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Spring 2011

Comp. Lit. 70300 - Literature and the Ancient World: Greek Mythology and Literature
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Stern

Comp. Lit. 74000 - Cinemas of Memory: Alain Resnais and Wong Kar-Wai
GC: W, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Jerry Carlson

Comp. Lit. 79800 - Independent Studies
Variable credit up to 6, Staff

Comp. Lit. 80100 - The Faust Legend
GC: Th, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Oppenheimer

Comp. Lit. 85000 - Marcel Proust: in Search of Lost Time
GC: T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Aciman

Comp. Lit. 85500 - Bilingual/Polyglot Writers
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Beaujour

Comp. Lit. 88000 - Literature and Dialect in Italy Across Time and Space
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Haller

Comp. Lit. 88400 - Love in Early Modern European Philosophy and Literature
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Calabritto (crosslisted with RSCP 83100)

Comp. Lit. 89000 - Contemporary Theories of Interpretation in Literature and Anthropology
GC: W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Crapanzano (crosslisted with Anthro. 81000)

Comp. Lit. 89200- History of Literary Theory and Criticism II
GC: M, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Elsky

Comp. Lit. 89800 - Independent Studies, Variable credit up to 6, Staff

Comp. Lit. 90000 - Dissertation Supervision
GC: 1 cr. Staff

See Also:

Eng. 76000 - Portraits and Self-Portraits: Art and Text
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Caws

Fr. 78200 - Theory of Literary Translation
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 2/4 cr., Prof. Consenstein

NYU Italian Courses

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

CL 80101- Theory and Practice of Early Modern Translation
NYU: Th, 2:30-5:10 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Jane Tylus

CL 80102 - Dante's Divina Commedia and the Augustinian Tradition
NYU: M, 3:30-6:10 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. John Freccero

CL 80103 - The Italian Lyric Tradition from Petrarch to Marino
NYU: W, 3:30-6:10 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Virginia Cox

CL 80104 - 20th Century Italian Poetry
NYU: T, 3:30-6:10 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Maria Luisa Ardizzone


Course Descriptions

Comp. Lit. 70300
Literature and the Ancient World: Greek Mythology and Literature
Prof. Stern

This course will in the first instance provide an overview of the complex and extensive mythological system of the ancient Greeks. Additionally, we will consider the ways in which the ancients themselves understood their myths (e.g. rationalism, allegory, etymology, aetiology, euhemerism) and the ways in which various 20th century schools of interpretation have offered explanations. One particular emphasis will be on the relationship of myth to religion, in terms of such areas as the primary festivals of the ancient Athenian calendar, sacrifice, scapegoating, oracles, and attitudes toward death.

Among primary sources we will study the following: Hesiod, Theogony, Works and Days; Homer, Odyssey; The Homeric Hymns to Demeter, Apollo, and Aphrodite; Pindar, Olympian 2; Bacchylides, Ode 5; Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers; Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, Oedipus at Colonus; Euripides, Hippolytus; Iphigenia in Aulis; Bacchae; Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazousae; Herodotus, Histories, Book 1; Plato, Euthyphro; "The Myth of Er"; Apollonius of Rhodes, Argonautica; Plutarch, The Life of Theseus; Apollodorus, The Library. A bibliography of secondary works will be provided.

Knowledge of Classical Greek is not required for this course. However, students who intend to read substantial amounts of the material in Greek should speak with the instructor after the first class: an additional meeting will be planned for them and adjustments made in other course requirements.

A term paper on a topic approved by the instructor is required.

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Comp. Lit. 74000
Cinemas of Memory: Alain Resnais and Wong Kar-Wai
Prof. Jerry Carlson

"The past is hard to predict." So joked (very quietly) historians in Stalinist Russia. Today the adage speaks a truth that moves beyond the dissolved Soviet state to haunt the narrative discourses of the past century. How do we recover the past when various forces undermine the reliability of individuals, groups, and institutions to retrieve, arrange, and interpret evidence about times gone by? Under these conditions, how can the authority to tell the story of the past be established? Cinemas of Memory explores the works of two highly regarded filmmakers for whom these two questions are central. Alain Resnais' films address the issues of historical memory in post World War II Europe. Wong Kar-wai's works find their inspiration in the tremendous velocity of contemporary societal change in Hong Kong and more broadly the Chinese diaspora. The course will offer close readings of five films by each filmmaker and glimpses of other directors (such as Michel Gondry and Ye Lou) working in the same traditions. Additional attention will be paid to theories of memory (for example, Henri Bergson & Pierre Nora) and related literary explorations of memory and history (for example, Marcel Proust & William Faulkner).

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Comp. Lit. 80100
The Faust Legend
Prof. Oppenheimer

Few figures in Western literature have attracted as much continuous interest from as many important writers, artists, composers and film-makers as that of Doctor Faustus, the mysterious sixteenth-century physician and necromancer whose legendary pact with the devil granted him superhuman powers. Starting with the earliest published version of the story, the famous Faust Book dating from 1587 in Frankfurt (also available in translation), the course will explore strikingly different treatments of Faust's career by Christopher Marlowe, Goethe, and Thomas Mann, and the conflicting views of humanity's relations to nature and the divine implied by their masterpieces. Also investigated will be the influence of the Faust story on writers as diverse as Byron, Carlyle, Dostoyevski, Pushkin, Hawthorne, Paul Valéry, and Lawrence Durrell. Films such as Mephisto, Hanusen, and Bedazzled, which approach the story and its motif of the devil pact in modern ways, will be considered and, where possible, shown; operatic and other musical treatments will be considered, along with the Faust legend's impact on painting.--One brief in-class presentation. One research paper.

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Comp. Lit. 85000
Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Prof. Aciman

Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time tells of an elaborate, internal journey, at the end of which the narrator joyfully discovers the unifying pattern of his life both as writer and human being. Famed for its style and its distinctive view of love, art, and memory, Proust's epic remains a dominant and innovative voice in the literature of intimacy and introspection. This seminar, designed for students who wish to understand the complex relationship between memory and the modern novel, will examine how Proust's epic has challenged and redefined not just the art of writing, but the art of reading as well. The course will be taught in translation, but students able to read French are encouraged to read Proust in the original.

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Comp. Lit. 85500
Bilingual/Polyglot Writers
Prof. Beaujour

While it is not unusual for a writer to be a bilingual, it is still rare for a major modern writer to be bilingual or polyglot as a writer and to create a body of work of more or less equal weight in more than one language. Most monolinguals have a visceral belief in the identity of language and self. They find disturbing and anomalous a modern poet or novelist who defines himself in one language and then either switches entirely to another one or continues to alternate with some periodicity between the two. Certainly, being a bilingual writer confronts an artist with painful difficulties: neuro-physiological, and emotional as well as problems of linguistic choice and resistance. All these factors have significant impact on the form and language of the works. Translation and self-translation also pose difficult problems for the bilingual writer.

While each bilingual writer's development is idiosyncratic, it is possible to maintain that bilingual writers, even working in different languages, have more in common with each other than they do with monolingual writers of any of the languages which they master--or which master them. Among other problems, we will address the question of whether or not this hypothesis can be supported.

This course will concentrate on modern writers who are bilingual in the strict sense, as noted above : Ariel Dorfman (Spanish/English), Nabokov (Russian/English) , Beckett (English/ French), Brodsky (Russian /English), and Nancy Huston (English/French) and possibly Kundera (Czech/French), but we will also read short texts by some who have written only in one language, which is not their first (Hoffman (Polish/English), Rodriguez (Spanish/English), etc.) We will look briefly at one or two writers who have decided to write books in mixed or macaronic language, as well as writers who have decided to forge a new language out of their ethnic linguistic practice (e.g. Anzaldua (Spanglish), and those who deliberately combine several languages in the same work (e.g.: Federman (French/English).

The initial classes will be devoted to an introduction to general problems of bilingualism as they apply to writers: the bilingual brain and problems of language storage and access, psycho-social aspects of bilingualism, and particularly the situation of bilinguals in voluntary or involuntary exile, "identity issues" and questions of "code switching," the process of switching (permanently or for a length of time) from writing in one language to writing in another.

The first work we shall consider together in detail will be Ariel Dorfman's Going South, Looking North: A Bilingual Journey, which introduces in exceptionally clear form major questions of identity, imagery, and structure that we will see frequently in other texts. We will then spend some time on the career of Vladimir Nabokov, including a discussion of problems of translation and self translation. The central texts here will be PNIN and Speak, Memory!

We will then read several brief works by Beckett and selections from The Unnamable, followed by Lost North/Nord Perdu and 'Limbes/Limbo: Homage to Samuel Beckett" , two brief works by Nancy Houston, We will read Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation, several essays by Richard Rodriguez and finish with a discussion of Joseph Brodsky.
If the class is small, all students will be expected to present their research on one or more bilingual writers. They will assign brief texts for all members of the class to read on which the student will comment in the context of a general presentation of the writer's work, unless the presentation concerns an aspect of a writer whose works are already required. All presentations will include answers to a series of questions to be handed out at the beginning of the semester. Depending on the topics chosen, presentations will be given throughout the semester. The presentation(s) will generally be the basis of the student's final paper. If a student prefers, the final paper may, however, focus on a problem of bilingual writing, rather than on a specific author. The final paper may also consider pre-modern practices of bilingual writing.

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Comp. Lit. 88000
Literature and Dialect in Italy Across Time and Space
Prof. Haller

This course will focus on the relations between Italian dialects and the country's literary productions, with a reflection on Italian literature in dialect, and conversely Italian dialects in Italy's 'mainstream' literature and culture. Following an introduction to Italy's complex linguistic panorama and linguistic features of the principal dialect groups, the course will foreground the development of a literary canon in dialect, from its origins in the early sixteenth century when a literary archaic Tuscan standard is becoming the prevailing model for a standard language, to the greatest literary achievements during the nineteenth and twentieth century. Selections will be read and analyzed from authors who wrote poetry and plays in Milanese (Carlo Porta, Delio Tessa, Franco Loi), Romanesco (Giuseppe Gioachino Belli, Cesare Pascarella, Trilussa), Neapolitan (Salvatore Di Giacomo, Eduardo De Filippo), Venetian (Carlo Goldoni, Giacomo Noventa, Virgilio Giotti), Romagnol (Tonino Guerra), Sicilian (Antonio Veneziano, Ignazio Buttitta, Luigi Pirandello), and others. The literary dialects will be studied both in their historical-linguistic and cultural contexts and consider the recent resurgence of the literary dialects and polemical debates concerning their spoken use. In the course we will also reflect on the continued presence of Italy's dialects with diverse functions in Tuscan-based literature, with particular attention to their use in cinema, music, and other media in the most recent decades.

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Comp. Lit. 89000
Contemporary Theories of Interpretation in Literature and Anthropology Prof. Crapanzano

This seminar will look critically at several of the principal approaches to contemporary theories in interpretation: hermeneutics, dialogism, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, and postmodernism. Readings will include selections from the following authors: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Benjamin, Bakhtin, Lévi-Strauss, Barthes , Derrida, Blanchot, Lacan, Lyotard, Lacoue-Labartbe, J.Butler, and MacIntyre. Particular attention will be given to the linguistic, existential, and moral presuppositions of these theorists.

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Comp. Lit. 89200
History of Literary Theory and Criticism II
Prof. Elsky

A study of the development of thought about literature in nineteenth and twentieth centuries criticism and philosophy. The course will start from attempts to incorporate literature into patterns of aesthetic, moral, cultural, and historical coherence, and will move to the specter of incoherence, force, and trauma as the underlying impetus of literature. Readings will include Hegel, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Schleiermacher, Nietzsche, Eliot, Brooks, Auerbach, Benjamin, Levinas, Derrida, Foucault, Bhabha, Casanova.

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Comp. Lit. 88400
Love in Early Modern European Philosophy and Literature
Prof. Calabritto

This seminar will explore the subject of love in its dual nature: as physical, erotic passion and spiritual, ennobling emotion, starting with Plato's Symposium and Avicenna's Treatise on Love. These two works exemplify the tension between the body and the soul that is elaborated and developed in all the other texts that we will read. A selection of Italian, French, English and Spanish texts, composed between the beginning of the fourteenth and the end of the seventeenth century, will allow us to address, among others, the following questions: how are the tensions between body and soul on the one hand and erotic passion and spiritual emotion on the other elaborated in these texts? In which way did Marsilio Ficino's Neo-Platonic fifteenth-century elaboration of the Symposium, affect the literature on love written between the sixteenth and the seventeenth century? Do genre and gender influence the way love is enacted in these works, and how?

What follows is a provisional list of the primary sources that will be read during the seminar:
Plato, Symposium
Avicenna, Treatise on Love
Marsilio Ficino, On love
Michel de Montaigne, "On affectionate relationships", "On the affection of fathers for their children", "On three kinds of social intercourse", in Essays
Baldassarre Castiglione, The Courtier (with special focus on book IV)
Leone Ebreo, Dialogues of Love
Petrarch, Canzoniere (selections)
Michelangelo, Rime (selections)
William Shakespeare, Sonnets (selections)
Louise Labé, Elegies and Sonnets (selections)
Francisco de Quevedo, Poems (selections)
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Jean Racine, Phèdre
Madame de la Fayette, The Princess of Clèves

Those who can read these texts in the original language are encouraged to do so. The seminar will be conducted in English.

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