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Bard College Catalogue, 2019–20
Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures
Melanie Nicholson (director) and Stephanie Kufner (coordinator), Matthew Amos, Franco Baldasso, John Burns, Nicole Caso, Odile S. Chilton, Robert L. Cioffi, Lauren Curtis, Ziad Dallal, Elizabeth N. Holt, Franz R. Kempf, Marina Kostalevsky, Lu Kou, Patricia López-Gay, Kassandra Miller, Oleg Minin, Karen Raizen, Dina Ramadan, James Romm, Nathan Shockey, Wakako Suzuki, Éric Trudel, David Ungvary, Olga Voronina, Marina van Zuylen, Thomas Wild, Li-Hua Ying
At Bard, the study of a foreign language provides students with the opportunity to acquire a critical appreciation of foreign cultures and literatures in addition to language skills. Integral to the process is the mastery of the foreign language and its use in the study of written texts—not only literature, but also texts from such fields as philosophy, history, and theology—and of nonverbal expressions of culture such as art history, music, and cinema.
Languages currently taught at Bard include Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and ancient Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. Bard maintains a state-of-the-art language facility, the Center for Foreign Languages and Cultures, at the F. W. Olin Language Center, which offers the Bard community many different ways to explore foreign languages and cultures outside the regular language and literature classes. See flcl.bard.edu/resources/center for more details.
Most of the languages taught through the Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures (FLCL) Program offer an intensive format that allows students to complete the equivalent of one and a half years of language study within just a few months. Such courses include a one- or two-month summer or winter program in a country where the target language is spoken. After studying abroad, students demonstrate an impressive increase in linguistic capacity. They also gain cultural knowledge, and the exposure to different manifestations of cultural activity makes them aware of the interrelatedness of diverse disciplines. Most students choose to continue their path toward linguistic and cultural fluency by taking courses at the intermediate and advanced levels.
While each area of language study has its own intellectual and academic plan, all are connected by the study of literature and other cultural expressions through the medium of language. Students are free to work with the languages and texts of more than one culture; thus they can combine the plans of more than one language for Moderation and in their Senior Project. Moderation requirements may vary depending on the focus language; students should refer to information provided by the specific area of study. For all FLCL students, a Senior Project can be a purely literary project (typically involving critical interpretation and translation) or any combination of literary and nonliterary expressions of a given culture.
Recent Senior Projects
- “Bodies Inscribed in the Landscape: Poetic ‘Exhumations’ of Chile and Argentina’s Desaparecido”
- “Love, Loss, and Liminality: Classical and Medieval Perspectives on Orpheus and Eurydice”
- “Mexican Nationalism in Ignacio Manuel Altamirano’s Clemencia”
- “Questioning Authority: An Exploration of Montaigne and Borges”
CoursesThe descriptions below are a sampling of courses from the past four years.
This course focuses on speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension skills in Modern Standard Arabic, the form of Arabic shared by all Arab countries. Classroom time is devoted to conversation and grammar exercises stemming from DVDs and other materials. Emphasis is also placed on authentic resources that derive from current cultural contexts, realities, and creative work of the Arab world.
The class focuses on the functional use of Arabic in a natural communication setting. The basic language skills—reading, speaking, listening, and writing—are dealt with simultaneously. Aspects of Arab culture and differences between Modern Standard Arabic and the spoken language are highlighted.
Students read selections from Arabic literary journals, with a focus on the poetry and prose of the 1950s and 1960s; develop their literary and critical vocabularies in Arabic; and refine their writing. The primary textbook is The Connectors in Modern Standard Arabic.
Modern (Mandarin) Chinese is introduced through intensive drilling in oral and written forms. Emphasis is placed on speaking, basic grammar, and the formation of characters. This course is followed by an intensive course (8 hours per week) in the spring and a summer immersion program (6 weeks) in China.
Intensive Beginning Chinese
The course focuses on both the oral and written aspects of the language, giving students a basic understanding of standard Chinese and the ability to engage in simple conversations. A summer immersion program in China follows (financial aid is available to cover part of the costs).
Intermediate Chinese I-II
For students who have taken one year or more of basic Chinese and want to expand their linguistic proficiency and cultural knowledge. Audio and video material that presents real-life situations supplements the primary textbook. Daily practice, frequent quizzes, homework assignments, and tutorials are built into the course. Chinese 202 emphasizes communicative activities and language games. Texts also include newspapers, journals, and fictional works.
Exotic Landscapes: Travel and Travel Writing in China’s Borderlands
CROSS-LISTED: ASIAN STUDIES, EUS, HUMAN RIGHTS, LITERATURE
Representations of China’s borderlands (Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan, etc.) and its ethnic minorities are explored through Western and Chinese travel writings. The focus is on two periods, the first between 1850 and 1911, a time of extensive and often violent encounters between China and the West; and the early 1980s to the present. Authors include Sven Hedin, Isabella Bird, Archibald J. Little, Alexandra David-Neel, George E. Morrison, Ma Jian, and Sun Shuyun.
Modern Chinese Fiction
Chinese 230 / Literature 230
See Literature 230 for a full course description.
Advanced Chinese I-II
These courses are for students who have taken the equivalent of five semesters of basic Chinese at Bard or elsewhere. The goal is to expand students’ reading and speaking capacity and enrich their cultural experiences. Texts are mostly selected from Chinese newspapers.
Theater and Performance in the Chinese-Speaking World
An introduction to Chinese-language theater from the early modern period to contemporary times in China as well as the diaspora, centering on avant-garde performances. The class examines the interwoven relationships among the state, politics, identity, and performance, and in particular it investigates how, despite the state’s efforts to define artistic creativity, the theater has always defied the status quo.
Reflections of China in Film
With the primary goal of enhancing speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, this course examines films from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, exploring such topics as the origin of Chinese cinema, nationalism and revolution, cinematic representation of contemporary and historical themes, the search for roots in the post-Mao era, the Fifth Generation and experimental fiction and film, Hong Kong popular culture in the commercial age, feminism and sexuality, and representations of exile, diaspora, and the new immigrants. Conducted in Chinese.
Lu Xun and the Modern Chinese Short Story
An advanced language course that involves close reading of stories by major 20th-century writers, including Lu Xun, Eileen Chang, Shen Congwen, Ding Ling, and Bai Xianyong. While focusing primarily on textual analysis, the class also seeks to understand the concept of modernity in the context of Chinese literary and cultural traditions, addressing issues such as social commitment, artistic style, and historical background. Conducted in Chinese.
Performing Chinese: Culture, Identity, and Politics
How does performance in everyday Chinese society shape one’s identity, culture, and political affiliation? Can a person of non-Chinese origin who speaks and writes the language claim to be Chinese? How does one perform “Chinese-ness”? This course examines the relationship between the individual, state, and society, with a focus on the ways that language, politics, and culture shape identity. Texts include newspaper articles, films, political treatises, and plays that have shaped and/or divided Chinese communities.
Introduction to Greek Tragedy
An introduction to the texts and traditions of Greek tragedy, which flourished in Athens during the fifth century BCE. Close study of the major plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (in English translation) gives students familiarity with the genre of tragedy as a complex art form and, in particular, as a vehicle for the transmission of core Western values—moral, political, and aesthetic.
The Greek World: An Introduction
This introductory course explores the social, cultural, and political history of the Greek world from its earliest beginnings in the Bronze Age to the “renaissance” of Greek literature and culture under the Roman Empire. The class examines the creation of political forms (from democracy to tyranny), contacts and conflicts between Greece and the East, the rise and fall of world empires, and the invention of literary genres. Materials studied include vase paintings, inscriptions, and texts by Aeschylus and Aristophanes. All readings in English.
The Roman World: An Introduction
An exploration of the social, cultural, and political history of Rome from its earliest beginnings as a small city-state to the dominant imperial power that still influences the language we speak, the art we make, and the laws we follow. The class considers a range of literary, visual, and material primary sources: inscriptions, coins, wall paintings, archaeological data, and texts such as Vergil’s Aeneid, Livy’s history of Rome, and Pliny’s Letters. All readings in English.
Homer for Beginners
The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer (c. eighth century BCE) are the twin pillars upon which the Western literary tradition stands. Between them, they explore issues of human life and civilization that have remained central ever since: mortality and heroism; the relationships between the human and the divine, men and women, free will and fate; the confrontation between European and other cultures; and the nature of poetry, tragedy, and comedy. This course consists of an intensive reading of both epics in their entirety.
Vergil for Beginners
What is the greatest long poem in the Western tradition? Far more voices, over far more centuries, have spoken for Vergil’s Aeneid than for Homer’s Iliad, Dante’s Commedia, or Milton’s Paradise Lost. The class reads the Aeneid twice; the first time in Robert Fitzgerald’s 1983 translation and, after a break, in the 2017 translation by David Ferry. Between readings, students consider the historical background of the poem’s composition and read Vergil’s earlier works, the Eclogues and Georgics.
Alexander the Great
Classics 201 / History 201
See History 201 for a full course description.
Early Greek Philosophy and Science
This course looks at the principal pre-Socratic philosophers—Parmenides, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Democritus—with respect to developments in Greek religion and science as well as to the history of philosophy. Scientific themes include astronomy and the theory of evolution.
Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World
Classics 211 / History 211
See History 211 for a full course description.
Herodotus and Thucydides
CROSS-LISTED: HISTORICAL STUDIES
Herodotus and Thucydides are generally called historians, but the word only begins to describe them. Herodotus uses the chronicle of the Persian Wars to explore geography, anthropology, religion, and ethical philosophy; Thucydides weaves into his account of the Peloponnesian War debates on foreign policy, political science, justice, and morality. The two address themselves to timeless concerns of democracies and hegemonic powers. Works are read in their entirety, with attention paid to the questions they raise in both ancient and modern contexts.
The Fall of the Roman Empire
At the end of the third century AD, the Roman Empire stretched from Spain to Asia Minor. It was so vast that its administration was divided into eastern and western zones. Two hundred years later, the empire lost control of most of its western provinces. The events associated with these losses constitute the “Fall of the Roman Empire.” This course explores the causes behind the collapse and assesses the afterlife of Roman culture in the “Barbarian” West. Readings (in English) from Gregory of Tours, Boethius, Augustine, and Sidonius Apollinaris.
What is the meaning of our mythologies? How do we understand and interpret traditional stories about the past? What is the relationship between mythology and history? This course seeks to answer these questions by examining selected myths of ancient Greece and Rome and applying to them theoretical approaches to interpreting myth. Topics include origin myths, Greek gods and heroes, war, the human-divine relationship, madness, divine love and lust, death and the afterlife, and Greco-Roman mythology in its wider Mediterranean context. Readings in English translation.
Poetry and Athletics
The meanings to be seen in athletics have stirred the meditations and praises of poets in many cultures and genres. This course looks at the strange intersections of the physical, social, and sacred we still recognize in sports. Readings include case studies of the wedding of poetry to athletics in still thriving Oceanic cultures; victory odes for the ancient Greek games, principally those of Pindar; and sports poetry in Europe and the Americas, ranging from bullfighting and capoeira to baseball.
The Invention of Difference
The literatures of the classical world—the Persian Empire, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India—were concerned with the representation of other peoples, places, and cultures. How did ancient writers think about difference? What is the relationship between structures of power and the literature of difference? This seminar explores the invention of difference in texts such as the Odyssey, Aeschylus’s Persians and Suppliant Women, Euripides’s Helen and Iphigenia among the Taurians, and Aristophanes’s Acharnians, among others.
Greek and Roman Epic
Epic poetry was the most prestigious form of poetic expression throughout antiquity, and a grasp of its history, techniques, themes, structure, and ideologies is essential to any serious understanding of the classical—and indeed the Western—literary tradition. This course examines the evolution of the epic in the Greek and Roman worlds from its origins as an oral genre in the Archaic Greek period to its final efflorescence in the Late Antique period (late fourth to early fifth century).
Beginning Greek I-II
This two-semester sequence is designed for students with no experience of ancient Greek to read authors such as Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, and Herodotus in the original language. Grammatical exercises and drills are combined with developing skills for translating, reading, and interpreting Greek literature: students begin reading short selections from classical authors by the end of their first semester, and longer passages throughout the second semester.
This course makes it possible for students with no background in ancient languages to read Homer, Plato, Greek tragedy, Herodotus, and other classical texts after one semester. Daily drills and frequent quizzes, together with ample access to tutoring and extra help, ensure that students stay on track as they master Greek grammar and vocabulary. In Greek 107, the focus is on consolidating knowledge of forms and syntax, and gaining exposure to a variety of classical authors.
Intermediate Greek I: Introduction to Classical Authors and Genres
Designed for students reading continuous Greek for the first time, the course builds reading fluency and provides an introduction to several major authors and genres of Greek literature of the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Texts include selections from Plato, Demosthenes, Sophocles, Euripides, and other classical authors. Prerequisite: successful completion of Greek 102, or permission of the instructor.
Intermediate Greek II: Plato’s Symposium
Students read in Greek most of Plato’s great dialogue on Eros, and all of it in English. For comparison, they also read Xenophon’s Symposium in English. Plato’s Greek text is studied in a recent edition by Louise Pratt, Eros at the Banquet, and supplemented by the same author’s The Essentials of Greek Grammar: A Reference for Intermediate Readers of Attic Greek. Discussion ranges from correct translation and analysis of grammatical points to analysis of the dialogue as both philosophy and literature.
Advanced Readings in Greek I-II
Select readings of poetic texts on the topic of Helen (e.g., Homer, Euripides, Gorgias, and Isocrates). Part II looks at lyric poetry by Sappho, Alcman, Anacreon, Solon, and Simonides.
Advanced Greek: Euripides’s Bacchae
Performed posthumously in 405 BCE, the Bacchae narrates the return of Dionysos, the Greek god of theater, wine, and ecstasy, to his birthplace in Thebes. The tragedy is both a traditional story of homecoming and vengeance and an innovative exploration of the nature of divinity and myth, self and society, and tragedy itself. The class further develops reading fluency while gaining a range of critical approaches to the play. Prerequisite: Greek 201-202 or permission of the instructor.
Advanced Greek: Aristophanes’s Frogs
Aristophanes’s comedies, at once bawdy and wordy, revolutionary and reactionary, combine mass entertainment with social commentary on Athens in the fifth century BCE. Students read (in the original Greek) Aristophanes’s Frogs, in which the god Dionysus descends to the underworld to choose one of the recently deceased tragic playwrights, Aeschylus or Euripides, to return to help the city in crisis. The class also develops further reading fluency in Greek and research skills in the classics. Prerequisite: Greek 201-202 or permission of the instructor.
This two-semester sequence brings students with no prior knowledge of Latin to the level of reading ancient poetry and prose. The first semester focuses on grammatical exercises and drills, but the class gradually works toward reading short selections from a wide range of Latin literature.
Basic Intensive Latin
Students learn to read authors such as Vergil, Ovid, Cicero, and Augustine in the original language after one semester’s intensive work (the equivalent of two semesters of college Latin). Daily drills and frequent quizzes are combined with readings: students begin with short selections and read longer passages by midterm.
Intermediate Latin I-II
This course solidifies students’ knowledge of Latin vocabulary, morphology, and syntax, and helps them build interpretative tools for reading and engaging with Latin literature. Readings include portions of Vergil’s Aeneid.
The Age of Nero
Despite its depressing slide into autocracy, the age of Nero (54–68 CE) saw a great flowering of Roman literature, including the comic novel Satyricon by Petronius, and the tragedies and essays of Seneca, as well as the mysterious historical drama called Octavia. The class reads selections from all of these texts, spanning a wide range of styles in both poetry and prose. Readings in English help situate the texts against the troubled history of Nero’s reign.
Advanced Latin I: Vergil
An examination of the works that launched Vergil’s poetic career: the Eclogues and Georgics. Eclogues, a collection of 10 short poems that inspired the European tradition of pastoral poetry, conjures a fictional world in the Italian countryside that the author uses to interrogate his own volatile political situation. Georgics also uses a rustic backdrop to explore political and philosophical themes. The class also studies Vergil’s innovative reworking of Greek poetic traditions in these poems.
Advanced Latin II: Ovid’s Metamorphoses
Students in this advanced course read selections from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a beguiling (anti-) epic of change, which encompasses the history of the world from its origins in Chaos to Julius Caesar. The focus is on the work’s approach to narrative and myth; its assimilation of multiple generic forms, from tragedy to pastoral; and its explanations of the world as the Romans knew it. In addition to further improving students’ reading fluency in Latin, emphasis is placed on developing a range of critical approaches to Ovid’s work.
Ovid in Exile
In 8 CE, Rome’s most famous poet, Ovid, was banished by Augustus to the furthest frontier of the Roman Empire, the Black Sea. There he embarked upon his final work: a series of texts that grapple with the fraught relationship between the artist and imperial power, and express his state of geographic, political, and cultural exclusion. The class reads the third book of Tristia (“Lamentations”) in Latin, along with as many selections from the rest of the corpus as time allows. Prerequisite: Latin 201-202 or permission of the instructor.
The class reads a selection of Horace’s Odes, four books of Latin lyric that range from the funny to the philosophical, and considers the poetry’s relationship to Greek and Roman literary traditions, Horace’s other works, and his cultural and historical contexts. Prerequisite: Latin 201-202 or permission of the instructor.
Sanskrit I, II
Classics 140, 141 / Religion 140, 141
See Religion 140 and 141 for course descriptions.
Basic Intensive French
For students with little or no experience of French who wish to acquire a strong grasp of the language and culture in the shortest time possible. Students complete the equivalent of three semesters of college-level French in a semester course that meets 10 hours a week and is followed by a four-week stay in France.
Intermediate French I-II-III
This introduction to contemporary French civilization and culture is for students who have completed three or more years of high school French or who have acquired a solid knowledge of elementary grammar. Students reinforce their skills in grammar, composition, and spoken proficiency through the use of short texts, newspaper and magazine articles, and video.
This course helps students fine-tune their command of French and develop a good sense of the most appropriate ways of communicating ideas and facts in French. The course emphasizes translation as an exercise, as well as a craft in its own right, and addresses grammatical, lexical, and stylistic issues. Translation is practiced from English into French (and vice versa) with a variety of texts from different genres.
French through Film
This course explores major themes of French culture and civilization through the study of individual films ranging from the silent era to the present, and covering a wide variety of genres. The class considers the interaction between the French and their cinema in terms of historical circumstances, aesthetic ambitions, and self-representation. Conducted in French.
Introduction to French Thought
This course traces the major intellectual conflicts that have shaped la pensée française from Montaigne to Deleuze. Authors are often paired to encourage students to think dialectically on topics such as humanism/antihumanism (Montaigne and Rabelais), the mind/body question (Descartes and Racine), enlightenment/antienlightenment (Voltaire and Rousseau), the French Revolution (Sieyès and Olympe de Gouges), Romanticism (Sand and Madame de Staël), modernity and its enemies (Baudelaire and Haussmann), and literature and science (Balzac and Zola), among others. In French.
Quarrels of the Ancients and the Moderns: Past, Present, and Future in the French Literary Tradition
The “querelle des anciens et des modernes,” the conflict that raged at the heart of French letters from the late 17th century to the early 18th, pitted those who found the ancient Greeks and Romans to be untouchable in terms of artistic merit against those who considered contemporary innovations to be a progression beyond the inheritance of antiquity. This course explores the roles played by the past, present, and future in the French literary tradition, with a focus on several authorial oppositions: Corneille/Racine, Voltaire/Rousseau, Balzac/Flaubert, and Sartre/Blanchot.
Topics in French Literature
The class explores the ways in which, over the past three and a half centuries, literature (novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays) has attempted to grasp its own essence. Why literature? How can literature serve as a response to a problem (be it personal or political), or, taken from another angle, why is the questioning at the heart of literature often seemingly the sole solution? Readings from Diderot, Rousseau, Stendhal, Balzac, Nerval, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Breton, Sartre, and Duras. In French.
Advanced Composition and Conversation
Students consider a diverse selection of writings (short works of fiction, poems, philosophical essays, political analysis, newspaper editorials, magazine articles) loosely organized around a single theme. The readings provide a rich ground for cultural investigation, intellectual exchange, in-class debates, in-depth examination of stylistics, and vocabulary acquisition. A general review of grammar is also conducted.
“Passions du Réel”: Literature and Tyranny of Fact
For the last few decades in France, the “call of the real” (Forest) has presented itself to many writers as nothing less than an ethical imperative. But how does one write the real? How can one reconcile the desire to document, to bear witness to what is there or memorialize what is already vanishing, with the formal and aesthetic issues at the core of what we consider to be properly literary? The class examines “factographic” texts by Augé, Bailly, Bove, Clerc, Ernaux, Perec, Rolin, and Vasset, among others.
Survey of 20th- and 21st-Century French Poetry
This survey of major trends in modern and contemporary French poetry provides students with the opportunity to practice close reading, examines the precarious nature of modern French verse, and considers the many accounts of a “crise de vers” (crisis) in 20th- and 21st-century poetry, as well as the fate of a rather emaciated and breathless lyrical “I.” Works by Alferi, Apollinaire, Aragon, Bonnefoy, Breton, Cadiot, Cendrars, Collobert, Éluard, Guillevic, Jaccottet, Michaux, Ponge, Roche, Roubaud, Tarkos, and many others. Conducted in French.
Autrement Dit: Paroles des Femmes
This course introduces a variety of women’s voices in 20th-century French literature and cinema. Texts by Colette, Simone de Beauvoir, Maryse Condé, Marguerite Duras, Annie Ernaux, Anne Hébert, Catherine Millet, Amélie Nothomb, and Nathalie Sarraute. Screenings of films by Chantal Akerman, Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis, Marguerite Duras, and Agnès Varda. Prerequisite: four years of French.
Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé
A poetic revolution was brought to the theory and practices of 19th-century French poetry by three of its most illustrious figures: Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. As Victor Hugo’s age of lyric romanticism came to an end, these poets took full measure of a modern subjectivity in crisis by making it a crisis of form, with increasing disenchantment, irony, self-reflexivity, and obscurity. Readings: Les Fleurs du Mal and Le Spleen de Paris (Baudelaire), Illuminations and Une Saison en enter (Rimbaud), and Poésies (Mallarmé).
The Lost and Found Art of Conversation from Montaigne to Beckett
Since Socrates, conversation has been admired for its seamless ability to integrate knowledge into society, and supplement savoir (knowledge) with savoir-vivre (the art of living). But conversation has often been condemned as merely artful, dangerous for its proximity to the decadent and the idle. This course examines how these tensions are played out on rhetorical and thematic levels. Texts by Montaigne, Beckett, Aristotle, Marx, Nietzsche, Pascal, Lafargue, Stendhal, and Proust.
Literature of Private Life
The representation of private life in the 19th- century French novel coincided with the advent of realism. Realism described both the institutions that shaped private life (marriage, education, religion) and the discrete dramas occurring backstage—the solitude of the spinster (Flaubert’s Un Cœur Simple), plight of the child (Vallès’s L’Enfant), despair of domesticity (Maupassant’s Une Vie), and nature of neuroses (Zola’s Nana). The course examines writings (novels, stories, journals, correspondence) previously considered too personal to be viewed as literature.
The course enables students with little or no previous experience in German to complete three semesters of college German within five months: the spring semester at Bard, plus four weeks in the summer at Bard College Berlin. Students progress from learning the language for everyday communication to reading and discussion of classical and modern texts by, among others, Goethe, Heine, Kafka, and Brecht. In Berlin, they further explore German language and culture, and participate in guided tours that introduce the city’s history, architecture, and vibrant cultural life.
This course is designed to increase students’ fluency in speaking, reading, and writing, and add significantly to their working vocabulary. Discussions focus on questions around multiculturalism and migration in Germany, and readings include Soharas Reise by Barbara Honigmann.
German 220/ Literature 220
See Literature 220 for a full course description.
The Ring of the Nibelung
A study of Richard Wagner’s cycle of four music dramas—a story about gods, dwarves (Nibelungs), giants, and humans that has been called a manifesto for socialism, a plea for racialism, a study of the human psyche, and a parable about the new industrial society. As we travel down the Rhine, across the rainbow, and through the underworld, our tour guides are the Brothers Grimm, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the anonymous authors of the medieval Nibelungenlied and the Old Norse Poetic Edda.
Unfortunately, we seem to know the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm only in adaptations that greatly reduce their power to touch our emotions and engage our imaginations. Through a close reading of selected tales, this course explores the tales’ poetics and politics, and their origins in folklore and myth. The class considers major critical approaches (Freudian, Marxist, feminist); creative adaptations (Disney, classical ballet, postmodern dance); and other fairy-tale traditions.
Life and Other Dreams
There is waking life, and then there is another “stage” on which dreams take place, as Sigmund Freud wrote in The Interpretation of Dreams. Students read influential and compelling dream narratives, with a focus on German-language literature and culture. How are dreams narrated, and how is their relation to the rest of life conceived? What is the logic of dreams according to Freud? Texts range from Genesis to works by Freud, Kafka, Adorno, Mann, and Benjamin.
Words and Flowers: The Poem between Myth and Botany
Literature draws on the world of flowers and trees to create meaning. What kinds of lives do these neglected protagonists lead in literary texts? When one names a flower, what kind of knowledge is tacitly imparted? How do folklore, local life, mysticism, and observation of the natural world interact in literature? The course focuses on modern German-language poetry, and includes close readings of poems by Celan, Goethe, Heine, and Hölderlin. In German.
CROSS-LISTED: HUMAN RIGHTS
This course looks at literary representations of and confrontations with injustice in the 19th and 20th centuries. Texts include works by Heinrich Heine, Rosa Luxemburg, Else Lasker-Schüler, Franz Kafka, Gerhard Hauptmann, Bertolt Brecht, Paul Celan, and the Book of Job in conversation with selections from Margarete Susman’s study of Job’s legacy. Topics discussed also include representations of perseverance against anti-Semitism, workers’ struggles, and the relation of the individual to the law.
German Theater between Moral Institution and Participatory Happening
After an overview of pivotal moments in the history and poetics of German theater (Lessing, Schiller, Hauptmann), the class examines specific developments in modern and contemporary theater. These include the new aesthetics of expressionist theater and Max Reinhardt’s work at the Deutsches Theater, Bertolt Brecht’s development of the epic theater before and during World War II, and postwar efforts to stage Vergangenheitsbewältigung (“coming to terms with the past” of the Third Reich and Holocaust). Conducted in German.
Poetry and Philosophy
Is there something like sensory reasoning? Who has the capacity to formulate the unspeakable? Is humor a thought or a sentiment? Poetry and philosophy have for centuries offered fascinating responses to such questions—not least in the German tradition. Poets, philosophers, and poetic thinkers have addressed these concerns, including Goethe, Kant, Schiller, Hölderlin, Heidegger, Rilke, Benjamin, Brecht, and Arendt. The beauty and precision of their language(s) provokes a semester of conversations with these thinkers of and in the German language.
Less a style than a Weltanschauung of a rebellious generation, German Expressionism—flourishing roughly between 1905 and 1925—is generally seen as an artistic reflection of a common feeling of crisis, the disappearance of individualism in burgeoning urban centers, the hypocrisy of Imperial Wilhelminian Germany, and the soulless materialism and (self-)alienation of increased industrialization. Texts by Wedekind, Benn, Heym, Lasker-Schüler, Kafka, Kaiser, and Trakl. Painting, music, and film are also considered.
The Experience of the Foreign in German Literature
An exploration of foreignness in modern German literature and opera (Lessing, Mozart, Novalis, Heine, Kafka, Frisch); contemporary films (Bohm, Fassbinder, Akin); and works of non-natives writing in Germany today (Tawada, Ören, Özdamar, Schami). Students discuss issues such as multiculturalism, homogeneity, and xenophobia with the goal of approaching cultural difference in what Claire Kramsch calls “a spirit of ethnographic inquiry rather than in a normative or judgmental way.” Conducted in German.
Contemporary German Literature and Film
What is at stake for contemporary German writers, filmmakers, and intellectuals? What topics do they address in their movies, novels, poems, and plays? How do these artworks reflect Germany’s multiethnic society and its pivotal role in a rapidly changing Europe? Discussion centers on texts by Herta Müller, W. G. Sebald, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Terézia Mora, Ingo Schulze, and Emine Sevgy Özdamar, among others; and on films by Fatih Akin, Hans-Christian Schmid, and Michael Haneke.
Baroque Mourning and Melancholy: Text and Image
Writers in 17th-century Germany inherited and transmitted medieval and Renaissance theories of affect during a time of political and religious tumult. Twentieth-century readers of Walter Benjamin’s decisive study, The Origin of the German Mourning Play, have looked to the Baroque as a primal scene of modernity—and yet few have read Benjamin’s sources. Class readings include works from the German Baroque period in dialogue with passages from Benjamin’s study, as well as texts by Gryphius, Lohenstein, Luther, Benjamin, Panofsky, and Sebald.
Correspondences: Figures of Writing
“One alone is always wrong; but with two involved, the truth begins,” reads an aphorism by Friedrich Nietzsche. He also proposes an alternative mode of thinking and writing to the isolated genius: creative collaboration. This seminar explores several such collaborations: Hannah Arendt and Hilde Domin, Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin, Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann.
See Jewish Studies.
This course enables students with little or no previous knowledge of Italian to complete three semesters of college Italian in five months: 8 credits at Bard and 4 in Italy, where students continue daily intensive study of the language and culture while living with Italian families. The course methodology is based on a communicative approach, which includes grammar drills, guided compositions, oral practice, role-playing, and readings and analysis of authentic material.
Intermediate Italian I-II
Designed for students who have completed the equivalent of one year of college Italian, the course offers practice in writing and conversation. Students engage in discussion and must complete compositions and oral reports based on Italian literary texts and cultural material.
Italian Crimes / Italian Fictions
Crime fiction in Italy is called il giallo, after the color of the popular books that invaded the Italian market in the 1930s. The genre has become a major player in Italian self-representation even beyond Hollywood clichés. The course approaches modern Italian novels, including Sciascia’s A Ciascuno Il Suo and Moravia’s Il Conformista (and their filmic adaptations) with a focus on the fascist mentality, the evolution of mafia as a modern global enterprise, social and gender exclusion, and other issues. In Italian.
Sicily and Writing
South of Europe but at the center of the Mediterranean world, Sicily has been at the crossroads of cultures and peoples since Homer. The majestic, skeptical, bitter narratives of Sicily’s writers, from Giovanni Verga to Luigi Pirandello and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, trace a philosophical counternarrative to Italy’s modernity. Filmmakers such as Luchino Visconti and Francesco Rosi amplify the tensions of Sicilian narrative through visually striking cinematic interpretations. Prerequisite: Italian 202 or permission of the instructor.
Migrant Nations of Italy
This course aims to enhance students’ oral and written production in Italian by focusing on a key political and social phenomenon of modern Italy: migration and its cultures. By working with original materials by Leonardo Sciascia, Igiaba Scego, Amara Lakhous, and Cesare Segre, among others, students investigate the problems, pitfalls, and memories of a country striving to become an inclusive multicultural society. Taught in Italian.
The course aims to enhance students’ oral and written production in Italian through an exploration of the Renaissance’s diverse theatrical traditions—from Harlequin’s mask to learned comedy, operatic gesture to tragic endings. Through texts, music, and performance, the class puts the Italian Renaissance into dialogue with broad theatrical traditions, ancient and modern. Texts include Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, pastoral plays, excerpts from epic texts, and stage directions for commedia dell’arte productions.
Italy and Exile
Students enhance their oral and written production in Italian through the lens of exile, a crucial aspect of Italian consciousness from the medieval period to today. The course explores the idea of exile broadly, as both exile from a place and exile to another place, in selected works ranging from Dante to the 21st century. Texts include excerpts from Dante’s Comedy, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Antonio Gramsci’s political writings, the prison letters of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and Igiaba Scego’s novel La mia casa è dove sono.
The Birth of the Avant-Garde: Futurism, Metaphysics, Magical Realism
In 1909 Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, an Italian poet stationed in Milan but born in Alexandria, founded in Paris the modern avant-garde with the publishing of his first futurist manifesto. Futurism’s claims of refashioning Western culture from its very foundations rapidly spread all over the world. Engaging with both the literature and art of the Italian avant-gardes, this course unravels the intricate, yet fascinating, knot of aesthetics and politics at the core of modernism.
Italian 3205 / Literature 3205
See Literature 3205 for a course description.
Democracy and Defeat: Italy after Fascism
CROSS-LISTED: HUMAN RIGHTS
This seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach to the cultural and intellectual history of Italy from 1943 to 1950. The heterogeneous aspects of the Italian cultural field after World War II are considered in a wide-ranging framework, in which postwar histories are informed not simply by the external context of the Cold War but also by preceding wartime discourses. Readings from Italo Calvino, Curzio Malaparte, Carlo Levi, Primo Levi, and Rosetta Loy. Prerequisite: Italian 202 or permission of instructor.
Introductory Japanese I-II
This two-semester sequence introduces the fundamentals of modern Japanese. Students systematically develop listening, speaking, writing, and reading abilities. Because fluency in Japanese requires sensitivity to the social setting in which one is speaking, the course also provides an introduction to basic aspects of daily life and culture in contemporary Japan.
Intermediate Japanese I-II
The first part of this two-semester sequence builds upon the foundational knowledge acquired in the first year of Japanese language study. Students develop their abilities in the four primary skills: listening, speaking, writing, and reading. Coursework consists of extensive study of basic grammar, language lab work, conversation practice, and simple composition exercises. The second semester accelerates the acquisition of Chinese characters and introduces more complex grammatical patterns and expressions.
Advanced Japanese I
The course introduces more complex grammatical structures, especially those common to written material, and accelerates character acquisition and advanced vocabulary. Students learn the fundamentals of dictionary use and acquire the skills necessary for speed-reading and accurate composition of written material. Prerequisite: Japanese 202 or the equivalent.
Advanced Japanese II
In this continuation of Japanese 301, students concentrate on complex grammatical patterns while further accelerating the acquisition of characters and advanced vocabulary. They build oratory skills through debate on relevant social topics and through individual research presentations. Composition is also emphasized. Conducted in Japanese. Prerequisite: Japanese 301 or equivalent.
Reading and Translating Japanese: Theories, Methods, Practice
For students who have had at least three years of Japanese and who can read at the advanced level. The class considers the nature and limits of translation within the Japanese context. While focusing on the techniques and craft of translation, students are also introduced to translation theory, both Western and Japanese, and examine well-known translations by comparing source and target texts. Prerequisite: Japanese 302 or equivalent.
For a description of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Smolny) and the Bard–St. Petersburg State University exchange program, see “International Programs and Study Abroad.”
An introduction to the fundamentals of the spoken and written language as well as Russian culture. Creative expression is encouraged through autobiographical and fictional compositions.Successful completion of the sequence qualifies students to enroll in a four-week June program in St. Petersburg or pursue a semester or year of study at Smolny College.
Designed for beginners who have had little or no prior knowledge of Russian, the course focuses on the fundamentals of the spoken and written language, and introduces students to Russian culture. Creative expression in autobiographical and fictional compositions is also encouraged. In addition to regular class meetings, students are required to attend a weekly one-hour tutorial. Students who complete the intensive can apply for a 4-credit summer program in St. Petersburg.
Intermediate Russian I-II
The focus of this sequence is on the continuing acquisition of advanced grammar, pertinent vocabulary, and reading and conversational skills that enable students to communicate effectively. Advanced grammar constructions are introduced through a wide variety of adapted texts and contexts. In addition to textbook material, students read literary and journalistic texts.
Students continue refining and engaging their practice of speaking, reading, and writing Russian. Advanced grammar topics are addressed through a variety of texts and contexts.
An Appointment with Dr. Chekhov
While studying to become a doctor at Moscow University, Chekhov began writing in order to earn money. Students analyze how his “general theory of objectivity” had an impact on his writing and how his “treatment” of human nature and social issues brought an entirely new dimension to Russian literature. Readings include Chekhov’s prose, plays, and letters.
Contemporary Russian Fiction
Russian 2245 / Literature 2245
An examination of the diverse world of contemporary Russian literature from the late Soviet and post-Soviet periods to the present. Readings include the underground publications of samizdat and officially published texts of the first period, postmodernist works from the end of the 20th century, and literary texts of the last two decades. Discussions focus on issues of narrative strategy, a reassessment of Russian history, religion and spirituality, cultural identity, and the changing relationship between Russian literature, the state, and society. In English.
Art of the Russian Avant-Garde (1900–34)
This multidisciplinary course addresses major developments in Russian modern and avant-garde art in the first three decades of the 20th century. It looks at particular movements, ideas, and seminal names, from Vrubel and symbolism to Tatlin and constructivism. The course also offers a methodology and context for the appreciation of the evolution of Russian visual culture and its contribution to the international art arena.
Russian in an Academic Context
Readings include nonfiction texts in a wide array of disciplines, as well as poetry and fiction. The goal is to help students acquire vocabulary and build language skills that will allow them to participate in a semester-long program at a Russian college or university and to conduct independent research in Russian.
Russian Opera: Staging History, Shaping Myths
An exploration of Russian history through the medium of Russian opera, which absorbed and confronted, transformed and blended the creative achievements of the Old World with the unique Russian experience. In the 19th century, opera became a powerful agent in Russia’s search for national identity. Operas studied: Glinka’s A Life for the Tsar, Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades and Eugene Onegin, Prokofiev’s War and Peace, and Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
Between Friends: Letters of Russian Writers
This advanced-level course looks at everyday life, literature, and the culture of the times through the letters of famous Russian writers of the 19th century, including Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov. Conducted in Russian.
The Grammar of Poetry: Advanced Russian in Analytical Context
This course offers a practical approach to the fundamentals of Russian grammar and syntax through reading and analyzing poetic texts by Pushkin, Lermontov, Tyutchev, Blok, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, Mayakovsky, Brodsky, and others. Also addressed: the history of Russian versification, the technical aspects of poetry, and translation of selected poems. Special attention is paid to principles of phonetics, intonation, and poetry recitation.
Russia and Its Theater
CROSS-LISTED: THEATER AND PERFORMANCE
Designed for students with at least two years of study in Russian or for heritage speakers who wish to practice reading, writing, and speaking the language. With a focus on select 19th- and 20th-century prose and poetic texts, the course builds vocabulary and improves students’ ability to communicate in Russian. Texts by Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Sologub, Bunin, and Blok.
Translation: Russian to English
A practical and theoretical course consisting of regular weekly readings and translations of a variety of literary texts. Students also work on an independent project throughout the semester. Texts include short stories and poems by Bunin, Chekhov, Babel, Tolstaya, Dovlatov, Akhmatova, Pasternak, and others.
Kino Po-Russki: Advanced Russian through Film
This creative exploration of the Soviet cinematic canon also offers an in-depth study of Russian idiom, grammar, and syntax. Films discussed include Grigoriy Aleksandrov’s Circus, Nadezhda Kosheverova and Mikhail Shapiro’s Cinderella, Vladimir Menshov’s Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears, Eldar Ryazanov’s The Irony of Fate, and Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror. Listening comprehension, reading, and writing assignments alternate with discussions and reenactment exercises.
Basic Intensive Spanish
This course enables students with little or no previous knowledge of Spanish to complete three semesters of college Spanish in five months (8 credits at Bard and 4 credits in Mexico). Students attend eight hours of class per week, plus two hours with a Spanish tutor. Oral communication and reading and writing skills are developed through a variety of approaches.
Accelerated First-Year Spanish
Designed for the student with prior exposure to Spanish or command of another Romance language, the course covers major topics in grammar with intensive practice in speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing. Practice with a Spanish tutor and work in the language lab are required. The course prepares students for summer language programs abroad or for Spanish 201.
Intermediate Spanish I
This course is designed to perfect the command of all four language skills (speaking, comprehension, reading, writing) through intensive grammar review, conversation practice, reading of modern Spanish texts, writing simple compositions, and language lab work. Prerequisites: Spanish 106 or 110 (or equivalent), and permission of the instructor.
Intermediate Spanish II
In this course, students continue to refine their mastery of the four basic skills: reading, writing, speaking, comprehension. The textbook offers an integration of literature, culture, and film. The study of visual and written texts focuses on critical thinking, interpretation, speaking, and writing skills. Prerequisite: Spanish 201 or the equivalent.
Spanish for Heritage Speakers
Designed for students who have been exposed to Spanish at home and wish to achieve confidence in speaking, writing, and reading the language. Grammar study capitalizes on prior contact with the language and allows more rapid progress than in a standard setting. Written composition, grammar review, and discussion of issues pertinent to Hispanic cultures are emphasized.
Cultures and Societies of Latin America and Spain
The Spanish-speaking world comprises a rich variety of cultures that have historically been in dialogue, as well as resistance, over the centuries. This course focuses on key moments and events that have defined the multifaceted societies of Spain and Latin America. Special emphasis is placed on elements such as social movements, questions of race and ethnicity, postmodernity, constructions of gender and sexuality, and national and diasporic identities. Prerequisite: Spanish 202 or permission of the instructor.
Reading the Beast: Bestiaries and Beast Fables in Modern Literature
DESIGNATED: THINKING ANIMALS INITIATIVE
What place do animals hold in our conception of the world in the 21st century? How do cultural representations of animals, particularly in literature, reflect (or fail to reflect) our interactions with the flesh-and-blood creatures that have inspired them? The bestiary and the beast fable are two traditional ways humans have used animals to tell stories about themselves. This course examines the surprising reemergence and reconfiguration of these modes in texts by Apollinaire, Borges, Cortázar, Lispector, Monterroso, Neruda, and Sedaris.
Testimonies of Latin America
CROSS-LISTED: GSS, HUMAN RIGHTS
How best to represent memories of violence and pain? What are the ultimate effects of mediations of the written word, translations to hegemonic languages, and interventions of well-intentioned intellectuals? Students engage critically with texts that serve as a public forum for voices often silenced in the past. The course integrates diaries, testimonial narratives, and films.
20th-Century Spanish American Short Stories
CROSS-LISTED: LAIS, LITERATURE
An exploration of the major themes and styles of short stories by key Spanish American writers in English translation. These authors include Jorge Luis Borges, María Luisa Bombal, Juan Rulfo, Elena Garro, Gabriel García Márquez, Luisa Valenzuela, and Roberto Bolaño, among others. The class examines detective fiction, fantastic literature, and examples of magical realism, as well as writing that addresses politics, the effects of colonial history on the present, and representations of desire and gender relationships.
Intermediate Spanish for Heritage Speakers
This course is for students who have been exposed to Spanish at home and wish to achieve confidence in speaking, writing, and reading the language. Grammar study capitalizes on prior contact with the language and allows more rapid progress than in a standard setting. The intermediate level assumes some prior study of Spanish.
The Afterlives of Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca is Spain’s most widely read 20th-century poet and playwright. His works are virtually untranslatable and hermetically personal, and yet they continue to draw the interest of loyal readers around the globe. This course looks at Lorca’s work from his early classicist texts to his late avant-garde production, including Gypsy Ballads, Poet in New York, and plays like Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. Also addressed is Spain’s culture and politics in the years leading up to Lorca’s assassination in 1936.
Introduction to Spanish Literature
This course explores some of the major literary works produced on the Iberian peninsula from the Middle Ages to the present day. Students become familiar with the general contours of Spanish history and study in depth masterpieces by Cervantes, Colón, Teresa de Jesús, Don Juan Manuel, Calderón de la Barca, Larra, Galdós, Unamuno, Lorca, Laforet, Llamazares, Orejudo, and Vila-Matas, among others.
Introduction to Latin American Literature
This course covers a broad range historically—from pre-Conquest times to the present—and explores all literary genres, including poetry, short stories, novels, essays, and plays. In order to make sense of the broad chronological and geographical span of this literature, the class focuses on seven separate modules, each highlighting a core moment or key figure in the development of Latin American culture.
Perceptions of Reality in 20th-Century Latin American Literature
This course addresses different mechanisms that representative Latin American writers of the 20th century—Vicente Huidobro (Chile), César Vallejo (Peru), Alejandra Pizarnik and Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina), Carlos Fuentes (México), Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia), and Cristina Peri Rossi (Uruguay)—have used to perceive reality, rethink the limits of language, and experiment with new forms of representation.
20th-Century Latin American Novel
With the publication of Cortázar’s Rayuela (Hopscotch, 1963) and García Márquez´s Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967), the Latin American novel achieved an international reputation and readership. This course analyzes several novels of the “boom” period to determine the reasons behind their critical acclaim and popular appeal; post-boom works are also examined. Authors may also include Allende, Arenas, Asturias, Carpentier, Cortázar, Fuentes, Peri Rossi, Puig, Skármeta, and Valenzuela. In English, with concurrent reading tutorial in Spanish.
The Broken Voice: Surrealist Poetry and Crisis in Spain
Spanish poetry in the late 1920s and early 1930s—between the Great War (1914–18) and that somber prelude to the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War (1936–39)—was torn between its allegiance to the dehumanizing principles of the avant-garde and the growing pressures of political commitment. Against this backdrop, surrealism emerged as the last expression of the European intelligentsia and its promise to suture all wounds. Readings include works by Lorca, Alberti, Cernuda, and Aleixandre.
The Art of Writing Spanish Worlds
An introduction to the art and craft of creative writing in Spanish, with a focus on contemporary narrative fiction. The heart of the class is the writing workshop. Assigned readings and weekly exercises help students expand their narrative writing command and critical skills in the Spanish language. Readings include works by Bolaño, Schweblin, Fernández Cubas, and Navarro.
Engaging the Other in Latin American Theory
Encounters among multiple cultures have made Latin America a fertile terrain for theorizing about the self and the other. This seminar traces various ways in which the other has been addressed in 20th- and 21st-century writings by a vast array of thinkers, including Fernando Ortiz, Ángel Rama, Néstor García Canclini, Antonio Cornejo Polar, Walter Mignolo, and others.
True Fictions: Life Narration
CROSS-LISTED: EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES
This course explores some of the major literary works produced on the Iberian Peninsula from the Middle Ages to the present day. Students become familiar with the general contours of Spanish history as they study in depth a selected number of masterpieces, including works by Miguel de Cervantes, Calderón de la Barca, Teresa de Jesús, Cadalso, Larra, Galdós, Unamuno, Lorca, and Laforet. Conducted in Spanish.