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Spring 2009

Comp. Lit. 71000 - Early Modern Disseminations: Encounters with European Culture East and West
GC: M, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Elsky (95372)

Comp. Lit. 72000 - Figures of Bodies and Speech: Eroticism and Pornography from the Renaissance to the Baroque
GC: W, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Fasoli (95373)

Comp. Lit. 78200 - The Intention of the Text
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr. Profs. Bonaparte/Stern (95375)

Comp. Lit. 78200 - Fictions of the Psyche
GC: Tues., 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Aciman (95377)

Comp. Lit. 79500 - Theory and Practice of Literary Scholarship and Criticism
GC: M, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Lombardi (95379)

Comp. Lit. 79800 - Independent Studies
Variable credit up to 6, Staff (95381)

Comp. Lit. 80100 - The Faust Legend
GC: W, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Oppenheimer (95382)

Comp. Lit. 85000 - Literature and Psychoanalysis: Scenes of Childhood in Modernity
GC: T, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Ender (95384)

Comp. Lit. 88000 - Plurilingualism in Italy and Beyond - Sociolinguistic Variation of Italian Through Time and Space
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Haller (95387)

Comp. Lit. 89200 - History of Literary Theory and Criticism II
GC: F, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Wilner (95388)

Comp. Lit. 89800 - Independent Studies
Variable credit up to 6, Staff (95390)

Comp. Lit. 90000 - Dissertation Supervision
GC: 1 cr, Staff (95392)

NYU Italian Courses

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


CL 80101 - Topics in Italian Culture: Gender & Religion in Europe and the Americas
NYU: M, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Jane Tylus (95406)

CL 80102 - Studies in Medieval Politics, Poetics and Imagination In 13th Century Poetry (taught in English)
NYU: T, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Maria Luisa Ardizzone (95407)

CL 80103 - Studies in 20th Century Literature: La Cultura D'Immigrazione in Italian
NYU: W, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Teresa Fiore (95408)

CL 80104 - Topics: Travel Literature in Italy
NYU: Th, 3:30-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Chiara Ferrari

Course Descriptions

Comp. Lit. 71000 - Early Modern Disseminations: Encounters with European Culture East and West
Prof. Elsky

This course will focus on contact between European and non-European cultures in the Renaissance and Early Modern period, an age of exploration and expansion. It will concentrate on the transformations that occur when cultural forms originally associated with the Italian city state move across borders via national states and empires to the New World and the eastern Mediterranean, to Tenochtitlan and the Ottoman Empire. Readings will be drawn from literary and art history, as well as social and political history. The approach of the course will be set by beginning with cartography as an intercultural discipline used for the mapping of Europe's own internally dynamic geographical space and its relation to geographies beyond its borders in some major cartographic projects of the period. We will then consider intellectual theorization of contact with non-Europeans, as well as reciprocal effects of encounters between European and non-European cultures, including hybrid identities and hybrid cultural forms (literary and visual) expressing resistance, absorption, and synthesis. Themes will include cultural forms in geographic motion, as well as issues of authenticity, imitation, appropriation, and mimicry. Examples will be drawn from the historical, literary and visual traditions, including case histories and the theory of the state and empire; lyric, epic, travel narrative, and ethnographic description; prints, drawings, architecture, and cartography. Emphasis will be placed on critical approaches and research problems as illustrated in readings from cultural history, literary criticism, and art history as applied so such figures as Shakespeare, Rabelais, Cervantes and others. As an interdisciplinary course, students can work on materials related to their home discipline.

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Comp. Lit. 72000 - Figures of Bodies and Speech: Eroticism and Pornography from the Renaissance to the Baroque
Prof. Fasoli

Scholars have pointed out that the appearance of the earliest "manuals" on sex-positions coincided with the Hellenistic canonization of Aristotle's Rhetoric. Occasionally, in the Pre-Modern period, such writers as Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) and Antonio Vignali (1500-1559) relied on presumptive analogies between their obscene works and Aristotle's oeuvre in order to legitimize their writings, or to satirize a hegemonic discourse. In the Age of Baroque and Galileo, thanks to the transgressive works of disciples of heterodox Aristotelian hardliners, the rediscovered kinship of instructional sex literature and Aristotelian rhetoric was celebrated in the scandalous books of early Libertines like Antonio Rocco (1586-1653) and Ferrante Pallavicino (1615-1644). This also coincided with a progressive disengagement of the erotic discourse from the visual and the representational modes. Eventually, the obscene narrative (both heterosexual, as in Pallavicino, and homosexual, as in Rocco) would play in a theater of words regulated by a purely rhetorical normative apparatus. Primary texts (in English translation) will include Aretino's Sonnets on the 16 Modes, Vignali's The Book of the Prick, Pallavicino's The Whores' Rhetoric and The Postman Robbed, Rocco's Alcibiades the Schoolboy, and the Marquis De Sade's Nouvelle Justine and The 120 Days of Sodom.

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Comp. Lit. 78200 - The Intention of the Text
Profs. Bonaparte/Stern

In the past three or four decades, critical theory has been raising serious doubts concerning the notion that a text could have an intention, a single intention, one intention that should be privileged, or that the text itself was paramount in the construction of its meaning, the reader claiming, for example, equal status if not more. And yet even Umberto Eco, the champion of the intentio lectoris, came to conclude that, after all, texts do have an intentio operis, a purpose embedded in the work, one, moreover, that was capable of being somehow understood.

Taking this as our hypothesis (to be proven in the end but to be assumed to start with), it will be our aim in this course to explore the means through which texts make their intentions known and the means through which their readers might be able to apprehend them. Our focus will be on texts alone, not on writers, letters, lives. It was the tendency to appeal to such extratextual sources that inspired some modern critics to eliminate the idea of intentions altogether. For the same reason and in the same way, we will steer clear of introducing extraneous matter into the text from the social, economic, or political realities that prevailed at the time it was written (unless the text specifically calls for it) and refrain from reading into it the views of the time in which it is read.

The text will have to speak for itself. Our task will be to figure out by what means it is able to do that. To that end, we will want to explore content, structure, characters, plots, genres, conventions, patterns, symbols, allusions, titles, imported frames, and whatever other devices (e.g., the etymological use of words) that seem a part of its design. We will look for ways the text points us to its thematic center and shows us how to organize the particulars that contribute to making it an organic whole. Most importantly, we will want to learn the language of the text, the conceptual universe of its assumptions, ideas, beliefs, references, and even clichés, and for these, while still avoiding impositions on the text, we will have to look to the age and its dominant paradigms, to the language of others writing and thinking in the period, and in general to whatever will help make sense of the particulars we are looking at in each text.

Readings will include: Homer, The Iliad, Aeschylus, The Persians, Herodotus, The Histories (Bks. 1 & 3), Sophocles, Antigone, Euripides, Medea and The Bacchae, Vergil, The Aeneid, Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Jean Moréas, The Symbolist Manifesto, Novalis, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Austen, Mansfield Park, Melville, The Encantadas, Dickens, Bleak House, Hardy, The Well-Beloved, Thomas Mann, Death in Venice, Banville, Doctor Copernicus.

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Comp. Lit.78200 - Fictions of the Psyche
Prof. Aciman

With its intricate and beguiling analysis of human motivation, psychological fiction has a long history and is known for its exclusive focus on desire, deceit and tangled human dynamics. The course seeks to examine how literature has portrayed the psyche and the paradox of human emotions. It will also establish a typology of the genre and a vocabulary with which to investigate what the French call the "roman d'analyse." Readings will include Ovid, Tristan, Boccaccio, Marguerite de Navarre, Cervantes, Sterne, Austen, Stendhal, Wharton, Svevo, and Radiguet.

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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.

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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, Hanussen, 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 - Literature and Psychoanalysis: Scenes of Childhood in Modernity
Prof. Ender

Cultural history shows that childhood became a defining category of experience in the nineteenth-century, culminating in the advent of the new "science" of psychoanalysis. This course will follow a double thread, analyzing literary representations in the light of psychoanalytical theory in an attempt to grasp how and why childhood is so central to the paradigm of modern subjectivity. Our focus on the literary act of cognitive empathy and imagination that gives rise to the image of the child will lead us to explore such questions as the pleasures and trials of remembrance, the relations between mother-tongue and father tongue, and the constitution and deconstruction of identities (especially around gender).

We will start with a few sessions devoted to lyrical evocations of childhood (Wordsworth, Baudelaire, Desbordes-Valmore). They will help us place the advent of psychoanalysis in an historical and cultural context. The main part of the course will consist, however, in a close study of fiction by Henry James, Proust (Swann's Way and its intertexts in G. Sand and G. Eliot), Woolf, Colette, and Rilke combined with relevant articles and chapters from Freud, Winnicot, Klein, Lacan, Ferenczi, and Phillips.

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Comp. Lit.88000 - Plurilingualism in Italy and Beyond - Sociolinguistic Variationof Italian Through Time and Space
Prof. Haller

The course will introduce the students to the plurilingual realities of contemporary Italy. We will describe the principal sociolinguistic varieties and study the transformations that took place following the country's unification from a largely dialect-speaking society to a population made up of bilinguals and of monolingual speakers of Italian. The formal properties of varieties in the Italian / dialect continuum and their gradually evolving social uses will be illustrated in spoken and written communication. We will discuss the concepts of Standard and regional Italian, and analyze specific features of technical languages, popular Italian, gergo, the language varieties of young generations, and the languages of the mass media. Sociolinguistic variation will also be studied in selected literary and non-literary texts of earlier periods, and with a focus on more recent narrative prose. In the second part of the course we will reflect on the role of Italian within today's Europe, and on Italian as a language of emigration with its different evolution abroad, with a particular emphasis on North American contexts.

Texts: Alberto A. Sobrero, Introduzione all'italiano contemporaneo. La varietà e gli usi.
Roma-Bari, Laterza (text to be purchased); Lorenzo Coveri et al., Le varietà dell'italiano. Manuale di sociolinguistica italiana. Roma: Bonacci; Hermann W. Haller, Una lingua perduta e ritrovata. L'italiano degli italo-americani. Firenze: La Nuova Italia; Manlio Cortelazzo, Carla Marcato et al., I dialetti italiani. Storia, struttura, uso. Torino, UTET.

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Comp. Lit. 89200 - History of Literary Theory and Criticism I
Prof. Wilner

We will begin by looking at the emergence of the category as an autonomous category in late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century criticism and philosophy. The second part of the course will focus on conceptions of literary history and the relationship between ideological and literary analysis. Finally we will turn to the "linguistic turn" in twentieth century thought, with particular attention to theories of trope and performativity. Readings in Kant, Coleridge, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Woolf, Jakobsen, Derrida, Lacan, Genette, de Man, Austin and Butler, among others. Three short papers or one short paper and a term paper.

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