91611

CLAS / LIT   125   

 The Odyssey of Homer

Daniel Mendelsohn

. T . . .

4:40 pm -7:00 pm

OLIN 205

ELIT

Cross-listed: Classical Studies  This course will consist of an intensive reading of Homer’s Odyssey over the course of a single semester.  The course is designed to introduce freshmen to more profound and sophisticated techniques of reading and thinking about texts than they will have thus far encountered.  After two introductory sessions, in which students will be introduced to the large issues particular both to this genre (the archaic Greek world, oral composition, the Homeric Question) and to this particular text (“sequels,” epic cycle, the prominence of women, narrative closure), we will read through the epic at a rate of two books per week; two summary sessions will conclude the semester as we look back at the large literary and cultural issues raised by this essential document of the Western tradition: travel as a narrative vehicle for (self-) discovery, the competing satisfactions of the journey and the arrival, the poem’s special interest in poetry and narrative creation. A premium will be placed on student participation in class discussion, and each student will be asked to present a book of the poem (focusing on structural analysis, interpretative issues, etc.) to the class.  At least two papers, midterm, final exam. This course is designed particularly for first-year students.  Class size: 20

 

92293

LIT 2041   

Making verse and making love: An Introduction to Renaissance Poetry

Adhaar Desai

M . W .  .

10:10 am -11:30 am

OLIN 306

ELIT

Sir Philip Sidney, the first ever rock-star poet in England, declared that poetry is capable of “making things either better than nature” or “forms such as never were in nature.” In this course, we will consider Sidney’s claims by surveying the diverse styles, fashions, and genres of poetry from the English Renaissance. Alongside poems by both major and lesser known figures, we will ponder questions about poetics both from the period and from our own moment in critical history. What does it mean for poetry to be a kind of “making”—what materials does poetry use, and what logic does it follow? What makes a love poem successful? How did the art of poetry change over the course of the Renaissance? While developing skills like close reading and historical contextualization, we will also explore how and why these 400 year old poems still manage to offer us delight and surprise. Class size: 18

 

91610

LIT   2051   

 Douglass & Du Bois

Alexandre Benson

. T . Th .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

OLIN 306

ELIT/DIFF

Cross-listed: Africana Studies; American Studies; Human Rights   Frederick Douglass and W. E. B. Du Bois each shaped our sense of what the latter calls “the problem of the color line.”  They also, in exploring that problem, developed powerful theories of political life in general. Given that these theories involved, for each, a commitment to literary expression, we will pay special attention to the aesthetic choices they make as writers. We will also place them in historical context: one begins writing in the years leading up to the Civil War, the other in the wake of Reconstruction's failure. What changes in the U.S. over this span? What doesn't? Readings will include Douglass’s 1845 narrative, the expanded autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom, and a number of his lectures; and they'll include Du Bois’s opus The Souls of Black Folk as well as his lesser-known sociological writing and fiction, such as the 1911 novel The Quest of the Silver Fleece  Class size: 20

 

91628

LIT   2086   

 Modern Tragedy

Benjamin La Farge

. T . Th .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

OLIN 309

ELIT

All tragedies see the human condition as doomed; but in classical Greek tragedy the protagonist's fate, usually signified by an oracle, is externalized as something beyond human control, whereas in modern tragedy, starting with Shakespeare and his contemporaries, fate is more or less internalized as a flaw in the protagonist's character.  Since then the modern protagonist has increasingly been seen as a helpless victim of circumstance, a scapegoat.  Fate is sometimes externalized as history, war, or society, sometimes internalized, but in either case the protagonist has been reduced in stature, so that 20th century tragedy can only be called ironic--a far cry from the heroic tragedy of ancient Greece.  In tracing this complex history, including the disappearance and revival of the chorus, we will examine tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky (his novel Crime and Punishment), Ibsen, Strindberg, O'Neill, Brecht, Sartre, and Miller, all of which will be scrutinized in the light of major theories by Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and others.  Class size: 15

 

91627

LIT   209   

 Major American Poets

Benjamin La Farge

M . W . .

1:30 pm -2:50 pm

OLIN 309

ELIT

Cross-listed:  American Studies  American poetry found its own voice in the first half of the 19th century when  Emerson challenged American "scholars" to free themselves from tradition. For the next three generations most of the major poets, from Walt Whitman to Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens, acknowledged Emerson as a crucial inspiration. Emerson himself and two of his contemporaries, Longfellow and Edgar Allan Poe, were the first to achieve international fame, but it was in Whitman's poems that a distinctively American voice was first heard--a voice that was both oracular and plain-spoken. At the same time, the oddly metered, introspective poems of Emily Dickinson, mostly unpublished during her lifetime, spoke in a New England voice that was no less distinctive and no less American. Then, only thirty years after her death, the powerful modern voices of T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, H.D., Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Robinson Jeffers, E.E. Cummings, and Hart Crane began to be heard. We will read selective poems by each of these, and we will also give equal time to Frost, the great contrarian poet who was dismissed by some as anti-modern but is now acknowledged as one of the greatest. Class size: 15

 

91567

CHI   211   

 ECHOES OF THE PAST: Chinese Cinema and Traditional chinese Literature

Harrison Huang

. T . Th .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

OLINLC 118

FLLC

See Chinese section for description.

 

91614

LIT   214   

 Cairo Through its Novels

Dina Ramadan

. T . Th .

11:50 am -1:10 pm

OLINLC 120

FLLC

Cross-listed:  Environmental & Urban Studies, Human Rights; Middle East Studies   Cairo, “the City Victorious,” has long fascinated its writers, captivating their literary imaginations. This course will offer a survey of the modern Egyptian novel, a survey that simultaneously maps the changing cityscape of Egypt’s bulging metropolis, allowing for an examination of the developments and transformations of both during the course of the 20th century. Once considered the center of the Arab world, Cairo has witnessed repeated shifts in its regional and global position and importance over the last century. However, it continues to play a lead role in much of Egyptian literary (and cultural) production. From Naguib Mahfouz’s iconic alley to Sonallah Ibrahim’s apartment building, to Hamdi Abu Golayyel’s multifamily tenement, students will engage with novels that demonstrate a vast range of literary representations by Cairo’s writers, from its shifting centers, to its ever expanding margins. Through close readings of these texts, we will consider the socioeconomic and political conditions that have impacted and radically restructured the city during its recent history, and the ways in which such changes are manifested in its novelists’ stylistic and aesthetic choices. Literary texts will be supplemented by theoretical and historical material. This course will be accompanied by a film series. Taught in English.  Class size: 22

 

91420

LIT   2156   

 Romantic LitERATURE

Cole Heinowitz

. T . Th .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

OLIN 304

ELIT

This course offers a critical introduction to the literature produced in Britain at the time of the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars.  The term traditionally used to categorize this literature, “romantic,” is interestingly problematic: throughout the course we will question the assumptions built into this term instead of assuming that we know what it means or taking for granted a series of supposed characteristics of “romantic” literature and art.  We will also explore the extent to which key conflicts in British culture during the “romantic period,” including the founding of the United States, independence movements in the Americas, the development of free trade ideology, and the debates over slavery and colonialism, are still at issue today. The centerpiece of this course is the close reading of poetry. There will also be a strong emphasis on the historical and social contexts of the works we are reading, and on the specific ways in which historical forces and social changes shape and are at times shaped by the formal features of literary texts. The question of whether “romantic” writing represents an active engagement with or an escapist idealization of the important historical developments in this period will be a continuous focus. Readings include canonical and non-canonical authors: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Helen Maria Williams, Thomas Beddoes, Anna Letitia Barbauld, Robert Southey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Lord Byron, John Clare, and Laetitia Elizabeth Landon.  Class size: 22

 

91616

LIT   2218   

 Children's Fantasy Literature IN CULTURAL CONVERSATION

Maria Cecire

M . W . .

11:50 am -1:10 pm

OLIN 201

ELIT

Although fantasy is a departure from reality, it is also dependent upon it. Similarly, childhood exists in the popular imagination as a separate (even magical) state of being that nonetheless must interact with and prepare the child for the “real world” of adulthood. In this course we will interrogate the special relationship between childhood and the fantastical in Anglo-American culture, and consider how children’s fantasy uses the physical and temporal distance of imagined otherworlds as a means of engaging with real-life social, cultural, and political concerns. Topics will include psychoanalysis and childhood subjectivity, empire, primitivism, gender performativity, Afrofuturism, post-9/11 paranoia, and the military-entertainment complex. We will read texts by authors including Suzanne Collins, Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, C.S. Lewis, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Tamora Pierce, Philip Pullman, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling. Class size: 20

 

91618

LIT   2246   

 Great Hatred, Little Room: CONTESTED IRELAND

Deirdre d'Albertis /

Peter Gadsby

. T . Th .

11:50 am -1:10 pm

OLIN 202

ELIT/DIFF

Cross-listed: Irish & Celtic StudiesThroughout the 20th century, Ireland and its "Troubles" represented what many believed to be one of the most intractable and seemingly irresolvable cases of hatred and conflict in the world.  Violence and internecine warfare had often characterized its 800 year relationship with Britain.  Sectarian hatred between Roman Catholics and Protestants, as well as conflicts within these groups, and the cultural and political divisions between North and South, were entrenched.  Constitutional politicians battled with paramilitary groups to define a complex discourse based on ancient enmity. Terrorism and violence to a large extent shaped the rest of the world's perception of Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland--a view complicated by the perspectives of a global Irish diaspora formed in the wake of centuries of immigration.  In this course, we will explore the historical roots and cultural imagination of this long-standing strain of hatred and attempts to move beyond it in Ireland.  Iconic events--the Easter Rising, a war of independence and the violence of the Black and Tans, civil war, Bloody Sunday, hunger strikes at Long Kesh (Maze Prison)--combined with  the enduring trope of "blood sacrifice" to shape this cultural imaginary.  How have works of art (poetry, plays, song, film) and popular culture (Gaelic games, the "Orange" marches) served to stimulate and define hatred as well as to overcome the human drive toward aggression and hostility?  How did History figure into the cultural production of 20th century Irish Nationalists and Republicans, Unionists and Loyalists?  From the standpoint of history, how did these myths obscure other realities now available to us?  Careful study of speeches, memoir, and political documents will allow us to examine the functioning of "languages of hatred" as well as the movement to lay to rest and move beyond such languages after the Belfast "Good Friday" Agreement of 1998 and its implementation in 2007.  In many ways, the course will culminate in this recent history of conflict:  a deep study of the Good Friday negotiations reveals not the triumph of love over hatred, but rather a story of how an agreement is thrashed out by those who hate each other, followed by the story of its implementation and how to make such an agreement work in practice.  We will examine the importance of culture in changing political life even as we recognize the persistence of affective memory in present-day Northern Ireland. What does it mean to live in a "post-hatred" environment?  Does hate ever really go away? Class size: 22

 

91799

LIT   2254   

 The Elements of Style

Francine Prose

. . . . F

1:30 pm -3:50 pm

OLIN 101

ELIT

What do we talk about when we talk about style? How does style affect the ways in which we read, transmit and receive information, and understand the world? And how does style express and reflect our social and political attitudes and biases? In this class, we will analyze, word by word, examples of different genres (short fiction and novels, essays, magazine pieces, reviews, and newspaper articles), concentrating on subjects that will include point of view, diction, phrasing, word choice, and subtext. We will also consider visual style: film, painting, and fashion. There will be a short paper due each week. The course is open to students in every field. Students who wish to enroll in the class should send the professor (fprose@erols.com) a short statement explaining why they wish to take the course, and a one-page sample of their writing.  Class size: 15

 

91812

LIT   2306   

 WILLIAM Faulkner: Race, Text AND SoUTHERN  History

Donna Grover

. T . Th .

1:30 pm -2:50 pm

RKC 102

ELIT

Cross-listed:  American Studies; Gender & Sexuality Studies  One of America’s greatest novelists, William Faulkner was deeply rooted in the American South.  Unlike other writers of his generation who viewed America from distant shores, Faulkner remained at home and explored his own region.  From this intensely intimate vantage point, he was able to portray the south and all of its glory and shame. Within Faulkner’s narratives slavery and its aftermath remain the disaster at the heart of American History.  In this course we will read Faulkner’s major novels, poetry, short stories as well as film scripts.   We will also read biographical material and examine the breath of current Faulkner literary criticism.  Class size: 18

 

91515

LIT   235   

 Introduction to Media

Thomas Keenan

M . W . .

1:30 pm – 2:50 pm

RKC 103

HUM

Cross-listed: Experimental Humanities, Science, Technology & Society This course offers a foundation in media history and theory, tracking a series of events and concepts with the aim of understanding media not simply as a scholarly object but as a force in our lives. We will look at old and new media alike, from writing to photography to the digital landscape, to investigate the ways in which some time-honored ideas and practices -- reality, space, time, publicity and privacy, memory, and knowledge, among others -- are being upended, but not entirely. The premise of the course is that the new-ness of new media can only be approached against the background of humanistic experimentation and imagination, of the fundamentally strange relation between language and the world. Authors include Benjamin, Kittler, Virilio, McLuhan, Azoulay, Lovink, Haraway, Ronell, and others. We will also spend some time working with -- and not just on -- media, in order to assess our own positions as users, consumers, and potential producers of media. Class size: 24

 

91834

THTR   239   

 Modern Drama

Miriam Felton-Dansky

. T . Th .

11:50 am -1:10 pm

OLIN 201

ELIT

See Theater section for description.

 

91615

LIT   2404   

 Fantastic JourneyS AND THE Modern World

Jonathan Brent

. . W . .

4:40 pm -7:00 pm

OLIN 203

ELIT

Cross-listed:  Jewish Studies; Russian & Eurasian Studies  The modern world has been characterized in many ways, as a time of unimaginable freedom, as well as existential angst, exile, loss of the idea of home, loss of the idea of positive heroes; a triumphant embracing of the “new” and the future, as well as the troubling encounter with machines and the menace of totalitarianism.   It was a time when barriers of all sorts began to crumble—barriers between past and present, foreground and background, high and low culture, beauty and ugliness, good and evil.  Artists and writers responded in many different ways across the world. The writers we will read in this class represent the fulcrum of creativity in America, Central or Eastern Europe and Russia.  Each lived at a different axis of modernity—where East met West, where the Russian Revolution provided a vibrant but terrifying image of liberation, where modern technological innovation produced endless possibilities of satirization of both the old world and the new, where ethnic and genocidal violence was developing under the surface of this innovation into the foreseeable European Holocaust. These writers have something powerful and unique to say about the advent of the modern period in the fantastic parallel worlds they created where machines take on lives of their own, grotesque transformations violate the laws of science, and inversions of normality become the norm.  Through their fantastic conceptions a vision of modernity emerges which questions the most basic presumptions of western civilization—in art, morality, politics, the psyche and social life—a vision for which the West still has no satisfying response. All readings are in English. We will read The Marvelous Land of Oz (L. Frank Baum), The Metamorphosis (Kafka), RUR (Capek), War with the Newts (Capek), Street of Crocodiles (Schulz), Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hour Glass (Schulz), Envy (Olesha) The Bedbug (Mayakovsky). There will be 4 short papers for the course & one final paper.  Class size: 22

 

92307

LIT 2413

 JEWISH WRITERS: FROM FRANZ KAFKA

TO PHILIP ROTH

Norman Manea

. T . Th .

10:10 am- 11:30 am

HEG 200

ELIT

Cross-listed:  Jewish Studies This class will first discuss the notion of Jewishness and the Jewish writer, in the context of our modern age. We will read and debate, afterwards, short prose by Agnon, Buber, Heine, Zweig, Amery, Deutscher, Kafka, Malamud, JB Singer, Ph. Roth, Babel, Schulz, Basani, Bellow, Oz, Koestler, Levi, Danio Kis, Kertesz, Woody Allen, AB Jehoshua, Joseph Roth etc. The class-discussion will focus on the great range of topics expressed in these texts, on their originality and literary value. Class size: 15

 

91594

LIT / SPAN   245   

 IS THE AUTHOR DEAD? HAUNTED BY The Ghost of Cervantes

Patricia Lopez-Gay

. T . Th .

10:10 am- 11:30 am

OLIN 309

FLLC

See Spanish section for description.

 

91579

LIT   2481   

 Theater and Politics: THE POWER OF IMAGINATION

Thomas Wild

. T . Th .

4:40 pm -6:00 pm

OLIN 201

ELIT

Cross-listed: German Studies, Theater & Performance This course is structured around the works of German playwrights Tankred Dorst and Ursula Ehler. Dorst and Ehler, two of the most distinguished contemporary European playwrights, will be writers-in-residence at Bard College in the fall of 2014. They will meet with students in this course for an extended workshop to discuss their plays, poetics, and collaborative works-in-progress.
Dorst and Ehler’s oeuvre includes Merlin, a re-writing of the King Arthur legend; Toller, a play based on the life of the Socialist revolutionary Ernst Toller; and Ice Age, a chilling one-act about the Fascist-friendly literary Nobel Laureate Knut Hamsun. In each of these, Dorst and Ehler explore the fraught intersection of the imaginative and the political worlds. Alongside four plays and one prose book (This Beautiful Place) by Dorst and Ehler, we will also study their source materials, focusing our inquiry on their creative process, in preparation for our work with the artists in person. Class size: 20

 

92197

LIT   2485   

 JAMES JOYCE’S FICTION

Terence Dewsnap

M . W . .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

OLIN 310

ELIT

Cross-listed: Irish Studies  Joyce was an autobiographical writer who wrote about one place, Dublin. And he was an experimental writer and a prominent Modernist in tune with the literary and artistic innovations of the early twentieth century. We will read his short stories in Dubliners and his coming-of-age novel A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man as well as his modern epic Ulysses.  Class size: 18

 

91994

LIT 2501   

Shakespeare

Adhaar Desai

. T . Th .

11:50 am -1:10 pm

HEG 201

ELIT

Too often Shakespeare is less exclaimed over than dentally drilled: this course promises to remedy that by a close reading of seven great plays, spread over the various kinds of play he wrote: comedy, history, tragedy and romance.  We will find out how characters enact our contemporary concerns with issues like politics, sexuality, gender, and race, but also how they appeared within their own historical framework.  For instance, knowing how limited the prospects of early modern European women were, even aristocrats, creates new admiration for Shakespeare’s bold and quirky comic heroines.  Our primary focus is literary, but we will draw on critical readings, theater history, film and performance work. Plays to be read include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, 1 Henry IV, As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, and The Tempest. Open to all students. This course counts as pre-1800 offering. Class size: 20

 

91639

LIT / HR  2509   

 Telling Stories about Rights

Nuruddin Farah

M . W . .

10:10 am- 11:30 am

OLIN 201

ELIT/DIFF

Cross-listed:  Human Rights (core course)  What difference can fiction make in struggles for rights and justice? And what can this effort to represent injustice, suffering, or resistance tell us about about fiction and literature? This course will focus on a wide  range of fictions, from a variety of writers with different  backgrounds, that tell unusual stories about the rights of  individuals and communities to justice. We will read novels addressing human migration, injustices committed in the name of the  state against a minority, and the harsh conditions under which some  communities operate as part of their survival strategy, among other  topics. We will look at the ways in which literary forms can allow universalizing claims to be made, exploring how racism, disenfranchisement, poverty, and lack of access to education and  health care, for instance, can affect the dignity of all humans.  Readings may include: Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Garcia Marquez; Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson; Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg; Our Nig by Harriet Wilson; Balzac & the Chinese Seamstress by Sijai Dai; Winter is in the Blood by James Welch ; The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday; Wolves of the Crescent Moon by Yousef Al-Mohaimeed, and Bound to Violence by Yambo Ouleguem. We will also watch a number of films based on the novels (including Chronicles, Smilla's Sense, Balzac, Snow Falling), and The First Grader (2001, on the right to education in Kenya). 

Class size: 22

 

91530

LIT   264   

 Memorable 19th Century Continental Novels

Justus Rosenberg

M . W . .

10:10 am- 11:30 am

OLIN 303

ELIT

Cross-listed: French, German and Russian Studies  The aim of this course is to acquaint students with representative examples of novels by distinguished French, Russian, German and Central European authors. Their works are analyzed for style, themes, ideological commitment, and social and political setting. Taken together they should provide an accurate account of the major artistic, philosophical and intellectual trends and developments on the Continent during the 19th century. Readings include Dostoevski’s Crime and Punishment, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Balzac’s Cousine Bette, Hamsun’s Hunger, T. Mann’s Buddenbrooks.  Class size: 15

 

91612

LIT / GER   270   

 REBELS WITH(OUT) A CAUSE: Great Works of German LitERATURE

Franz Kempf

. T . Th .

10:10 am- 11:30 am

OLIN 205

ELIT

See German section for description.

 

91403

LIT   280   

 The Heroic Age

Karen Sullivan

. T . Th .

3:10 pm -4:30 pm

ASP 302

ELIT

Cross-listed: Medieval Studies  In this course, we will be reading the great epics and sagas of the early Middle Ages, concentrating upon northern Europe. Through these texts, we will explore the tensions between paganism and Christianity, individual glory and kingly authority, and heroism and monstrosity. Texts to be read include the Old English Beowulf; the Old Irish Táin Cúailnge; the Old Norse Eddas, Saga of the Volsungs, and Egil’s Saga; the Old French Song of Roland; and the Middle High German Nibelungenlied.  Class size: 20