Bard envisions the liberal arts institution as the hub of a network, rather than a single, self-contained campus. Numerous institutes for special study are available on and off campus, connecting Bard students to the greater community.
The Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College embodies the fundamental belief that education and civil society are inextricably linked. In an age of information overload, it is more important than ever that citizens be educated and trained to think critically and be actively engaged with issues affecting public life.
Most writing-intensive courses and workshops in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are listed under the Written Arts Program.The descriptions below are a sampling of courses from the past four years.
Introduction to Literary StudiesLiterature 103The aim of this course is to develop the student’s ability to perform close readings of literature. By exploring the unfolding of sounds, rhythms, and meanings in a wide range of works—poems, short stories, plays, and novels—from a wide range of time periods and national traditions, students gain a familiarity with basic topics of literary study as well as what makes a piece of writing “literary” in the first place.
Introduction to World LiteratureLiterature 110This course explores the interrelations among literary cultures throughout the world. The class pays special attention to such topics as translation, cultural difference, and the relationships between global sociopolitical issues and literary form, and the Eastern and Western epic. Topics also include the cross-cultural definitions of “lyric” and other literary genres; the emergence of the novel and its relation to the emergence of modern capitalism; the idea of “autobiography” across the continents and the centuries; theories of “world literature” from Goethe to Casanova and Moretti; and the struggle today between “close” and “distant” reading.
Technologies of Reading: Human and Machine Approaches to LiteratureLiterature 120 / Computer Science 120cross-listed: experimental humanitiesConcurrent developments in literary studies regarding “close” and “distant” reading methods and natural language processing (NLP) have sparked exciting collaborations between literary scholars and computer scientists. But there is a longer history of scholarly activity combining humanist and computational approaches to literature. This course charts the contours of this history, stretching back to the early 20th century. Readings by linguists, close-reading theorists, and scholars of emergent critical reading practices.
The Odyssey of HomerLiterature 125cross-listed: classical studiesAn intensive reading of Homer’s Odyssey introduces students to sophisticated techniques of reading and thinking about texts. Issues particular to the genre (the archaic Greek world, oral composition, the Homeric question) and to this text (“sequels,” epic cycle, the prominence of women, narrative closure) are considered.
Anna KareninaLiterature 130cross-listed: res An introduction to the study of fiction through a semester devoted to reading two translations of this major Russian novel. In addition to a comparison of the texts, discussion includes such topics as genre; narrative voice; the representation of character and time; 19th-century French, English, and Russian realism; and the play of psychological analysis and social observation. Attention is also paid to the construction of the novel—what Tolstoy himself referred to as its “architecture.”
The Iliad of HomerLiterature 145cross-listed: classical studiesStudents are introduced to issues particular to the epic genre as they read through the Iliad at a rate of two books per week. The course also explores the broad literary and cultural issues raised by this essential document of the Western tradition.
Americans AbroadLiterature 2002cross-listed: africana studiesThe period after World War I was an exciting time for American artists who came of age and discovered their own Americanness from other shores. Students read writers of the so-called Lost Generation, including Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The course also includes expatriate writers, such as Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, and Jessie Fauset, who are best known for their participation in the Harlem Renaissance.
Middlemarch: The Making of a MasterpieceLiterature 2005cross-listed: victorian studiesHow can personal letters, notebooks, and journals allow us into the psyche of a great writer? This course traces the stages of conception, research, and composition of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, which students experience as its first readers did, reading facsimiles of the eight bimonthly “parts,” complete with advertisements and other ephemera. Also considered are the politics, culture, and science of the high Victorian period, an epoch comparable to the Elizabethan era in the richness and variety of its literary production.
The Great American Indian NovelLiterature 2016cross-listed: american studies, human rightsAmerican Indian fiction is remarkably diverse in its tropes and narrative forms, and this course explores that diversity in texts from the mid-19th century to the early 21st. Certain concerns recur, including population displacement, ecological disaster, the politics of religion, and the relationship between orality and print. Attention is also paid to each writer’s approach to the genre of the novel. Authors include Black Elk, James Fenimore Cooper, Louise Erdrich, D’Arcy McNickle, N. Scott Momaday, John Oskison, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Yellow Bird.
Introduction to Children’s and Young Adult LiteratureLiterature 2026What makes a work of children’s literature a classic? Who are these texts really for? In this course, students explore questions about what children can, do, and should read, and consider how the notion of childhood is constructed and reproduced through texts and images. Authors: Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie, Francis Hodgson Burnett, Enid Blyton, Diana Wynne Jones, C. S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, and J. K. Rowling, among others.
20th-Century Latin American PoetryLiterature 2027cross-listed: laisPoetry in Latin America has often followed a much more ideological, “popular,” and emotionally accessible trajectory than poetry in North America. This course traces the development of that poetry rooted in the pueblo—as well as its avant-garde, hermetic, or philosophical counterpart—from the colonial period to the present day. The focus is on 20th-century works, with particular attention paid to Nobel Prize winners Pablo Neruda and Octavio Paz.
Signs and Symbols: Pattern Recognition in Literature and CodeLiterature 2032cross-listed: experimental humanitiesIn digital media, algorithms govern the relationships between words and documents (e.g., in search results, advertisements, and binary code). Yet the affiliation between literary and computational interpretation has a longer history that this course charts from the emergence of novelistic and mathematical probability in the late 18th century to the proliferation of digital media today. Texts: David Hume’s Essays, Fanny Burney’s Evelina, Charles Babbage’s Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, I. A. Richards’s Practical Criticism, and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl.
Comparative Literature I, II, IIILiterature 204A, 204B, 204Ccross-listed: classical studies, french studies, german studiesThe class examines the shift in medieval and Renaissance literature from epic to lyric and romance; from orally based literature to written texts; and from anonymous poets to professional writers. Texts include The Song of Roland, troubadour lyrics, Arthurian romances, The Romance of the Rose, Dante’s Inferno, Petrarch’s sonnets, Boccaccio’s Decameron, de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, and Villon’s Testament. In Literature 204B, students examine the major theoretical and practical literary issues in the period from 1600 to 1800. Discussions begin with the dialogue between poetry and the other arts of the baroque, especially the music of Bach and the sculpture of Bernini. The focus then turns to changes in the idea of literature in the 17th and 18th centuries that reflected the complex attitudes toward modernity in this period of scientific, cultural, and political revolution. Authors read: Descartes, Vico, Voltaire, de Graffigny, Rousseau, Goethe, and Wollstonecraft. Part three explores the key aesthetic, philosophical, and political issues that emerge in poetry, fiction, theater, and translation from the late 18th to the late 20th century. Readings include works by Rousseau, de Sade, Hölderlin, Goethe, Blake, Shelley, Emerson, Whitman, Baudelaire, Rilke, Lorca, Artaud, Celan, Olson, Kerouac, and Rothenberg.
Making Verse and Making Love: Introduction to Renaissance PoetryLiterature 2041Sir Philip Sidney, the first English poet to achieve what would today be considered “rock star” status, declared that poetry is capable of “making things either better than nature” or “forms such as never were in nature.” This course considers Sidney’s claims by surveying diverse styles and genres of poetry from the English Renaissance. It also explores how and why these 400-year-old poems still manage to delight and surprise us.
Blues, Spirituals, and the 20th-Century African American NovelLiterature 2050cross-listed: africana studies, american studiesAfrican American spirituals and blues music share fundamental musical structures, but offer very different narratives. Spirituals detail a transitory existence, marked by suffering, which culminates in a celebratory ascendance into heaven. While the blues often feature stories of anger and hurt, earthly survival is the only cause for celebration. This course explores the critical influence these musical forms had on African American writers of the 20th century, including Baldwin, Morrison, Ellison, Hurston, Wright, and Mosley.
Douglass and Du BoisLiterature 2050cross-listed: africana studies, american studies, human rightsFrederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois each shaped our sense of what the latter calls “the problem of the color line.” The course examines the aesthetic choices they made as writers and puts them in historical context: one began writing in the years leading up to the Civil War, the other in the wake of Reconstruction’s failure. Readings include Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom and Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk.
Sympathy for the Devil: Goethe’s FaustLiterature 206 / German 206An intensive study of Goethe’s drama about a man in league with the devil. The dynamics of Faust’s striving for knowledge of the world and experience of life and Mephistopheles’s advancement and subversion of this striving provide the basis for analyzing the play’s central themes—individuality, knowledge, and transcendence—in regard to their meaning in Goethe’s time and ours. Students also consider Faust literature before and after Goethe, and the integration of Faust in music, theater, and film.
Modern Arabic FictionLiterature 2060cross-listed: mesStudents read a selection of Arabic novels and short stories from Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, and the wider Arab diaspora. Through this sampling of texts, in addition to accompanying critical literature, films, and lectures, students gain a broad-based understanding of the history of Arabic literature, including its formal developments, genres, and themes. Topics discussed include colonialism and postcolonialism, globalization, occupation and liberation, religion vs. secularization, Orientalism and neo-Orientalism, Islam and the West, and gender and women’s issues.
Old Arabic BooksLiterature 2062cross-listed: africana studies, medieval studies, mesThe Orientalists of France and England shared with Disney and Cervantes a fascination with old Arabic books and the stories they contained. This course begins with a history of storytelling and book culture in Arabic during the rise of Islam from the 7th through the 14th century. The second half revisits this legacy as it erupts into the modern, appearing as the founding conceit of Don Quixote, the exotic allure of the “Oriental tale” and A Thousand and One Nights, and, as Edward Said would have it, a narrative incitement to empire.
Mass Culture of Postwar JapanLiterature 2081cross-listed: asian studies, experimental humanitiesThis course explores the literature, history, and media art of Japan since World War II, beginning with the lean years of the American occupation (1945–52) and covering the high-growth period of the 1960s and 1970s, the “bubble era” of the 1980s, and the present moment. The class examines radio drama, television, magazines, manga/comics, film, fiction, theater, folk and pop music, animation, advertising, and contemporary multimedia art, focusing on works of “low brow” and “middle brow” culture that structure the experience of everyday life.
Multimediated Medievalisms: Arthurian Afterlives, 1800 – PresentLiterature 2082cross-listed: experimental humanities, medieval studies, victorian studiesHow does a period frequently described as “primitive” simultaneously exist in popular imagination as the epitome of nobility and chivalry? What do reimaginings of this period reveal about contemporary ideas of nation, gender, ethnicity, and class? In addition to poetry and novels, the course addresses Arthurian material in paintings, film, and the graphic novel.
Modern TragedyLiterature 2086All tragedies see the human condition as doomed. In classical Greek tragedy the protagonist’s fate is usually externalized as something beyond human control, whereas in modern tragedy, starting with Shakespeare and his contemporaries, fate is more or less internalized as a flaw in the protagonist’s character. Since then the protagonist has increasingly been seen as a helpless victim of circumstance. Readings include works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Strindberg, O’Neill, Brecht, Sartre, and Miller.
Major American PoetsLiterature 209cross-listed: american studiesAmerican poetry found its voice in the first half of the 19th century when Emerson challenged American scholars to free themselves from tradition. For the next three generations most of the major poets, from Walt Whitman—in whose poems a distinctly American voice was first heard—to Robert Frost acknowledged Emerson as a crucial inspiration. Readings: T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robinson Jeffers, E. E. Cummings, Hart Crane, H.D., Wallace Stevens, and Frost.
Poetic Justice: Law and Literature from Plato to the PresentLiterature 2105cross-listed: human rights“Roman law was a severe form of poetry,” the Italian philosopher Vico claimed, attesting to an ancient relation between law and literature. This course shows how literature “thinks through” issues of justice in ways that often anticipate, subvert, and critique existing legal codes and practices. Texts include Plato’s Apology, Dante’s Inferno, Thomas More’s Utopia, Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Wise Fools: Madmen, Lunatics, and Other Literary OutcastsLiterature 2110How have writers throughout history adopted an “outsider’s” perspective to critique society and offer new forms of knowledge—intellectual and creative acts of resistance that often earned them scorn, punishment, even exile? This course explores the role of the outcast from ancient to modern times, paying special attention to how literary discourses of disenfranchisement and alienation have played a powerful role in the history of ideas. Texts by Plato, Apuleius, Erasmus, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Mary Shelley, Dostoevsky, Collodi, and Ellison.
Russian LaughterLiterature 2117cross-listed: resThe class examines how authors as distinct as Dostoevsky and Bulgakov create comic effects and utilize laughter for various artistic purposes. Also examined are some of the major theories of laughter developed by Hobbes, Bergson, Freud, Bakhtin, and others. Readings begin with an 18th-century satirical play by Fonvisin and end with Moscow to the End of the Line, Erofeev’s contemplation on the life of a perpetually drunk philosopher in the former Soviet Union.
Shakespeare’s Tragedies and the Problem of GovernmentLiterature 2119This course explores how Shakespeare uses the framework of tragedy to investigate the contours of political life, focusing specifically on how familial, friendship, and sexual ties reflect and influence overarching governmental realities. How do we understand kingship after seeing it portrayed as an isolating burden? What do the tragic consequences of notions like honor and duty reveal about the interrelations between early modern masculinity and political organization? Texts: Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, Coriolanus, King Lear, and other writings from the period.
Consciousness and ConscienceLiterature 2120cross-listed: human rightsThis course looks at the ways in which consciousness—how we think and fantasize, how we see the world around us, how we recalibrate and respond to every new stimulus, observation, and fragment of information—has been portrayed in fiction. Students also consider how writers have (and have not) portrayed the moral dimension: the operations of conscience. Readings from Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Woolf, Wharton, Baldwin, Bolaño, and Highsmith, among others.
Traditions of African American LiteratureLiterature 2134cross-listed: africana studies, american studiesAn introduction to African American literary practices and the development of related cultural, aesthetic, and vernacular forms and movements from the 18th century to the present. In tracing these emergent and lasting voices, modes, and styles, the course examines how authors have created, defined, and complicated the traditions of literature within which they participate. Readings include novels, essays, autobiography, poetry, and drama; writers likely to include Douglass, Jacobs, Du Bois, Toomer, Hurston, Ellison, Baldwin, Lorde, Reed, Morrison, and Whitehead.
Cairo through Its NovelsLiterature 214cross-listed: eus, human rights, mesCairo, the “City Victorious,” has long captivated the literary imagination. This survey of the modern Egyptian novel maps the changing cityscape of Egypt’s bulging metropolis over the course of the 20th century. From Naguib Mahfouz’s iconic alley to Sonallah Ibrahim’s apartment building to Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s multifamily tenement, readings provide a range of literary representations by Cairo’s writers. Literary texts are supplemented by theoretical and historical material, and the course is accompanied by a film series.
Domesticity and PowerLiterature 2140cross-listed: africana studies, american studies, gssMany American women writers of the 19th and 20th centuries used the domestic novel to make insightful critiques of American society and politics. The course begins with Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s handbook of housekeeping, The American Woman’s Home (1869). Readings also include the novels and short stories of Harriet Jacobs, Frances E. W. Harper, Kate Chopin, Nella Larsen, Jessie Fauset, Edith Wharton, and Willa Cather.
The Courage to Be: Achilles, Socrates, Antigone, Mother CourageLiterature 2142cross-listed: resIn the Republic, Socrates maintains that courage is one of the four virtues (or excellences) to be found in a good regime and in a good soul. Yet it is not entirely clear whether courage should be understood the same way in all contexts. Is a warrior’s courage the same as that of a philosopher? Who is truly courageous, the one who defends the regime, the one who questions it, or both? Readings/films include philosophical texts (Plato, Aristotle, Emerson, Tillich, Arendt) and imaginative representations (Iliad, Antigone, Mother Courage, High Noon, and The Conformist).
Romantic Literature in EnglishLiterature 2156cross-listed: human rightsA critical introduction to the literature produced in Britain at the time of the Industrial and French Revolutions, and Napoleonic wars. Emphasis is placed on the historical and social contexts of the works and specific ways in which historical forces and social changes shape the formal features of literary texts. Readings include works by Blake, Wordsworth, Helen Maria Williams, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Paine, Southey, Coleridge, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Keats, and Clare.
Into the Whirlwind: Literary Greatness and Gambles under Soviet RuleLiterature 2159cross-listed: resThis course examines the fate of the literary imagination in Russia from the time of the Revolution to the Brezhnev period. Students look at the imaginative liberation in writers such as Babel, Mayakovsky, Mandelstam, and Bulgakov; the struggle with ideology and the terror of the 1930s in the works of Olesha, Akhmatova, and Pilnyak, among others; and the hesitant thaw as reflected in Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago. Readings conclude with Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Erofeev’s Moscow to the End of the Line.
Medieval IrelandLiterature 2175cross-listed: ics, medieval studies Students consider what, if anything, is “Irish,” and how the country’s medieval past continues to define the present. Texts include The Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), Acallam na Senórach (Tales of the Elders of Ireland), lives of St. Patrick and St. Bridget, The Voyage of Saint Brendan, lais of Marie de France, The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, poetry of W. B. Yeats, and diaries of the hunger striker Bobby Sands.
Free SpeechLiterature 218 / Human Rights 218See Human Rights 218 for a course description.
Kundera: The Art of FictionLiterature 2183cross-listed: res This course examines how Milan Kundera’s idiosyncratic textual strategies unsettle the boundaries between fictional and factual, totalitarian and democratic, and Eastern and Western. It also considers his creative use of philosophy and history, and places his novels in the context of larger political issues. Readings include The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Joke, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, and Immortality, as well as his theoretical writings. Supplemental texts by Nietzsche, Broch, Calvino, Fuentes, Rorty, Havel, Brodsky, Benjamin, and Huyssen, among others.
The Politics and Practice of Cultural Production in the Middle East and North AfricaLiterature 2185cross-listed: human rights, mes This course draws upon a series of case studies to illustrate how cultural production can be read as a form of documentation, resistance, or potential intervention to prevailing narratives. Topics include tradition and modernity, the rise (and fall) of nationalism, and narrating war. Students consider a range of texts, including novels (Sonallah Ibrahim, Assia Djebar), films (Jackie Salloum, Tahani Rached), music (Oum Kalthoum, Dam, Sami Yusuf), and blogs (Riverbend, Hometown Baghdad) from across the region.
Media and Metropolis in Modern JapanLiterature 2191cross-listed: asian studies, eusIn just over a hundred years, Japan has been transformed from a largely rural, agricultural nation to a global symbol of high-tech hyper futurism. This course examines the ways in which this process—and the urban space it has created—has been written and represented; what is lost in the rural-to-urban transition; and problems of nostalgia and alienation in the countryside and new suburbs. It also serves to introduce major works of urban theory by Mumford, Lefebvre, Simmel, Harvey, and others.
Berlin: Capital of the 20th CenturyLiterature 2194 / German 2194cross-listed: eus, german studiesIn the 20th century, Berlin was the capital of five different German states—and the continuous capital of German culture. This course explores the interconnections between politics, art, and social life through literary texts (Döblin, Nabokov, Baudelaire, Poe), theoretical writings (Benjamin, de Certeau, Augé, Young), and film, architecture, memorials, and other visual artworks. The focus is on two historical thresholds: c. 1930, when totalitarian regimes in Europe emerged, and c. 1989, when the contemporary period began.
Balkan VoicesLiterature 2203cross-listed: human rights, res“The Balkans,” writes journalist Robert D. Kaplan, “are a Bosch-like tapestry of interlocking ethnic rivalries, where medieval and modern history thread into each other.” Indeed, the Balkan countries are often seen as “primitive,” “dark,” and “violent” in comparison with the “civilized” West. Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans and Vesna Goldsworthy’s Inventing Ruritania are used to provoke discussion; additional readings from Ismail Kadare (Albania), Vladislav Todorov (Bulgaria), Miroslav Krleža (Croatia), C. P. Cavafy (Greece), Tashko Georgievski (Macedonia), Ivo Andric´ (Serbia), and Herta Müller (Romania).
Sexuality and Gender in Japanese Literature and CultureLiterature 2206cross-listed: asian studies, gssFrom the classical era (The Tale of Genji) to the present (gender-bending manga), the class investigates how the shifting dynamics of sex and gender were shaped by the social and political forces of their time. Topics discussed: the classical canon and women’s courtly writings, Buddhist conceptions of women, Confucian teachings on gender and the body, Edo-period male-male cultures, modernization and the nuclear family, representations of the “modern girl” of the 1920s, gender in revolutionary cultures, and 1960s feminist discourse.
Plato’s Writing: Dialogue and DialecticLiterature 2209Why did Plato write dialogues? Answers to this perennial question have appealed to Plato’s conception of dialectic, although the meaning of that term in his texts is itself a matter of considerable debate. This course examines Plato’s writings from both a philosophical and literary perspective, with particular emphasis on a careful reading of whole dialogues. Readings: Euthyphro, Euthydemus, Phaedrus, Republic, Symposium, and texts by some of Plato’s predecessors in the Greek tradition.
Building StoriesLiterature 2213cross-listed: american studies, eusThis course examines relationships between narratives and their settings by employing conceptual frameworks borrowed from architectural studies and histories of the built environment. Weekly discussions are structured around building typologies and common tropes of urban planning: the row-house brownstone, apartment building, skyscraper, and suburban or rural house. Students consider to what extent geography and landscape shape culture and identity. Authors: Nicholson Baker, Paul Beatty, Alison Bechdel, Don DeLillo, Junot Díaz, Joan Didion, Ben Lerner, Paule Marshall, D. J. Waldie, and Colson Whitehead.
Human Rights and Modern Japanese LiteratureLiterature 2216 / Japanese 2216See Japanese 2216 for a full course description.
Children’s Fantasy Literature in Cultural ConversationLiterature 2218An intensive study of 20th-century children’s fantasy literature and the literary and cultural traditions to which they speak. The focus is on how cultural change and ideas of the child influence the manipulation of canonical source material to produce new meanings in works by J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, Ursula Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, and Stephenie Meyer.
Dostoevsky Presently: Poetics, Philosophy, Politics, PsychologyLiterature 2227cross-listed: resStudents analyze a range of texts by Dostoevsky, including his novels The Idiot, Demons, and The Brothers Karamazov; shorter prose works, including “Poor Folk,” “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” and “Bobok”; and journalistic pieces from A Writer’s Diary, which might be considered the first blog. Also addressed is the present state of research on Dostoevsky, from classic studies by Bakhtin and Frank to the latest works by Russian, American, European, and Japanese scholars.
Ancient Comic TheaterLiterature 2234cross-listed: classical studies, theater and performanceAt once bawdy and wordy, revolutionary and reactionary, the comic theater of ancient Greece and Rome represents the invention of an art form combining spectacular mass entertainment with highly topical social commentary. What was ancient comedy, and how did it evolve? What was its legacy, and how do its concerns relate to the role played by comedy in our lives today? This course addresses these and other questions through readings from Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, and Terence.
Nature, Disaster, and the Environment in Japanese LiteratureLiterature 2238cross-listed: asian studiesAn examination of the literary representation of nature and the environment in texts from the Japanese archipelago. It is often asserted that nature is ubiquitous in Japanese literary expression, but how and why did this come to be? How has nature been narrated, harnessed, and reimagined at varying moments and locations, and how have the values assigned to it been deployed in the construction of national identity and in the processes of modernity? Readings include fictional and nonfictional texts from the eighth century to the present.
Strange Books and the Human ConditionLiterature 225cross-listed: icsThis course involves the close reading of books so peculiar as to verge on “outsider” literature, by authors such as Jane Bowles, Felisberto Hernandez, Robert Walser, and Hans Christian Andersen. Yet these novels and stories have as much to tell us about what it means to be a human being as the most naturalistic or conventional fiction. Admission is by e-mail application.
Devotion, Dissent, Dissolution: Saints’ Lives from the Middle Ages to the ReformationLiterature 2264cross-listed: stsA saint’s life, by nature, should emulate the trajectory of the life of Christ: beginning with a miraculous birth (or conversion), culminating with an extenuated period of physical suffering, and ending with impressive martyrdom. Like faith itself, however, the genre of saints’ lives is not a static or unpoliticized thing. The class reads a variety of saints’ lives and affiliated writings, ranging from the 13th-century Golden Legend to John Foxe’s 16th-century Protestant martyrology.
The Practice of Courage: From Martyrs to Suicide BombersLiterature 2281cross-listed: human rightsIn Western history, many of the individuals who have been most admired for their bravery have willingly accepted death for a higher purpose, whether that purpose be intellectual (Socrates), religious, or political (Becket, Gandhi, Sands). But what if the cause is not a good cause? What if the martyr is driven not only by a desire for justice but also by a desire for glory or even death? The course considers a series of historical moments that produced martyrs, with texts (historical and fictional) ranging from the fourth century b.c.e. to the present.
The Practice of Courage: Heroism or Hubris?Literature 2282cross-listed: africana studies, american studiesIs Antigone’s heroism a mark of hubris? Is Don Quixote’s idealism insanity? Are Camus’s The Plague and Saramago’s Blindness allegories of courage or narratives of the absurd? With its allegories and polyphonic voices, multiple narratives, and deliberate silences, literature obscures our access to pat answers about good and evil, vice and virtue. This course examines how writers have disguised and distorted a quality such as courage to convey the multifaceted nature of human motivation. Readings also include texts by Emerson, Tillich, Agamben, and Arendt.
Voices of Modern IrelandLiterature 2301cross-listed: icsStudents in the course read the works of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Edna O’Brien, as well as less familiar individuals who have written or spoken of the modern Irish experience. Through novels, poetry, diaries, music, film, and journalism, the class encounters artists, politicians, immigrants and emigrants, and “ordinary people.” Themes include the individual and the nation, religion and secularity, isolation and globalization, conflict in the North, and what it means to be a part of modern Ireland.
Faulkner: Race, Text, and Southern History Literature 2306cross-listed: africana studies, american studiesUnlike other writers of his generation, who viewed America from distant shores, William Faulkner remained at home and explored his own region. From this intimate vantage point, he was able to portray the American South in all of its glory and shame. Students read Faulkner’s major novels, poetry, short stories, and film scripts. Readings also include biographical material and criticism.
St. Petersburg: City, Monument, TextLiterature 231 / Russian 231cross-listed: eus, resEmperors, serfs, merchants, and soldiers built St. Petersburg, but writers put it on the cultural map. The city served as a missing link between “enlightened” Europe and “barbaric” Asia, and between the turbulent past of Western civilization and its uncertain future. Considered to be too cold, too formal, and too imperial on the outside, St. Petersburg harbored revolutionary ideas and terrorist movements that threatened to explode from within. This course examines these dualities in works from Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Bely, and Nabokov.
The Art of TranslationLiterature 2319 By comparing multiple translations of literary, religious, and philosophical texts, this course examines the ways in which translation shapes textual meaning and our appreciation of it. Students also read key theoretical essays and take on a short translation project of their own. Readings include translations of Homer, Sappho, Plato, the Bible, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Baudelaire, Proust, Kafka, Babel, and Neruda.
Middle Eastern CinemasLiterature 232cross-listed: mesThe history of cinema in the Middle East is as old as the art form itself; films by the Lumière Brothers were shown in Cairo, Alexandria, Algiers, Tunis, Fez, and Jerusalem just months after their initial screenings. The “Orient” became the location for early productions and cinemas sprang up across the region. This course surveys the development of national cinemas in the Middle East; offers case studies of influential directors, including Chahine, Kiarostami, Amiralay, Moghrabi, and Suleiman; and presents video artworks produced by younger practitioners.
Freudian Psychoanalysis, Language, and LiteratureLiterature 2324Freud taught us to read slips of the tongue, bungled actions, memory lapses, and dreams—what he calls formations of the unconscious—as speech in their own right. Throughout his work he demonstrates that speech implicates us at a level far beyond what we typically consider communication. Selections from Studies on Hysteria, The Interpretation of Dreams, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, and The Psychopathology of Everyday Lifeare complemented with texts by Lacan, de Saussure, Lévi-Strauss, Mallarmé, Sebald, Woolf, and Duras.
Modern Chinese FictionLiterature 232A survey of Chinese fiction from the 1910s to the present. China witnessed unprecedented upheavals and radical transformations during this period, and its literature was often a battleground for political, cultural, and aesthetic debates. The class reads works by writers from three periods (1918–49; 1949–76; 1976– ), such as Lu Xun, Ding Ling, Ba Jin, Shen Congwen, Lao She, Mao Dun, Eileen Chang, Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Can Xue, and Han Shaogong.
The Easter Rising in Ireland, April 1916Literature 233cross-listed: icsTo mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion, a significant event in the creation of an Irish Free State, the class studies the lives and writings of the militants involved, several of whom were poets and teachers, and the ideological currents that shaped their different resolves. Texts include contradictory accounts of the rising as well as numerous songs and speeches that served to excite the ardor of the participants and their public—and the scorn of naysayers.
American GothicLiterature 2331cross-listed: american studies, gssThe gothic novel—the stronghold of ghost stories, family curses, and heroines in distress—uses melodrama and the macabre to disguise horrifying psychological, sexual, and emotional issues. In America, the genre has often confronted topics pertinent to national identity and history. Readings include works by Hawthorne, Poe, Jacobs, James, Alcott, Gilman, Wharton, Faulkner, Jackson, and Baldwin.
Literature of the CrusadesLiterature 234cross-listed: human rights, medieval studies, mes, religionThis course explores the considerable literature produced around the Crusades, including epics, lyric poems, chronicles, and sermons, in an attempt to understand the mentality that inspired lords and peasants, knights and monks, men and women, and adults and children to take up the cross. Although the class primarily considers the Catholic perspective, attention is also paid to the Greek, Muslim, and Jewish points of view on these conflicts.
Introduction to MediaLiterature 235cross-listed: experimental humanitiesA survey of media history and theory that aims to understand media not simply as a scholarly object but as a force in our lives. Old and new media are explored, from writing to photography to the digital landscape. Students also work with media, in order to assess their positions as users, consumers, and potential producers of media.
The Ark of Memory: Russian Documentary ProseLiterature 236cross-listed: gis, human rights, resRussia’s tragic history precipitated the creation of literary works that recorded confrontations between the authoritarian state and its defiant citizens. This course explores the nature of human resistance to cruelty, coercion, deprivation, and political ostracism as documented in 19th- and 20th-century nonfictional works by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Mandelstam, Akhmatova, Ginzburg, Solzhenitsyn, Brodsky, and others. Texts include diaries, journals, autobiographies, memoirs, travelogues, and essays. Readings in English.
Philosophy and LiteratureLiterature 238 / Philosophy 238See Philosophy 238 for a full course description.
The Canterbury TalesLiterature 2401cross-listed: medieval studiesWhat can storytelling accomplish? This question drives Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—and this course. An instant classic after Chaucer’s death in 1400, the Canterbury Tales inspired “fan fiction” almost immediately and has since been enshrined within the literary canon. Yet it is also a radically experimental work that tests, negotiates, and worries over the ways in which language constructs reality; queries the relationship between tale and teller; and challenges gender and class norms. Students also grapple with how literature does (and does not) influence social change.
Fantastic Journeys and the Modern WorldLiterature 2404The modern period has been characterized as a time of unimaginable freedom as well as existential angst, exile, and loss. This course examines the response of writers from America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia. In their fantastic parallel worlds, machines take on lives of their own, grotesque transformations violate the laws of science, and inversions of normality become the norm. Authors include L. Frank Baum, Kafka,Capek, Schulz, Olesha, and Mayakovsky.
The Book before PrintLiterature 2414In 1476, William Caxton set up England’s first printing press at Westminster in London. Prior to this technological innovation, books were made from vellum (animal skin) and written and illuminated by hand. The course considers Anglo-Saxon and medieval English books as both cultural objects and literary artifacts, and raises questions about literacy, the history of the book, the relationship between image and text, and the proximity of anonymous preprint culture to the Internet age, among other topics.
MiltonLiterature 2421Samuel Johnson terms Milton “an acrimonious and surly republican” while T. S. Eliot laments the fact that the poet had been “withered by book-learning.” But Milton was an insightful observer of human relationships and, particularly, of man’s relationship to God. This course examines the history of mid-17th-century England alongside Milton’s important writings, with a focus on Paradise Lost. His sonnets, theatrical works, and essays and tracts are also considered.
Literature in the Digital AgeLiterature 243cross-listed: experimental humanitiesThe proliferation of digital information and communications technologies over the past half-century has transformed how literary works are composed, produced, circulated, read, and interpreted. What is the nature, extent, and significance of these changes? This course reassesses questions and themes long central to the study of literature, including archiving, authorship, canon formation, dissemination, and narrative, among others, by pairing contemporary works with texts from and about other shifts in media from the ancient world to the modern era.
Theater and Politics: The Power of ImaginationLiterature 2481cross-listed: german studies, theater and performanceHow do theater and politics interrelate? What is the role of the imagination in challenging the realities of our world? This course addresses these questions along four major themes: war and violence (Heinrich von Kleist’s Amphitryon and Penthesilea); revolution (Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck and Danton’s Death); populism (in works by Bertolt Brecht and Tankred Dorst); and migration and transformation (in projects such as Rimini-Protokoll, which blurs the lines between theater, performance, reportage, and political activism).
James Joyce’s FictionLiterature 2485cross-listed: icsJoyce was an autobiographical writer who wrote about one place: Dublin. He was also an experimental writer and a prominent modernist in tune with the literary and artistic innovations of the early 20th century. In this course, students read his short stories in Dubliners, his coming-of-age novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and his modern epic Ulysses.
Arthurian RomanceLiterature 249cross-listed: medieval studiesThe course explores the major works of the Arthurian tradition—early Latin accounts of a historical King Arthur; the Welsh Mabinogion; French and German romances of Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, Merlin and Morgan, and the quest for the Holy Grail; and Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur—and considers the uncertain moral status of this genre.
English Literature I, II, IIILiterature 250, 251, 252In the first of three independent courses, students gain experience reading, thinking, and writing about early English literature, and devise a working narrative about the development of that literature and its role in the construction of the idea of England. Readings range from the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf to Shakespeare’s The Tempest, with attention paid to historical context and the continuum of conventions and expectations that the texts enact—and sometimes pointedly break. Texts also include Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, early descriptions and histories of England, and several “romances”—the pop fiction about knights and their adventures that circulated widely in both Chaucer’s medieval and Shakespeare’s early-modern England. Literature 251 explores poetry, fiction, drama, and criticism from the 17th and 18th centuries, including works by Milton, Donne, Marvell, Defoe, and Fielding. Literature 252 explores developments in British literature from the late 18th century through the 20th century—a period marked by the effects of the French and American Revolutions, rapid industrialization, the rise and decline of empire, two world wars, and growing uncertainty about the meaning of “Britishness” in a global context. Readings include poetry, prose, essays, and plays, with attention paid to the ways in which historical forces and social changes shape and are at times shaped by the formal features of literary text.
ShakespeareLiterature 2501A careful reading of seven masterpieces that represent the full range of Shakespeare’s genius in comedy, tragedy, romance, and royal history. The plays include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, and The Tempest.
Barbarians at the Gate: Degeneration and the Culture Wars of the Fin-de-SiècleLiterature 2507This course tracks the idea of degeneration—the nightmare offspring of Darwinian progress—from the 1857 prosecution of Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil to the trials of Oscar Wilde (for gross indecency) and Alfred Dreyfus (for treason) in the mid-1890s. Using Max Nordau’s Degeneration as a focal point, the class explores the prevalent late 19th-century identification of new literary forms with madness, criminality, and perversion. Readings include works by Ibsen, Stevenson, Nietzsche, Hardy, Wilde, Huysmans, and Wells.
Telling Stories about RightsLiterature 2509 / Human Rights 2509What difference can fiction make in the struggle for rights and justice? What can works representing injustice, suffering, or resistance tell us about fiction and literature? This course focuses on a range of fictions that tell unusual stories about the rights of individuals and communities to justice. Texts may include García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, Høeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Dai’s Balzac and the Chinese Seamstress, Momaday’s The Way to Rainy Mountain, and Ouologuem’s Bound to Violence, among others.
Isaac Babel and the Aesthetics of RevolutionLiterature 253cross-listed: human rights, jewish studies, resIsaac Babel was one of the most perplexing geniuses of 20th-century literature. He enlisted as a Jew in the anti-Semitic Cossack division of the Red Cavalry in 1920 and soon thereafter became one of the most famous writers in Soviet Russia, and he escaped the fury of the Great Terror of 1937–38 only to be shot as a traitor in 1940. This course attempts to unravel Babel’s many paradoxes through readings of Red Cavalry, 1920 Diary, and Odessa Stories, as well as critical and historical texts.
The Rise of Fiction in Enlightenment BritainLiterature 256cross-listed: experimental humanitiesThis course locates the 18th-century novel in relation to other Enlightenment forms of supposition. From the scientific hypothesis, to historical conjecture, to the national lottery and other games of chance, 18th-century British society witnessed the proliferation of many forms of make-believe. By gathering together discussions of these different forms, the course challenges the typical division between imaginative and scientific types of supposition. Texts by Margaret Cavendish, Isaac Newton, Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, Horace Walpole, Laurence Sterne, Adam Smith, Maria Edgeworth, and Jane Austen.
Literature of the United States I, II, III, IVLiterature 257, 258, 259, 260cross-listed: american studies, victorian studies This regularly repeating sequence of four independent but related units explores major authors and issues in American literature, from its Puritan origins to the 21st century. Literature 257 looks at early and antebellum American writing (17th to mid-19th century) through questions of colonization and indigeneity; race, gender, and authorship; religion and the state; and aesthetic tradition and innovation. Texts include poems, novels, short stories, and captivity narratives by Rowlandson, Edwards, Equiano, Wheatley, Schoolcraft, Irving, Brown, Apess, Poe, and Douglass. Literature 258 examines works by Hawthorne, Melville, Dickinson, and other writers of the American Renaissance. Literature 259 studies works written from the post–Civil War period to World War II, emphasizing the new and evolving spirit of realism, naturalism, and emergent modernism. Authors include James, Twain, Cather, Frost, Pound, Eliot, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. Literature 260 looks at American literature in the wake of World War II and 9/11.
Introduction to Literary TheoryLiterature 2607If literary theory rigorously questions things we take to be common sense—what precisely do we mean by “authors” and “texts,” for instance?—it also provides a space for the critical, creative linking of the literary to the social. For example, how do questions of racial difference intersect with models of narrative voice? This course focuses on key works from 20th- and 21st-century theorists including Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Edward Said, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Gayatri Spivak.
What Is a Character?Literature 263We have a complicated relationship with fictional characters. We are often drawn to them more than anything else in encounters with literature, theater, or film, but we also know, consciously or unconsciously, that they remain exactly what their name implies: circumscribed by typography, scriptedness, and the page or screen. This course studies the history of fictional characters in Western literature, starting in classical Greece and Rome, moving through medieval and Renaissance texts, and arriving at a discussion of character in the novel and in contemporary media.
Memorable 19th-Century Continental NovelsLiterature 264An in-depth examination of continental novels that are part of the literary canon, such as Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Balzac’s Cousin Bette, and Thomas Mann’s The Buddenbrooks. The class explores these writers’ portrayals of the major artistic, social, political, and philosophical trends and developments in 19th-century Europe, including the rising middle class, corrosion of religious beliefs, position of women in society, birth of radical ideologies, and the debate between materialism and idealism as philosophical concepts.
Victorian Poverty in Paint and PrintLiterature 265cross-listed: art history, victorian studiesIn Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, Mr. Podsnap quotes Jesus out of context by saying, “For ye have the poor always with you” in order to justify his own indifferent wealth. This course explores the myriad ways that Victorian writers, thinkers, politicians, and artists responded to seemingly timeless but persistently present poverty and its effect on the “Condition of England.” Texts and paintings may include works by Dickens, Carlyle, Ruskin, Mill, Engels, Mayhew, Barrett Browning, Gaskell, Rossetti, Morris, and Wilkie.
The Neuro-NovelLiterature 267cross-listed: experimental humanities, mbbA literary genre has materialized over the past 15 years that is concerned with the workings and misfirings of a mind, as well as emerging ideas about accessing and dramatizing interiority. This course explores how fiction considers what is problematic about a direct identification between mind and brain. Texts include Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love and Saturday, Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Richard Powers’s The Echo Maker, and Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances, among others.
Women Writing the CaribbeanLiterature 2670cross-listed: africana studies, gssClaudia Mitchell-Kernan describes creolization as “a mosaic of African, European, and indigenous responses to a truly novel reality.” This course is concerned with how women, through fiction, interpreted that reality. Students begin by reading The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave, Related by Herself (1831) and Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857). Works by Gellhorn, Rhys, Allfrey, Kincaid, Cliff, and Danticat are also studied.
Arab Women’s LiteratureLiterature 2672cross-listed: africana studies, mesThrough readings (in translation) of poetic and prose works by Arab women authors from the seventh century through the 21st century, the class pursues a broad-based understanding of Arabic literature, including its formal developments, genres, and themes. Also explored: the politics of literary translation and dissemination of “world” literatures, Orientalism and neo-Orientalism in the post–9/11 world, and the legendary figure of Shahrazad as she is portrayed in Western and Arab literature, art, and film.
Life and Death of the Contemporary European NovelLiterature 268What is living—and what is dead—in the contemporary European novel? How do traditions such as 19th-century realism and the historical novel influence today’s leading practitioners of the genre? And how do more obsolete genres—the philosophical tale or epistolary novel—continue to make their presence felt? This course explores the state of the European novel in works by Elena Ferrante (Italy), Karl Ove Knausgård (Norway), Antonio Muñoz Molina (Spain), Patrick Modiano (France), Milan Kundera (Czech Republic), W. G. Sebald (Germany), J. G. Ballard (United Kingdom), and Thomas Bernhard (Austria).
Ethics and Aesthetics in British ModernismLiterature 269Does poetry, as W. H. Auden once said, “make nothing happen,” or is “the theory of poetry,” as Wallace Stevens wrote, “the theory of life”? Through an extensive study of four major British modernists—D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, W. B. Yeats, and Auden—this course examines the capacity of modern literature to both articulate and realize a comprehensive vision of life in its ethical, aesthetic, and political dimensions.
Rebels With(out) a Cause: Great Works of German LiteratureLiterature 270 / German 270See German 270 for a full course description.
German Literature in Seven DatesLiterature 2704cross-listed: german studiesThis course offers seven relevant access points to German literature and history between the 18th and 21st centuries, beginning in January 1774, when Goethe establishes his literary fame after six somnambulant weeks of writing The Sorrows of Young Werther, and including November 1949, when Hannah Arendt first revisits Germany after the Second World War. Further readings from Kant, Kleist, Büchner, Uwe Johnson, and Herta Müller. A New History of German Literature (2004) furnishes apposite background reading.
Auto/BiographyLiterature 275The class investigates the ways in which authors in different periods and cultures have written about peoples’ lives, whether others’ or their own. Students consider the place of biography and autobiography in literature, conventions that give such works their shape, and the influence of politics, psychology, and culture. Texts by/about Suetonius, Augustine, de Pizan, Vasari, Woolf, Selassie, Patti Smith, Menchú, Satrapi, and others.
Contemporary Arabic WritingLiterature 278cross-listed: human rights, mesIn the years following the 2011 Arab uprisings, there has been a publishing explosion of writings by jil al-shabab (the youth generation), paralleled by increased international interest and translation projects. This course looks at recent writings in Arabic literature, paying particular attention to how these authors and their texts challenge and transcend literary norms and traditions. Readings include short stories, novels, poetry, blogs, and comic books, as well as recent critical reflections. All readings in English.
Literary Criticism: Theory and PracticeLiterature 293A close reading of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and in-depth study of salient secondary literature allows the class to consider how major critical approaches from New Criticism to New Historicism work in praxis and how they shape our understanding of the text. Extensive readings from Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory: Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory provide students with the methodological groundwork for their own critical writing.
Beyond the Work Ethic: The Uses and Misuses of IdlenessLiterature 3013The useful, Schiller wrote in On the Aesthetic Education of Man, divorces leisure from labor and turns life into a series of utilitarian dead ends. Yet the impulse to play, to engage in moments of being or seemingly evanescent conversation, has often been condemned as dangerously close to the decadent and idle. Readings include critiques of “pure” work and texts that explore resistance to work, the philosophical ramifications of laziness, and tensions between work and conversation as social and cultural phenomena.
Nabokov’s Shorts: The Art of Conclusive WritingLiterature 3019cross-listed: resThis course focuses on Vladimir Nabokov’s short stories, as well as his memoir Conclusive Evidence and the novel Pnin, both of which first appeared in story-length installments in the New Yorker. The class also studies Nabokov’s correspondence with New Yorker editors Katherine White and William Maxwell; looks at the drafts of his stories, in an effort to understand his process of composition and revision; and traces the metaphysical streak that runs through the Nabokov oeuvre.
Sound in American LiteratureLiterature 3028cross-listed: american studies, experimental humanitiesWe often describe literary form in sonic terms—voice, tone, echo—even as we set the silent, graphic medium of writing in opposition to the noisy stuff of speech and song. This paradox generates some knotty questions of aesthetics, sensation, and media. Put them in the context of 19th- and 20th-century American literature, and more questions arise. In what ways, for instance, does the representation of sound participate in the construction of race, region, and gender? Texts by Bakhtin, Brooks, Faulkner, Gitelman, Hurston, Ingold, and Keller, among others.
Nobel Laureates in LiteratureLiterature 3042The class discusses important books of modern and contemporary literature by authors who have received the Nobel Prize (Camus, Mann, Sartre, Bellow, Vargas Llosa, Pamuk, Jelinek, Milosz, Kertész, Solzhenitsyn, Pasternak). Their topics, vision, and innovative ways of writing are considered, as is their political and/or moral impact in the public arena. Also examined: the procedure and value of granting prizes, big and small, deserved and not well deserved, in a time when even the cultural field is dominated by the market.
MelvilleLiterature 3043cross-listed: american studiesThis seminar offers an intensive reading of Herman Melville’s prose and poetry, from his first novel, Typee, to the posthumously published Billy Budd. The class follows the mutations of a career that produced hugely popular adventure novels and commercially disastrous narrative experiments (including Moby-Dick; or, the Whale). Topics include labor, rhetoric, sexuality, the sublime, faith, and revolt.
Irish Writing and the Nationality of LiteratureLiterature 3045cross-listed: icsStudents read so-called “Irish” writing as a means of investigating the notion that literary texts may possess the attribute of nationality. How is Irishness to be located in a text? In what ways does the idea of nationality (or ethnicity or community) connect the literary, juridical, and political realms? Authors studied include Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, Oscar Wilde, Somerville and Ross, J. M. Synge, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Francis Stuart, Flann O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney.
Woman as CyborgLiterature 3046cross-listed: experimental humanities, gss, stsFrom the robot Maria in the 1927 film Metropolis to the female-voiced Siri application for iPhone, mechanized creations that perform physical, emotional, and computational labor have been routinely gendered female in both fiction and reality. This course considers how gynoids, fembots, and female-identified machinery reflect the roles of women’s work and women’s bodies in technologized society. Texts include writings from ancient Greece, Karel Capek’s 1920 play R.U.R. (in which the word “robot” first appeared), Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives, and William Gibson’s Neuromancer, among others.
Centaurs to SuperheroesLiterature 3047The human desire to transform, to become something other, has infused literature since the first artists took up charcoal to sketch half-man, half-beasts on a cave wall. This seminar analyzes the urge to transform and transcend from prehistory to the metamorphoses of Ovid and Virgil; the composite creatures of the medieval mind; the monsters and superheroes that populate the Victorian mind (Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Mr. Hyde, and Stoker’s Count Dracula); and the vampires, werewolves, and supermen that populate our contemporary imagination.
Extraordinary Bodies: Disability in American Fiction and CultureLiterature 3048cross-listed: american studies, human rightsThis course examines how writers of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries represent the “normal” body, as well as a constellation of bodies presented as extraordinary: bodies disfigured at birth or by illness or war; bodies paraded as “freaks”; bodies that don’t fit into established categories. Possible readings include short fiction by Poe, Hawthorne, O’Connor, and Morrison; novels by Howe (The Hermaphrodite), Phelps (The Silent Partner), Davis (Life in the Iron Mills), and Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time); and memoirs, drama, and poetry.
Through a Future Darkly: Global Crisis and the Triumph of DystopiaLiterature 307Formal literary dystopia has been with us since 1726, with the arrival of Swift’s Gulliver, although the tendency to critique the present by imagining a darkly extrapolated future surely extends back further. Central components of dystopian satire—climate destruction, nuclear annihilation, terrorist states—have become commonplaces of politics today. In such a world, has dystopia become prophetic, or redundant? This seminar explores dystopian literature present and past, including works by Atwood, Burgess, Burroughs, Dick, Kafka, London, Nabokov, and Roth, among others.
Black Mountain College and the Invention of Contemporary American Art and PoetryLiterature 3090cross-listed: art historyAt North Carolina’s Black Mountain College, which was founded in 1933 on John Dewey’s notion of “progressive” education, the relationship between thinking and doing, idea and practice, was understood as a seamless continuum, and the arts as central to democratic ideals. A list of faculty includes Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Robert Creeley. The class examines the premise of this utopian experiment and the historical platform that allowed radical modernist idioms to flourish.
Writing Darkness: Narratives of CaptivityLiterature 3100cross-listed: human rightsWriting from prison is writing from extremity. Carving sentences from isolation, deprivation, emotional and physical torture, the prison memoirist struggles to describe credibly a world far outside most readers’ experience. These stories, whether of concentration camp, gulag, or penitentiary, are vital to understanding modern writing and the experience of modernity. Texts by Jack Henry Abbott, e. e. cummings, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Jean Genet, Eugenia Ginzburg, Billy Hayes, Primo Levi, Naguib Mahfouz, Xavier de Maistre, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Marquis de Sade, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, and Malcolm X.
The Roman Poetry BookLiterature 3101cross-listed: classical studies, experimental humanitiesFirst adopted in the ancient Greek-speaking world and further developed among poets in Rome, the poetry book and its textual, material form led readers and writers to reimagine the relationship between literary media and poetic meaning. Thus, they initiated a process of creative experimentation that continues today. Readings focus on several Roman books that take the medium in different directions: Catullus’s “little book,” Virgil’s Eclogues, Propertius’s books of elegies, Horace’s lyric Odes, Ovid’s poetry of love and exile, and Statius’s Silvae.
Readings of the Global SouthLiterature 3105cross-listed: africana studies, human rights, mesThis seminar introduces recent theories and methodological approaches that are key to studies of the Global South. The class traces multiple ways in which recent scholarship uses seminal literary and critical theory to transform our understandings of late and postcolonial realities. Case studies come from a range of geographical areas, with a specific focus on the Middle East more broadly defined.
The Revenge TragedyLiterature 3122cross-listed: experimental humanities, theater and performanceVindicta mini! Clandestine murders, otherworldly revenants, disguise, madness, and a final scene of brutal bloodshed: these characterize the revenge tragedy, a form of drama extremely popular in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. The class investigates the revenge tragedy’s antecedent, Senecan tragedy, before considering the genre in its own context during the late 16th and early 17th centuries and modern instantiations of the genre.
Thomas Pynchon and the PostmodernLiterature 3134The Crying of Lot 49 and V. seemed a specific response to the cultural moment of 1960s America, but this seminar places Pynchon within the tradition of narrative experiment begun by Edgar Allan Poe. A close reading of The Crying of Lot 49, Gravity’s Rainbow, and the just-published Bleeding Edge reveal this longer line of influence on Pynchon and other postmodern novelists, whose achievements include a compelling mix of high/low culture and complexity of narrative point of view. Additional texts by Norris, West, O’Connor, and Chandler.
Geographies of Unease: Literature and the Dynamics of Cultural and Social ReproductionLiterature 3139 The books we read, the tastes we acquire, and the ambitions we hold make us into insiders or outcasts, depending on where we stand. Using literary and philosophical texts, this course explores the process of passing from one condition to another. Whether this integrative process involves race, country, sexuality, gender, or socioeconomics, it explodes the notion of a stable and unchanging self and focuses on border zones of culture and being. Readings from Bourdieu, Rancière, Larsen, James, Howells, Hardy, Ernaux, Foucault, Wharton, Woolf, Sarraute, and Eribon.
Proust: In Search of Lost TimeLiterature 315cross-listed: french studiesMarcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is is about an elaborate internal journey, at the end of which the narrator discovers the unifying pattern of his life both as a writer and human being. Students read Swann’s Way and Time Regained in their entirety along with key excerpts from other volumes. Topics of discussion include the ways by which Proust’s masterpiece reflect the temporality and new rhythms of modernity, the narrative and stylistic function of homosexuality, and the massive social disruption brought about by the Great War.
Fiction from the Indian SubcontinentLiterature 310This course examines fiction by authors from India and Pakistan in an effort to understand the postcolonial condition. Readings include the short text “Toba Tek Singh” by Pakistan’s Saadat Hasan Manto and more recent works by Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Nadeem Aslam, Jerry Pinto, Daniyal Mueenuddin, and others writers who address the social upheavals occurring in the subcontinent, many of which can be traced to the Partition of India in 1947.
Chinese CinemaLiterature 316cross-listed: asian studiesIn this course, film is used to investigate the commonalities and differences in China, Taiwan, and the Chinese-speaking diaspora. Examples include auteur films of the Chinese Fifth and Sixth Generation directors Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, and Feng Xiaogang; the Taiwanese and Hong Kong “New Wave Cinemas” of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang, and Ann Hui, as well as the action films of Jackie Chan and Jet Li; and the comedies of Sam Hui, Stephen Chow, and Xu Zheng.
Hannah Arendt: Political Thinking and the Plurality of LanguagesLiterature 318cross-listed: german studies, philosophy, political studiesThis seminar explores Arendt’s pivotal work The Human Condition. Topics discussed include her rethinking of the political: her reflections on concepts such as action, speech, power, plurality, freedom, world, labor, work, and the private and public spheres. Her poetics are also considered. Arendt’s deliberations were written in conversation with philosophers, political thinkers, and poets, and students are able to research her personal library, hosted at Bard, and examine the actual books she used, including her underlining and marginalia.
People Moving: Literature and the RefugeeLiterature 319Today nearly 40 million people are counted as refugees or “internally displaced people.” This seminar explores some of the factors underlying displacement and responses—especially literary—to it. Attention is given to the political and social dimensions of the refugee experience, but the focus is on imaginative accounts of displacement, flight, and (re)settlement. Texts by Aleksander Hemon, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Leila Aboulela, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jean Marteilhe, and Robin Gwynn. Screenings of Casablanca; Christ Stopped at Eboli; America, America; and The Pirogue.
DanteLiterature 3205 / Italian 3205This course addresses the fascinating reception of Dante’s Divine Comedy over the centuries in multiple literary traditions, national cultures, and artistic media. After reading the epic poem, students trace its presence in such phenomena as Petrarch and Boccaccio’s debates about poetry, Milton’s epic imagination, the founding of the American Dante Society at Longfellow’s Harvard, the cinematic Dante of Antonioni and other auteurs, the “illustrated” Dante from Doré to Rauschenberg, and Dante in American pop culture today.
EvidenceLiterature 3206cross-listed: human rightsEvidence, etymologically, is what is exposed or obvious to the eye, and to the extent that something is evident it should help us make decisions, form conclusions, or reach judgments. In this seminar, students examine documentary materials alongside contemporary literary and political theory, in order to pose questions about decision making, bearing witness, and responsibility. Readings and screenings from Gilles Peress, Susan Sontag, Toni Morrison, Jean-Luc Nancy, Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, Luc Boltanski, and others.
Unruly Bodies: From Frankenstein to the X-MenLiterature 321Bodies are biological and social facts that raise ethical and aesthetic questions. This course considers how our bodies are socially regulated and constituted in ways that reflect prevailing values, ethics, and ideas of normalcy. Nineteenth-century texts and visual objects—by Mary Shelley, Wordsworth, Eliot, Collins, Lamb, Ruskin, Wilde, Woolf, Hogarth, and Géricault, among others—are placed in conversation with contemporary ones by Ishiguro, Neel, Mapplethorpe, and Arbus. Films and television shows considered include The Twilight Zone, the X-Men franchise, Game of Thrones, and America’s Next Top Model.
Palestinian Literature in TranslationLiterature 3232cross-listed: human rights, mesA survey of Palestinian literature, from the early Arabic press to contemporary fiction. The class reads short stories, poetry, and novels by authors including Ghassan Kanafani, Emile Habiby, Samira Azzam, Anton Shammas, Mahmoud Darwish, Sahar Khalifeh, Fadwa Tuqan, and Elias Khoury.
Before Dear Abby: Writing Women in Early LiteratureLiterature 3243cross-listed: gss, medieval studiesWhat is women’s writing? And, for that matter, what is men’s writing? Do these categories of gender and taste hold for today’s audiences? Did they ever? This course considers literary notions of gender and identity that alternatively reflect and distort our world, and explores how gender is defined, catered to, and productively complicated through readings that include some of the earliest texts written by women; early examples of the “advice” genre; and texts in which male authors ventriloquize women, and vice versa.
Major Currents in American ThoughtLiterature 3224american studiesThe focus of the course is on three strains in American thought and culture: Emersonianism (individualism, self-creation, pragmatism, languages of movement and becoming); the Protestant tradition and its concerns (original sin and the tragic sense, transcendence of justice, imperatives of ethical reform), with Jonathan Edwards as the point of departure; and the conceptualization of American pluralism. Texts by William James, Dewey, Rorty, Cavell, Addams, Faulkner, Niebuhr, King, Stanton, Du Bois, Baldwin, Friedan, Chodorow, and others.
The Danger of RomanceLiterature 3252cross-listed: medieval studiesDante Alighieri’s Francesca ends up in Hell because she has read the romance of Lancelot, Don Quixote tilts after windmills because he has been reading romances, and Emma Bovary veers into adultery after indulging in similar reading matter. The alternate world presented by romance—knights errant, princesses, enchanted forests—can seem more attractive than our mundane world and, as such, threatens to distract us from our responsibilities within it. Texts include classical romances, Arthurian romances, Renaissance epics, and modern novels that emerge out of the romance tradition.
Banned Books and Other Literary ScandalsLiterature 326What do books as diverse as Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm have in common? At one point they were all banned for their controversial content. This course explores the complex universe of the banned or forbidden book, as we see how writers from James Joyce to Alice Walker have been barred from literary circulation because of their alleged threats to accepted views on sex, politics, religion, and social identity.
Reconstructing Ruin Literature 327cross-listed: american studies, eusWe are often confronted with images of ruin, from coffee-table books about the decline of American city centers to blockbusters that reimagine the destruction of our cities by natural and unnatural means. This course examines the idea of ruin as manifested in literature, visual art, and other forms of media. Readings are organized thematically—environments of natural disaster, postwar landscape, declining urban center, postapocalyptic city—and may include texts by Cormac McCarthy, L. J. Davis, Don DeLillo, Rose Macaulay, Paule Marshall, W. G. Sebald, and Colson Whitehead, among others.
Ideology and Politics in Modern Literature Literature 328cross-listed: human rightsAn examination of the ways in which political ideas and beliefs are dramatically realized in literature. Works by Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Kafka, Mann, Brecht, Sartre, Malraux, Gordimer, Kundera, Neruda, and others are analyzed for ideological content, depth of conception, method of presentation, and synthesis of politics and literature. The class also explores the borderline between art and propaganda.
Literature of Dissent Literature 329cross-listed: human rights, medieval studies, theologyAn investigation of the books and images that were produced, circulated, concealed, confiscated, banned—and sometimes burned along with their owners—during late medieval England’s heretical movement. But one person’s heretic is another’s reformer, and recent scholarship has sought to reexamine the literature from the reformer’s (or heretic’s) point of view. Texts include Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, various lives of St. Thomas Becket, “Confession of Hawisia Moone of Loddon,” Piers the Plowman’s Crede, John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and proclamations from Henry VIII on saints and their images.
Innovative Novellas and Short Stories Literature 330An in-depth study of the difference between the short story, built on figurative techniques closely allied to those employed in poetry, and the novella, which demands the economy and exactness of a short work while at the same time allowing a fuller concentration and development of character and plot. Readings from masters in these genres, including Voltaire, de Maupassant, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Aleichem, Mann, Babel, France, Camus, Kafka, Colette, and Borges.
Reading and Writing the Hudson: Writing the Essay of PlaceLiterature 3308cross-listed: american studies, eusStudents get to know the Hudson River in all of its complexity through reading a range of works and writing personal essays of place. Each student undertakes independent research into some aspect of the river; this research, combined with personal experience of the valley, is used to develop extended creative nonfiction essays, which are critiqued in a workshop format.
Translation WorkshopLiterature 331This workshop explores both the process of translation and ways in which meaning is created and shaped through words. Class time is divided between a consideration of various approaches to the translation of poetry and prose, comparisons of solutions arrived at by different translators, and the students’ own translations of poetry and prose of their choosing. Prerequisite: one year of language study or permission of the instructor.
The Art of Misbehaving in Renaissance EnglandLiterature 3315New English Renaissance drama is filled with audacious overreachers, defiant women, impertinent clowns, and deceptive tricksters—not to mention rogues, spies, murderers, and thieves. This course explores what depictions of rule-breakers and outlaws on stage can tell us about the organization of political and cultural power in the period, and interrogates our own position with respect to codes governing behavior. Readings include works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Jonson, as well as modern works of social theory and primary documents such as etiquette guides and political manifestos.
New Directions in Contemporary Fiction Literature 333Students closely examine novels and collections of short fiction from the last quarter century, with particular emphasis on works by pioneering practitioners of the form. Authors include Angela Carter, Robert Coover, Brian Evenson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jamaica Kincaid, Cormac McCarthy, Peter Straub, David Foster Wallace, and Jeanette Winterson. Several writers visit class to discuss their books and read from recent work.
Postfantasy, Fabulism, and the New GothicLiterature 334In a modern world in which images of sexuality proliferate, how did the In recent decades the boundaries between literary novels and genre fiction have become increasingly ambiguous. Early gothicists framed their tales within the metaphoric scapes of ruined abbeys and diabolic grottoes, with protagonists whose inverted psyches led them to test the edges of propriety and sanity. New gothic masters, such as Carter, Gaddis, and McCarthy, have contemporized these tropes and narrative arcs, while a parallel literary phenomenon, new wave fabulism, has taken the fantasy/horror genre in a similar literary direction. Authors studied also include Crowley, Hand, Coover, Russell, and Straub.
ExtinctionsLiterature 336cross-listed: anthropology, eus“Extinction” can describe more than one kind of calamity: species death, the disappearance of ways of life, the loss of languages. When and why did this trope—suggesting some vital flame snuffed out—become key to how we talk about the realities of biological, cultural, and linguistic precarity? How does one narrate the end, not of an individual organism, but of a form of life? For answers, the class looks to early works of natural history; ethnographic studies of populations on the edge; and to literary works, from Romantic-era poetry to science fiction.
Radical Romanticism: The Works of Percy Bysshe ShelleyLiterature 337Shelley (1792–1822) was a nonconformist in every aspect of his life. At 18, he was expelled from Oxford for distributing his pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism. He then published Queen Mab, a poem that indicted organized religion as the root of all evil and prophesied the emergence of a postmoral utopia. The following year, Shelley eloped to Italy with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the future author of Frankenstein, and lived in self-imposed exile for the remainder of his life. This seminar examines his work, influences, and impact.
American Literature and the Reinvention of the HumanLiterature 340The 20th century saw a surge in the cultural prestige and moral authority of psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology. These disciplines, rather than religion or literature, established the principal vocabularies through which human identity and the prospects for social change were articulated. This course combines the study of American literature and American intellectual history, and explores the ways in which literature both appropriated and resisted this cultural transformation. Writers considered: Baldwin, Auden, Nabokov, Wright, O’Connor, Bellow, Heller, Dreiser, and McCarthy.
Literature and the ApocalypseLiterature 342Almost from the time people began using styluses on clay tablets they wrote to depict the end of the world. This course looks at apocalyptic writing from its emergence in the sacred books of the Middle East to its contemporary efflorescence in novels, poetry, and film. Texts include Gilgamesh and associated works, John’s Revelation, and the Book of Daniel; Mary Shelley’s The Last Man and Jefferies’s After London; and more contemporary works by Beckett, DeLillo, Porter, Saramago, and Vargas Llosa, among others.
DifficultyLiterature 345What do we mean when we say a piece of writing is “difficult” or “easy?” In what sense is, say, a children’s tale less difficult than a modernist poem? Students examine a variety of texts and think about the roles a reader might assume in order to productively receive a “difficult” or “easy” text: decoder, philologist, ideologue, psychoanalyst, aesthete, etc. In this way, the course lays a foundation for literary theory and develops strategies for engaging with writings deemed too forbidding (or simple) for our attention.
European EncountersLiterature 346cross-listed: human rights, medieval studiesEurope was a continent of immigrants long before today. This course looks at how modern European identities and divisions were forged out of the migration of peoples in the pre-Modern period and their interaction with others. Readings are drawn from the entire medieval period and from Ireland to the Middle East. They include origin myths, Roman accounts of “barbarians,” Jewish and Muslim descriptions of Christian Europe, Crusade narratives, exploration accounts, legal texts, treatises, and letters.
Shakespeare’s ComediesLiterature 352This upper-level course takes up Shakespeare’s diverse comedies as avenues for exploring different critical and theoretical approaches. Students read all the comedies—The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado about Nothing, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Troilus and Cressida, and The Merchant of Venice—as well as exemplary works of literary criticism and theory.
Mark TwainLiterature 3521cross-listed: american studiesIn this course, students read Mark Twain’s major works, including, but not restricted to, Innocents Abroad, Roughing It, Life on the Mississippi, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, Letters from the Earth, and The Mysterious Stranger.
The Empire Writes BackLiterature 3522This course explores how works in the English literary tradition have inspired 20th-century writers outside of England, and how these writers adapted, revised, or deconstructed them. Topics include how the expatriate writer and the writer under colonialism developed a poetics of place that was at once imaginary and true to “home,” and how later works relate to earlier ones. Texts by Kamau Brathwaite, Salman Rushdie, Jean Rhys, Daniel Defoe, Gayatri Spivak, Chinua Achebe, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney.
American RealismsLiterature 355cross-listed: american studiesThis course focuses on texts produced between (roughly) 1865 and 1914, by writers seeking to convey the “realities” of American life in this turbulent period. Realism has long been defined by the works of James, Howells, Twain, Crane, Dreiser, Wharton, and Chopin. In addition to selections from these authors, the class considers texts by writers of color, of varying ethnicities, and by greater numbers of women, in order to better understand the different realities they were striving to document and influence.
Exile and Estrangement in Modern FictionLiterature 358The class examines fiction by Mann, Kafka, Nabokov, Camus, Singer, Kundera, and Naipaul both for its literary value and as a reflection of the issue of exile—estrangement as a fact of biography and a way of life. The topics of foreignness and identity (ethnic, political, sexual), rejection and loss, estrangement and challenge, and protean mutability are discussed in connection to relevant social-historical situations (war, expulsion, migration) and as major literary themes.
Hamlet and King LearLiterature 364The class examines fiction by Mann, Kafka, Nabokov, Camus, Singer, Kundera, and Naipaul both for its literary value and as a reflection of the issue of exile—estrangement as a fact of biography and a way of life. The topics of foreignness and identity (ethnic, political, sexual), rejection and loss, estrangement and challenge, and protean mutability are discussed in connection to relevant social-historical situations (war, expulsion, migration) and as major literary themes.
Virginia WoolfLiterature 3741cross-listed: gssWhat makes Woolf a modernist? Why did Woolf’s novels and essays become canonical texts of late 20th-century feminism? Students read Woolf’s novels, from The Voyage Out (1915) to Between the Acts (1941), in the context of two distinct periods of innovation and conflict in 20th-century literary culture. The first was the formation of the Bloomsbury Circle and English modernism. The second, following the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s, was the introduction of feminist literary criticism.
Cultural Cold War and the Third WorldLiterature 375cross-listed: africana studies, human rights, lais, mesThis seminar begins with the 1955 Bandung Conference and its call for Afro-Asian solidarity and nonalignment in the face of the either/or logic of the Cold War. Students explore the history of the CIA-founded Congress for Cultural Freedom and Soviet-backed Afro-Asian Writers Association—reading selections from their Indian, Arab, African, and Latin American magazines—as well as the resurgent relevance of the Cold War to our times (through Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings).
Sex in Theory: Queer/Crip Studies TodayLiterature 376cross-listed: gssQueer theorist Michael Warner says “the appeal of ‘queer theory’ has outstripped anyone’s sense of what exactly it means.” Through readings of foundational texts of the past 30 years, this course examines the many things that “queer theory” could possibly mean and how it might be useful in the study of cultural—and particularly, literary—artifacts. Rather than study queer theory in a vacuum, the class traces its antecedents in feminist methodologies and its continued life, particularly in the realms of disability theory and studies of embodiment more generally.
Ralph Waldo EllisonLiterature 378cross-listed: american studiesMany Ellisons are contained within the author of Invisible Man, one of the greatest novels of the 20th century—novelist, essayist, musician, critic, mechanical tinkerer, Bard professor. Despite a wealth of other writing, Ellison published only one novel in his lifetime. This course uses Ellison’s work and career to explore critical issues in American and African American literature, and the Invisible Man as a structural road map in considering the literary, philosophical, and vernacular traditions that influenced its composition.
Emily DickinsonLiterature 379Although frequently depicted as working in relative isolation, Dickinson was in fact vitally connected to the world around her. This seminar is devoted to a close reading of her poetry in the context of the historical moment and literary world of which she was a part. By exploring how her work participates in the poetic practices and intellectual currents of her day, students sharpen their understanding of her unique, even radical, contribution to American poetry.
Different Voices, Different Views from the Non-Western WorldLiterature 389cross-listed: gisSignificant short works by some of the most distinguished contemporary writers of Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East are examined for their intrinsic literary merits and the verisimilitude with which they portray the sociopolitical conditions, spiritual belief systems, and attitudes toward women in their respective countries. Authors include Assia Djebar, Nawal El Saadawi, Ousmane Sembène, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Chinua Achebe, Naguib Mahfouz, R. K. Narayan, Anita Desai, Nadine Gordimer, Mahasweta Devi, Mahmoud Darwish, and Tayeb Salih.
Ten Plays That Shook the WorldLiterature 393cross-listed: french studies, theater and performanceA close reading of plays considered milestones in the history of theater. The class examines the artistic, social, and psychological components that made these 10 works part of the literary canon. Have they lasted because they conjure up fantasies of escape? Because they make readers face dilemmas inherent in certain social conditions or archetypal conflicts? Direction, acting, staging, and lighting are also considered.
Senior Colloquium: LiteratureLiterature 405Literature majors must enroll in this yearlong colloquium, where they share working methods, knowledge, skills, and resources, and address challenges arising from research and writing on this scale. A focus on the nuts and bolts of the Senior Project is complemented with life-after-Bard skills workshops and a review of internship and grant-writing opportunities.