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Spring 2013

Comp. Lit. 80100 -- On Book Reviewing
GC: Th, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Aciman (permission of instructor required)

Comp. Lit. 80100 – Screening Terror: Cinematic Representations of Global Terrorism
GC: T, 6:30-10:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Lombardi

Comp. Lit. 80100 -- German Romantics, Russian Formalists, Czech Structuralists
GC:  T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Holquist

Comp. Lit. 80900 -- Fretful Memory: The Past and Its Anxieties in Renaissance Prose
GC:  M, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr. Prof. Elsky

Comp. Lit. 85500 – Mann, Musil and Grass
GC:  M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Rupprecht

Comp. Lit. 85500 -- Renaissance Literature: Colonization and Globalization
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Carroll

Comp. Lit. 88200 -- The Returns of the Baroque: from the 1600’s to the Present
GC: W, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Fasoli

Comp. Lit. 89200 - History of Literary Theory and Criticism II
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Aciman

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

See Also:

Fr. 70700 – Proust/Memories/Movies (In English)
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 2/4 cr., Prof. Jerry Carlson

Course Descriptions

Comp. Lit. 80100 -- On Book Reviewing
Prof. Aciman

This course is dedicated to the craft of the book review. Book reviewing has not only become an essential tool that every scholar in the academy needs to master, but it is also the easiest way to break in to print. Book reviewing is also a way for scholars to reach a highly educated and discerning reading public that is not necessarily affiliated to an academic institution. This course will be offered on Thursdays at 6:30pm.. Editors from The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Time magazine, and the Times Sunday Book REview will be invited as well as some writers and academics who write book reviews. Readings will consist of weekly selections mostly from The New York Review, The London Review, and TLS, but also from The Nation and The New Republic. Assignments will comprise one short review in the style of the Sunday Book Review and a longer New York Review-style review at the end of the term. Admission is limited to 15 students. To register please apply by writing a paragraph explaining why you wish to take this course. 



Comp. Lit. 80100 – Screening Terror: Cinematic Representations of Global Terrorism
Prof. Lombardi

This course will focus on the discussion of cinematic and televisual representations of global terrorism: we will question how the discourse of (counter)terrorism inflects films and tv series, participating in a rhetoric of fear that pervades the contemporary media. The course will be dedicated to the analysis of cultural representations of old and new, modern and postmodern, religious, ideological, and political terrorism through a comparative study of films and TV series made in the US, Israel, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Ireland. Although one film will be screened in class every week, students will be also required to watch other films and tv shows at home. Screenings will include 24, Homeland, Sleeper Cell, Rescue Me, United 93, World Trade Center, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Guys, Rendition, Paradise Now, Day Night Day Night, Prisoners of War, Good Morning Night, The Best of Youth, Colpire al cuore, The Second Time, My Generation, My Brother is an Only Child, Romanzo Criminale (film and tv series), La prima linea, Romanzo di una strage, The Baader Meinhof Complex, The Lost Honour of Katharina Bloom, Marianne and Juliane, Carlos, Ogro, El Lobo, Cell 211,  In the Name of the Father, Michael Collins, The Crying Game, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. All screenings will have English subtitles.


Comp. Lit. 80100 -- German Romantics, Russian Formalists, Czech Structuralists
Prof. Holquist

Some have argued that modern literary theory begins in 19c Germany (David Simpson), others that it originated in Eastern Europe (Galin Tihanov).  This course will examine both claims in an attempt to seek a useful context for the present disordered state of theory.

Readings will consist mostly in essays and manifestos, beginning with claims made for classical philology by Friedrich August Wolf and Friedrich Schlegel, Schiller’s attempt to define a modernist sensibility, Schleiermacher’s hermeneutics, and Herder’s (and especially) Wilhelm von Humboldt’s linguistics, including his disciple Steinthal and his theory of Folk Psychology.  Since Kant is a figure obsessed in one way or another by all of these, we will devote an early session to the aspects of his revolution that made him crucial to our topic.

Moving forward, we will read Nietzsche’s polemic with his fellow classicists, before moving on to consider late 19th century and early 20th century Russian thinkers, beginning with Alexander Veselovskij (arguably the father of the academic study of Comparative literature).  We’ll then take up some seminal Formalist texts (Shlovsky, Jakobson, Eikhenbaum, and Tynyanov).  We will devote a session to Jakobson’s later career in Prague, together with the work of his colleagues, Mukarovsky and Karcevskij, and conclude with a consideration of Lotman and (especially) Bakhtin.

Comp. Lit. 80900 -- Fretful Memory: The Past and Its Anxieties in Renaissance Prose
Prof. Elsky

An exploration of self-definition through reference to an ideal past, thereby defined as classical; attention to the cultural and personal anxieties that stem from a shifting sense of kinship to, and difference from, a desired past and the fear of being anachronistically out of kilter with time. We will begin with an introduction to memory studies, with special attention to the debate between history and memory, or the tension between memorial presence and historical distance.  We will then move on to the struggles of five writers who define their work by their attempt to retrieve either a personal or cultural past.  Topics will include: the most ambitious memory project of the period, Petrarch’s retrieval of the  classical past and the regrets that haunt him in this work (Familiar Letters); Castiglione and the irretrievable idealized past preserved in the memory of ritualized conversation (Book of the Courtier); Montaigne’s  creation of a new genre, the essay, based on personal memorial reconstruction and self- reflection through print (Essays); Robert Burton’s frenetic imitation of Montaigne and neurotic memory slippage in the information overload of print culture (Anatomy of Melancholy); Thomas  Browne’s surrender to the frustrated attempt to retrieve the past and his resignation about the futility of memory (Urn Burial).

Comp. Lit. 85500 – Mann, Musil and Grass
Prof. Rupprecht

In this course, we will read the writings of major influential, twentieth century German authors as part of the tradition of the Enlightenment. We will ask, for example, who or what is enlightened in the novels under discussion; and we will address the question of how philosophical concepts appear in literary form, such as the essay and novel of ideas. In addition, we will consider specific aspects of enlightened thought, such as cultural criticism and gender. The course is taught in English, with texts in translation.

Readings:

Kant, Immanuel. “What is Enlightenment?” (1784) - xerox

Mann, Thomas. “Tonio Kröger” (1903)

Musil, Robert. The Man without Qualities (1930) vol. 1

Adorno and Horkheimer. The Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947)

Grass, Günter. The Tin Drum (1959)

Kluge, Alexander. The Devil’s Blind Spot (2003)

Sebald, W.G., Austerlitz (2004)

Comp. Lit. 85500 -- Renaissance Literature: Colonization and Globalization
Prof. Carroll

Why are we so obsessed with globalization today, and what do the origins of this system in the Renaissance have to do with the way we think of the world now?

To investigate how the world came to be understood as a global system, we will study maps, journals, essays, poetry, plays, and paintings from Spain, Mexico, India, China, France, Brazil, England, and the Dutch Republic from 1492 to 1675 alongside the work of some of the most important twenty-first century historians of early modern art, literature, and material culture. You will get the chance to meet some of these scholars (including Serge Gruzinski, Alessandra Russo, Barbara Fuchs, Kim Hall, Stephanie Merrim, and Timothy Brook) at an international conference “Becoming Global: The Renaissance and the World” on March 15, 2013 at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Readings include: Montaigne, “Des cannibales,” Serge Gruzinski, The Mestizo Mind, Haklyut’s Voyages, Jean de Léry, L’Histoire d'un voyage fait en la terre du Brésil, Jonathan Spence, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Three Ways to be Alien, Travels and Encounters in the Early Modern World, and Timothy Brook, Vermeer’s Hat.


Comp. Lit. 88200 -- The Returns of the Baroque: from the 1600’s to the Present
Prof. Fasoli

After the Renaissance and its institutional yet contradictory revalidation of the classical past, the belief that modernity was an intrinsically positive value began to appear in western thought. “Baroque” has sometimes been intended as a strictly historical, chronological concept pertaining to 17th century Europe, at other times as a meta-historical, often derogatory, stylistic marker.  In other instances, however, the idea of Baroque has proven to be a resourceful critical tool to undermine and redefine the traditional understanding of notions of authority, subversion, and mass culture. Reading the works of authors such as Tassoni, Marino, Pallavicino, Galileo, Tesauro, Gryphius, Saint Amant, Góngora, Lope de Vega, Gracián,  Donne, Crashaw, and others, we will see how the theoretical reflection of the last 100 years has incessantly revisited the Baroque, and opened different interpretive paths on 17th century literature and arts. We will also examine how, in recent decades, various writers and cultural critics have evoked the idea of Neo- or “returning” Baroques to characterize several contemporary artistic and literary expressions, often in non-European contexts.  Crucial issues lie at the core of the debate on “returning” Baroques: the definition of modernity itself, and the dialectical relationship between Neo-Baroque and postmodernism. We will discuss essays by authors such as Croce, Benjamin, D’Ors, Rousset, Maravall, Foucault, Genette, Deleuze, Fumaroli (on Baroque and /or on modernity) and Borges, Paz, Buci-Glucksmann, Sarduy, Manganelli, Calabrese, Lambert and Egginton (for Neo-Baroque and/or postmodernism).


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

A study of the development of thought about literature from the 18th century to the present day with readings from Kant, Lessing, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Pater, Wilde, Woolf, Tolstoy, Shklovsky, Eliot, Lukacs, Barthes, Poulet, and Derrida.  This course will not only address issues pertaining to the evolution of modern aesthetics but it will also examine current critical methodology.