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Fall 2015

C L. 78200 – Life Histories, Self and Other - GC:  W, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 4 credits, Prof. Vincent Crapanzano

C L. 79500- Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism and Scholarship - GC:  T, 6:30-8:30 pm, 4 credits, Prof. Giancarlo Lombardi

C L. 80100 – Melancholy:  Between Illness of the Body and Malady of the Soul:  A Comparative Perspective - GC:  M, 4:15-6:15 pm, 4 credits, Prof. Monica Calabritto

C L. 80100-Borges and His Precursors - GC:  W, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Lia Schwartz

C L. 85500 – Classical Chinese Officialdom Novels and Their Contemporary Screen Reincarnations - GC:  Th, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Ying Zhu

C L. 88000 – Italian Dialect Culture - GC: Th, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Hermann Haller

C L. 89000 – Returning to Form: New Historicism and its Discontents - GC: M, 6:30pm-8:30pm, 4 credits, Prof. Martin Elsky

CL 89100-History of Literary Theory Criticism I - GC: T, 4:15pm-6:15pm, 4 credits, Prof. Andre Aciman

CL 9000-Dissertation Supervision, 1cr., staff


Fall 2015 Course Descriptions


C L. 78200 – Life Histories, Self and Other
Prof. Vincent Crapanzano

This seminar will focus on the expression of self and other in life-historical texts and oral accounts. We will read exemplary life histories, ranging from Saint Augustine’s Confessions to Milarepa, The Biography of a Tibetan Yogi by way of Montaigne, Kierkegaard, Woolf, Blanchot, and Barthes.  Particular attention will be given to how the other figures in these narratives: the way it constitutes the self, the subject, and subjectivity. Is it opaque, transparent, friendly, inimical, seductive, internalized, frozen, or dead? How does it figure in the intimate surround of the self-narrator? Attention will be given to modes of self-reflection and objectification, to bad faith, the unsayable and the unsaid, to solipsism, exceptionalism, and the moral challenge self-narratives pose, including those generated through the ethnographic interview. Theoretical readings will include, Hegel, Schiller (on Bildung), Freud, Sartre, Bataille, Lacan, and Foucault.

C L. 79500-Theory and Practice of Literary Criticism and Scholarship
Prof. Giancarlo 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.

C L. 80100-Melancholy:  Between Illness of the Body and Malady of the Soul:  A Comparative Perspective
Prof. Monica Calabritto

This course will analyze ways authors from the Classical period to the eighteenth century have shaped the notion of melancholy in the language and rhetorical strategies of their texts. Since the course intends to give a comparative overview of the development of the notion of melancholy, the texts taken in consideration come from different national literatures—Italian, French, English, and Spanish. In particular we will study the interconnected notions of melancholy and selfhood from three historical vantage points—Classical period, early modern period and modern period—and according to four generic groups: literary production, and the philosophical, encyclopedic and medical traditions. The course will address the following questions: How do language, rhetorical strategies, and melancholy shape one another? What is the relationship between the representation of the body—the physical body of the subject affected by melancholy and the metaphorical body of the text—and the notion of melancholy? When does melancholy stop being perceived and diagnosed as a bodily illness and become an illness of the “soul”? Is melancholy gendered and so, in which way? Is there a link between the popularity of melancholy in the early modern period and the social and political context in which it developed? In which way is melancholy articulated in the early modern period with the notion of genius on the one hand and that of spiritual reformation on the other?

CL. 80100-Borges and His Precursors
Prof. Lia Schwartz

J. L. Borges wrote an essay in 1951 with the title, “Kafka and his Precursors”. He declared that the word was indispensable in the vocabulary of criticism, a statement that may sound puzzling to a comparatist. This course seeks to examine how Borges’s fictions, essays and poetry establish a literary and ideological dialogue with some literary and philosophical texts written in the early modern and modern periods, which function as a source of rhetorical invention. Motifs and themes to be examined include, books and imaginary libraries, the art of memory, the search for wisdom, mythological and metaphorical labyrinths and dreams, as well as the concepts of time and eternity. Borges ‘s corpus will be based on translations into English, as they were published in Collected Fictions, Selected Poems, The Total Library: Non-Fiction, 1922-1986. Readings will include works by Cervantes, Quevedo, Graci├ín, Pascal, Coleridge, Poe, Kafka and Calvino.

C L. 80100-Classical Chinese Officialdom Novels and Their Contemporary Screen Reincarnations Prof. Ying Zhu
The Chinese state-orchestrated anti-corruption campaign that has brought down many Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rank and file has been the headline news about China for the last couple of years. As China’s information control intensified, speculations abound as to whether the campaign is really CCP’s internal power struggle marshaling itself as anti-graft resolve. Meanwhile, officialdom genre depicting crime and party politics has flourished in China. This course takes us back to the birth of Chinese officialdom genre as classical novels  during China’s dynasty era. It is a study of the evolution of Chinese officialdom literary  genre from the classical novels during Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to its contemporary reincarnation as popular novels, serial TV drama, and feature films. It examines canonical officialdom novels, pop fiction, as well as anti-corruption themed TV dramas and films and discusses how the officialdom narrative functions as a form of political and literary discourse as it keeps up with Chinese society’s shifting cultural milieu. We will read excerpts from popular Qing dynasty officialdom fictions such as Wu Jingzi’s The Scholars and Li Boyuan’s Officialdom Unmasked as well as excerpts from contemporary officialdom novels. We will also watch episodes of serial TV dramas and relevant films. Screening material will be made available for viewing outside class. This Comparative Literature course should be of interest to students from History, Politic Science, and MALS.

CL. 88000-Italian Dialect Culture
Prof. Hermann Haller

In the Western European context Italy offers one of the most fascinating and diverse linguistic and cultural landscapes. Next to its Tuscan-based standard, now used by the vast majority of the population as never before, one encounters a great number of regional languages or dialects, with vastly different forms from South to North that are in part mutually incomprehensible, genetically distanced as much as Portuguese and French. These regional languages, while used less across the social spectrum, are still alive today and reflect the country’s historically strong tension between unity and disunity. They are also found throughout the globe, including in North America, due to the mass migrations from Italy since the years of the country’s political unification. A rich variety of historical alloglot languages and a broad array of immigrant languages further enrich Italy’s linguistic landscape. This diversity is also reflected in a pervasive literary tradition in dialect that parallels and interacts with the classical literature in Tuscan, with poetry and theatre flourishing especially in the nineteenth and twentieth century, produced by such writers as the Milanese Carlo Porta and Delio Tessa, the Roman Giuseppe Gioachino Belli and Trilussa, the Neapolitan Eduardo De Filippo, the Sicilian Giovanni Meli and Ignazio Buttitta. In addition, the tension and interplay between standard Italian and dialects is visible throughout literature in Tuscan, from Boccaccio’s short stories to Pirandello’s plays and Andrea Camilleri’s detective novels with their Sicilian ingredients, as well as in cinema and other art forms. This course aims at analyzing and evaluating Italy’s great cultural diversity through a linguistic description of regional languages and their contemporary use, and through selective readings of literary texts in dialect.

C L. 89000-Returningto Form: New Historicism and its Discontents
Prof. Martin Elsky

The context of this course will be the current critical debates about the revival of literary form, specifically the formalist critique of, and response to the dominance of historicism and neglect of form over the past decades.  We will begin with the arguments against New Historicism posed by the New Formalism and “surface reading.” We will then survey the major theories of literary form as the mediator of ethical experience, affect, and cognition in: antiquity (Plato, Aristotle), the Middle Ages (Dante on allegory), the Renaissance (debates among Mintorno, Castelvetro, Tasso, Sidney), Romanticism (the Schlegels, Schleiermacher, Wordsworth, Coleridge), and the New Criticism (Brooks, Warren, Wimsatt). Assignments include oral report and longer term project.

C L.89100-History of Literary Theory and Critcism I
Prof. Andre 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.