Courses

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)
If modernity arose in the West in the 17th-century “Age of Reason” and the 18th-century “Enlightenment,” then before the ensuing industrial revolution and the rise of capitalism, we can speak of an “affective revolution” that was already in place and that prepared for and is still driving the processes of material and institutional change. It was an impetus for becoming, for fundamental values and beliefs to shift and evolve, societies and states to secularize, individualism to flourish, and for representative democracy, social progress, market economy…to standardize into ideological or institutional norms. This revolutionary impetus was itself an affection of earlier forces (e.g. the scientific revolution and colonial expansion) and now affecting and transforming the experience and condition of the world. This affect of modernity has gradually come to envelop the entire globe and continued to orient our visions to the future. This course will investigate one of the key sources and mediums responsible for creating, refining and populating this affect: world literature. We’ll study how some selective works from a variety of literary cultures aspire or adapt to modernity by producing new sensibilities immanent to change, thereby facilitating new ways of life and new human relations to emerge. Literature accomplishes this task by formal, narrative, and stylistic means, and by producing new sensations and intensities, and by “worlding” the affect into emotions and feelings in the flux of life. Studying how literature produces affect that compose our modern ethos, from the notions of individual freedom, universal equality and justice to the ideas of human progress, dignity, pure relations of love, and the right to pursue happiness and prosperity on earth and their various critical counter-currents, we aim to gain an insight into how literary affects make and unmake the world. The course fulfills GER(HU) and L&S International requirements. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.

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.

SPRING 2020

SPRING 2020
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
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.

SPRING 2020
COMPLIT 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century

Topic: Magical Realism and the Fantastic in Literature and Film
Kristin Pitt [kepitt@uwm.edu]
Lec 201 / GER [HU] / 3 cr / ONLINE
Through this course, we will examine notions of reality and its artistic representation, asking what the role of the apparently magical is within our apprehensions of literary and cinematic reality. Is it possible that creative fiction must rely upon the magical in order to present “the real” or “the truth”? What are the possible artistic advantages of magical or fantastical representation, and what are the possible sociopolitical implications of these literary modes? Many of our readings will be examples of what has come to be termed “magical realism,” literature that does not quite fit traditional definitions of either realism or fantasy. Although many of the texts we read will come from the Spanish American tradition with which magical realism is perhaps most often associated, we will also explore other examples of magical realism and fantastical fiction, allowing us to develop a broader sense of the philosophical, political, ideological, and literary implications of the texts. Satisfies GER(HU) & L&S International reqs. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; Film StudiesLatin American & Caribbean Studies; and Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latin@ Studies.