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Fall 2011

Comp. Lit. 71000 - Introduction to Renaissance Studies
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Schwartz (crosslisted with RSCP 72100)

Comp. Lit. 79500 - Theory and Practice of Literary Scholarship and Criticism
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Lombardi

Comp. Lit. 79800 - Independent Studies
Variable credit up to 6, Staff (must have Prof. Aciman's approval)

Comp. Lit. 80100 - Thinking in Pieces: Pascal, Dickinson, Wittgenstein
GC: M, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Wilner

Comp. Lit. 85000 - Phenomenology and Existentialism: Philosophy, Literature, Critique
GC: W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Crapanzano (crosslisted with Anthro.80900)

Comp. Lit. 85000 - The Outcome of German Classical Philosophy: From Hegel to Theodor Adorno
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Wolin (crosslisted with Hist. 71600)

Comp. Lit. 88300 - The Rise of the Novella
GC: Th, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Fasoli

Comp. Lit. 88500 - The Risorgimento and Unification of Italy in Literature and Cinema
GC: T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Lombardi

Comp. Lit. 89100 - History of Literary Theory and Criticism I
GC: Thurs., 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Aciman

Comp. Lit. 89800 - Independent Studies, Variable credit up to 6, Staff (must have Prof. Aciman's approval)

Comp. Lit. 90000 - Dissertation Supervision

See Also:

Eng. 81100 - Repression, Continuity, and Trauma: Early Modern Cultural Memory
GC: M, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Elsky

Eng. 82100 - Clothing Cultures of Early Modern Italy and England
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Profs. Fisher and Paulicelli

Fr. 86000 - French Art and Text: Mannerism to Modernism
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 2/4 cr., Prof. Caws

NYU Italian Courses

(Classes to be given at Casa Italiana at 24 W. 12th St.)

G59.2972- Italian Colonialism
NYU, M, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Ruth Ben-Ghiat

G59.2588 - The Arts of Eloquence in Medieval and Early Modern Italy
NYU, W, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Virginia Cox

G59.2311 - Readings in Dante's Commedia
NYU, T, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. John Freccero

G59.1981 - Modern Italy Theorized: Concepts and Methods in Social and Cultural Studies
NYU, Th, 10:00-12:40 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. David Forgacs

G59.2689 - Studies in Early Modern Literature: Machiavelli
NYU, Day/time TBD, 4 cr., Prof. Stefano Albertini

Course Descriptions

Comp. Lit. 71000
Introduction to Renaissance Studies
Prof. Schwartz

This course will examine some Italian encounters with the ancient classics, which fostered the invention of new literary forms and new literary voices, and their impact on sixteenth-century French and Spanish literature. It will focus on the shaping of this movement promoted by Petrarch, and on its development in the following centuries with the works of Alberti, Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Erasmus and other famous humanists. Special attention will be given to the function fulfilled by translators of texts written in Greek into Latin, and of both Greek and Latin into the modern languages, who helped disseminate philosophical theories and literary forms of expression after the invention of the printing press, thus becoming mediators between classical and Renaissance authors. Translation will be also considered in its propaedeutic function as a first step in the practice of imitation, which ruled the composition of artistic works and constituted a main tenet of Renaissance aesthetics. New literary voices and cultural figures to be explored will encompass the Neoplatonic lover, the humanist and the courtier; among new literary forms, Menippean satire, as composed after the model of Lucian, which became very influential after the fifteenth century. Readings will include poems by Petrarch, Ronsard, Garcilaso de la Vega and Herrera; Ficino's Dell'amore; Alberti's Momus; Erasmus's Colloquies; Castiglione's Il cortegiano, and Cervantes's exemplary novels.

 

Comp. Lit. 79500
Theory and Practice of Literary Scholarship and Criticism
Prof. Lombardi

This course will survey issues in contemporary literary theory, with particular attention to structuralism, reader-response theory, narratology, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, post-colonial and subaltern studies, neo-historicism, feminism, and cultural studies. Readings by Barthes, Gadamer, Eco, Genette, Lacan, Freud, Derrida, De Man, Johnson, Felman, Said, Appiah, Spivak, Foucault, Kristeva, Irigaray, Cixous, and others.

 

Comp. Lit. 80100
Thinking in Pieces: Pascal, Dickinson, Wittgenstein
Prof. Wilner

That the immediate historical and cultural contexts in which Pascal, Dickinson, and Wittgenstein wrote differed widely as did their intellectual and imaginative projects scarcely needs pointing out: Pascal was a mathematician turned religious controversialist in 17th Century France, Dickinson a reclusive 19th Century American poet, and Wittgenstein a Viennese 20th Century philosopher of language who lived much of his adult life in Cambridge. The obvious differences harbor numerous grounds of comparison, however: each lived in a period of acute historical crisis that was intensified in each case by some sense of spiritual crisis and personal asceticism. Each left as his or her primary legacy a posthumous collection of pieces of writing that both call for and resist being gathered into wholes; correlatively, the compositional methods of all three involved processes of assembling and reassembling those pieces of writing - Pascal's bundled pensées; Dickinson's similarly bundled "fascicles" of poems; the fragmentary remarks that Wittgenstein arranged and rearranged in different boxes and manuscripts. For each, the relationship of "inner experience" to the body, to language and to the other is a central question. Each writes and thinks in ways that draw on while radically concentrating the signifying power of everyday language. In each the mathematical imagination - comparing and manipulating quantities, working with proportions, performing calculations, undertaking proofs - plays a central role, though always in the service of demonstrating its limits. Each conducts an on-going dialogue between the voicing of belief and the voicing of doubt. In some cases, a pre-occupation may be shared by two writers that is not by a third: thus, for example, Christianity and the Bible are central to an understanding of Pascal and Dickinson but not (it would seem) of Wittgenstein; the nature of philosophy and scientific thinking are explicit questions for Pascal and Wittgenstein in ways that they are not for Dickinson; fantasies of mental privacy haunt Dickinson and Wittgenstein in ways they do not Pascal (or not as obsessively). In other cases, similar issues surface in each writer in a different way: how does Wittgenstein's emphasis on language-games, for example, relate to Dickinson's serious playing with language, or to Pascal's famous use of probability theory to argue for belief in God as "a good bet" or to his extended meditation on custom and "divertissement"?

Our aim in this course will be to familiarize ourselves with each writer on his or her own terms while also exploring some of the numerous points and areas of intersection among them, always through careful attention to individual pieces of writing. Through our own more or less experimental juxtapositions, hopefully we may gain a further appreciation of how these writings work and how their workings engage with history.

Principle readings will include Pascal's Pensées, the corpus of Dickinson's poetry, and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Reading knowledge of French desirable but not essential.

 

Comp. Lit. 85000
Phenomenology and Existentialism: Philosophy, Literature, Critique
Prof. Crapanzano

This seminar will be devoted to readings in the philosophy, literature, the human sciences and literary criticism influenced by phenomenology and existentialism. We will consider such questions as intentionality of consciousness, the priority of consciousness over existence or existence over consciousness, other minds, being/Being, nonbeing, bad faith, guilt, freedom, commitment, ethical responsibility, care, and despair. We will relate existentialism and phenomenology to individualism, nihilism, war, and revolution. Particular attention will be given to the problem of language in phenomenological description and existential hermeneutics. Readings will include selections from Husserl, Sartre, Heidegger, Binswanger, Jaspers, and Camus as well as (but not limited to) works by Blanchot, Sartre, Camus, Robbe-Grillet and Ionesco. They will also include critical writings by Gaston Bachelard, Georges Poulet, and the Geneva group. Students will be encouraged to consider the relationship between phenomenology and existentialism and film, social and cultural description, and the early writings of Post-structuralists like Foucault and Derrida.

 

Comp. Lit. 85000
The Outcome of German Classical Philosophy: From Hegel To Theodor Adorno
Prof. Wolin

Classical German Philosophy – Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling – has bequeathed a rich legacy of reflection on the fundamental problems of epistemology, ontology and aesthetics. Even contemporary thinkers who claim to have transcended it (e.g., poststructuralists such as Foucault and Derrida) cannot help but make reference to it in order to validate their post-philosophical standpoints and claims. The course will focus on the nexus between philosophy and aesthetics. We will first examine the substantive arguments that the school's leading representatives have set forth, with attention to the "healing" role of the aesthetic dimension. If thought and being are sundered in real life, art and its interpretation offer the prospect of making the world whole once more. In Classical German philosophy, aesthetic consciousness often plays what one might describe as a redemptory or reconciliatory function. We will proceed to examine the way that the significant nineteenth-century and twentieth-century theoretical heirs to German Idealism have reconfigured its legacy in innovative and thought-provoking ways – figures such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor Adorno.

Readings

Kant, Critique of Judgment
Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit
Hegel, Aesthetics
Schiller, Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Mankind
Schelling, System of Transcendental Idealism
Löwith, From Hegel to Nietzsche
Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Nietzsche, Will to Power
Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics
Heidegger, "The Origins of the Work of Art"
Benjamin, Origins of German Tragic Drama
Adorno, Negative Dialectics
Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Habermas, Philosophical Discourse of Modernity

 

Comp. Lit. 88500
The Risorgimento and Unification of Italy in Literature and Cinema Prof. Lombardi

On the year that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, it is particularly important to analyze the literary works produced in Italy during the Risorgimento and shortly after the Unification. A close analysis of novels and short stories by Ugo Tarchetti, Federico De Roberto, Ippolito Nievo and Camillo Boito, among others, will be followed by a thorough study of recent practices of historical reconstruction and memorialization of this specific period. Seminal narrative works by Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa, Vincenzo Consolo, and Anna Banti will be then juxtaposed to more recent narrative efforts by Umberto Eco and Giancarlo De Cataldo. Ample attention will be dedicated to cinematic adaptations of some of their literary masterpieces (Senso, Il Gattopardo, I vicere, Passione d'amore, Noi credevamo) and to the portrayal of Risorgimento and Unification in the Italian sceneggiati, Italian serialized TV dramas produced in the 60's and 70's in commemoration of these historical events.

 

Comp. Lit. 89100
History of Literary Theory and Criticism I
Prof. Aciman

With readings from Plato, Aristotle, and Longinus to Dante, Sidney, Boileau, Dryden, and Lessing, this course will examine the history and evolution of literary theory in the classical, medieval, and early modern periods. It will also examine such fundamental terms as truth, beauty, nature, and artifact with which pre-Romantic Western critics have attempted to understand literary works of art. This course will also explore the legacy and limitations of these and other terms and their impact on criticism today.

 

Comp. Lit. 88300
The Rise of the Novella
Prof. Fasoli

From the very beginnings in the Thirteenth Century down to Boccaccio and then onto France, Spain, and England, the novella has had a powerful impact on Renaissance and Early Modern European prose. This course will examine not only the birth of the novella and its place in the age that immediately preceded the modern novel but will also focus on the flexibility of a genre that is indelibly associated with three different strands: the picaresque tradition, the prankster's tale, and psychological fiction. Readings will include, among other prose writers, Boccaccio, Bandello, Giraldi Cinzio, Marguerite de Navarre, Cervantes, Quevedo, Lodge, Nashe, Deloney, Gascoigne, and Lyly.

 

Fr. 86000
French Art and Text: Mannerism to Modernism
Prof. Caws

This seminar will deal with some interchanges – explicit and implicit – between the visual and the verbal, in the French domain, taken in the broad sense. Artists and writers who established themselves in France will count, in this case, as part of the material (examples: Goya, Picasso, etc.) We will move, more or less chronologically, but sallying forth sideways and analogically, not disdaining major non-French critics, from the mannerist and baroque manifestations of the Ecole de Fontainebleau, via Poussin – seen through the eyes of Louis Marin and Bonnefoy – toward Greuze seen by Diderot and Michael Fried, the romantics with Baudelaire and Delacroix, the symbolists with Mallarmé and Whistler and Manet, brushing by Gautier, on to cubism, with Braque and Picasso, Reverdy, Jacob, Apollinaire, followed by Proust on Chardin, and on to surrealism with Man Ray, Claude Cahun, Wifredo Lam, Breton and Eluard, ending with Malraux on these and those, Bonnefoy on Goya and what we like to call modernisms, au sens large. NB Of course we can't read it, see it, think it all, but will delight in trying what we can.