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Fall 2012

Comp. Lit. 78100 - Figurations of the Baroque Imaginary
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Schwartz

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. 80100 – The Tristan Legend
GC: W, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Oppenheimer

Comp. Lit. 80100 – Melancholia and Literature
GC: M, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 4 cr., Prof. Scribner

Comp. Lit.85000 - Narrating/Theorizing the Self (and Other)
GC: W, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr. Prof. Crapanzano

Comp. Lit. 85000 –Philosophy and Anti-Philosophy in Modern Thought
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Wolin

Comp. Lit. 88200 - The Plurivocal Middle Ages: Philosophical Approaches to 13th Century Italian Poetry
GC: T, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Ureni

Comp. Lit. 88500 - The Worth of Women: Writing and Gender in Italy
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Paulicelli

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

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

See Also:

Fr. 87400 – Representations et Theories de L’Hysterie
GC: T, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Ender

Comp. Lit. 78100 - Figurations of the Baroque Imaginary
Prof. Schwartz

This course will reconsider some aspects of the rhetoric and ideologies of the Baroque as an historical period in European literature, which extended roughly from 1560 to 1680. It will focus on a series of literary works that shared a common background of motifs, topoi and images, which will be interpreted in relation to specific historical and philosophical contexts, among them, labyrinths, masks, metamorphoses, dreams, mirrors and visions. These in turn will be compared with figurations in pictorial and emblematic texts by Alciati and Vaenius. The particular aesthetics of wit, and the function of the conceit in Baroque écritures will be also examined in its linguistic and ideological implications. Readings will include important works of Picaresque fiction, The Swindler by Quevedo and Courasche by von Grimmelshausen; Menippean satire, Quevedo’s Visions or Dreams; Góngora’s narrative poem Solitudes; plays by Calderón de la Barca; Gracián’s novel The Critic (El Criticón and selected poems by Tasso and Marino, Tristan, Saint-Amant and d’Aubigné; Quevedo and Góngora; Donne, Gryphius and Silesius, as well as. A basic bibliography of some theoretical anad critical works on the Baroque in art and literature will be distributed in class.

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 – The Tristan Legend
Prof. Oppenheimer

For at least a thousand years, torturous human conflicts between passion, or undying, obsessive love, and politics, or public responsibility, as well as between love and art, have found some of their most influential and fascinating representations in versions of the Tristan legend. The legend itself has exerted a profound influence, which lasts into the present, on Western cultures, poets, musicians, painters, film-makers, and novelists. Starting with what may be its earliest appearance, in the eleventh-century Persian epic Vis and Ramin by Fakhraddin Gorgani (to be read in translation, as will other works, unless students have the languages), the course will investigate the Tristan story’s extraordinary flourishing in the West, in such masterpieces as the medieval Tristan by Béroul , Gottfried von Strassburg’s thirteenth-century Tristan, and the Morte D’Arthur by Malory, plus the important modern changes in its characters and situations brought about by Swinburne, Richard Wagner (whose operatic treatments of the legend will be considered in detail), Thomas Mann, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose Tender Is the Night will be examined from the point of view that it reflects many of the poisonous, seductive, psychological, and mystical motifs of the original story. Cinematic treatments will be explored, and where possible, shown. A brief, in-class presentation of a research topic. One research essay.

Texts (addenda to be supplied later):

Fakhraddin Gorgani. Vis and Ramin. Dick Davis trans. Penguin Classics.

Gottfried von Strassburg. Tristan. A. T. Hatto trans. Penguin.

Béroul. The Romance of Tristan: The Tale of Tristan’s Madness. Alan S. Fedrick trans. Penguin Classics.

Malory. Le Morte D’Arthur, etc. Keith Baines trans., Robert Graves intro. Signet Classics.

Richard Wagner (TBA): both opera and libretto.

Charles Algernon Swinburne. Tristram of Lyonesse. Various editions: see also editions of his complete poems. (Optional text.)

Thomas Mann. Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories. Lowe-Porter trans. Various editions.

F. Scott Fitzgerald. Tender Is the Night. Various editions.

Comp. Lit. 80100 – Melancholia and Literature
Prof. Scribner

The melancholic thinks things through to the end. The spirit of melancholia is present throughout European civilization, from antiquity to the present, and from the Mediterranean to the North Sea, but it finds its dark heart in German literature. Authors such as Rilke, Benjamin, and Sebald have written pensive works that move us through the long span of modernity; they reflect deeply on the complex of insight, madness, and bourgeois decadence that has been variously associated with the melancholic subject.

This seminar is pitched to deepen our understanding of concepts and problems that are central to literary study, such as allegory, symbolism, tragedy, exile, transience, and loss. Course readings are complemented by discussions of signal works of visual art and cinema, as well as key texts of anthropology, medicine, and psychoanalysis. Special consideration is given to Freud’s studies “Mourning and Melancholia” and “Loss” and their influence on contemporary discussions of gender, power, and cultural identity. Writing by Aristotle, Baudelaire, Burton, Fanon, Goethe, Müller, Pamuk, and Sartre will also be examined, as well as films by RW Fassbinder and Lars von Trier. The course will be conducted in English. Students may choose to read assigned texts in the original or in translation.

Comp. Lit.85000 - Narrating/Theorizing the Self (and Other)
Prof. Crapanzano

How is the self constituted? How is it envisioned? Conceptualized? Figured? How does it relate to others? The Other? We will look at principal theories of the self, the other, personhood, spirit possession, multiple personality, conversion, subjectivity, and intersubjectivity. Among the approaches to the self that will be considered are the ethnopsychological (Hallowell, Leenhardt), the dialectical (Hegel, Mead, and Sartre), the phenomenological (Merleau-Ponty), the psychoanalytic (Freud, Winnicott, Lacan), and the textual (Barthes, Beneveniste, Derrida, Lacoue-Labarthes, J. Ryan). Reference will be made to more general works like those of Charles Taylor and Judith Butler. Relevant narratives of the self will also be read: Augustine’s Confessions, several of Montaigne’s essays, Herculine Barbin, Jung’s Memories Dreams and Reflections, Arendt’s Rahel Varhage, and one or more of Freud’s case history.

Comp. Lit. 85000 – Philosphy and Anti-Philosophy in Modern Thought
Prof. Wolin

We know what philosophy is: the search for timeless and eternal precepts concerning the True, the Beautiful, and the Good. But in postwar Europe, in Nietzsche’s wake, a rival intellectual tradition – “anti-philosophy” – emerged to radically call into question the orientation and desiderata of what used to be called prima philosophia or “first philosophy.” Under the auspices of anti-philosophy, we have witnessed a reversal of the traditional philosophical assumption concerning the integral relationship between knowledge and the good life, insight and emancipation. Socrates famously proclaimed in the Apology that “virtue is knowledge.” But for contemporary anti-philosophy, knowledge does not set us free but instead threatens to inscribe us more thoroughly within networks of social power – as Foucault’s genealogies contend. The rise of anti-philosophy (Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Richard Rorty, Judith Butler) is intimately tied to the enthusiastic reception of German thought (Nietzsche and Heidegger) in postwar France. But it is also linked to the rejection of the “philosophy of the subject” (Kant, Husserl, Sartre), one of the linchpins of post-Cartesian thought.
Our approach to anti-philosophy will not be merely celebratory or uncritical. Instead, it will be “genealogical,” analyzing both its conditions of emergence in postwar France and related anti-foundationalist approaches (e.g., American pragmatism). One of our additional main concerns will be the “grafting” or transformation “anti-philosophy” experienced in a North American context, resulting in the (paradoxical) emergence of the Cultural Studies and Identity Politics. The irony of this reception history is that, whereas in France anti-philosophy vehemently opposed the idea of fixed or centered identities, in North America the repercussions were the opposite, as French theory served as the theoretical buttress for radical multiculturalism. We will also lend a fair hearing to some of the leading critics of anti-philosophy: thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas, Jacques Bouvresse, Luc Ferry, and Alain Renaut.

Selected Texts:

Nietzsche, “Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense”
Heidegger, Being and Time (selections)
Bataille, The Accursed Share
Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (La Pensée Sauvage)
Derrida, “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences”
Derrida, “Signature, Event, Context”
Derrida, Of Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness
Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy and History”
Foucault/Deleuze, “Intellectuals and Power”
Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”
Deleuze, What is Philosophy?
Habermas, Philosophical Discourse of Modernity

Comp. Lit. 88200 - The Plurivocal Middle Ages: Philosophical Approaches to 13th Century Italian Poetry
Prof. Ureni

Far from being dominated by a single tradition of thought, the medieval intellectual debate constantly challenges the definition of the individual soul and its faculties, the possibility for earthly happiness, the boundaries between sensitive and rational spheres, and the (im)mortality of the rational part of the soul. Multifaceted philosophical approaches, ranging from the Aristotelian tradition and its heterodox forms to the Augustinian speculative tradition, offer diversified answers to those questions, and raise a series of debates that permeates thirteenth-century thought in Italy and Europe. This course will explore the poetic response to these medieval speculative debates. We will focus on the poets of the Sicilian School, and on Guido Guinizzelli, Guido Cavalcanti, and Dante Alighieri. We will highlight how thirteenth-century Italian poetry shares its roots and its creative moment – as well as a lexicon - with theological and philosophical discussions and with scientific investigations, particularly medicine. Within the context of a broad exploration of the relations between philosophy, medicine, and poetry, we will also focus on more specific themes that are key to medieval philosophical debates, such as memory and imagination.

Comp. Lit. 88500 - The Worth of Women: Writing and Gender in Italy
Prof. Paulicelli

The title of the course quotes a well known treatise by Venetian writer Moderata Fonte, who published il Merito delle donne in 1600. In early modern Italy women held a very prominent presence in writing and in the cultural debate on space (domestic and public); the right to education; morality; politics; identity; and the framing of gender and history. As a number of scholars have shown (Cox and Robin among others), the richness of women’s writing is broad and complex even in difficult periods such as the counter-reformation, fascism and the post World War II period, as well as the present global age. Women have always written and found ways of carving out a space both to make their voices heard and to mark their presence even in hidden corners of history. In this course, we will examine these issues in a broad historical perspective and through close readings of the texts, discuss the interconnectedness of women’s writing as it appears in a variety of venues, genres and social activities such as salons, letter writing, travelogues, journalism, political activities, migration, national identity and transcultural exchanges. Starting with some excerpts from early modern texts (Fonte, Tarabotti, Marinella), we will go on to read women writers in subsequent periods and investigate their concerns and negotiations within the context in which they wrote. We will read both fiction and non-fiction writings of authors such as Cristina di Belgioioso, Anna Maria Mozzoni, Sibilla Aleramo, Alba De Cespedes, Gianna Manzini, Grazia Deledda, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, Clara Sereni and contemporary migrant writers such as Shirin Ramzanali Fazel, Viola Chandra, Laila Waida and Cristina Ali Farah.

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.