Past Courses – (TEST)
Instructor: I. Sanders
This course introduces students to works of literature that offer a unique perspective on the tempestuous twentieth century, if only because these works for the most part were written in “minor” languages (Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Serbian), in countries long considered part of the European backwaters, whose people were not makers but victims of history.
Yet the authors of many of these works are today ranked among the masters of modern literature. Often hailing from highly stratisfied , conservative societies, many Eastern and Central European writers became daring literary innovators and experimenters. To the present day, writers from this “other” Europe try to escape history, official cultures, politics, and end up redefining them for their readers.
We will be dealing with a disparate body of literature, varied both in form and content. But we will try to pinpoint subtle similarities, in tone and sensibility, and focus, too, on the more apparent preoccupation with certain themes that may be called characteristically Central European.
Instructor: P. Connor
Prerequisites: Completion of the Language Requirement or equivalent. Introduction to the major theories and methods of translation in the Western tradition, along with practical work in translating. Topics include translation in the context of postcolonialism, globalization and immigration, the role of translators in war and zones of conflict, gender and translation, the importance of translation to contemporary writers.
How to think a discipline? How to study “our” discipline? Must we do it from within or from without? Assured of its boundaries or interrogating them? Should we consider the history of the discipline? Its coming into being and its trajectory (or trajectories)? Or should we look at its ends, perhaps at its demise and end, judge it from the perspective of its death, “the death of a discipline”? How about its object? Is it not the givenness, and the comparability, of the disciplinary object — let us say, for example, the literary, or the social and anthropological — a safer and surer ground? Indeed, what of the study of literature, of comparative literature? Are we not running the risk of assuming an isolated (read aesthetic), object? Should we not appeal instead to power in its social and conventional forms, or in its institutional embodiments, perhaps to the law (the rights of the author, for instance)? Could we not turn with equal or even superior benefit to sociology or to politics, to a more general study of ideology or culture? and what of economy, what of the “genres of the credit economy”? Enrollment is limited and the seminar is designed for grad students working toward a degree in Comparative Literature and Society. Students are expected to have a preliminary familiarity with the discipline in which they wish to do their doctoral work. Please note: this Course is required for ICLS graduate students, and priority will be given to these students. Contact the ICLS office for more information at (212)854-4541.
Introduction to concepts and methods of comparative literature in cross-disciplinary and global context. Topics include: oral, print, and visual culture; epic, novel, and nation; literature of travel, exile, and diaspora; sex and gender transformation; the human/inhuman; writing trauma; urban imaginaries; world literature.
Open only to students intending to declare a major in Comparative Literature and Society or Medicine, Literature, and Society in spring 2013.
The class will approach major questions in the comparative study of literatures and societies, through the concept of the human. In investigating how different disciplines approach the question of the human we will seek to untangle the complex relation that comparativism must negotiate among different linguistic, literary, historical and political contexts. Paying special attention to the stakes of interdisciplinary methods in comparative scholarship, we will work through alternative methods of comparative study and focus our discussions on fields of inquiry that combine strategies of research and analysis from various disciplines: anthropology, geography, law, literary theory and philosophy. Readings will include texts by philosophers Roland Barthes, Roberto Esposito, Gilles Deleuze, Edouard Glissant, Michael Marder; anthropologists Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo Kohn, Sidney Mintz and Michael Taussig; legal theorists Colin Dayan and Jeremy Waldron; and literary works by René Depestre, Patrick Chamoiseau and Marie Vieux-Chauvet. Enrollment is limited and the seminar is designed for graduate students working toward a degree in Comparative Literature and Society. Students are expected to have a preliminary familiarity with the discipline in which they wish to do their doctoral work.
Please note: This course is required for ICLS graduate students, and priority will be given to these students. Contact the ICLS office for more information at (212)854-4541.
Through varied exposure to Iranian film and fiction, and Persian poetry, this course is designed to introduce students to critical themes and creative effervescence of modern Iranian culture. The course will concentrate on Iranian cultural history of the last two centuries, with particular emphasis on contemporary issues.
Instructor: M. Al-Musawi
Prerequisites: No prior knowledge of Arabic language is required. This course questions the popular assumption that the tales of the Thousand and One Nights lack any Islamic content and that their fantastic or erotic dimensions are the only dynamic narrative components behind the vogue. This collection is read against a number of contemporaneous writings (in English translation), including al-Hamadan’s Manama, to discuss issues that relate to market inspectorships, economy, social order, marginal groups like the mad, the use of public space including the hammed, and the position on fate, destiny, time, afterlife, sex and love.
The course takes its starting point from classical Arabic narratives, poetry and epistolary art and follows up the growth of this repository as it conveys, reveals, or debates Islamic tenets and jurists’ stand. The course aspires to provide students with a solid and wide range of information and knowledge on Islamic culture since the emergence of the Islamic center in Baghdad (b. 762). Students are expected to develop a critical method and insightful analysis in dealing with the text, its contemporaneous works from among the belletristic tradition and popular lore, its adaptations, and use and misuse in Arabic culture since the ninth century.
This course examines the universalism of major literary and cultural theories from the 20th century to the present with a focus on the centrality of comparative reasoning (commensurability/incommensurability, the logic of inclusion/exclusion, etc.) that sustains such universalism. Our goal is to develop methods for analyzing the literary and cultural productions of East Asian societies in conversation with other traditions and for understanding global processes in China, Japan, and Korea in particular. Topics of discussion include, for example, text and context, writing and orality, genre, media technology, visual culture, problems of translation, social imaginary, imperial and colonial modernity. Our readings include narrative theory, structural linguistics, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, feminist theory, critical translation studies, postmodernism, and postcolonial scholarship. Select literary works and films are incorporated to facilitate our understanding of theoretical issues and to test the validity of all universalist claims we encounter in the course.
Students are strongly encouraged to think critically and creatively about any theoretical arguments or issues that emerge in the course of our readings and discussions rather than treat theoretical idiom as an instrument to be applied to a literary text. Our expectation is for students to develop interpretive and analytical skills that are essential to the task of interpreting literary, cultural, and historical texts as well as society and the world.
Between Virginia Woolf’s pronouncement that no great literature of illness exists and Henry James’ late contention that sickness offers for the writer the “shortest of all cuts to the interesting state,” we have a possible range of literary responses to illness. But bodies and disease are not just socially contested discursive formations, they are determined by the constraints of biological reality. The experience of illness, from autism to cancer, comes to life in this intersection of “medical fact” and representational value. Through the reading of literary accounts of illness and illness narratives as conceived by patients, physicians and professional writers, we will develop a language and theoretical framework to explore the relation between culture and medicine in the construction of the sick body and self.
To highlight these reciprocal relations, we will examine the scientific and representational meanings of concepts like contagion, vaccination, genetic transmission and transplantation in the works of Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann, William Gibson and Kazuo Ishiguro in addition to illness memoirs by Susanne Antonetta, Emmanuelle Laborit and Paul Monette.
Instructor: N. Moe
Examines representations of the mafia in American and Italian film and literature. Special attention to questions of ethnic identity and immigration. Comparison of the different histories and myths of the mafia in the U.S. and Italy. Readings include novels, historical studies, and film criticism. Limited to 25 students.