Category V: Arts and Letters
These courses aim at depth of knowledge and development of students' interpretive skills through intellectual engagement with major works of philosophy, literature, art, film, or music. Classes are writing-intensive and limited to thirty students to promote direct interaction between students and faculty.
This course examines selected works that have been considered classics by and within the Islamic, Indian, Chinese and Japanese traditions. The course is both text- and problem-centered, emphasizing the exploration of views and approaches alternative to those found with the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. It is not intended as an initiation into either these Asian traditions or the specific disciplines represented by the texts and problems assigned for reading and discussion. It is, however, hoped that students will feel challenged personally by these texts and problems; that they will focus thoughtfully on these alternative perspectives; and that they will thereby exercise both their intellects and moral imaginations. The readings may include: The Koran Interpreted; Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History; The Bhagavad Gita; The Buddhist Tradition; Confucius, The Analects; Lao Tzu, The Way and Its Power; Wu Ch'eng-en, Monkey: Folk Novel of China; Yoshida Kenko, Essays in Ideleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Yoshida Kenko; Anthology of Japanese Literature; and Natsume Soseki, Kokoro.(All works are in translation.)
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LITERATURE, SCIENCE AND SCIENCE FICTION
Literature, Science and Science Fiction is a multidisciplinary course that explores the interactions between literature and science. Course material will deal with some of the major developments in Physics and Biology during this century. The primary texts for the course include scientist's accounts of scientific discovery, such as James Watson's The Double Helix; biographies of scientists such as William Poundstone's biography of John von Neumann, Prisoner's Dilemma; works that address the ethical and cultural dimensions of scientific discovery, such as Jonathan Schell's The Fate of the Earth; novels by and about science, such as Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49; and science fiction novels, such as Benford's Timescape; Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven; LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness; Shelley, Frankenstein; Snow, The Two Cultures; Stoker, Dracula; Stirling, The Stone Dogs; Turner, Brain Child; and Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. The course will make extensive use of the World Wide Web, E-mail and computer multimedia.
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THE FORMS AND USES OF COMEDY
This course will study comedy as a powerful literary form, as a political and ideological agency, and as a way of being in the world. Interweaving comic theory with a variety of readings, films, some television tapes, perhaps a stand-up comic, class projects, and other forms like the cartoon and the caricature, the course will explore how comedy takes its various shapes and also what these shapes can do. Taking off from the more provocative analyses of comedy--Hobbes, Freud, Bergson, Bakhtin, feminist theorists like Russo and Barreca, sociologists of comedy like Murray Davis, we will focus on various important linkages: comedy and literary form, comedy and culture, comedy and ideology, comedy and gender, comedy and subversion, comedy and the forbidden, comedy and sex, and so forth. The basic premise of the course is that comedy is many things: a literary genre, a cultural commodity, a means of liberation (and oppression), and a way of conceiving the world about us. The reading list may include Aristophanes, "The Clouds"; Chaucer, "The Miller's Tale" and "The Merchant's Tale"; Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream; Swift, Gulliver's Travels; Austen, Emma; short stories and tales by Twain; short stories by Dorothy Parker; short stories by Thurber; The Marx Brothers, "Duck Soup"; Tom Stoppard, Travesties; Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party; Gilbert and Sullivan, "The Mikado"; Woody Allen; comics; television; and a theory packet.
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This course will examine the question of genre in the works of the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), particularly as that question focuses the issue of how a writer as a whole, as a cultural phenomenon, is received and read. Though Gogol emerged from the culture of Romanticism, he was quickly reinterpreted by Russian journalists as a "realist" critic of the Russian social order. Only at the end of the nineteenth century was the generally more accurate, but diametrically opposed, reading of Gogol as a writer of the fantastic and the absurd revived. The course will examine Gogol's works in the intersecting light of these two critical traditions, with somewhat more emphasis placed on the genre of the fantastic. That emphasis will include selected works of English, French, and German "fantastic" literature. In addition to gaining some sense of the overall shape of a major writer's oeuvre (the reading will span Gogol's career from his early "Ukrainian" tales to his novel Dead Souls) students will become aware of how and why (to what ends) that oeuvre can come to be understood in radically different ways as it meets the demands of its culture. The reading list includes Gogol, "The Terrible Vengeance," "The Portrait," "Nevsky Avenue," "The Nose," "The Overcoat," and Dead Souls; DeQuincy, Confessions of an English Opium Eater; Hoffmann, one or two selected tales; de Balzac, The Wild Ass's Skin; Belinsky, "A Survey of Russian Literature in 1847"; Gippius, "Gogol and the Devil"; Eikhenbaum, "How Gogol's 'Overcoat' Is Made"; and Setchkarev, Gogol: His Life and Works.
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SHAKESPEARE OUR CONTEMPORARY
An attempt to account for the continued popularity of Shakespeare in academic courses, theatrical performance, and (in particular) recent films. Close reading and analysis of at least ten plays (Richard II, Henry IV Part I, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Othello, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Tempest). Also required: Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary, Elsom(ed.), Is Shakespeare Still Our Contemporary. Screening of selected films. Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead will also be part of the course.
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THE LYRIC TRADITION
A course in the history of the lyric tradition in poetry. Although lyric poetry was present at the birth of democracy in antiquity, and remains the predominant form of contemporary American and European poetry, we must ask what it means to speak of a lyric "tradition." The course therefore begins with Greek and Roman writers (Sappho and Simonides; Horace and Catullus), and examines through these writers the dominant themes of ancient lyric, as well as its relation to their genres. English lyric poetry of the 16th and 17th centuries occupies a central place in the course-and not without some detailed attention to the poet's craft and the art of prosody. In addition, the course examines what lyric means to modernity, beginning with German Romanticism and extending to the question of literature's relation to the Holocaust. Reading modern poets such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Paul Celan, and Sylvia Plath, we will inquire about the role of lyric in the formation of modern subjectivity, as well as the place of poetry in the philosophy of art. What role, we must ask, can poetry play in modern society and in the great debates about technology, economics, and politics which dominate our era?
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DRAMATIC LANGUAGE AND POLITICAL POWER
The mass media have always supported political leaders in the exercise of political power. In the time of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the equivalent of television was royal "presence" and language. Several of Shakespeare's greatest plays focus on the role of a ruler's language in attaining, sustaining, and exercising political power. Political power accrues to those leaders who are fluent in the many language levels of the political entities they would lead, and is denied to those who understand only the language of state. Readings will include Shakespeare's Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, Henry V, coriolanus, Richard III, and Othello; Christopher Marlowe's Edward II, and Machiavelli's The Prince.
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RIGHT, WRONG, AND TRAGEDY IN LITERATURE
Beginning with the Hebrew Bible, and the Gospel of Mark, (both in Oxford translations) the course lays out some of the ancient Judeo-Christian definitions of goodness and evil. As a transition to the modern period, we shall examine Shakespeare's Hamlet for its perspective on good and evil, and its treatment of the young person in turmoil about that polarity. Among modern authors that will be read are: Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, J.D. Salinger and Rebecca Goldstein. Students will be expected to develop a sense of the differences between the text as a self-contained cosmos and the text as referring to some condition in the lived world. Readings will include some critical theory on representation and gender perspective.
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THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN LITERARY HERITAGE
This course will analyze the nature and history of Black American "writerly" strategies, from slavery (Douglass, Jacobs, Washington), through turn-of-the-century and Harlem Renaissance eras (Chesnutt, Dunsbar, DuBois, Hughes, Hurston), to mid-century and contemporary periods (Ellison, Baldwin, Hansberry, Morrison). The course will have a firm "aesthetics" base as well as a politico-cultural orientation.
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LOS ANGELES: THE FICTION
The focus of the course will be the Hollywood novel, which Leslie Fiedler called "the great literary invention of the Thirties." The majority of these novels will be from the 1930s and 1940s, but the course will also study this genre in relation to other fiction and film set in Los Angeles (e.g., John Fante, Ask the Dust, Chester Himes, If He Hollers Let Him Go, James Cain, Mildred Pierce, "Chinatown") and some later versions of the Hollywood novel (e.g., Didion, Play It As It Lays). Through additional historical and critical material, the course will also consider such subjects as: L.A. mystery novels, crime stories, and film noir; the collision of established writers with the film industry; the competition and collaboration between literature and film as narrative art forms of different mediums; and cultural/social criticisms of Hollywood/Los Angeles. The course will begin by examining some of the early and influential novels in this genre as an attempt to chart some of the recurrent iconography of Hollywood mythologies as it is developed, extended, replicated, or challenged by later writers. Other texts will include: Kenneth Anger, Hollywood Babylon; Raymond Chandler, Little Sister; Fitzgerald, Pat Hobby Stories; Carey McWilliams, Southern California: Island on the Land; Budd Schulberg, What Makes Sammy Run?; Anna Deveare Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Luis Valdez, Zoot Suit and Other Plays; and Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust.
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ART AND SOCIETY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD
This course will examine specific works of art and architecture of the ancient world in a historical and cultural context. This is not a course about art appreciation or connoisseurship. Instead, the focus will be on those monuments of art and architecture that best represent the religious beliefs, interests, concerns, and aspirations of the society that produced them. Attention will be given to modern misperceptions of the ancient world, as a result of much of our information about it having been filtered in the past through a biased Judeo-Christian tradition. Other topics of consideration include the nature of the visual evidence, how fragmentary monuments of art and architecture can be reconstructed, how materials and techniques might have imposed restrictions on the artist/architect, and the limitations of art in reconstructing the past. The texts for the course will include: Marilyn Stokstad, Art History; Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing about Art; and a course manual.
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EPIC AND EMPIRE
The course will serve as a general introduction to epic poetry from different cultures and periods. The focus of the course is on the relationship between literary epic, on the one hand, and political institutions and ideologies, on the other. The issue and questions to be considered range from the pragmatic to the theoretical. How does political patronage overlap with literary patronage? How do writers resist or serve authority? How do the romance and imperial traditions coexist in poetry? And more generally, what is the relationship between politics and literature? We shall also be concerned with questions of literariness, religion, gender, and the reception of epic. In addition, we shall inquire why certain texts come to be classified as epic and some do not, and shall investigate the usefulness of retaining epic as a valid generic category. The course will consider work from different cultural traditions, and thus attempt to offer a comparative evaluation of the issues and question posed above.
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MASTERPIECES OF THE SHORT STORY
This course is intended to be an introduction to Russian literature by way of its best short fiction, during which students will also be introduced to the basic principles of textual interpretation. Students will read, mostly in chronological order, and analyze some of the best short stories written by Russian authors over the two-hundred year existence of modern Russian prose, from Karamzin to the present day. Key emphases will fall on historical background (the reading list provides a cross-section of an entire culture and the changes it has undergone in the modern era); narrative structure (of which students are usually ignorant, but a critical awareness of which will prepare them for more advanced literary, and other kinds of, analysis); and intertextuality (the lively dialog that turns out to be taking place among these texts and often enough between them and non-Russian works). Among other topics that will be addressed are, on the historical side, the civic tenor of Russian literature and its role as surrogate opposition in Russian society, including the peculiar pressures of the Soviet era; and on the literary side, the ways in which these texts often simultaneously adopt and subvert the exemplars that precede them. The reading list includes the following: Karamzin, "Poor Liza"; Pushkin, "Station Master"; "The Shot"; Gogol, "The Overcoat"; "The Nose"; Lermontov, "Taman"; Dostoevsky, "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man"; "The Gentle Spirit"; Leskov, "The Sentry"; Tolstoy, "After the Ball"; Chekhov, "The Darling"; "Anna on the Neck"; Bunin, "Light Breathing"; Kuprin, "The Garnet Bracelet"; Gorky, "Twenty Six and a Girl"; Babel, "Guy de Maupassant"; "Answer to Inquiry"; Romanov, "Without Cherry Blossom"; Zoshchenko, "Aristocrat"; "Receipt"; "An Evening of Culture"; Nabokov, "Spring in Fialta"; Platonov, "Fro"; Iskander, "On a Summer Day"; Aksenov, "Victory"; Solzhenitsyn, "An Incident at Krechetovka"; and Siniavsky, "Pkhentz."
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RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND THE MAKING OF WESTERN CULTURE
This course looks at how the cultural identity and attitudes of modern Westerners have been shaped by a distinctive religious past. We will concentrate on those texts that modern Westerners have designated as religious classics. We will also be looking at religious music and art, especially at the ways in which these have interacted with written traditions. The reading list includes The Epic of Gilgamesh; Euripides, Bacchae; Apuleius, The Golden Ass; Augustine, Confessions; The Rule of Benedict; Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love; John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress; Friedrich Schleiermacher, Speeches on Religion; William James, Varieties of Religious Experience; Selections which look at the construction of "minority" religious experiences in modernity (Jewish writers such as Martin Buber, African-American spirituals); and "Fall and Redemption Narratives" (selections from Genesis, Milton's Paradise Lost, J.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings the TV series Babylon 5). Music sources will include selections from Gregorian Chant, J.S. Bach and other composers/compositions which illustrate the broader socio-cultural context of musical production. Visual material will include published sources (e.g. the architecture and sculpture of Chartes Cathedral) as well as visits to the Getty and Norton Simon museums. I may also show short video clips beyond the selection from Babylon 5.
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UTOPIA AND ANTI-UTOPIA
This course will consider the development, imaginative appeal, and social as well as literary significance of utopian fiction from its origins during the Renaissance to its uses in the twentieth century. The starting point will be Saint Thomas More's Utopia. Close analysis of it will serve to define the genre while also introducing students to methods of interpreting and judging the quality of this and related modes of literature. Other readings will be selected form the following list of landmark works to illustrate how the classical utopian model inaugurated by More has been varied and applied: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travel; Voltaire, Candide; Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward 2000-1887; Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court; H.G. Wells, The Time Machine and A Modern Utopia; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland; Yevgeny Zamyatin, We; Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four; Ursula K.-Le Guin, The Dispossessed; Joanna Russ, The Female Man; Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time; William Gibson, Neuromancer; Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale; and Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash.
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ART AND TEXT IN IMPERIAL ROME
Anthony J. Boyle
A detailed critical and analytic study of selected works of literature and of visual art (architecture, sculpture, painting) from early imperial Rome. The focus will be on intense reading and intellectual analysis of the works themselves, of their relationship to each other and to the culture(s) which produced them. The course will focus on two periods: the Rome of Augustus (27BCE-14CE) and that of Nero (54-68CE). The art for the course includes the following: Augustan Period: Augustan monuments, esp. the Forum Augusti; official sculpture, esp. the Altar of Peace and the Prima Porta; and Roman imperial painting, esp. the 'ornamental style' and sacro-idyllic; and Neronian Period: Architecture, esp. the Palaces; Sperlonga sculptures and the Laocoon; Roman imperial painting, esp. the 'theatrical style.' The texts for the course will include: Virgil, Aeneid; Ovid, Fasti; Pertronius, Satyricon; Seneca, Troades ('Trojan Women'); and Tacitus, Annals.
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CITY OF MYTH
This course will explore St. Petersburg as an extraordinary cultural phenomenon: not just the social and economic phenomenon that is a city, but a "text" in its own right. It served (or one should again say "serves") as a text in two respects. Unlike other Russian cities that had arisen more or less organically in the middle ages, it was the willful creation of Peter I, his "window opening onto Europe" which was also intended in its function and design to mirror that Europe. But the representation of Peter's city in Russian culture (primarily literature but other arts as well) contributed to the creation of a "myth of St. Petersburg" that was in turn projected onto and influenced the city's "reality," if it can be called that. As Dostoevsky's narrator put it in Notes from Underground, this was "the most abstract and premeditated city in the world." In pursuit of St. Petersburg's cultural identity this course will examine several major works of Russian fiction, but in doing so it will also illustrate those works' close connection with their urban setting, with Russian political power (the presence of the tsar's court), and with Russian geopolitics (the city was a window on Europe, but also a paradoxical capital poised at the edge of its empire). St. Petersberg compared with the most fabulous European cities-Rome and Nuremberg. Almost three thousand-year-old Rome, the former capital of the magnificent Roman empire and a birthplace of Catholicism, remains the most pwerful symbol of history in the modern world. Nremberg, a lair of medieval European mystery and horror, becomes in the 20th century, its real embodiment-first as a projected capital of Fascist state, then as a place of final execution of Fascism-the Nuremberg trial. The reading list includes Petronius, Satiricon, Pushkin, "The Bronze Horseman" and Eugene Onegin; Gogol, "Nevsky Avenue," "The Nose," and "The Overcoat"; Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground and several short stories; Bely, Petersburg; Kracauer, The Mass Ornament, Ginzburg, Blockade Diary, and Brodsky, A Guide to a Renamed City. In addition, selected paintings (Raphael), engravings (Duhrer), as well as movies (Eisenstein, October, Fellini, Rome, Riefenstal, The Triumph of Will) and operas (Wagner, The Nuremberg Meistersingers) will be used.
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FREE WILL AND DETERMISM
There is a long tradition, at least in the history of western thought, of thinking of persons as very different from all other creatures. The difference is supposed to consist in the fact that, whereas the behavior of any other animal is causally determined by factors outside the animal's control, our actions are the product of our free will and we are responsible for what we do. Our criminal justice system is based on this belief; unless a special defense (e.g. insanity) is established, the law assumes that the defendant acted freely and is accountable for what she did. But is this belief justified? The rise of modern science, and, in particular, the rise of the various sciences of human behavior, has put increasing pressure on this traditional conception of ourselves. Many scientists and philosophers now believe that everything we do can, in principle at least, be given a causal explanation that traces back to factors outside our control. The philosophical problem of free will and determinism is the problem of understanding how, if at all, we can reconcile what science tells us about our place in nature with our belief that we are, in some sense, free and responsible. This course will provide a historical and interdisciplinary introduction to this philosophical problem. We will read fiction and autobiography as well as texts by psychologists, lawyers, and philosophers. The reading list may include: William S. Burroughs, Junky; Mary Gordon, Men and Angels; Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange; Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment; Skinner, Walden Two; Daniel Dennett, Elbow Room: the Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting; Peter French, The Spectrum of Responsibility; and Roy Weatherford, The Implications of Determinism.
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This course adapts the goals of the category "Literature, Thought and the Arts" to the context of the changing relations between the aesthetic and ideological principles that have governed Russian literature in the twentieth century. Modern Russian literature evolved within a context so politicized that even supposedly "apolitical" works conveyed political meaning, and it therefore provides a particularly fitting body of material for this investigation. The course further aims to provide students with an active understanding of various literary terms and devices, and the ability to analyze works of literature in relation to both the works' own internal structures and the conventions of various literary periods and critical schools. The reading list includes Babel Isaac, Collected Stories; Bulgakov, Heart of a Dog; Chukovskaya, Sophia Petrovna; Gladkov, Cement; Mayakovksy, The Bedbug and Selected Poems; Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; Terts, On Socialist Realism and the Trial Begins; and Zamiatin, We.
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POETRY, EVIDENCE, AND METHODS OF READING
How do we read poetry? What constitutes evidence about poetry? How do we go about establishing some method for reading particular poems or groups of poems? Readings will consist four different types of verse collections from four different periods: the collected poetry of Wallace Stevens, Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge, the cavalier poets of the 17th c., and the sonnets of Shakespeare. We will read these poems chronologically, primarily as a means to study the vocabulary and conventions from earlier poets used by later ones. We will not be concerned primarily with the aesthetic aspect of poetry, nor with imaginative readings and interpretations of individual poems. We will look at individual poems and poetry collections as problems to be solved, and solved particularly by literary-historical methods.
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An introduction to Renaissance Drama with special attention to the methods of interpretation--language, history, character and imagination--ways to understand and enjoy dramatic literature created for the Renaissance stage. We shall consider plays by Shakespeare and at least three of his contemporaries (Marlowe, Jonson, and Webster) to see how social, political, and religious concerns are defined and challenged by the action and poetry on the Renaissance stage. The class will read six or seven plays, consider historical information, discuss interpretations, possibly direct and/or act a few scenes, and explore ways to respond with short essays and exams. The reading list includes: Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Hamlet, and The Tempest; Marlowe, Dr. Faustus; Jonson, Volpone; and Webster, The White Devil.
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This course will introduce students to the culture of the Renaissance period through an interdisciplinary study of literature, social issues, philosophy, and the arts (music, painting, architecture). We will read literary works in relation to the social context in which these works were written. We will ask about the role of the family, marriage, and gender relations played in society and in literature. Historical and philosophical issues regarding new conceptions of God, humanity, the individual, and nature will form topics of study. We will also examine the material objects produced by Renaissance culture (art works, manuscripts, books, costumes) when we visit a few local museums (Getty, Los Angeles County Museum) during the semester. Although the idea of the Renaissance is explored transnationally, emphasis will be placed on Italy. We will read diaries and memoirs (Pitti, Dati), short stories and novellas (Boccaccio, Lorenzo de Medici, Bandello), love poetry by men and women (Petrarch, Michelangelo, Stampa, Franco, Colonna), dialogues and oration (Pico della Mirandola, women humanists, Castiglione, Alberti, Fonte), theatrical comedy (Machiavelli), political and feminist treatises (Machiavelli, Marinelli), and autobiography and letters (Cellini, Franco, Macinghi Strozzi). Some of the issues we will address are: How did the discipline of the humanities grow out of this historical period? Did all people have a Renaissance? How did women respond to the social pressures placed upon them? In what ways might we see this period as modern? The readings may include the following: Machiavelli, The Prince and The Mandrake Root; Catiglione, The Book of the Courtier; Petrarch, Canzoniere and Seceretum; Franco, Terze Rime; Stampa, Poems; Fonte, The Merit of Women; Dati and Pitti, Two Memoirs of Renaissance Florence; Cellini, Autobiography; Boccaccio, The Decameron; Alberti, On the Family; Michelangelo, Poems;
and da Vinci, Notebooks. (All works are in translation.)
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WOMEN IN LITERATURE AND THE ARTS
This course will explore the tradition of women as writers and artists in the West from Sappho to Cynthia Kadohata, with visits to the former colonies of Britain in Jamaica and South Africa and a final dip into film. Texts will be set in the frame work of feminist theory on women's writing and art, which will be introduced to students both in the reading and in lectures. Starting out with some theory, we will go on to read texts in chronological order, interspersed with art (both high and low) from the same time periods as the texts. A central experience in the course will be reading Jane Eyre, canonized as star text of 'round -1981 feminist literary theory by its inclusion in the Norton anthology; followed by Jean Rhys's rewriting of the story of the novel from the colonized standpoint of Bertha Mason Rochester, Wide Sargasso Sea; followed in turn by Michelle Cliff's Abeng, the Bildungsroman of a young mixed-race girl growing up in Jamaica, with its conscious echoes of both Bronte and Rhys. From Abeng we will move on to two other American ethnic writers focusing on young girls, Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street and Cynthia Kadohata The Floating World, which brings us to L.A., now. The course ends with an abrupt turn off the beaten track, to consider the work of Bessie Head, a South African writing from exile in Botswana; and returns home with two films, Bette Gordon's Variety and Leslie Harris's Just Another Girl on the IRT.
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LANDSCAPE AND POETRY
Lynn R. Matteson
This course considers the role of "Nature" in the arts of the West from about 1450 to the middle of the 20th century. The primary vehicle is landscape painting, especially that of England in the 19th century (Constable, Turner) and its relationship with nature poetry (Wordsworth) and the rise of the landscape garden. We will, however, explore other countries and arts, specifically music, where we will listen to the works of Vivaldi, Beethoven, Schubert, Debussy, and Delius, as well as the art of the Impressionists (Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gruguin).
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JEWS AND CHRISTIANS OF THE FIRST CENTURIES
The period between 200 BCE and 200 CE witnessed the formation of theological and institutional paradigms that significantly influenced Western culture. During these centuries both Judaism's and early Christianity's literature developed out of the traditions of the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, Pseudoepigrapha, and other genres of the Greco-Roman world. This course examines, through the reading and interpretation of primary texts, the historical and theological developments in Judaism during the Greco-Roman period, the emergence of Christianity, and impact of these developments upon Western civilization. Texts read in the class will reflect the competing ideas and responses to the particular historical circumstances proposed by different sects, the variety of messianic expectations and other hopes for the future, the circumstances that account for the separation of Judaism and Christianity, and the key concepts and assumptions of these traditions that continue to influence Western culture. The required texts include the following: Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography; Judaism and Christian Beginnings; From Text to Tradition: A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism; Rebecca's Children: Judaism and Christianity in the Roman World; and a Reader prepared for the class.
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PLATO AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
Plato is one of the towering figures of Greek Philosophy and Literature. He is also our major source for the life and work of Socrates, who died in 399 B.C. when Plato was in his late twenties. Plato and Socrates alike stood in opposition to the methods and doctrines of the Greek Sophists, Protagoras, Gorgias, and others. The lives and thought of the Sophists are reflected not only in their own writings, but also in a variety of other contemporary documents, including the work of the comic playwright, Aristophanes, and the contemporary historian, Thucydies. Most important of all, the complex relations among Socrates, the Sophists, and Plato, are portrayed in the early dialogues of Plato, where the figure of Socrates is at centre stage (Socrates himself wrote nothing). These various ingredients are only part of the mix that makes up Plato's mature thinking in the middle and later dialogues. Our chief focus will be the writings of Plato himself, which combine great literature and great philosophy in a single package. Other readings will include: the Sophists, Protagoras, Gorgias, and Antiphon; the comic playwright, Aristophanes; and the historian, Thucydides.
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THE BAD AND THE DANGEROUS IN AMERICAN LITERATURE AND FILM
This is a course about American underdogs, or less generously, the "deviants," the "perverts," and the "minorities," those marginalized by dominant society because of their behavior, their lifestyles or their origins. These marginalized elements include outlaws, villains, aggressive women, outspoken people of color, gays and lesbians, and legal and undocumented immigrants. This course is premised upon the idea that American life has been shaped historically by the interaction between the "good" elements of society and the bad and the dangerous elements. Based upon our recognition of the aesthetic and political complexity of works by and about the bad and the dangerous, the course poses a number of crucial questions: why are the bad and the dangerous attractive to writers and filmmakers? Why does American society have an enduring fascination with peoples and cultures that are normatively considered dangerous? Assuming that we are part of the dominant society at a given moment, are we attracted to the bad and the dangerous because of elements within ourselves we find difficult to discuss? Why is it important for a society to engage forthrightly with the marginalized cultures of its own creation? Students should be aware that film screenings will take place in the evening, on Tuesday from 5-7PM, and are mandatory. Students should also be aware that in a course on the "bad" and the "dangerous," the discussion in class can sometimes revolve around controversial issues, and the texts themselves can sometimes be construed as "offensive" or "difficult." If you are not capable of dealing with controversy, occasional confrontation, and the questioning of your assumptions, this class is not for you. The reading list may include the following: Abu-Jamal, Live From Death Row; Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire; Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina; Anazaldua, Borederlands/La Frontera; Rich, An Atlas of the Difficult World; Okada, No No Boy: Cisneros, The House on Mango Street; Smith, Twilight; and The Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant. Films may include: Rebel Without a Cause; Last Exit From Brooklyn; Set It Off; The Godfather; Zoot Suit; Lone Star and Falling Down.
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NOVELS AND ANTI-NOVELS
In this course we will try and understand the peculiar literary and cultural phenomenon of the "Russian novel" during its nineteenth century golden age, when it became a major vehicle of Russian cultural self-expression. This period, from Pushkin to Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, was an era of bold artistic and intellectual experimentation and Russia's discovery of its cultural identity. The course will examine the "Russianness" of the Russian novel, which evolved through a dialogue with and deviation from European forms, to the point of consistently producing specimens of its own "anti-genre." We will see how questions of literary form and genre are themselves basic carriers of meaning and will explore the ways in which Russian novels sought new expressive means to convey new cultural realities and aesthetic values. The focus will be on reading texts in their own cultural terms and examining their social-critical and philosophical stances, gender problematic, response to modernity, interrogation of genre, narrative, and language. In this way, the students will also become aware of modern critical approaches to literature and the novel. Several films will be shown during the semester, helping illuminate the issues of genre and "translation" of the Russian novel across national and aesthetic borders. The problem of "translation" will also be addressed in the literal sense--by paying attention to the mis-and re-interpretations involved in the transmission of the texts from one language (Russian) into another (English). The reading list includes the following: Pushkin, Eugene Onegin or The Captain's Daughter; Lermontov, A Hero of Our Times; Gogol, Dead Souls; Goncharov, Oblomov; Turgenev, Fathers and Sons; Chernyshevsky, What Is to Be Done?; Dostoevsky, White Nights; Crime and Punishment; Devils [The Possessed]; Tolstoy, Childhood; War and Peace;and Anna Karenina.
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THE AMERICAN GOTHIC
Judith Jackson Fossett
This course proposes to interrogate the place of the ghost story/supernatural tale in the larger American literary tradition. Beginning with the first gothic text, Walpole's Castle of Otranto, published in 18th-century England, we will return to the American landscape and consider a range of novels and short stories in which issues of haunting, repression, and human transfiguration are central. While set in the purported security of the American home, these gothic texts utterly trouble any simplistic notions readers may have about the "safety" of domestic space and the "stability" of family members. As gothic settings are at once ostensibly sources of protection that also consistently produce threats of chaos, destruction and death, these texts offer a rich opportunity to define, discuss and analyze the "home" and its primacy in our national literary tradition. In concert with our focus on the gothic setting, we will also consider how race, gender, sexuality, and even region--rubrics already structuring domestic space--are at work in the construction of the gothic genre. A list of primary texts for this course may include the following: Horace Walpole, Castle of Otranto; Washington Irving, selected short stories; Edgar Allan Poe, selected short stories; Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-Paper;" Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Tales; Stephen Crane, "The Monster;" Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; and Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides.
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THE WESTERN LITERARY TRADITION AND THE PLAY OF GENDER
This course is designed as a general introduction to the main trends of Western literary tradition and as a study of the literary production of both men and women writers within these trends. The period extends from the Middle Ages to the 20th century, while some of its literary works are studied in light of their broader social, political and cultural context in order to define the complex relationship between literary works and the society that produces them. The reading of women's literary texts against the canonical texts provides in itself a critical method to challenge some of the deepest assumptions of Western epistemology, such as : Man as norm, the essential quality of gender, gender as an epistemological category, as well as the criteria which have been used for judging the significance of literary works. The reading of female and male writers also underlines the fact that history is multiple. Finally, we will thwart any assumption that the apparent symmetry of the course between male and female writers signifies different but equal. We will on the contrary show how literature, like any other artistic production, is the locus of a power struggle whose stake is to produce meaning that shapes society. We may indeed be seduced by the beauty of Western literary tradition, but we will become skilled at reading the sometimes subtly, and at other times blatantly, seductive processes at play.
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This course proposes to introduce students to fundamental concepts of psychoanalysis with the aim of giving them some necessary tools for fictional analysis. The way into both psychoanalysis and fictional analysis will be dreams, "the royal road to the unconscious," as Freud called it. Beginning with the principles of dream analysis Freud developed, we will go on to consider fiction-making as a kind of dream production, although not in the sense that Hollywood might understand the phrase. We will also sample some forms of psychoanalytic literary and film criticism, where the stakes of unconscious interpretation are displayed differently. And we'll examine differences between visual and written dream fiction. The aims of the course are (1) to create an awareness of unconscious structures and motivations in human action in general and (2) to allow students to discover the resources of non-realistic modes of fictional interpretation. Possible readings: Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams and other essays; Sophocles, Oedipus Rex; Shakespeare, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream; Hoffmann, "The Sandman;" Jensen, Gradiva; Hawthorne, selected tales; Flaubert, Three Stories; Wilde, Portrait of Dorian Gray; Carroll, Alice in Wonderland; Bronte, Wuthering Heights; James, selected stories; Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom; Nabokov, selected stories; D.M. Thomas, The White Hotel; and Auster, New York Trilogy. Also, a tentative list of films include: Paris, Texas; Proof; Spellbound; Picnic at Hanging Rock; and Blue Velvet.
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LITERATURE AND THE CHOOSING SELF
This course will explore the way in which great literature enlarges the boundaries of our moral imagination and helps us refine a personal identity. At the same time, its focus on close reading will develop connections between life choices made by characters and aesthetic choices made by authors. Works to be read feature characters at clearly perceivable turning points in their lives, struggling to be themselves and do the right thing. What alternatives do they confront or see themselves confronting? What resources do they draw upon? How do who they are and what they do inter-relate? Discussing and analyzing such works contributes to reflectiveness and broadens the range of possibilities available to us as we go about conducting our own lives. This course will pay careful attention to the ways in which great authors craft their work, as well as the vocabulary that experienced readers use to think and talk about such work. The reading list includes the following: The Joseph Story; Shakespeare, The Tempest; The Book of Ruth; Henrik Ibsen, Peer Gynt; T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock;" William Wordsworth, "Resolution and Independence;" Willa Cather, The Professor's House; Amos Oz, A Perfect Peace; S.T. Coleridge, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner;" and Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.
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WORLD OF HEROES
In this course students will explore a variety of social constructions of heroism worldwide from the earlies surviving literary documents up to the modern period (when conceptions of heroism become so multiform as no longer to be accessible to a course survey). The scope of the material necessitates a selective reading of the relevant documents, but still allows for enough depth to avoid the "whirlwind tour" mode, for the focus is always strictly on the hero and the social function of the hero. Using this point of access, it will be possible to deal seriously with issues of cultural difference, social values cross-culturally, notion of morality and social "evolution." The texts may include: Gilgamesh; David (Samuel I-II); Homer, Iliad; Ramayana; Mahabharata; Apuleius, Metamorphosis; Cilappatikaram; Beowulf; Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Shâhnâme; The Song of Roland; Dede Korkut; The Tale of the Heike; Son-Jara; Miguel Cervantes, Don Quijote; Popol Vuh; and John Milton, Paradise Lost.
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READING SCRIPTURE AS SKEPTIC AND BELIEVER: THE HEBRE BIBLE, THE NEW TESTAMENT, AND THE QUR'AN
This course will examine some of the ways through which the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam establish paradigms of interpretation. We will read sections of each scriptural tradition from the "inside"--that is , as if we are believers in the religious system that the Scripture represents, and also from the "outside"--as critical observers of a religious system through its classic literature. This methodology will enable the student to gain a deep appreciation for different approaches to reading Scripture at the same time that she will learn how Scriptures "read" the world. One unique aspect of this class is that we will study how the three great monotheistic scriptures read some of the "same" topics. One sample topic, for example, might be Abraham as religious founder. Is the Abraham of Islamic Scripture the same person as the Abraham of Christian Scripture, or of Jewish Scripture? Other possible common topics include the meaning of prophecy, God's relationship with humans, and the destiny of humankind. The texts will include Wayne A. Meeks, ed., Harper Collins Study Bible; Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthall, transl., The Meaning of the Glorious Koran; F.E. Peters, Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
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THE IDEA OF AFRICA IN THE WEST
What do we think of when we think of Africa? "Africa" has been a powerful idea in the Western literary, artistic and philosophical tradition since antiquity. In this course we will explore not a "real" or "historical" Africa, but how mythologies about "the dark continent" have been shaped through novels, essays, films, sculpture, painting, photography and even popular culture. For many Europeans and Americans, Africa has represented a vast space to be invested with many different kinds of fantasies. In the broadest terms, this course will help students to think about how cultural stereotypes about black/white, primitivism/civilization, nature/culture, male/female and many others, are formed in letters and arts. Among the works we will consider are: enthnographic writings and stories, from ancient authors to Ernest Hemingway; selections on black nationalism; Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Isak Dineson, Out of Africa; Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky. Films will include: Tarzan the Ape Man, When We Were Kings; music videos from Janet Jackson to Puff Daddy.
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