Past Courses – (TEST)
Instructor: J. Peters
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar)
This course explores the historical production and representation of sex and sexuality in a variety of domains: literature, law, religion, natural history, visual art, popular culture, film, and the various performance spaces that we call everyday life. Moving past the often dualistic questions about identity that have dominated sexuality studies of the past few decades, we will look at the multitude of historical beliefs about sex, sex practices, and sexualities, both real and imaginary, represented in various kinds of texts, images, and other media, from the Bible to Lacan and beyond.
Over the course of the semester, we will address a number of questions: To what extent do legal, religious, scientific, literary, and popular representations of sex reflect, or shape, sexual identities and sexual practices? How do our texts help us think about the relationship between sexual identity and sexual acts? What is the relationship between the erotics (or genres) of aesthetic practice and those of sexual practice? How does the consumption of erotic texts and images itself constitute sexual activity? What is the relationship between the “real” performance of sex (in marriage, prostitution, S/M, etc.) and its aesthetic performance (in theatre, film, pornography)?
While our focus will be on the cultural history of sex, the course will serve as a workshop for testing methodologies in historical and literary research more generally, as students develop projects in their areas of expertise. Texts include Plato’s Symposium, Ovid’s Art of Love, Aretino’s Dialogues, Rochester’s Sodom, Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom, Freud’s Dora case, Woolf’s Orlando, Hitchcock’s Vertigo (etc.), and numerous legal, religious, scientific, and visual texts.
Instructor: H. Larsen
This course introduces students to the Scandinavian crime novel and its key themes and debates going back to 1965. It also trains students to develop critical approaches to analysis of the crime novel-and other forms of popular culture. The course divides into four sections. First, we acquire methods of analysis that help us identify the “parts” of the crime novel and their history. Subsequent sections of the course focus on the way in which authors modify and repurpose these parts to engage in debate. We will focus on the criminal (Who is the criminal? Why him or her?); the identity of the investigator (Who is the investigator? Does it matter?); the setting the crime story (How does it matter?).
One conventional narrative of European history charts a shift from medieval religion to modern secularism. But do we actually live in a “secular age,” as Charles Taylor has put it? Even if we do live in such an age, how has the process of secularization produced particular varieties of religious belief and practice? What range of roles, on the other hand, have Protestant reform, scholastic inquiry, Islamic revival, and other forms of theological reason played in defining the secular sphere from the early modern period to the present? How do contemporary debates about secularism and religion—not only in Europe and America, but also in the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere—overlap with discourses of imperialism, fundamentalism, or terrorism? In attempting to answer these questions by considering the history of concepts such as tolerance, natural law, multiculturalism, and religious freedom, this class traces the ambivalent contemporary legacy of early modern forms of scholarship, government, and community. Readings include works by Lorenzo Valla, Erasmus, Francisco de Vitoria, Ignatius de Loyola, Baruch Spinoza, and John Locke, as well as by scholars such as Talal Asad, José Casanova, Juan Donoso Cortés, Stathis Gourgouris, Saba Mahmood, Charles Taylor, Edward Said, Carl Schmitt, and others.
An introductory survey of contemporary film theory from the early 1960s to today. This class will offer an historical and critical overview of a wide range of theories addressing narrative, spectatorship, stardom, authorship, ideology, race, gender, sexuality, media, culture and technology. Approaches will include semiotics, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, neo-formalism, cognitivism and cultural studies.
Instructor: E. 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).
Required of all comparative literature and society majors. Intensive research in selected areas of comparative literature and society.
Independent Study 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: J. Peters
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. (Seminar).
This course offers a cultural and literary history of sex. We will look at a series of texts from various moments in the history of sex: the Bible, Greek drama, Renaissance erotic literature, Victorian pornography, popular film, YouTube autobiography. And we will look at the variety of spaces, genres, and media in which sex is produced, performed, and represented (visual art, literature, theatre, film, popular culture, and the performance of everyday life). The course will examine, transhistorically, such concepts as desire, pleasure, eroticism, obscenity, taboo, fetish, prostitution, pornography, the body. Reading the history of sex, sexual identity, and sexual performance (in the various senses of the word) will permit us to ask questions of contemporary relevance through a historical lens. Is sexual identity a function of sexual practice? Is it subject to change? What constitutes pornography? Should all forms of sexual expression be permitted? Students who take this class must be comfortable not only discussing the range of historical sexualities, but also looking at (sometimes difficult) images. Texts include Euripides’ Bacchae, Aretino’s Dialogues, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Leopold Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Andrew Jarecki’s Capturing the Friedmans (etc.), and numerous legal, religious, scientific, and visual texts.
Prerequisites: Film W3001. Fee: $75. This course rethinks the “birth of cinema” from the vantage point of “when old media was new.” The standard approaches include from actualities to fiction, from the “cinema of attractions” to narrative, from the cinématographe to cinema, from cottage industry to studio system. Classes are devoted to silent film music, early genres, film piracy and copyright, word and moving image, and restoration—the film archivist’s dilemma in the digital era.
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructors. (Seminar). The phrase “the art of the novel,” a reminder that the ascension of the genre to the status of “high art” rather than merely popular entertainment is still relatively recent, comes from Henry James, himself both a novelist and an influential critic of the novel. The premise of this co-taught seminar is that it is intellectually productive to bring together the perspectives of the novelist and the critic, looking both at their differences and at their common questions and concerns. In addition to fiction and criticism by Orhan Pamuk, students will read novels by Stendhal, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Application instructions: E-mail Professor Robbins (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject heading “Art of the Novel seminar”. In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course.