Past Courses – (TEST)
Required of all comparative literature and society majors. Intensive research in selected areas of comparative literature and society. There will be two sections of this course for Fall 2017. Topic for 2017: TBA
Taught by Erik Grimm
Designed for students writing a senior thesis and doing advanced research on two central literary fields in the student’s major. The course of study and reading material will be determined by the instructor(s) in consultation with students(s).
Students who decide to write a senior thesis should enroll in this tutorial. They should also identify, during the fall semester, a member of the faculty in a relevant department who will be willing to supervise their work and who is responsible for assigning the final grade. The thesis is a rigorous research work of approximately 40 pages (including a bibliography formatted in MLA style). It may be written in English or in another language relevant to the student’s scholarly interests. The thesis should be turned in on the announced due date as hard copy to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Instructor: Jessica E Merrill
Study of the forms and functions of narrative through engagement with the modes of detection, confession, and digression. You will examine how storytelling takes place in various media and genres and across fiction and non-fiction, studying short stories, a novella, novels, a poem, films, scholarly essays, autobiography, and a psychoanalytic case history. Attention to cultural differences, historical shifts, and philosophical questions such as the writing of the self, the nature of memory, the experience of time, and the relationship of truth to fiction. Readings include Doyle, Borges, Sophocles, Freud, Hitchcock, Augustine, Coleridge, McEwan, the compilers of The Arabian Nights, Diderot, Calvino, and Lispector.
Instructor: Thomas Dodman
Research on emotions has boomed over the past two decades, so much so that is has become customary to speak of an “emotional” or “affective turn” across the disciplines. There is a palpable “gold rush” feeling in the air, in call for papers, specialized journals, dedicated book series, and interdisciplinary research centers. Of late, there is also a sense of urgency, as pressing social and political questions have come to stir passions in a way not seen since darkest days of the 20th century. Today, we talk compulsively of the politics of anger and resentment, of the frenetic pursuit of happiness and love, of our nostalgia for the past and our hopes and fears for the future – in other words, of how passions have come to shape our lives, perhaps more so than interests and reason itself. The rationale for offering this course stems from this surge in interest and an admission of partial failure on behalf of the humanities and social sciences—failure to, until very recently, fully appropriate for themselves an object of study long relegated to an unruly human part, impenetrable to the empirical protocols of scientific scholarship. How ironic, therefore, that our present infatuation with emotion should, by and large, result from a so-called “biological turn” and steadfast embrace of the natural sciences across the Arts. In recent years, this rush to plunder the hard sciences has led to the development of “affect theory,” “neurohistory,” “cognitive literary studies,” and the inevitable backlash against these crossovers—leaving as yet unanswered the question of whether a bridge across the (in)famous “two cultures” is possible, or even desirable. Eschewing both academic fads and knee-jerk reactions, this course takes on the challenges raised by these twists and turns, based on the double premise that there is no a-priori reason why the Arts and Sciences cannot mutually reinforce one another—after all, they did so quite happily not so long ago—and that scholars in the humanities and social sciences simply cannot afford to leave emotions out of the picture because of difficulties in devising satisfactory research protocols. As recent political events remind us, we cover our ears and stick our heads in the sand at our own risk.
Instructor: Liza Knapp
This course explores the relations between the novels of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and their compatriots and the classic English, French and American novels.
Taught by ICLS Visiting Professor Simona Forti. She is a Professor of History of Political Philosophy at the Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy.
Contemporary political-philosophical debate revolves around the question of new forms of power, from biopower to governmentality. Many authors involved, from Giorgio Agamben to Nikolas Rose, claim to be developing core ideas put forward by Michel Foucault: mainly, Foucault’s insight concerning the inextricable tangle of subjectivity and power relations which, accordingly, dismantles the classical liberal and juridical view of the face-off between “the individual – the state.” While they provide original analyses of the functioning of the new forms of power, they nevertheless neglect to delve deeply into the folds of subjectivity.
The course traces a philosophical genealogy of the interrelation between subjectivity, power, and domination in order to shed light on the subjective side of this relation. Readings from Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Primo Levi, Jacques Derrida Judith Butler, will allow us to raise questions that often remain unthought, such as: What is the structure of a subjectivity that easily slides into domination? What desires motivate our attachment to constraining powers, and from where does our anxiety to conform stem? At the same time, drawing on the writings of these authors, we will ask ourselves how to envisage the conditions of possibility for a resistant subject, for an idea of the Self that is capable of creating friction with domination. Far from being a return to the monism of individualism, this Self will turn out to be an “an-archic” subject that blurs the boundaries between ethics and politics.
This course studies Sufism as it has emerged, developed, and assumed its presence in Sufi autobiographies and religious and literary writings. The Sufi Path is traced in these writings that include poems like ibn al-Farid’s Poem of the Way. Sufi States and Stations are analyzed to understand this Path that reaches its culmination in an ecstatic sense of Oneness. Sufism is also a social and political phenomenon that unsettles formal theologies and involves Sufis in controversies that often end with their imprisonment and death.
Though the nineteenth century novel is widely credited as the model and inspiration for much of the most exciting global fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries, readers looking in the novel for the global interconnectedness of people and events will often assume that it was only after 1900 that novelists were capable of making such connections outside the borders of their nations or, therefore, recognizing the way distant places are bound up in what is happening to their characters at home. After all, where are the realist novels that talked about the Irish Famine, a world-historical catastrophe that was happening a stone’s throw from Britain’s shore? And if even Ireland was too far, what about India or the Caribbean? There is, however, a global dimension to the literature of the 19th century, and a non-negligible one. This seminar will explore the international side of 19thcentury classics like Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and Middlemarch while also bringing into the conversation outstanding but neglected masterpieces like Multatuli’s novel about Dutch colonialism in what is now Indonesia, Max Havelaar, and Tolstoy’s final work of fiction, the novella Hadji Murat, which deals with the Russian conquest of what is now Chechnya in the 1840s. It is coming to be recognized that the concept of “world literature,” which was born in the 19th century and discussed by Marx and Engels, demands attention to world history as well. But which history? What does 19th century literature look like when it’s considered in its global context? In its attention to the novels and secondary readings on its syllabus, the seminar will also ask what world history world literature needs.