Past Courses – (TEST)
This course examines psychoanalytic movements that are viewed either as post-Freudian in theory or as emerging after Freud’s time. The course begins by considering the ways Freud’s cultural and historical surround, as well as the wartime diaspora of the European psychoanalytic community, shaped Freudian and post-Freudian thought. It then focuses on significant schools and theories of psychoanalysis that were developed from the mid 20th century to the present. Through readings of key texts and selected case studies, it explores theorists’ challenges to classical thought and technique, and their reconfigurations, modernizations, and total rejections of central Freudian ideas. The course concludes by looking at contemporary theorists’ moves to integrate notions of culture, concepts of trauma, and findings from neuroscience and attachment research into the psychoanalytic frame.
This course examines, in 16th and 17th century Spain and England (1580-1640), how the two countries staged the conflict between them, and with the Ottoman Empire; that is, how both countries represented national and imperial clashes, and how the concepts of being “Spanish”, “English”, or “Turk” often played out on the high seas of the Mediterranean with Islam and the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the Ottoman Empire depicted itself artistically through miniatures and court poetry. The course will include travel and captivity narratives from Spain, England, the Ottoman Empire, and the Barbary States.
Instructor: Nikolas Kakkoufa
This course takes C. P. Cavafy’s oeuvre as a departure point in order to discuss desire and the ways it is tied with a variety of topics. We will employ a number of methodological tools to examine key topics in Cavafy’s work such as eros, power, history, and gender. How can we define desire and how is desire staged, thematized, or transmitted through poetry? How does a gay poet write about desired bodies at the beginning of the previous century? What is Cavafy’s contribution to the formation of gay identities in the twentieth century? How do we understand the poet’s desire for an archive? How important is the city for activating desire? How do we trace a poet’s afterlife and how does the desire poetry transmits to readers transform through time? How does literature of the past address present concerns? These are some of the questions that we will examine during this course.
Instructor: Monica F Cohen
This survey of touchstone nineteenth-century European novels explores the relationship of the realist novel to urban experience and rural identity. If most novels are, in Raymond Williams’s phrase, “knowable communities,” how do fictions of the city and fictions of the country represent individual identity as it shapes and is shaped by physical context? In this light, we consider questions of youth and experience, time and space, work and leisure, men and women, landscape and portraiture, privacy and public life, national culture and cosmopolitanism, realism and romanticism. In class, we juxtapose close readings of novels with analyses of other cultural forms (paintings, operas, popular entertainment, maps) so that we come away with a broader sense of nineteenth-century European culture as well as a working knowledge of one of its most meaningful manifestations, the novel.
What does it mean to treat culture, literature, and identity as forms of property? This course will look at the current debates around cultural appropriation in relation to the expanding field of world literature. In many ways, the two discourses seem at odds: the ethno-proprietary claims that underpin most arguments against cultural appropriation seem to conflict with the more cosmopolitan pretenses of world literature. Nonetheless, both discourses rely on some basic premises that treat culture and cultural productions as forms of property and expressions of identity (itself often treated as a form of property). “Appropriation” is a particularly rich lens for looking at processes and conceptions of worlding and globalization, because some version of the idea is central to historical theories of labor, economic production, land claims, colonialism, authorship, literary translation, and language acquisition. This is not a course in “world literature” as such; we will examine a half dozen case studies of literary/cultural texts that have been chosen for the ways in which they open up different aspects of the problematics of reducing culture to an econometric logic of property relations in the world today.
The collector, warns the literary critic Walter Benjamin “is motivated by dangerous though domesticated passions.” Far from merely a playful or antiquarian practice, collecting was depicted by various authors and theorists as a pathological tendency which often borders on compulsion and kleptomania. This interdisciplinary seminar examines the psychological, economic, and aesthetic forces which motivate people to collect. From Noah’s Ark to A&E’s popular show, “Hoarders,” collecting is related to the practice of organizing, cataloguing, and understanding the world we live in. This seminar poses the question: to what extent is collecting a trans-historical phenomenon and to what extent is it a fundamentally modern process shaped by the expansion of capitalism and private property? How has technology informed the dynamics of collecting and how might we redefine it today given our virtually limitless electronic storage capabilities? Beginning with the Renaissance Wunderkammer and the emergence of the museum, we will examine what Benjamin calls the “domesticated” side of collecting. We will then turn our attention to the “dangerous” undercurrents of collecting by teasing out the differences between collecting, hoarding, and possessing. This seminar explores the dangerous political and ethical ramifications of collecting practices, such as the relationship between imperial conquest and the growth of museums, world fairs, and human zoos. Finally, to better understand the institutional dynamics of collecting, curating, and exhibiting, we will be visiting the American Museum of Natural History as well as the Trash Museum in Harlem.
What does the investigation of a dictatorship entail and what are the challenges in such an endeavor? Why (and when) do particular societies turn to an examination of their non-democratic pasts? What does it mean for those who never experienced an authoritarian regime first-hand to remember it through television footage, popular culture, and family stories? This seminar examines dictatorships and the ways in which they are remembered, discussed, examined, and give rise to conflicting narratives in post-dictatorial environments. It takes as its point of departure the Greek military regime of 1967-1974, which is considered in relation to other dictatorships in South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We will be drawing on primary materials including Amnesty International reports, film, performance art, and architectural drawings as well as the works of Hannah Arendt and Günter Grass to engage in an interdisciplinary examination of the ways in which military dictatorships live on as ghosts, traumatic memories, urban warfare, litigation, and debates on the politics of comparison and the ethics of contemporary art.
A close reading of works by Dostoevsky (Netochka Nezvanova; The Idiot; “A Gentle Creature”) and Tolstoy (Childhood, Boyhood, Youth; “Family Happiness”; Anna Karenina; “The Kreutzer Sonata”) in conjunction with related English novels (Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Eliot’s Middlemarch, Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway). No knowledge of Russian is required.