COMPLIT 381
Honors Seminar
Worlds of Hurt: Representing Historical Trauma in the Modern Humanities

Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu / Lec 201 / GER(HU)/ 3 cr / ONLINE
As a cultural concept with broad reach in the humanities, trauma gathers many different types of suffering under its auspices, including somatic injury and psychic wounding, and exerts its force far beyond its sites of immediate impact. Historical trauma, in particular, is a painful variation of this theme, implicating both individuals and entire groups of people that suffer directly from the nightmares of history and pass those testimonies and memories to subsequent generations. Artists and writers re-imagine these sites of devastation in sobering detail—and sometimes with pronounced artistic license—in some of the most widely recognized works of our modern global canons. What kinds of representational languages do these creative figures use in order to adequately capture the full scope of traumatic events that exceeds individual human understanding? How might trauma literature and visual culture enable survivors and other witnesses to “work through” the devastations of history and its lingering afterlives, and what limits that creative or documentary process? What are the relative values of historical accuracy, on the one hand, and postmodern innovation, on the other, in the creation of an artistic record, or cultural memory, of difficult events? To what extent are these “artistic memories” of atrocity shaped by the unresolved concerns of the present rather than the undisputed facts of the past? This interdisciplinary course, taught asynchronously online, examines these questions in a broad range of literature, film, television drama, and visual and performing arts that chronicle individual and group suffering during several of the most devastating events and developments in the 20th and 21st centuries—including WWI, WWII and the Vietnam War; the modern legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and civil rights unrest; Chilean authoritarianism; the AIDS crisis; the explosion of Chernobyl; and the Boxing Day tsunami. Our tentative list of texts includes Ariel Dorfman’s play Death and the Maiden; Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful; J.A. Bayona’s The Impossible; Jacques Tardi’s graphic novel It Was the War of the Trenches; Beyonce’s video album Lemonade; short fiction by Tadeusz Borowski, Jorge Luis Borges, and Tim O’Brien; selected episodes of Downton Abbey, This Is Us, and Pose; Matthew Bourne’s reinterpretation of Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet Swan Lake; art by Banksy, Pablo Picasso, Keith Haring, and Otto Dix; and essays and nonfiction by Sigmund Freud, Can Themba, Svetlana Alexievich, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, and Elaine Scarry. Prereq: admission to Honors College. Satisfies GER(HU) req.

FALL 2020

CompLit 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu /

Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / ONLINE
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, Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Franz Kafka; an eye-opening selection of human rights poetry; iconic paintings from the French Impressionists, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and British graffiti artist Banksy; 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 Digital Arts & Culture and Cultures & Communities.

COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century
Topic: Youth Culture in the Middle East
Caroline Seymour-Jorn, csjorn@uwm.edu /
Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / ONLINE
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 Palestine to Saudi Arabia are re-imagining their worlds and how they are responding to trends including Islamic fundamentalism, consumer capitalism, feminism and globalization.

Required Texts:
Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (Saudi)
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)
Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; Film Studies; Global Studies; and Middle Eastern & North African Studies.

Comp Lit 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
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 The Epic of GilgameshOedipus the King by Sophocles; selections from Plato’s Symposium, The Bible, Ovid’s MetamorphosesTales of the Thousand and One Nights and The Decameron; Dante’s Inferno; poetry by Rumi and Sappho; and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.

COMPLIT 233: Literature and Film
Topic: Globalization and Cultural Identity
Jian Xu, jianxu@uwm.edu /
Lec 001 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / TR 4:00-5:15pm (ONLINE, synchronous)

If social sciences have discussed the many risk factors of our increasingly globalized world, it is in the humanities, in the critical studies of 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 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 (setbacks 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 GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.

COMPLIT 316: World Cinema
Topic: Global Women Directors
Tami Williams, tamiw@uwm.edu@uwm.edu /
Lec 001 / 3 cr / ONLINE
This course explores the work of global women filmmakers, from a critical, theoretical, and historical perspective. Director/auteurs examined include a range of figures representative of mainstream and independent trends in filmmaking, from Europe, Australia, and Latin America to the Middle East. We will pay particular attention to issues of female authorship, filmic writing, and point-of-view; what narrative and aesthetic strategies are used; how gender functions as a discursive category within context-specific feminist histories; how women’s issues, articulated locally, nationally and transnationally, constitute a process of world-making; as well as how representations of gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and nation affect the politics of the “gaze.” Filmmakers examined may include Agnès Varda, Barbara Loden, Lynne Ramsay, Claire Denis, Lucretia Martel, Marziyeh Meshkini, and Mati Diop, to name a few. Jointly offered with ENGLISH 316 and FILMSTD 316. Satisfies L&S international req.

COMPLIT 350: Topics in Comparative Literature
Topic: European Comics and Graphic Novels
Drago Momcilovic, momcilovic@uwm.edu /
Lec 201 / 3 cr / ONLINE
8-Week Fall Session: October 19-December 12, 2020
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 the bandes dessinées in France and Belgium, the superhero genre and the graphic memoir, and postmodern reinventions of the “comix” medium. Clearly, European comics and graphic novels have quickly evolved from their 19th-century roots in caricature to become innovative and gripping meditations on European identity, community, history, and artistry. In this special-session 8-week 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 texts will tentatively include Hergé’s Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Rene Goscinny’s Asterix the Gaul, Igort’s Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks, and Marjane Satrapi’s Iranian coming-of-age story Persepolis. Students will also have the opportunity to take inspiration from these modern European artists in developing their own creative graphic novel project, due at the end of the term. Satisfies L&S International req.

COMPLIT 360: Seminar in Literature and Cultural Experience
Topic: Early Christian Literature
Demetrius Williams, williamd@uwm.edu /
ONLINE
8-Week Fall Session: October 19-December 12, 2020
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 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? (As portrayed in the movie Stigmata [1999]!) Why are there so many different Christian groups and divisions among them? Early Christian Literature, composed as an 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.

COMPLIT 365: Literatures and Cultures of the Americas
Topic: Families in the Borderlands
Kristin Pitt, kepitt@uwm.edu /
Lec 201 / 3 cr / ONLINE
This course examines narratives, theories, and practices of borders and migration within the Americas and how those intersect or conflict with narratives, theories, and practices of family. How are national and political borders defined, conceptualized, and experienced? How do narrative constructions of borders shape border experience? What does it mean to cross the border and live as an immigrant or as a family of immigrantsHow are family units shaped by the processes and policies of migration, including separation and reunification? And finally, how are these questions explored in literature and film? Our investigation of borders, migration, and family will also deepen our understanding of a wide range of contemporary discourses, including gender, sexuality, nationalism, exile, diaspora, security, human rights, hybridity, and race. While the U.S./Mexico border will serve as a starting point for many of our theoretical and literary engagements with the concepts and representations of borders, our collective readings will take into account other border experiences as well. Satisfies L&S Int’l req. Affiliated with International Studies; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latinx Studies; and Women’s & Gender Studies.

SUMMER 2020

CompLit 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century
Topic: Monsters & Monstrosity
Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu /

Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / ONLINE
8-Week Summer Session: June 22-August 15, 2020
Supernatural beasts, mythical giants, Blobs and Things, human-animal hybrids, blood-sucking devils, flesh-eating cannibals, serial killers with no moral compass – these monstrous figures have been at the center of literary and cinematic explorations of the abject “other”: that horrific antithesis of the rational, beautiful, cultured, civilized human being we long to be. What makes monster tales so appealing and timeless? Why are we so entertained by so many variations on this theme? This special-session online course examines the history and cultural specificity of monster tales from the classical, medieval and modern worlds. We will explore the philosophical, theological, cultural, social and political roles monsters and monster tales play in our own lives – how they allow us to cope with fears of death and chaos, how they shape our narratives of the past and present, and how they influence the way we see ourselves and our relationship to the natural world. Our survey will tentatively include zombie and vampire film classics Night of the Living Dead and Nosferatu; Hitchcock’s modern horror classic The Birds; selections from Homer’s Odyssey and The Epic of Gilgamesh; a selection of folktales from around the world; and Mary Shelley’s iconic horror classic Frankenstein. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.

CompLit 457: Topics in French and Francophone Studies
Topic: French and Francophone Existentialism

Drago Momcilovic, momcilov@uwm.edu /
Lec 201 / 3 cr/ ONLINE
8-Week Summer Session: June 22-August 15, 2020
As a set of postwar intellectual currents, existentialism (as well as the absurd) seeks to uncover the meanings of human existence and the way we come to those meanings, in light of concepts like freedom, responsibility, authenticity, situation, anxiety, alienation, and responsibility. How do we create meaningful lives? What justifications do we need to live life in spite of the death that awaits us? How do we talk about these things, and what place do these ideas have in French and Francophone culture? This online course explores the rise of existential and absurdist themes in French and Francophone literature, film and television. Our texts tentatively include the novels The Stranger by Albert Camus, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ, and A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir; the plays A Tempest by Aimé Césaire and No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre; the films Black Girl by Ousmane Sembeneand Cléo from 5 to 7 by Agnès Varda; selected episodes of the Arte France television series The Churchmen and the Canal+ television series Les revenants; and philosophical writings by Blaise Pascal, Gabriel Marcel, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Simone Weil, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Frantz Fanon. Jointly offered with FRENCH 457. Affiliated with French and Francophone Studies.