Recently Taught Graduate Courses
The following sample of recently taught graduate courses reflects the intellectual interests of faculty and graduate students.
Courses taught in literature and literary theory:
Course Description: An exploration of some experiences and experiments of 20th century literature, art and theory, with focus on movements like Cubism, expressionism, dadaism and surrealism, some shorter works of different genres: essays, short stories, novellas, lyrical dramas, letters, art criticism, manifests. There will be specific discussions e.g. on the relationship of women and modernism(s), the relations between visual and verbal modernism(s), and the (dis)juncture of modernism/postmodernism. In this first course of a sequence of two the focus is on the turn of the 19th/20th century and the early 20th century. The second course, following in spring, discusses movements and works after WWI.
BORGES, COLONIALISM, DECONSTRUCTION
Course Description: Via the works of Jorge Luis Borges, course examines three intersections: between literature and philosophy, between Western and peripheral cultures, and between post-colonial studies and deconstruction. Also addresses the direction of Latin American literature/studies. Many texts are taken from the comparative literature MA and PhD reading lists, but one need not be a graduate student nor a student in comparative literature to take the class. For majors and non-majors.
LITERARY HISTORY: QUESTIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS
Course Description: The steady broadening of the canon in the past twenty years raises far-reaching questions about literary history as a field of inquiry. By calling attention to the neglected works of women writers, to the rich literatures of postcolonial countries, or to hybrid texts that used to be considered marginal, scholars have repeatedly brought into question the specific silences of literary history. A forgotten or overlooked text often serves as a clue that prompts the revision of long accepted narratives. Alternatively, texts that used to be excluded from consideration, such as travel narratives or journalism, may enrich our understanding of more canonical work and thereby change our understanding of the history of literature. This seminar takes these widespread changes on literary scholarship as a starting point to reflect on the assumptions of literary history. On what terms is it possible, or desirable to construct such narratives now? In what ways does attention to cultural or historical contexts inflect literary history? How does a newly conceived literary history grapple with the problem of aesthetic value?
Course Description: Manifestations of irony in works from different literary periods, as well as some discussion of irony in visual arts. Tragic and comic irony; irony of fate; irony as a philosophical tool; as a didactic device; classical and romantic irony; soluble and insoluble irony; open and closed, overt and covert irony. Sarcasm, humility, ridicule. Allegory and irony, parody and irony. Irony and religion; irony and ethics. Epistemology of irony.
KAFKA AND HIS READERS
Course Description: Seminar explores the works of Franz Kafka and the discourses surrounding his life, writing, and reception. We will examine both Kafka's major works and the manner in which criticism has pursued Kafka as figure and influence. How has 'Kafka' infiltrated historiography, literary criticism, theories of fiction and narrativity, cinema, psychoanalysis, and popular culture? Readings include works by Kafka as well as a selection of texts by Kundera, Derrida, Freud, Brod, Blanchot, Sebald, Benjamin, Deleuze and Guattari.
Course Description: This course will deal with various kinds of modern myth interpretation. The authors studied will be: Bachofen, Harrison, Malinowski, Freud, Jung, Frye, Rank, Cassirer, Eliade, Levi-Strauss, Girard, and Ricoeur. The main frame of reference will be classical Greek, but members of the class are encouraged to make use of other mythologies. Before enrolling, a student should have read Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Oedipus the King, and Euripides' Bacchae Copies of the critical texts will be ordered for purchase or placed on reserve. Format: Oral reports; discussion; some informal lecturing. One term paper, based on oral report.
Course description: This graduate student seminar offers a critical exploration of digital and electronic literature. As we work our way through works ranging from interactive hypertexts by pioneers such as Michael Joyce and Stuart Moulthrop or the audio-visual E-poetry of Young-Hae Chang to the 3D texts surrounding us in Virtual Reality CAVE's, we shall engage such questions as: what does temporal modeling do to our experience of texts? Do we engage differently with "immaterial" readings? Does interactivity satisfy our sense of free choice while clicking through a text? How can a networked poetic environment obtain a sufficient level of consistency? Can we still speak of a text when it becomes a differential spectacle to be looked at? While dealing with these questions, we shall also inquire into the political implications of digital literature and seek to determine its place within the contemporary literary landscape at large.
Courses taught in Trans/National Literature and Translation:
WRITING EXILE and MIGRATION: TRANSLATING CULTURE
Course Description: In the last decade increased attention has been directed toward cultural practice that crosses and re-crosses cultural borderlands. Interest in such writing derives in part from the current climate of geographical mobility and instability. But it also derives from debates around identity politics and the privileging of 'authentic' voices. Tales of exile and migration offer the opportunity to think differently about culture, memory, language, and nation. They cultivate an appreciation for the translatability of languages and cultures as well as for the untranslatability of certain forms of cultural specificity. They also imagine forms of communities not bound by conventional commonalities, those of territory, history, language and religion. The class takes its departure from the literal meaning of translatio, "change from one place, position or condition to another." It examines contemporary art and literature that crosses cultures with focus on the representation of the complex dynamics of cross-cultural exchanges and interactions, of language and communication, and culture and human rights. What kind of translation takes place under the specific conditions of exile and migration ? What forms of immersion, conversion or other possibilities emerge? How does the reader of cross-cultural creative production experience 'culture'? How does crosscultural work resist normative reading ideologies?
PRIMITIVISM AND THE AMERICAS
Course Description: Although we know well that the arts of Africa provided a crucial stimulus for European Modernism, we still have much to learn about the importance of primitivism for avant-garde projects in other parts of the world. In the Americas, innovative writers and artists need to work through new questions and paradoxes, and some thorny difficulties as well. How does the context of the racialized societies of the Americas inflect avant-gardiste primitivism? What shifts in strategy take place when writers cannot treat the "primitive" as exotic, and instead must accept it as a strong presence in everyday culture? We will begin by reading theoretical texts key for the avant-gardiste construction of the "primitive." We will proceed to explore this topic by examining avant-gardiste works from the United States, Brazil, and Cuba, three countries distinguished by both their artistic vitality and the presence of the cultures of the African diaspora.
THE TRANSLATORS AS OBJECTS OFF STUDY AND THE INTERESTS OF THE DISCIPLINE
Course Description: The seminar will discuss the main contemporary trends in translation training and attempt to address questions such as these: What kind of relationships do such trends establish between theory and practice, between the specialist and the translator, and, also, between the original and the translation? Which (implicit or explicit) representations of translation and of the translator do they work with?
AUSTRIAN LITERATURE: NATION, MEMORY, IDENTITY
Course Description: Explores Austrian literature (in English translation) and culture through themes of nation, identity and memory that emerged in major works of the 20th century. The history of Austria -- marked by the violent transformation of the unwieldy Habsburg Empire to the Alpine Republic to Austrofascism, followed then by the 1938 annexation to the Third Reich that ended with the founding of a post-World War II democratic and neutral state -- offers an opportunity examine the relationships between literary texts and historical, social and intellectual contexts. Students registered for GER 380B who wish to count this course toward a German major or minor will also meet outside of class to read and discuss some of the texts in the original German.
TRANSLATION AND POWER
Course Description: Focuses on the asymmetrical power relations that have always determined the practice of translation at the same time that they have underestimated the translator's role in the formation of cultures and the constitution of identities. Special attention devoted to the interfaces between translation and colonialism, as well as translation and gender issues.
Courses taught in Philosophy and Interdisciplinary areas:
Course Description: This course will explore the relation of cyberspace, as it emerges out of the history of technology or techne (Greek for "art" or "handicraft"), and literature: Is virtual reality another unfolding of the thing formerly known as "fiction" and, if so, has technology, particularly domains such as the Internet, replaced literature (as cast by modernism) as potential carrier of capitalism's limit or outside? Is magical realism a form that may permit us to test these ideas? Texts to be read include: Steigler, Techniques and Time; Kittler, Grammaphone...; Freud, "Dreams and Telepathy"; Derrida, "Telepathy"; Virilio, Speed and Politics, Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology; Baudrillard, Simulations; fiction by Borges, Cortazar, Garcia Marquez, Fuentes, Piglia, Garro, Carpentier.
FILM AND PHILOSOPHY
Course description: While the medium of film is undergoing significant transformation in the digital age and "film studies" is consequently trying to reinvent itself, the cinema has become object of an increasing philosophical interest. So much so that the field of film theory, according to some, has been replaced by a "philosophy of film" over the past decade. While this tendency was primarily instigated by a desire for a more "analytic" approach to film, this course will take a cross-Atlantic point of view, paying special attention to the work on cinema by the philosophers Stanley Cavell and Gilles Deleuze. Their reflections on the seventh art will be discussed in the context of classical film theory (Arnheim, Bazin) and popular films (Aliens; The Matrix), in dialogue with other philosophical traditions (Frankfurt School, cognitivism), and with a view to current developments in new media.
LACAN AND ZIZEK
Course description: The course will examine the relationship of Lacan and Zizek, hence the link/schism between psychoanalysis and Marxism. Texts will include THE FOUR FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS and SUBLIME OBJECT OF IDEOLOGY
GILLES DELEUZE: CINEMA, LITERATURE & PHILOSOPHY
Course description: This course centers on Gilles Deleuze's writings on literature & film and places them in the context of his philosophical work. Questions guiding the seminar include: what is the power of minor literature and modern film? How do we understand the relation between philosophy, film, and literature? What is the importance of time in art? Readings (besides texts by Deleuze) include Masoch, Proust, Kafka, Melville; screenings include films by Orson Welles, Dreyer, Buñuel, Fellini.