Bard College Catalogue 2017-18
Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures
Olga Voronina (director) and Stephanie Kufner (coordinator), Matthew Amos, Franco Baldasso, Nicole Caso, Odile S. Chilton, Robert L. Cioffi, Lauren Curtis, Mika Endo, Elizabeth N. Holt, Jason Kavett, Franz R. Kempf, Marina Kostalevsky, Rana Saadi Liebert, Wah Guan Lim, Patricia López-Gay, Oleg Minin, Melanie Nicholson, Dina Ramadan, Lena Retamoso, Javier Rodriguez Fernandez, James Romm, Nathan Shockey, Éric Trudel, Marina van Zuylen, Thomas Wild, Li-Hua Ying
At Bard, the study of a foreign language provides students with the opportunity to acquire a critical appreciation of foreign cultures and literatures in addition to language skills. Integral to the process is the mastery of the foreign language and the use of this mastery in the study of written texts—not only literature but also texts from such fields as philosophy, history, and theology—and of nonverbal expressions of culture such as art history, music, and cinema.
Languages currently taught at Bard include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. Bard maintains a state-of-the-art language facility, the Center for Foreign Languages and Cultures, at the F. W. Olin Language Center, which offers the Bard community many different ways to explore foreign languages and cultures outside the regular language and literature classes. See flcl.bard.edu/resources/center for more details.
Most of the languages taught through the Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures (FLCL) Program offer an intensive format that allows students to complete the equivalent of one and a half years of language study within just a few months. Such courses include a one- or two-month summer or winter program in a country where the target language is spoken. After studying abroad, students demonstrate an impressive increase in linguistic capacity. They also gain cultural knowledge, and the exposure to different manifestations of cultural activity makes them aware of the interrelatedness of diverse disciplines. Most students choose to continue their path toward linguistic and cultural fluency by taking courses at the intermediate and advanced levels.
While each area of language study has its own intellectual and academic plan, all are connected by the study of literature and other cultural expressions through the medium of language. Students are free to work with the languages and texts of more than one culture; thus they can combine the plans of more than one language for Moderation and in their Senior Project. Moderation requirements may vary depending on the focus language; students should refer to information provided by the specific area of study. For all FLCL students, a Senior Project can be a purely literary project (typically involving critical interpretation and translation) or any combination of literary and nonliterary expressions of a given culture.
Recent Senior Projects
- “Bodies Inscribed in the Landscape: Poetic ‘Exhumations’ of Chile and Argentina’s Desaparecido”
- “Developing Transnational Feminist Dialogues: How Chinese Women Craft Identity at the Intersection of Tradition, Socialism, and Globalization”
- “Intimacy and Absentmindedness: Contemporary Egyptian Short Stories in Translation”
- “Love, Loss, and Liminality: Classical and Medieval Perspectives on Orpheus and Eurydice”
CoursesThe descriptions below are a sampling of courses from the past four years.
This course focuses on speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension skills in Modern Standard Arabic, the form of Arabic shared by all Arab countries. Emphasis is also placed on authentic resources that derive from the most updated cultural contexts, realities, and creative work of the Arab world. Topics include gender issues, the role of the media, and Arab-Muslim and Arab-Christian traditions.
The focus of this course is on developing a significant level of linguistic and communicative competence. The basic language skills—reading, speaking, listening, and writing—are dealt with simultaneously. Selected texts from Arabic media are read to expand active and passive lexicon and grammatical structures. Prerequisites: Arabic 101 or at least one year of Modern Standard Arabic and consent of the instructor.
Students learn more complex grammatical structures and expand their vocabulary through extended readings and the use of audio and video materials. They also read selections from Arabic literary journals, with a particular focus on poetry and prose from the 1950s and 1960s.
Modern (Mandarin) Chinese is introduced through intensive drilling in oral and written forms. Emphasis is placed on speaking, basic grammar, and the formation of characters. This course is followed by an intensive course (8 hours per week) in the spring and a summer immersion program (6 weeks) in China.
For students who have completed Chinese 101 or the equivalent. The focus is on the language’s oral and written aspects. Regular work in the language lab and private drill sessions with the Chinese tutor are required. This course is followed by a summer immersion program in China.
Theater and Performance in the Chinese-Speaking World
An introduction to Chinese-language theater from the early modern period to contemporary times in China as well as the diaspora, centering on avant-garde performances. The class examines the interwoven relationships among the state, politics, identity, and performance, and in particular it investigates how, despite the state’s efforts to define artistic creativity, the theater has always defied the status quo.
Echoes of the Past: Chinese Cinema and Traditional Chinese Literature
This course eschews a chronological coverage of Chinese literature and culture in favor of examining touchstone texts from premodern Chinese literary traditions and analyzing how their legacy is drawn upon, appropriated, and reinvented in contemporary cinema. Canonical texts include poetry, historical writings, and fictional narratives; films include works by such influential directors as Wong Kar-wai, Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou, Jia Zhangke, and Lu Chuan.
The Chinese Novel
Students read The Story of the Stone (aka Dream of the Red Chamber), which one-fifth of the world considers to be the best novel ever written, and discuss it both as literature and as cultural artifact.
Advanced Chinese I-II
These courses are for students who have taken the equivalent of five semesters of basic Chinese at Bard or elsewhere. The goal is to expand students’ reading and speaking capacity and enrich their cultural experiences. Texts may include newspapers, journals, and fiction.
Chinese Fantastic Tales
Students read tales written in classical Chinese as well as their renderings in modern Chinese. Texts are selected from well-known classical works such as Zhuang Zi, Lie Zi, and Huainan Zi, written in the pre-Qin and Han Dynasties. Stories written in later periods (Tang through Qing), such as Liaozhai Zhiyi, are also included. By reading the classical form and its modern translation, students are able to compare the similarities and differences between ancient and modern Chinese language. Prerequisite: two years or more of Chinese.
Chinese Pop Culture
For students who have studied Chinese for at least three years. The course examines aspects of contemporary popular culture in China, including print culture, cinema, television, pop music, visual arts, fashion, advertising, and cyberculture.
his course provides a foundation in the grammar, diction, and style of Classical Chinese (also called Literary Chinese), the operative language for more than two millennia of China’s literary traditions. The earliest materials covered are texts from the Warring States period (c. fifth century b.c.e.). Students work directly with original texts of historical narrative, philosophy, and poetry, becoming conversant with premodern writings as well as literary elements that are part of modern written Chinese. Prerequisite: two years of Chinese or Japanese.
Reflections of China in Film
With the primary goal of enhancing speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, this course examines films from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, exploring such topics as the origin of Chinese cinema, nationalism and revolution, cinematic representation of contemporary and historical themes, the search for roots in the post-Mao era, the Fifth Generation and experimental fiction and film, Hong Kong popular culture in the commercial age, feminism and sexuality, and representations of exile, diaspora, and the new immigrants. Conducted in Chinese.
Classics 100 / History 100
See History 100 for a full course description.
The Greek World: An Introduction
This introductory course explores the social, cultural, and political history of the Greek world from its earliest beginnings in the Bronze Age to the “renaissance” of Greek literature and culture under the Roman Empire. The class examines the creation of political forms (from democracy to tyranny), contacts and conflicts between Greece and the East, the rise and fall of world empires, and the invention of literary genres. Materials studied include vase paintings, inscriptions, and texts by Aeschylus and Aristophanes. All readings in English.
The Roman World: An Introduction
An exploration of the social, cultural, and political history of Rome from its earliest beginnings as a small city-state to the dominant imperial power that still influences the language we speak, the art we make, and the laws we follow. The class considers a range of literary, visual, and material primary sources: inscriptions, coins, wall paintings, archaeological data, and texts such as Virgil’s Aeneid, Livy’s history of Rome, and Pliny’s Letters. All readings in English.
Homer for Beginners
The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer (c. 8th century B.C.E.) are the twin pillars upon which the Western literary tradition stands. Between them, they explore issues of human life and civilization that have remained central ever since: mortality and heroism; the relationships between the human and the divine, men and women, free will and fate; the confrontation between European and other cultures; and the nature of poetry, tragedy, and comedy. This course consists of an intensive reading of both epics in their entirety.
In the fifth century b.c.e., Athens developed from a small, relatively unimportant city-state into a dominant power in the Aegean basin. This course confronts some of the ambiguities and tensions (slavery, exclusion of women and noncitizens from political power), as well as the glories, of Athenian art, literature, and history during this period. Designed primarily for first-year students.
Alexander the Great
Classics 201 / History 201
See History 201 for a full course description.
Early Greek Philosophy and Science
This course looks at the principal pre-Socratic philosophers—Parmenides, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Democritus—with respect to developments in Greek religion and science as well as to the history of philosophy. Scientific themes include astronomy and the theory of evolution.
Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World
Classics 211 / History 211
See History 211 for a full course description.
Plato’s Writing: Dialogue and Dialectic
Classics 2209 / Literature 2209
See Literature 2209 for a full course description.
The Practice of Courage: Military and Civilian Courage
cross-listed: human rights, literature
The courage of warriors is an unending theme, as is the courage shown by civilians who resist oppression and speak out to power. This section of the Practice of Courage seminar puts the two kinds of courage in dialogue, using plays, speeches, poetry, biography, and films. These include Sophocles’s Antigone and Philoctetes; speeches by Pericles and Lincoln; poetry by Yeats and Akhmatova; the films Breaker Morant and Restrepo; Emerson’s Self-Reliance; and selections from von Clausewitz, Tillich, and Arendt.
The Age of Augustus:Poetry, Politics, and Power
cross-listed: historical studies, literature
An exploration of the Age of Augustus in Rome as represented in the period’s literature. Readings, all in English translation, are drawn from the poets Virgil (epic), Horace (lyric), and Ovid (elegy and epic), and from prose authors including Livy and Tacitus (historiography), Suetonius (biography), and the emperor himself (autobiography).
Greek Religion: Magic, Mysteries, and Cult
Classics 2361 / History 2361
An examination of the ways in which polytheism was practiced and conceptualized by the ancient Greeks from the Mycenaean period into the Hellenistic era. The course emphasizes the ritual aspects of Greek polytheism through the analysis of religious institutions, beliefs, and rites in their wider sociocultural contexts. Literary expressions of Greek religion (the connection between myth and religion, for example), and the ways in which Greek religious beliefs and practices profoundly affected the development of Greek culture and history, are also explored.
What is the meaning of our mythologies? How do we understand and interpret traditional stories about the past? What is the relationship between mythology and history? This course seeks to answer these questions by examining selected myths of ancient Greece and Rome and applying to them theoretical approaches to interpreting myth. Topics include origin myths, Greek gods and heroes, war, the human-divine relationship, madness, divine love and lust, death and the afterlife, and Greco-Roman mythology in its wider Mediterranean context. Readings in English translation.
Poetry and Athletics
The meanings to be seen in athletics have stirred the meditations and praises of poets in many cultures and genres. This course looks at the strange intersections of the physical, social, and sacred we still recognize in sports. Readings include case studies of the wedding of poetry to athletics in still thriving Oceanic cultures; victory odes for the ancient Greek games, principally those of Pindar; and sports poetry in Europe and the Americas, ranging from bullfighting and capoeira to baseball.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
cross-listed: historical studies
Students read the first 50 (of 71) chapters of Edward Gibbon’s masterpiece, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as well as the last chapter, “Four Causes of Decay and Destruction,” pausing at points to consider theories that supplement or contradict history as to the “true causes” of Rome’s decline and fall. Some of these theories are by early 20th-century scholars, some from recent books and articles.
The Epic in European Literature
A grasp of epic poetry—its techniques, themes, structure, and ideology—is fundamental to the understanding of the European literary tradition. This course examines the evolution of the epic from Homer (eighth century b.c.e.) to ,em>Milton’s Paradise Lost(1667). The first half of the semester is devoted to the classical epic: the Iliad, Odyssey, Theogony, Argonautika, De Rerum Natura, Aeneid, and Metamorphoses. The second half traces the epic across the map of Europe: Beowulf, Chanson de Roland, Neibelungenlied, Divine Comedy, Orlando Furioso, and Milton.
The Invention of Difference
The literatures of the classical world—the Persian Empire, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India—were concerned with the representation of other peoples, places, and cultures. How did ancient writers think about difference? What is the relationship between structures of power and the literature of difference? This seminar explores the invention of difference in texts such as the Odyssey, Aeschylus’s Persians and Suppliant Women, Euripides’s Helen and Iphigenia among the Taurians, and Aristophanes’s Acharnians, among other.
This course covers a temporal span from roughly the 7th century b.c.e. through the 5th, and its texts are non-Athenian. Readings start with Hesiod and the Homeric hymns, then move on to the lyric poets: Alkman, Sappho, Alcaeus, Archilochus, Anacreon, Simonides, Bacchylides, and Pindar. The Elegiac poets, most of the pre-Socratics, and Hecataeus are also covered.
Basic Greek I, II
In this two-part course, Greek grammar and fundamental vocabulary are introduced, with attention given to pronunciation and recitation of poetry and prose. Readings include significant passages in Greek from Homer and the Christian New Testament.
This course makes it possible for students with no background in ancient languages to read Homer, Plato, Greek tragedy, Herodotus, and other classical texts after one semester. Daily drills and frequent quizzes, together with ample access to tutoring and extra help, ensure that students stay on track as they master Greek grammar and vocabulary. In Greek 107, the focus is on consolidating knowledge of forms and syntax, and gaining exposure to a variety of classical authors.
Intermediate Greek I: Women on the Athenian Stage
This course is designed to develop reading fluency for students at the intermediate level. Focusing on the drama produced in fifth-century Athens, the class reads selections from two plays featuring female leads—Euripides’s tragedy Medea and Aristophanes’s comedy Lysistrata—paying close attention to the language, style, and syntax of the Greek, while also exploring the plays’ performance settings and cultural contexts. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Greek 107, or equivalent with permission of the instructor.
Intermediate Greek II: Plato’s Symposium
Students read in Greek most of Plato’s great dialogue on Eros, and all of it in English. For comparison, they also read Xenophon’s Symposium in English. Plato’s Greek text is studied in a recent edition by Louise Pratt, Eros at the Banquet, and supplemented by the same author’s The Essentials of Greek Grammar: A Reference for Intermediate Readers of Attic Greek. Discussion ranges from correct translation and analysis of grammatical points to analysis of the dialogue as both philosophy and literature.
Advanced Readings in Greek I-II
Select readings of poetic texts on the topic of Helen (e.g., Homer, Euripides, Gorgias, and Isocrates). Discussion centers on the problem of Helen’s beauty and/or character, and the rhetoric used to construct the various argumentative positions. Subject to class discussion, topics may also include Plato’s Apology and Crito. Prerequisite: successful completion of Greek 202 or permission of the instructor.
Advanced Readings in Greek III
The class reads selections from the three most important ancient Greek historians, with an emphasis on Thucydides and relevant passages from Herodotus and Polybius.
This two-semester sequence is designed to bring students with no prior knowledge of Latin to the level of reading ancient poetry and prose. The first semester focuses on grammatical exercises and drills, but the class gradually works toward reading short selections from classical Roman and medieval literature.
Basic Intensive Latin
Students learn to read authors such as Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, and Augustine in the original language after one semester’s intensive work (the equivalent of two semesters of college Latin). Daily drills and frequent quizzes are combined with an emphasis on reading: students begin with short selections from classical authors after only a few weeks and longer passages by midterm.
Intermediate Latin I-II: Virgil’s Aeneid
This course aims to solidify students’ knowledge of Latin vocabulary, morphology, and syntax, and help them build interpretative tools for reading and engaging with Latin literature.
The Age of Nero
Despite its depressing slide into autocracy, the age of Nero (54–68 c.e.) saw a great flowering of Roman literature, including the comic novel Satyricon by Petronius, and the tragedies and essays of Seneca, as well as the mysterious historical drama called Octavia. The class reads selections from all of these texts, spanning a wide range of styles in both poetry and prose. Readings in English help situate the texts against the troubled history of Nero’s reign.
An examination of how the mythic figure of Medea was reimagined and reinterpreted by the Romans, in particular Ovid and Seneca. The class reads works of both authors in Latin, together with their Greek sources, Euripides and Apollonius of Rhodes, in English.
The Origins of Rome
This course examines how Romans of the Augustan age conceived of the origins of their city, culture, and history. Students do a close reading in Latin of book one of Livy’s monumental historical work, Ab Urbe Condita, which treats Rome’s earliest history up to the founding of the Republic in 509 b.c.e. Livy’s work contributed to a vigorous contemporary debate—shared by fellow writers such as Virgil, Propertius, and Ovid—about Roman origins. Prerequisite: 200-level Latin or permission of the instructor.
Sanskrit I, II
Classics 140, 141 / Religion 140, 141
See Religion 140 and 141 for course descriptions.
Basic Intensive French
For students with little or no experience of French who wish to acquire a strong grasp of the language and culture in the shortest time possible. Students complete the equivalent of three semesters of college-level French in a semester course that meets 10 hours a week and is followed by a four-week stay in France.
Intermediate French I-II-III
This introduction to contemporary French civilization and culture is for students who have completed three or more years of high school French or who have acquired a solid knowledge of elementary grammar. Students reinforce their skills in grammar, composition, and spoken proficiency through the use of short texts, newspaper and magazine articles, and video.
French through Translation
This course helps students fine-tune their command of French and develop a good sense of the most appropriate ways of communicating ideas and facts in French. The course emphasizes translation as an exercise, as well as a craft in its own right, and addresses grammatical, lexical, and stylistic issues. Translation is practiced from English into French (and vice versa) with a variety of texts from different genres.
Introduction to French Thought
This course traces the major intellectual conflicts that have shaped la pensée française from Montaigne to Deleuze. Authors are often paired to encourage students to think dialectically on topics such as humanism/antihumanism (Montaigne and Rabelais), the mind/body question (Descartes and Racine), enlightenment/anti-enlightenment (Voltaire and Rousseau), the French Revolution (Sieyès and Olympe de Gouges), Romanticism (Sand and Madame de Staël), modernity and its enemies (Baudelaire and Haussmann), and literature and science (Balzac and Zola), among others. In French.
From the Storming of the Bastille to Stromae: Introduction to French Culture and Civilization
The course begins with an analysis of the political, socioeconomic, and cultural reconfigurations that occurred in France and its colonies from the death knell of the Ancien Régime in 1789 through the multifarious wars and revolutions of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The class then considers today’s France and the many challenges it faces: of national identity in a postcolonial society, of the maintenance of a social model in the face of globalized economic competition, and even of the quality of baguettes in the local boulangerie.
Why Literature? Topics in French Literature
This course focuses on an assortment of novels, short stories, poems, plays, and essays that reflect on themselves as texts and as literature. Works by Diderot, Rousseau, Stendhal, Balzac, Nerval, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Breton, Sartre, and Duras, among others. In French.
Advanced Composition and Conversation
Students consider a diverse selection of writings (short works of fiction, poems, philosophical essays, political analysis, newspaper editorials, magazine articles) loosely organized around a single theme. The readings provide a rich ground for cultural investigation, intellectual exchange, in-class debates, in-depth examination of stylistics, and vocabulary acquisition. A general review of grammar is also conducted.
Proust: In Search of Lost Time
French 315 / Literature 315
See Literature 315 for a full course description.
Class Matters: Vocabularies of Contempt from Balzac to Eribon
In Le Peuple (1846), the French historian Michelet proclaims that almost all those who benefit from social mobility end up betraying the character and originality of their initial class. “The hard thing,” he writes, “is not [so much] to ascend, but while ascending, to remain oneself.” This seminar scrutinizes novels and essays for their insights about the ways in which various cultural and socioeconomic mutations shape and undermine the complex link between distinction and authenticity. Readings from Stendhal, Balzac, Huysmans, Proust, Ernaux, and Eribon.
Survey of 20th- and 21st-Century French Poetry
This survey of major trends in modern and contemporary French poetry provides students with the opportunity to practice close reading, examines the precarious nature of modern French verse, and considers the many accounts of a “crise de vers” (crisis) in 20th- and 21st-century poetry, as well as the fate of a rather emaciated and breathless lyrical “I.” Works by Alferi, Apollinaire, Aragon, Bonnefoy, Breton, Cadiot, Cendrars, Collobert, Éluard, Guillevic, Jaccottet, Michaux, Ponge, Roche, Roubaud, Tarkos, and many others. Conducted in French.
Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé
A poetic revolution was brought to the theory and practices of 19th-century French poetry by three of its most illustrious figures: Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. As Victor Hugo’s age of lyric romanticism came to an end, these poets took full measure of a modern subjectivity in crisis by making it a crisis of form, with increasing disenchantment, irony, self-reflexivity, and obscurity. Readings: Les Fleurs du Mal and Le Spleen de Paris (Baudelaire), Illuminations and Une Saison en enter (Rimbaud), and Poésies (Mallarmé).
Literature of Private Life
cross-listed: human rights
The representation of private life in the 19th- century French novel coincided with the advent of realism. Realism described both the institutions that shaped private life (marriage, education, religion) and the discrete dramas occurring backstage—the solitude of the spinster (Flaubert’s Un Cœur Simple), plight of the child (Vallès’s L’Enfant), despair of domesticity (Maupassant’s Une Vie), and nature of neuroses (Zola’s Nana). The course examines writings (novels, stories, journals, correspondence) previously considered too personal to be viewed as literature.
Defying Death: The Literary Experience in the French Tradition
Aristotle states in Poetics that the representation (mimesis) of death does not result in the disgust or depression that follows upon actually witnessing a carcass or cadaver. Instead, the representation of death allows us to learn about the state that awaits us all. Aristotle touches here on the ultimate point of human experience (death), by limiting its intellectual contemplation to the realm of art. This seminar explores how literature deals with the task that Aristotle assigns it. Readings from Montaigne, Racine, Hugo, Baudelaire, Sartre, Camus, and Bataille, among others. In French.
Instruction includes grammar drills, review of reading, communication practice, guided composition, and language lab exercises. The course develops listening comprehension, speaking proficiency, and reading and writing skills.
The course enables students with little or no previous experience in German to complete three semesters of college German within five months: the spring semester at Bard, plus four weeks in the summer at Bard College Berlin. Students progress from learning the language for everyday communication to reading and discussion of classical and modern texts (such as Goethe, Heine, Kafka, Brecht). In Berlin, they further explore German language and culture, and participate in guided tours that introduce the city’s history, architecture, and vibrant cultural life.
Designed to deepen the proficiency gained in German 101 and 102, this course increases students’ fluency in speaking, reading, and writing, and adds significantly to their working vocabulary. Readings include selected 20th-century literary texts, such as Kafka’s Die Verwandlung, supplemented by audiovisual materials.
Sympathy for the Devil: Goethe’s Faust
German 206 / Literature 206
See Literature 206 for a full course description.
Berlin: Capital of the 20th Century
German 2194 / Literature 2194
See Literature 2194 for a full course description.
Rebels with(out) a Cause: Great Works of German Literature
German 270 / Literature 270
A survey of representative works of German literature from the 18th century to the present, from Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) to Mother Tongue (1990), a collection of stories by Emine Sevgi Özdamar, a Turkish-German woman writer. Other authors include Schiller, Eichendorff, Heine, Hauptmann, Wedekind, Rilke, Kafka, Mann, Brecht, Dürrenmatt, and Jelinek. Conducted in English. Students with an advanced proficiency in German are expected to read the works in the original.
The Ring of the Nibelung
A study of Richard Wagner’s cycle of four music dramas—a story about gods, dwarves (Nibelungs), giants, and humans that has been called a manifesto for socialism, a plea for racialism, a study of the human psyche, and a parable about the new industrial society. As we travel down the Rhine, across the rainbow, and through the underworld, our tour guides are the Brothers Grimm, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the anonymous authors of the medieval Nibelungenlied and the Old Norse Poetic Edda.
Unfortunately, we seem to know the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm only in adaptations that greatly reduce their power to touch our emotions and engage our imaginations. Through a close reading of selected tales, this course explores the tales’ poetics and politics, and their origins in folklore and myth. The class considers major critical approaches (Freudian, Marxist, feminist); creative adaptations (Disney, classical ballet, postmodern dance); and other fairy-tale traditions.
Modern German Short Prose
A survey of novellen, erzählungen, parables, and other short forms of mainly 20th-century prose. Students combine detailed literary analysis with an examination of social/political/historical contexts. Readings include works by Kafka, Musil, Mann, Walser, von Kleist, Jeremias Gotthelf, Benjamin, Hans Erich Nossack, Ingeborg Bachmann, Frisch, Dürrenmatt, Ilse Aichinger, Jenny Erpenbeck, Thomas Bernhard, Handke, and Yoko Tawada. Conducted in German.
German Theater between Moral Institution and Participatory Happening
After an overview of pivotal moments in the history and poetics of German theater (Lessing, Schiller, Hauptmann), the class examines specific developments in modern and contemporary theater. These include the new aesthetics of expressionist theater and Max Reinhardt’s work at the Deutsches Theater, Bertolt Brecht’s development of the epic theater before and during World War II, and postwar efforts to stage Vergangenheitsbewältigung (“coming to terms with the past” of the Third Reich and Holocaust). Conducted in German.
Poetry and Philosophy
Is there something like sensory reasoning? Who has the capacity to formulate the unspeakable? Is humor a thought or a sentiment? Poetry and philosophy have for centuries offered fascinating responses to such questions—not least in the German tradition. Poets, philosophers, and poetic thinkers have addressed these concerns, including Goethe, Kant, Schiller, Hölderlin, Heidegger, Rilke, Benjamin, Brecht, and Arendt. The beauty and precision of their language(s) provokes a semester of conversations with these thinkers of and in the German language.
19th-Century German Literature
“Exit metaphysics, enter sauerkraut” alludes to the experience of many 19th-century German intellectuals and writers: awareness of the loss of security that idealistic philosophy had provided and an attempt to find new absolutes. This course focuses on the evolution of this experience as manifested in literature. Close readings are made of works by Nestroy, Grillparzer, Grabbe, Hebbel, Heine, Mörike, Droste-Hülshoff, Keller, Stifter, Fontane, C. F. Meyer, Schnitzler, Hauptmann, and Wedekind. Conducted in German.
Less a style than a Weltanschauung of a rebellious generation, German Expressionism—flourishing roughly between 1905 and 1925—is generally seen as an artistic reflection of a common feeling of crisis; the disappearance of individualism in burgeoning urban centers; the hypocrisy of Imperial Wilhelminian Germany; and the soulless materialism and (self-)alienation of increased industrialization. Texts by Wedekind, Benn, Heym, Lasker-Schüler, Kafka, Kaiser, and Trakl. Painting, music, and film are also considered..
The Experience of the Foreign in German Literature
cross-listed: human rights
This course examines representations of foreignness in German literature and opera (Lessing, Mozart, Novalis, Heine, Kafka, Frisch); in contemporary films (Bohm, Fassbinder, Akin); and in works of non-native Germans writing in Germany today (Tawada, Ören, Özdamar, Schami). Issues addressed include multiculturalism, homogeneity, and xenophobia. In German.
German Literature and Film after 1989
What is at stake for contemporary German writers, filmmakers, and intellectuals? What topics do they address in their movies, novels, poems, and plays? How do these artworks reflect Germany’s multiethnic society and its pivotal role in a rapidly changing Europe? Discussion centers on texts by Herta Müller, W. G. Sebald, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Terézia Mora, Ingo Schulze, and Emine Sevgy Özdamar, among others; and on films by Fatih Akin, Hans-Christian Schmid, and Michael Haneke.
This seminar is dedicated to the works and worlds of Heinrich von Kleist (1777–1811), one of the most thought-provoking writers of German literature. Texts include a selection of his plays (Amphitryon, Penthesilea, Der zerbrochene Krug), prose works (Marquise von O..., Michael Kohlhaas), and essays (Marionettentheater). The class explores the historical constellations from which Kleist’s writings emerged, as well as contemporary responses by poets and thinkers such as Heine, Nietzsche, Hofmannsthal, and Mayröcker.
Correspondences: Figures of Writing
“One alone is always wrong; but with two involved, the truth begins,” reads an aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche. He also proposes an alternative mode of thinking and writing to the isolated genius: creative collaboration. This seminar explores several such collaborations: Hannah Arendt and Hilde Domin, Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann.
See Jewish Studies.
This course enables students with little or no previous knowledge of Italian to complete three semesters of college Italian in five months: 8 credits at Bard and 4 (in January) in Italy, where students continue daily intensive study of the language and culture while living with Italian families. The course methodology is based on a communicative approach, which includes grammar drills, guided compositions, oral practice, role-playing, and readings and analysis of authentic material.
Intermediate Italian I-II
Designed for students who have completed the equivalent of one year of college Italian, the course offers practice in writing and conversation. Students engage in discussion and must complete compositions and oral reports based on Italian literary texts and cultural material.
Food, Art, and Identity
Employing a multidisciplinary approach in a variety of media, this course invites students to consider such issues as the intimate relationships between food and territory, food and cultural expression, and the role that food played—and still plays—in shaping the Italian identity.
Women in Modern Italian Literature
This course examines how women are represented in modern Italian literature, from Giovanni Verga (1870s) to Franca Rame (1970s). The dramatic changes in women’s social, political, and economic roles in this period provide the context for class discussion. Topics include women under fascism; representations of women as wives and mothers; freedom and dignity; love, abortion, and divorce; and the struggle for sexual self-determination. Texts by Sibilla Aleramo, Anna Banti, Alberto Moravia, and Dacia Maraini. Prerequisite: two years of Italian or equivalent.
Sicily and Writing
South of Europe but at the center of the Mediterranean world, Sicily has been at the crossroads of cultures and peoples since Homer. The majestic, skeptical, bitter narratives of Sicily’s writers, from Giovanni Verga to Luigi Pirandello and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, trace a philosophical counternarrative to Italy’s modernity. Filmmakers such as Luchino Visconti and Francesco Rosi amplify the tensions of Sicilian narrative through visually striking cinematic interpretations. Prerequisite: Italian 202 or permission of the instructor.
Advanced Review of Italian: Migrant Nations of Italy
This course aims to enhance students’ oral and written production in Italian by focusing on a key political and social phenomenon of modern Italy: migration and its cultures. By working with original materials by Leonardo Sciascia, Igiaba Scego, Amara Lakhous, and Cesare Segre, among others, students investigate the problems, pitfalls, and memories of a country striving to become an inclusive multicultural society. Taught in Italian.
The Middle Sea: Mediterranean Encounters in Italy
Since Homer, the Mediterranean has inspired the founding myths of countless civilizations that prospered and clashed on its shores. The “Middle Sea” represented the locus of cultural encounters par excellence. As the current migration crises showcase, however, it also constitutes a key geopolitical space of negotiation between national pretenses and transnational mobility of ideas, cultures, and bodies. This course addresses pivotal works of Italian literature and cinema from Boccaccio to Montale, Pasolini, and Carlo Levi, with a particular focus on Mediterranean artists working in Italy today. In Italian.
Topics in Italian Culture: Imagining Italian Cities from Dante to Calvino
Unlike other European countries, Italy has no central stage in the construction of its national culture. It grounds its multifold identity on the differences and peculiarities of cities such as Florence, Venice, Naples, and Milan. Living, walking, and imagining the city is a key experience for Italian culture, from the Middle Ages to the postmodern. This course draws from the works of Dante, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, Marinetti, Pasolini, Calvino, and Ferrante. Prerequisite: Italian 202 or permission of the instructor.
Advanced Italian: Composition and Conversation
Students increase fluency in written and spoken Italian through the study of advanced grammar structures and new vocabulary. With special focus on the cantautore (songwriter) genre of Italian music texts, the class analyzes works by artists who best perceived and filtered important social and cultural moments of Italian life over the last 60 years. Also considered are interviews, videos, and articles about the composers and the issues—religion, terrorism, racism, Mafia—addressed in their songs. In Italian.
The Birth of the Avant-Garde: Futurism, Metaphysics, Magical Realism
In 1909 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, an Italian poet stationed in Milan but born in Alexandria, founded in Paris the modern avant-garde with the publishing of his first futurist manifesto. Futurism’s claims of refashioning Western culture from its very foundations rapidly spread all over the world. Engaging with both the literature and art of the Italian avant-gardes, this course unravels the intricate, yet fascinating, knot of aesthetics and politics at the core of modernism.
Italian 3205 / Literature 3205
See Literature 3205 for a course description.
Democracy and Defeat: Italy after Fascism
cross-listed: human rights
This seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach to the cultural and intellectual history of Italy from 1943 to 1950. The heterogeneous aspects of the Italian cultural field after World War II are considered in a wide-ranging framework, in which postwar histories are informed not simply by the external context of the Cold War but also by preceding wartime discourses. Readings from Italo Calvino, Curzio Malaparte, Carlo Levi, Primo Levi, and Rosetta Loy. Prerequisite: Italian 202 or permission of instructor.
Introductory Japanese I-II
This two-semester sequence introduces the fundamentals of modern Japanese. Students systematically develop listening, speaking, writing, and reading abilities. Because fluency in Japanese requires sensitivity to the social setting in which one is speaking, the course also provides an introduction to basic aspects of daily life and culture in contemporary Japan.
Intermediate Japanese I-II
This course accelerates the learning of characters begun in Japanese 101-102 and introduces more complex grammatical patterns and expressions, to refine students’ mastery of reading, speaking, writing, and listening. Study includes intensive grammar review and practice of idiomatic expressions.
Human Rights and Modern Japanese Literature
Japanese 2216 / Literature 2216
cross-listed: asian studies, human rights
Students in the course examine how human rights dilemmas are represented in major works of modern Japanese literature and film. Topics include women’s rights, the Burakumin liberation movement, and the rights of citizens vis-à-vis corporations. Texts include works by Tanizaki Junichiro, Kurihara Miwako, Nakagami Kenji, Ishimure Michiko, Shirow Masamune, and Shimazaki Toson, with additional readings on historical context and theoretical approaches. Texts in English.
Advanced Japanese I
The course introduces more complex grammatical structures, especially those common to written material, and accelerates character acquisition and advanced vocabulary. Students learn the fundamentals of dictionary use and acquire the skills necessary for speed-reading and accurate composition of written material. Prerequisite: Japanese 202 or the equivalent.
Advanced Japanese II
In this continuation of Japanese 301, students concentrate on complex grammatical patterns while further accelerating the acquisition of characters and advanced vocabulary. They build oratory skills through debate on relevant social topics and through individual research presentations. Composition is also emphasized. Conducted in Japanese. Prerequisite: Japanese 301 or equivalent.
Reading and Translating Japanese: Theories, Methods, Practice
For students who have had at least three years of Japanese and who can read at the advanced level. The class considers the nature and limits of translation within the Japanese context. While focusing on the techniques and craft of translation, students are also introduced to translation theory, both Western and Japanese, and examine well-known translations by comparing source and target texts. Prerequisite: Japanese 302 or equivalent.
For a description of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Smolny College) and the Bard–St. Petersburg State University exchange program, see “International Programs and Study Abroad.”
An introduction to the fundamentals of the spoken and written language as well as Russian culture. Creative expression is encouraged through autobiographical and fictional compositions.Successful completion of the sequence qualifies students to enroll in a four-week June program in St. Petersburg or pursue a semester or year of study at Smolny College.
For students who have completed Russian 101 (or the equivalent). The course culminates in a June program in St. Petersburg that includes 24 hours a week of Russian-language classes. Successful completion of the course qualifies the student to pursue study at Smolny College.
Intermediate Russian I-II
The focus of this sequence is on the continuing acquisition of advanced grammar, pertinent vocabulary, and reading and conversational skills that enable students to communicate effectively. Advanced grammar constructions are introduced through a wide variety of adapted texts and contexts. In addition to textbook material, students read literary and journalistic texts.
Students continue refining and engaging their practice of speaking, reading, and writing Russian. Advanced grammar topics are addressed through a variety of texts and contexts. A semester-long group project provides an opportunity for the class to research aspects of modern Russian culture and present findings in a collaborative effort, such as a play or news broadcast.
An Appointment with Dr. Chekhov
While studying to become a doctor at Moscow University, Chekhov began writing in order to earn money. Students analyze how his “general theory of objectivity” had an impact on his writing and how his “treatment” of human nature and social issues brought an entirely new dimension to Russian literature. Readings include Chekhov’s prose, plays, and letters.
Art of the Russian Avant-Garde
This multidisciplinary course addresses major developments in Russian modern and avant-garde art in the first three decades of the 20th century. It looks at particular movements, ideas, and seminal names, from Vrubel and symbolism to Tatlin and constructivism. The course also offers a methodology and context for the appreciation of the evolution of Russian visual culture and its contribution to the international art arena.
St. Petersburg: City, Monument, Text
Russian 231 / Literature 231
See Literature 231 for a full course description.
Advanced Russian through Reading and Writing
Designed for students with at least two years of Russian language study and for heritage speakers who want to practice reading and speaking Russian. A variety of written and oral exercises serves to improve students’ grammar, morphology, and syntax; narrative and conceptual proficiency is enhanced through readings of selected texts by leading Russian writers, including Chekhov, Pushkin, and Dostoevsky. Writing in Russian is an important part of the course.
Russian in an Academic Context
Readings include nonfiction texts in a wide array of disciplines, as well as poetry and fiction. The goal is to help students acquire vocabulary and build language skills that will allow them to participate in a semester-long program at a Russian college or university and to conduct independent research in Russian.
Russian Opera: Staging History, Shaping Myths
An exploration of Russian history through the medium of Russian opera, which absorbed and confronted, transformed and blended the creative achievements of the Old World with the unique Russian experience. In the 19th century, opera became a powerful agent in Russia’s search for national identity. Operas studied: Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin, Prokofiev’s ,em>War and Peace, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
Translation: Russian to English
A practical and theoretical course consisting of regular weekly readings and translations of a variety of literary texts. Students also work on an independent project throughout the semester. Texts include short stories and poems by Bunin, Chekhov, Babel, Tolstaya, Dovlatov, Akhmatova, Pasternak, and others.
Love Stories: Prose and Poetry
The course offers a close reading of selected short stories and poems by Russian writers from the 18th century to today, with a look at artistic meditations on the subjects of love, erotic desire, and psychological and cultural conflicts in romantic relationships. Works by Karamzin, Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Gippius, Kuzmin, Blok, Nabokov, Tolstaya, and Ulitskaya. Conducted in Russian.
A historical study of Russian versification—the technical aspects of poetry, structural analysis of poetic texts, and translation of selected poems. Poets studied include Pushkin, Lermontov, Baratynsky, Tyutchev, Fet, Blok, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, Tarkovsky, Pasternak, Mayakovsky, Brodsky, and Rein. In Russian.
The Language of the Russian Silver Age and Avant-Garde
This course provides insight into the language, innovative linguistic experimentations, theoretical expositions, and thematic preoccupations of writers and poets personifying major literary and artistic movements of the Russian Silver Age and avant-garde. Students examine particular works, ideas, and “isms” of the period (e.g., symbolism, futurism, trans-sense poetry, acmeism, imagism, and OBERIU). Students also get practice in advanced conversation, grammar, and writing.
Russian through Popular Music and Culture
An examination of key developments, personalities, and texts in Russian popular music and culture from 1960 to the present. While certain concepts, genres, and themes remain central (the singer-songwriter tradition, rock-and-roll as entertainment and music of social protest, the Russian anecdote and comedy), the course also explores cultural marginalia, such as select popular television programs and talk shows of the post-Soviet era.
Basic Intensive Spanish
This course enables students with little or no previous knowledge of Spanish to complete three semesters of college Spanish in five months (8 credits at Bard and 4 credits in Mexico). Students attend eight hours of class per week, plus two hours with a Spanish tutor. Oral communication and reading and writing skills are developed through a variety of approaches.
Accelerated First-Year Spanish
Designed for the student with prior exposure to Spanish or command of another Romance language, the course covers major topics in grammar with intensive practice in speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing. Practice with a Spanish tutor and work in the language lab are required. The course prepares students for summer language programs abroad or for Spanish 201.
Intermediate Spanish I
This course is designed to perfect the command of all four language skills (speaking, comprehension, reading, writing) through intensive grammar review, conversation practice, reading of modern Spanish texts, writing simple compositions, and language lab work. Prerequisites: Spanish 106 or 110 (or equivalent), and permission of the instructor.
Intermediate Spanish II
Advanced study of grammar is supplemented with readings on a variety of topics related to Spanish and Latin American history, literature, music, and art. Texts include excerpts from Don Quixote, indigenous Mexican poetry, and a short modern novel. Prerequisite: Spanish 201 or permission of the instructor.
Spanish for Heritage Speakers
Designed for students who have been exposed to Spanish at home and wish to achieve confidence in speaking, writing, and reading the language. Grammar study capitalizes on prior contact with the language and allows more rapid progress than in a standard setting. Written composition, grammar review, and discussion of issues pertinent to Hispanic cultures are emphasized.
Cultures and Societies of Latin America
cross-listed: human rights
The Spanish-speaking world comprises a rich variety of cultures that have historically been in dialogue, as well as resistance, over the centuries. This course focuses on key moments and events that have defined the multifaceted societies of Spain and Latin America. Special emphasis is placed on elements such as social movements, questions of race and ethnicity, postmodernity, constructions of gender and sexuality, and national and diasporic identities. Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of the instructor.
Testimonies of Latin America
cross-listed: gss, human rights
How best to represent memories of violence and pain? What are the ultimate effects of mediations of the written word, translations to hegemonic languages, and interventions of well-intentioned intellectuals? Students engage critically with texts that serve as a public forum for voices often silenced in the past. The course integrates diaries, testimonial narratives, and films.
Introduction to Literary Analysis
Designed to bridge Spanish language classes and 300-level seminars on literature and culture from Spain and Latin America, the course is primarily engaged with four literary genres: poetry, narrative, drama, and essays. Works studied span the vast historical period from the Middle Ages to contemporary times, but the focus is on acquiring the basic skills for literary analysis.
Introduction to Spanish Literature
This course explores some of the major literary works produced on the Iberian peninsula from the Middle Ages to the present day. Students become familiar with the general contours of Spanish history, and study in depth a number of masterpieces from authors such as Cervantes, Colón, Teresa de Jesús, Don Juan Manuel, Calderón de la Barca, Larra, Galdós, Unamuno, Lorca, Laforet, Llamazares, Orejudo, and Vila-Matas, among others. Conducted in Spanish.
Introduction to Latin American Literature
This course covers a broad range historically—from pre-Conquest times to the present—and explores all literary genres, including poetry, short stories, novels, essays, and plays. In order to make sense of the broad chronological and geographical span of this literature, the class focuses on seven separate modules, each highlighting a core moment or key figure in the development of Latin American culture.
Contemporary Spanish Theater and Performing Arts
cross-listed: lais, theater and performance
The course focuses on the most innovative playwrights and performance artists in Spain, considering them within the country’s rich theatrical tradition—and the political turmoil in Spain and Europe after the economic crisis of 2008. Students also explore the links between theater and other forms of cultural expression, and attend stage readings and other live performances in New York City. Readings include works by Paco Becerra, Yolanda Pallín, and José Ramón Fernández. In Spanish.
Five Latin American Poets
The class examines the work of five 20th-century Latin American poets: Pablo Neruda (Chile), César Vallejo (Peru), Octavio Paz (Mexico), Nicolás Guillén (Cuba), and Alejandra Pizarnik (Argentina). Outside readings provide the historical, social, and political contexts in which these writers produced their work.
20th-Century Latin American Novel
With the publication of Cortázar’s Rayuela (Hopscotch, 1963) and García Márquez´s Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967), the Latin American novel achieved an international reputation and readership. This course analyzes several novels of the “boom” period to determine the reasons behind their critical acclaim and popular appeal; post-boom works are also examined. Authors may also include Allende, Arenas, Asturias, Carpentier, Cortázar, Fuentes, Peri Rossi, Puig, Skármeta, and Valenzuela. In English, with concurrent reading tutorial in Spanish.
Archive Fever in Literature and Film
cross-listed: experimental humanities, human rights, literature
Contemporary societies are marked by a widely shared desire to create personal and collective archives as a way of witnessing and memorializing our lives. With an emphasis on, but not limited to, Spanish and Latin American cultures, this course invites students to explore literary and filmic manifestations that are symptomatic of today’s archive fever. Selected films by Buñuel, Almodóvar, and Varda, among others, are put in conversation with literary works by Martín Gaite, Lispector, Chacel, Semprún, Partnoy, and Cercas.
The Art of Writing Spanish Worlds
An introduction to the art and craft of creative writing in Spanish, with a focus on contemporary narrative fiction. The heart of the class is the writing workshop. Assigned readings and weekly exercises help students expand their narrative writing command and critical skills in the Spanish language. Readings include works by Bolaño, Schweblin, Fernández Cubas, and Navarro.
Engaging the Other in Latin American Theory
cross-listed: human rights
This seminar traces various ways in which the “problem” of the “other” has been addressed in 20th- and 21st-century writings by anthropologists, literary critics, politicians, art historians, and intellectuals from indigenous communities.
Mapping the City in Latin American Literature
cross-listed: eus, lais
This course explores 20th-century texts that address the many tensions that arise in the process of modernization, paying close attention to centers and margins, inclusions and exclusions, feelings of alienation and, ultimately, a search for community. The class considers how state violence enters domestic spaces, the role of mass media in shaping local culture, and the effects of globalization on identity formation. Texts by Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), Roberto Arlt (Argentina), Fernando Vallejo (Colombia), Mario Vargas Llosa (Peru), and Diamela Eltit (Chile).