Bard College Catalogue

The Bard College Catalogue contains detailed descriptions of the College's undergraduate programs and courses, curriculum, admission and financial aid procedures, student activities and services, history, campus facilities, affiliated institutions including graduate programs, and faculty and administration.

Bard College Catalogue, 2018–19

Bard College Catalogue, 2018–19



Rebecca Cole Heinowitz (director), Jaime Alves (MAT Program), Franco Baldasso, Thomas Bartscherer, Alex Benson, Jonathan Brent, Mary Caponegro, Nicole Caso, Maria Sachiko Cecire, Robert L. Cioffi, Teju Cole, Lauren Curtis, Deirdre d’Albertis, Mark Danner, Adhaar Noor Desai, Brittney Edmonds (BHSEC), Nuruddin Farah, Peter Filkins, Elizabeth Frank, Derek Furr (MAT Program), Stephen Graham, Donna Ford Grover, Lianne Habinek, Ena Harris (BHSEC), Elizabeth N. Holt, Thomas Keenan, Robert Kelly, Franz R. Kempf, Marina Kostalevsky, Ann Lauterbach, Marisa Libbon, Peter L’Official, Patricia Lopez-Gay, Joseph Luzzi, Joseph Mansky, Daniel Mendelsohn, Bradford Morrow, Matthew Mutter, Melanie Nicholson, Joseph O’Neill, Francine Prose, Dina Ramadan, Susan Fox Rogers, James Romm, Justus Rosenberg, Nathan Shockey, Karen Sullivan, Éric Trudel, David Ungvary, Marina van Zuylen, Olga Voronina, Thomas Wild, Li-Hua Ying


The Literature Program at Bard is free from the barriers that are often set up between different national literatures or between the study of language and the study of the range of intellectual, historical, and imaginative dimensions to which literature’s changing forms persistently refer. Literary studies are vitally engaged with inter-disciplinary programs and concentrations such as Africana Studies, Asian Studies, Classical Studies, Experimental Humanities, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Medieval Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Victorian Studies.


A student planning to major in the Literature Program should begin by taking Literature 201, Narrative/Poetics/Representation, and at least one of the sequence courses in English, U.S., or comparative literature. These courses focus on close readings of literary texts and frequent preparation of critical papers.

To moderate, a student must take at least three additional courses in the Division of Languages and Literature. One of these courses may be a Written Arts course and one may be a language instruction course. No more than one writing workshop can count toward the Moderation requirements.

For Moderation, the student submits a 10- to 12-page critical essay based on work for one of the sequence courses; the two short Moderation papers required of all students; and fiction or poetry if the student is a double major in the Written Arts Program. The first short paper reflects on the process that has led the student to this point in his or her studies; the second reflects on the student’s aspirations for work in the Upper College. The papers are evaluated by a board composed of the student’s adviser and two other members of the Literature Program faculty.

After Moderation, students must take a second sequence course from the same sequence as the first, although it need not be consecutive (for example, a student may take English Literature III and then English Literature I). The second sequence course must be taken prior to the start of the senior year. Students must also take at least one course that focuses on literature written before 1800 and at least one course that focuses on literature written after 1800. This requirement is in addition to the two sequence courses described above. Students are also expected to enroll in 300-level seminars and are strongly encouraged to take one world literature course and one junior seminar. All students must complete a Senior Project and enroll in Literature 405, the yearlong Senior Colloquium, in order to graduate.

Recent Senior Projects in Literature:

  • “Friends, Lovers, Ideals: A Look at Sociality in Emerson”
  • “Genevieve’s Light, Albertine’s Shadows: Apparitions in Marcel Proust’s In Search
    of Lost Time
  • “Imagined England: Readers and Writers in the 12th to 14th Centuries”
  • “Light Silence Dark Speech: Samuel Beckett, Jasper Johns, and the Image-Text Distinction”


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 Studies
Literature 103
The 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 Literature
Literature 110
This 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 Literature
Literature 120 / Computer Science 120
Concurrent 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 Homer
Literature 125
An 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 Karenina
Literature 130
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.”

Women and Leadership
Literature 131
This 2-credit course explores some of the stories that circulate around women and power, from both academic and real-world perspectives. What does it mean to lead? How do we use a language of empowerment? Why has the United States embraced certain narratives of gender equity and success as opposed to those being created in other countries and cultures? The class engages with stories from across disciplines (the military, higher education, STEM, the arts) and from a broad range of perspectives.

The Iliad of Homer
Literature 145
Students 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 Abroad
Literature 2002
The 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 Masterpiece
Literature 2005
How 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.

Narrative / Poetics / Representation
Literature 201
What does it mean to study literature today? How do poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and drama differ from other forms of expression? How can we read those differences—the small, unexpected ways that literature can transform everyday life and everyday language—in connection with larger cultural, political, and aesthetic questions? This course emphasizes the practice of close textual analysis, introduces foundational methods in literary studies, and lays the groundwork for further investigations across a range of literary forms, national traditions, historical moments, and social identities.

The Great American Indian Novel
Literature 2016
American 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.

Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Literature 2026
What makes a work of children’s literature a classic? Who are these texts really for? 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, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Enid Blyton, Diana Wynne Jones, C. S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, J. K. Rowling, and others.

20th-Century Latin American Poetry
Literature 2027
Poetry 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.

Religion and the Secular in Literary Modernism
Literature 2035
The course examines how a number of writers have framed the relationship between religion and modern literature, as well as the modernist attraction to paganism and the occult, on one hand, and to mystical and ascetic attitudes and methods of renunciation, self-erasure, and apophasis, on the other. Texts by Talal Asad, James Baldwin, Willa Cather, J. M. Coetzee, Paul Celan, T. S. Eliot, Mohsin Hamid, James Joyce, Flannery O’Connor, Salman Rushdie, Wallace Stevens, Jean Toomer, Nathanael West, and Virginia Woolf.

Comparative Literature I, II, III
Literature 204A, 204B, 204C
Readings in Literature 204A begin with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and move on to include Greek lyric poetry (Sappho and Pindar); Attic drama (Aristophanes’s Frogs and Clouds, Aeschylus’s Prometheus Bound, Euripides’s Medea and Bacchae); and Latin epic, lyric, and dramatic poetry (Virgil, Horace, Catullus, Seneca). In 204B, the class looks at literature’s transition in the two centuries between Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) and Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads (1800). How did issues of slavery, political resistance, and emergent democracy shape literary culture? And how did other art forms, such as painting, music, sculpture, and architecture, influence writers from the Baroque, Enlightenment, and Romantic ages? Texts by Calderón, Equiano, Goethe, Manzoni, Montesquieu, Racine, and Sor Juana, among others. The third section examines the Euro-American literary transformation loosely named Romanticism to modernity. Readings from Apollinaire, Balzac, Baudelaire, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Goethe, Gogol, Hoffmann, James, Kafka, Lautréamont, Mallarmé, Novalis, Rilke, Schlegel, Schiller, Wilde, and Woolf.

Making Verse and Making Love: Introduction to Renaissance Poetry
Literature 2041
Sir 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 Novel
Literature 2050
African 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.

Modern Arabic Fiction
Literature 2060
Students 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 Books
Literature 2062
The 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 century 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.

Other Romanticisms
Literature 2064
It is only in recent decades that studies of Romantic poetry have looked beyond the Big Six: Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Byron. Yet between the 1780s and the 1830s, Britain witnessed an explosion of writing by figures generally excluded from the canon, including women, proletarians, people of color, peasants, and those deemed insane. This course explores the works of this “other” Romantic tradition. Authors include George Crabbe, Robert Burns, Mary Prince, Thomas Beddoes, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Isaac d’Israeli, and William Hazlitt.

Mass Culture of Postwar Japan
Literature 2081
This 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.

Major American Poets
Literature 209
American 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 Present
Literature 2105
“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.

Future Black
Literature 211
How do we imagine the future of blackness? How have we done so in the past, and how might these visions be useful in our present? This course examines how African American and black diasporic communities have used science fiction, fantasy, cosmology, and mythology as arenas in which to conjure long-lost pasts, alternate realities, and worlds yet to come. Authors and artists studied may include Octavia Butler, George Clinton, Samuel Delany, W. E. B. Du Bois, Kiese Laymon, Audre Lorde, Sun Ra, Ishmael Reed, and Tracy K. Smith.

Wise Fools: Madmen, Lunatics, and Other Literary Outcasts
Literature 2110
How 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 Laughter
Literature 2117
The 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.

Traditions of African American Literature
Literature 2134
An 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 class examines how authors have created, defined, and complicated the traditions of literature within which they participate. Writers likely to include Douglass, Du Bois, Toomer, Hurston, Ellison, Baldwin, Morrison, and Whitehead.

Domesticity and Power
Literature 2140
Many 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 Courage
Literature 2142
In 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 English
Literature 2156
A 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 Rule
Literature 2159
This 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 Ireland
Literature 2175
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.

Kundera: The Art of Fiction
Literature 2183
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 Africa
Literature 2185
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.

Berlin: Capital of the 20th Century
Literature 2194 / German 2194
In 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.

Literature 220 / German 220
What are the stakes of representing madness? Can we grasp madness in a rational manner? Does a certain kind of exploration of madness offer a way to think about the mass appeal of nationalism or fascism? Authors whose works spur discussion of these and other questions include Kafka (“The Judgment” and Diaries), Goethe (Faust I), Freud (The Wolf-Man), Breton (Nadja), Hölderlin (selected poems), Rimbaud (“The Drunken Boat”), Foucault (History of Madness), Beckett (Murphy), Celan (selected poems and prose), and Sebald (The Emigrants).

Balkan Voices
Literature 2203
“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 Culture
Literature 2206
From 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.

Building Stories
Literature 2213
This 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 Literature
Literature 2216 / Japanese 2216
See Japanese 2216 for a full course description.

Dostoevsky Presently: Poetics, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology
Literature 2227
Students 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 Theater
Literature 2234
At 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 Literature
Literature 2238
An 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.

American Existentialisms
Literature 224
The French existentialists were not impressed by Americans. Simone de Beauvoir said Americans had no “feeling for sin and remorse” and Albert Camus complained that they “lacked a sense of anguish about the problems of existence.” This course challenges these assertions, unearthing a rich existentialist current in American writing from Emily Dickinson to Richard Wright, Carson McCullers, and Walker Percy.

Strange Books and the Human Condition
Literature 225
This 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 email application.

Saints’ Lives from the Middle Ages to the Reformation
Literature 2264
A 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.

Labor and Migration in Arabic Literature
Literature 227
Questions of migration, exile, and displacement have been central to the (post)colonial Arabic literary tradition. Tayeb Salih’s Seasons of Migration to the North, widely considered the most important Arabic novel of the last century, charts Mustafa Sa’eed’s journey further and further from Sudan and the impossibility of homecoming. The course focuses on Arabic literary production from the second half of the 20th century, and asks how such works produce a language and aesthetic of displacement and estrangement that challenges the hegemony of national boundaries. 

The Arab Renaissance, or Nahdah as Empire
Literature 228
As the Ottoman empire waned, and the French and British extended their imperial presence into the Middle East and North Africa, private Arabic newspapers and journals began to publish a range of texts invoking a sense of nahdah, or rise, renaissance, and awakening. Students in this course read short stories, novels, anecdotes, and essays translated from the Arabic, alongside critical and historical work. Authors studied include Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, Muhammad al-Muwaylihi, Adelaide Bustani, Jurji Zaydan, and Mayy Ziyadah.

The Practice of Courage: From Martyrs to Suicide Bombers
Literature 2281
In 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 BCE to the present.

Primo Levi: Scientific Imagination and the Holocaust
Literature 229
For his unique testimony, Primo Levi is acclaimed as the most influential writer of the Holocaust. But his works, from autobiographical accounts to sci-fi and fantastic tales, also daringly attempted to bridge scientific and literary imaginations. In addition to Levy’s works, the class reads texts by others who questioned the epistemological status of scientific knowledge and its relation to power, life, and imagination, including Georges Canguilhem, Georges Perec, Italo Calvino, Giorgio Agamben, and Carlo Rovelli.

Modern Chinese Fiction
Literature 230
A 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– ): Lu Xun, Ding Ling, Ba Jin, Shen Congwen, Lao She, Mao Dun, Eileen Chang, Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Can Xue, and Han Shaogong.

Voices of Modern Ireland
Literature 2301
Students 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 2306
Unlike 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, Text
Literature 231 / Russian 231
Emperors, 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 Translation
Literature 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 Cinemas
Literature 232
The 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 Literature
Literature 2324
Freud 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.

American Gothic
Literature 2331
The 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 Crusades
Literature 234
This 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 Media
Literature 235
A 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.

Philosophy and Literature
Literature 238 / Philosophy 238
See Philosophy 238 for a full course description.

Fantastic Journeys and the Modern World
Literature 2404
Fantastic literature, as Italo Calvino has noted, takes as its subject the problem of “reality.” This course addresses questions of identity, meaning, and consciousness in the literature of the fantastic of Eastern Europe and Russia from the early 20th century to the 1960s. Authors studied include S. Ansky, Karel Capek, Viktor Erofeyev, Franz Kafka, Daniil Kharms, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Yuri Olesha, and Bruno Schulz.

The Book before Print
Literature 2414
In 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.

Literature 2421
Samuel 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 Age
Literature 243
The 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 Imagination
Literature 2481
How 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 Fiction
Literature 2485
Joyce 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 Romance
Literature 249
The 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, III
Literature 250, 251, 252
In 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.

Barbarians at the Gate: Degeneration and the Culture Wars of the Fin de Siècle
Literature 2507
This 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 Rights
Literature 2509 / Human Rights 2509
What 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 Revolution
Literature 253
Isaac 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.

Literature 255
Isaac 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 Britain
Literature 256
This 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.

American Literature I, II, III, IV
Literature 257, 258, 259, 260
Literature 257 focuses on writings from the first three generations of Puritan settlement in 17th-century Massachusetts. Topics explored include the authority of divinely authored Scripture, original sin, predestination, free grace, “the city on a hill,” Puritan plain style and metaphor, and the construction of the radically individual American self. Authors include notable Puritan divines, poets, and historians, as well as later writers such as Edwards, Irving, Emerson, Dickinson, Twain, and Lowell. Literature 258 explores major American writers of the mid-19th century and issues such as wilderness, westward expansion, and emergent empire; metaphor and figurations of selfhood, knowledge, divinity, and nature; and the Civil War. Texts by Lincoln, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Douglass, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson. 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. In Literature 260, students explore the role of literature in articulating, galvanizing, or criticizing the various social and political upheavals between World War II and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Works studied include fiction from Baldwin, Bellow, DeLillo, Lahiri, Mailer, Morrison, O’Connor, and Roth, and poetry from Ashbery, Bishop, O’Hara, Palmer, and Graham.

Introduction to Literary Theory
Literature 2607
If 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 263
We 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.

Victorian Poverty in Paint and Print
Literature 265
In 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.

Disability and Queer Aesthetics
Literature 266
In his seminal book Disability Aesthetics, Tobin Siebers argues that “aesthetics track the emotions that some bodies feel in the presence of other bodies.” Taking this as but one definition of the aesthetic, this course considers the role of embodiment in the creation of aesthetic categories, movements, and styles. What bodies and objects have been excluded? Does the identity of the creator matter or only the form of the object? Texts by Shakespeare, Donne, Dickens, Wilde, Swinburne, Whitman, Woolf, Highsmith, Baldwin, Bechdel, and others.

The Neuro-Novel
Literature 267
A 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.

Life and Death of the Contemporary European Novel
Literature 268
What 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 Modernism
Literature 269
Does 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.

German Literature in Seven Dates
Literature 2704
This 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.

Literature 275
The 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.

Chosen Voices: Jewish Authors
Literature 276
An examination of 19th- and 20th-century authors who, in their attempts to preserve Jewish tradition or break with it, managed to make a major contribution to secular Jewish culture. Topics discussed include notions of Jewish identity and stereotypes, “apartness” and “insideness,” Jewish humor, and the consequences of a particular author’s decision to write in Hebrew, Yiddish, or a language such as Russian, German, or English. Authors: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, Peretz, Aleichem, Babel, Kafka, Schulz, Levi, Singer, Malamud, Paley, Appelfeld, and Wagenstein.

Contemporary Arabic Writing
Literature 278
In 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.

The Heroic Age
Literature 280
Major works of the early Middle Ages are studied with an emphasis on those written in what are today France, Germany, England, and Scandinavia. The course considers key historical events, such as the Viking invasions, rise of feudalism, and spread of Christianity, and the literary works that developed in those contexts. Texts include Beowulf, The Song of Roland, Nibelungenlied, and the plays of Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim.

Literary Criticism: Theory and Practice
Literature 293
A 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 Idleness
Literature 3013
The 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 Writing
Literature 3019
This 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 Literature
Literature 3028
We 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.

Toward a Moral Fiction
Literature 3033
Each text in this course grapples with ethical issues through fictive means. Students assess the way in which literature can create, complicate, or resolve ethical dilemmas—or eschew morality altogether. The course also attends to craft, investigating how authors’ concerns may be furthered by formal considerations. Works studied include Frankenstein, The Heart of the Matter, Disgrace, Crash, Continental Drift, Mating, Blood Meridian, and The Fifth Child, among others.

Poetic Lineages
Literature 3036
T.  S. Eliot famously remarked, “What happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.” This seminar explores the transhistorical dialogue within Anglo-American poetry and poetics, tracing various poetic lineages from the Romantic era to the present moment. Writers considered include Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Emerson, Dickinson, H.D., Olson, Spicer, Duncan, Coolidge, and Prynne.

Literature 3043
This 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 Literature
Literature 3045
Students 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 Cyborg
Literature 3046
From 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.

Through a Future Darkly: Global Crisis and the Triumph of Dystopia
Literature 307
Formal 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.

Writing the Better Self
Literature 310
William Wordsworth’s narrative poem The Prelude includes as a subtitle “Growth of a Poet’s Mind.” The bildungsroman—the story of personal development—reached an apex in the British Empire of the 19th century across genres and forms. This course looks at why that was so, and puzzles through the ethical stakes inherent in the form. Texts: The Prelude; The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave; selections from autobiographies of factory workers; Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss; Dickens’s Great Expectations; and Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Writing Darkness: Narratives of Captivity
Literature 3100
Writing 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, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Malcolm X.

The Roman Poetry Book
Literature 3101
First 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.

A Fly in the Buttermilk: Home and Abroad with James Baldwin
Literature 312
During his travels as a literary expatriate, James Baldwin remarked to a friend who had urged him to settle down that “the place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I make it.” This course uses Baldwin’s work and career to “travel” from America abroad and from region to region, exploring critical issues in the fields of American and African American literature, including race and ethnicity, gender, language, identity, technique, and questions of canon formation.

The Revenge Tragedy
Literature 3122
Vindicta 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.

Literary Responses to Totalitarianism
Literature 313
Students read novels, stories, memoirs, poems, and plays that describe the experience of human beings suffering—or thriving—under totalitarian regimes. Among the writers studied are Roberto Bolaño, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Peter Handke, Gitta Sereny, Primo Levi, Philip Roth, Norman Manea, Zbigniew Herbert, Wallace Shawn, Nuruddin Farah, and Jung Chang. Narrative structure and literary style are considered, as well as historical and political content.

Women’s Bodies / Women’s Voices
Literature 314 
Explaining his own poetic ventriloquizing of Sappho, Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote, “It is as near as I can come; and no man can come close to her.” This course interrogates what it meant to write in a woman’s voice, to write of a woman’s body, and to work as an embodied female artist in the years between 1840 and 1930 in Great Britain. Authors include Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Thackeray, Martineau, Robert Browning, Wilde, Woolf, Ford, Yeats, and Hall, among others.

Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Literature 315
Marcel 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 in which Proust’s masterpiece reflects 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 Subcontinent
Literature 3150
This 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 other writers who address the social upheavals occurring in the subcontinent, many of which can be traced to the Partition of India in 1947.

Chinese Cinema
Literature 316
In 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 Languages
Literature 318
This 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 Refugee
Literature 319
Today 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.

(Un)making the Canon: Texts and Contexts in English Literature
Literature 320
Why are some texts deemed canonical and others not? How and when and under what (or whose) auspices does this process occur? In the case of early English texts, did their contemporary readers hold them in the high regard we do? In branding these texts literary and cultural masterpieces, are we ignoring their meanings to earlier readers? This course takes a fresh look at the “must reads” of early English literature, including Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Literature 3205 / Italian 3205
This 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.

Writing Africa
Literature 3212
Africa has served as the setting for a variety of British and American authors. Grand ideas are discussed with great intensity in their works, yet the African is virtually absent because the author denies him/her the power of speech or presents him/her as not wholly present, not a full human being equal to the others. This course explores topics such as colonialism, racism, civilization, and the “construction” of the African in texts by Conrad, Waugh, Cary, Hemingway, Bellow, Naipaul, Boyd, Theroux, and Rush.

Representing the Unspeakable
Literature 322
What means do writers use to demonstrate conditions that defy our comprehension? This seminar focuses on how literary works find a language to describe emotions and experiences that usually cannot be translated into everyday speech; and how figurative tropes, such as description and metaphor, can evoke powerful states of physical difference and illuminate the distinction between the human and the nonhuman, success and failure. Texts include Shelley’s Frankenstein; Kafka’s The Metamorphosis; Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; and Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone.

Before Dear Abby: Writing Women in Early Literature
Literature 3243
What 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 Thought
Literature 3224
The 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 Romance
Literature 3252
Dante 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 Scandals
Literature 326
What 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 327
We 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.

Literature of Dissent 
Literature 329
An 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 330
An 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.

Translation Workshop
Literature 331
This 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 England
Literature 3315
English Renaissance literature 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.

Innovative Contemporary Fiction
Literature 333
Students have the opportunity to interact with several leading contemporary writers, who visit class to discuss their work, answer questions, and give a public reading. Time is also devoted to key novels and short story collections by innovative fiction writers of the past couple of generations, with a particular emphasis on pioneering practitioners such as Cormac McCarthy, Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson, William Gaddis, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Ondaatje, Ian McEwan, and Jamaica Kincaid

Postfantasy, Fabulism, and the New Gothic
Literature 334
In 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.

Literature 336
“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 Shelley
Literature 337
Shelley (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.

Writing after Modernism: Quixote, the Boom, and the Postmodern Play
Literature 339
How to account for the rise of an artistic movement that seizes on the innovations of modernist giants Joyce, Faulkner, and Woolf, and pushes them further in boldly vertiginous directions? The “Boom” dominated Latin American letters for scarcely 20 years and yet it produced a score of masterpieces whose reverberations are still being felt. This seminar examines some of the Boom’s antecedents (Cervantes’s woeful knight and Borges’s fictional mazes) and its classics, from Carpentier, Cortazar, Donoso, Fuentes, García Márquez, and Vargas Llosa.

American Literature and the Reinvention of the Human
Literature 340
The 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 Apocalypse
Literature 342
Almost 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.

Literature 345
What 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 Encounters
Literature 346
Europe 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 Comedies
Literature 352
This 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.

The Empire Writes Back
Literature 3522
This 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 Realisms
Literature 355
This 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 Fiction
Literature 358
The 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 Lear
Literature 364
The 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.

Memorable 19th-Century Continental Novels
Literature 3640
An 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.

Virginia Woolf
Literature 3741
What 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 World
Literature 375
This 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 Today
Literature 376
Queer 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 Ellison
Literature 378
Many 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.

Different Voices, Different Views from the Non-Western World
Literature 389
Significant 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 World
Literature 393
A 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: Literature
Literature 405
Literature 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.