Past Courses – (TEST)
This course in the contemporary international novel looks at the rise of the bildungsroman, the novelistic genre in some sense defined by the development and maturation of the protagonist, in the context of twentieth-century political, cultural, and social developments of (post)colonialism, imperialism, human rights discourse, and globalization. This course will trace some of the philosophical formulations of the teleology of human development, and the attendant notions of individuality and sociality, to study the ways in which these novels from the so-called “Third World” variously, and sometimes simultaneously, subscribe to, resist, and renegotiate the fundamental conceptions of human development through creative engagement with the bildungsroman and its generic formulations.
Instructor: Brian D. O’Keeffe
This course examines the ways in which literary works engage with the matter of violence. The texts have been chosen for the intensity with which they confront the ethical and political dilemmas relation the act of violence, and indeed, the justification of violence. Topics to be considered include terrorism and revolutionary militancy, arguments for and against the death penalty, acts of vengeance, cruelty, and torture. Texts are drawn from a wide variety of cultural, linguistic, and historical contexts – classical Greek tragedy, European literature of the 19th century, works set in Franco-phone Algeria, and in early 20th century China, among others. The course also addresses different genres, including theater, narrative prose, and poetry, as well as photography. Further aspects of the topic will be developed in connection with recent philosophical writing on violence.
This course will focus on embodiment in ancient and modern drama as well as in film, television, and performance art, including plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Beckett; films such as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Limits of Control”; and performances by artists such as Karen Finley and Marina Abromovic. We will explore the provocations, theatricality, and shock aesthetics of such concepts as Artaud’s “Theater of Cruelty” and Kristeva’s “powers of horror,” as well as Adorno’s ideas about terror and the sublime.
“In politics,” Reinhart Koselleck writes at the end of his essay on the modern concept of revolution, “words and their usage are more important than any other weapon.” Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is action that matters more than words, ultimately—political engagement, praxis, “agir.” Perhaps the words, in the end, merely catch up with the things. Regardless, a central question arises: In an age that may be considered post-revolutionary (but that too is a question), how should we understand and theorize collective action and individual political engagement? This seminar seeks to answer that question through a sustained, critical examination of different contemporary forms of political upheaval. The purpose of this seminar series, then, is to explore various modalities of uprising, disobedience, inservitude, revolt, or other forms of political contestation. Instead of including them all under the name of “revolution”—a term that has become conceptually and historically fraught—we are interested in considering how specific experiences and discourses articulate new forms of upheaval or reformulate well-known ones. By focusing on this conceptual, historical and political problematic, we intend to shine a light on experiences and manifestations that take place at the local and at the global level, as well as at the subjective and the collective level. The idea is to articulate how critical political practice is expressed and understood today. This is a year-long course (Y course). Columbia GSAS students will be required to take both Fall and Spring semesters of this course. No grade will be issued for the Fall semester, the credits are broken up across both semesters, 4 credits total, 1 in Fall and 3 in Spring. This course co-convenes with LAW L8866 001.
Instructor: Christopher Baswell
This course is structured as a comparative investigation of innovative modernist and postmodernist strategies for conjoining or counterpoising literature with other media, such as photography, painting, film, music, and dance. We will focus on experimental writing practices that deliberately combine disciplines and genres — mixing political commentary with memoir, philosophy with ethnography, journalism with history — with special attention to the ways that formal innovation lends itself to political critique. The course will be especially concerned with the ways that the friction among media seems to allow new or unexpected expressive possibilities. The syllabus is structured to allow us to consider a variety of edges between literature and other media — spaces where writing is sometimes taken to be merely raw material to be set, or ancillary comment on a work already composed (e.g. libretto, screenplay, gloss, caption, song lyric, voiceover, liner note). Examples may include lecture-performances by Gertrude Stein, John Cage, Spalding Gray, and Anne Carson; talk-dances by Bill T. Jones and Jerome Bel; sound poems by Kurt Schwitters, Langston Hughes, and Amiri Baraka; graphic novels by Art Spiegelman, Joshua Dysart, and Alison Bechdel; language-centered visual art by Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Martha Rosler, and Jean-Michel Basquiat; texts including photographs or drawings by Wallker Evans and James Agee, Roland Barthes, W. G. Sebald, Aleksandar Hemon, Theresa Cha, John Yau, and John Keene; and hypertext/online compositions by Shelley Jackson, among others. Requirements will include in-class presentations and regular short structured writing assignments, as well as a 10-12 page final research paper.
Instructor: Peter T Connor
Prerequisites: CPLT BC 3110 – Introduction to Translation Studies is a recommended prerequisite. A deep immersion in the theory and practice of translation with a focus on translating into English. The first half of the course is devoted to discussing readings in the history of translation theory while translating brief practical exercises; in the second half, translation projects are submitted to the class for critical discussion. The foreign texts for these projects, chosen in consultation with the instructor, will be humanistic, not only literature as conventionally defined (prose fiction and poetry, memoir and travel writing), but also the gamut of text types in the human sciences, including philosophy, history, and ethnography. The aim is not just to translate, but to think deeply about translating, to develop writing practices by drawing on the resources of theory, past and present, and by examining translations written by professionals. In the spring of 2016, the workshop will be offered in two sections by Professor Peter Connor and Professor Emily Sun. The sections will share most of the common readings in the history of translation theory, but Professor Sun’s section will emphasize issues specific to translating East Asia. Enrollment in each workshop is limited to 12 students. Admission into the class is by permission of the instructor. CPLT BC 3011 “Introduction to Translation Studies” is a recommended prerequisite, plus, normally, two advanced courses beyond the language requirement in the language from which you intend to translate. Preference will be given to seniors and to comparative literature majors. Please Email email@example.com by 1 December 2015 with the following information: Name, year of graduation, major, college (BC, CU, etc.); a list of courses you have taken in the language from which you intend to translate; any other pertinent courses you have taken; a brief (max 300 word) statement explaining why you wish to take the workshop (this statement is not required if you have taken or are taking CPLT BC3110 Intro to Translation Studies).
This lecture course works with an expanded notion of the Frankfurt School. The central figures treated are Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno, but readings also include György Lukács, Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, and some others. It focuses on aesthetic and political issues in high and mass culture debates in Europe, the Soviet Union, and the U.S. in the inter-war period and post-1945. All readings will be contextualized in relationship to modernism and modernization, Marxism and National Socialism in the first half of the past century. Metropolitan modernism, realism, the historical avant-garde, and mass media culture will be recurring themes throughout the semester, which ends with a coda on the culture of the Cold War.
(COURSE TAUGHT IN ENGLISH)
CPLS GU4334 After the Linguistic Turn: Critical Theory, Materialism and the Domination of Nature
Program: Institute for the Study of Literature and Society
Subfield: Psychoanalytic Studies Program
Course Type: Lecture
Course Requirements: Completion of Reading Assignments; Regular attendance; Participation in Class discussions; Undergraduates are required to submit a 7-10 page midterm and a 7-10 page final paper; Graduate students are required to submit a 15-20 page research paper due at the end of the Semester; Students’ grades will be based ¾ on Papers and ¼ on class Participation.
The domination of nature was a central topic for the first generation of the Frankfurt School but as a result of the way that Jürgen Habermas has transformed the project it has virtually disappeared from current discussions in Critical Theory. This is especially striking in light of the fact that the environmental crisis is one of the most urgent issues on our contemporary moral and political agenda.
In this course, we will attempt to rehabilitate the domination as a central topos for Critical Theory. To accomplish this, the old Frankfurt School problematic will be re-appropriated and reinterpreted it in terms of recent developments in philosophy, evolutionary biology, primate research and neuropsychology.
This course studies the genealogy of the prison in Arab culture as manifested in memoirs, narratives, and poems. These cut across a vast temporal and spatial swathe, covering selections from the Quran, Sufi narratives from al-Halllaj oeuvre, poetry by prisoners of war: classical, medieval, and modern. It also studies modern narratives by women prisoners and political prisoners, and narratives that engage with these issues. Arabic prison writing is studied against other genealogies of this prism, especially in the West, to map out the birth of prison, its institutionalization, mechanism, and role. All readings for the course are in English translations.