The Junior Seminars in criticism are intended especially for moderated junior literature majors. The seminars will introduce students to current thinking in the field, emphasizing how particular methods and ideas can be employed in linking literary texts to their contexts. Intended too is a deep exploration of writing about literature at some length, in the form of a 20-25 page paper, developed over the course of most of the semester.



LIT 3019

 Nabokov’s Shorts: the art of Conclusive Writing

Olga Voronina

 T Th    1:30 pm-2:50 pm

OLIN 309


Cross-listed: Russian and Eurasian Studies  This course will focus on Vladimir Nabokov’s short stories as well as his memoir Conclusive Evidence and the novel Pnin, both of which first appeared in story-length installments in The New Yorker.  We will read “Details of a Sunset,” “Christmas,” “A Guide to Berlin,” “A Nursery Tale,” “The Visit to the Museum,” “The Circle,” “Spring in Fialta,” “Cloud, Castle, Lake,” “Ultima Thule,” “Solus Rex,” “Signs and Symbols,” and “The Vane Sisters.” Keeping our eyes open for the elusive, but meaningful, textual details and discussing the writer’s narrative strategies, we will also trace the metaphysical streak that runs through the entire Nabokov oeuvre. A discussion of all matters editorial will be our priority. We will study Nabokov’s correspondence with Katharine White and William Maxwell, his editors at The New Yorker, and look at the drafts of his stories, now part of the Berg Collection in the NYPL. Our endeavor to understand the Nabokovian process of composition and revision will go hand-in-hand with the work on our own writing.  This course is a literature junior seminar.   Class size: 15



LIT 3101

 The Roman Poetry Book

Lauren Curtis

 Th       4:40 pm-7:00 pm

OLIN 309


Cross-listed: Classical Studies; Experimental Humanities  This course examines the invention of a phenomenon central to modern literary life: the poetry book. First adopted in the ancient Greek-speaking world and further developed among poets at Rome, the book and its textual, material form led readers and writers to reimagine the relationship between literary media and poetic meaning. Thus, they initiated a process of creative experimentation and a series of questions surrounding the interrelationship of technology and poetic expression that continue today in the print and digital age. Beginning with the shift from song traditions to book culture in the Greek world, our reading will then focus on several Roman books that take the medium in different directions: Catullus’ “little book,” Virgil’s Eclogues, Propertius’ books of elegies, Horace’s lyric Odes, Ovid’s poetry of love and exile, and Statius’ collection of Silvae. We will explore how the form and idea of the book intersect with ongoing literary conversations about monumentality and evanescence; performance, ritual and the archive; personhood and ventriloquism; defectiveness and beauty; and the poet’s construction of a relationship with literary tradition and with readerships present and future. All readings will be in English.  This course is a literature junior seminar.  This course is part of the World Literature offering. Class size: 15



LIT 3139

 GEOGRAPHIES OF UNEASE: Literature & the Dynamics of  Cultural & social Reproduction

Marina van Zuylen

 T          1:30 pm-3:50 pm

OLIN 310



How do we acquire cultural and social capital?  What are the subtle mechanisms by which symbolic power is transferred? The books we read, the tastes we acquire, and the ambitions we hold make us into insiders or outcasts, depending on where we stand.  Do social structures inevitably reproduce themselves or can we ever hope to start over? Using literary and philosophical texts, this class will explore the tenuous process of passing from one condition to another.  Whether this integrative process involves race, country, sexuality, gender, or socio-economics, it explodes the notion of a stable and unchanging self and focuses on border zones of culture and being.  We will explore the threatening and liberating resonances of hybrid states and deterritorialized sensibility. Double-consciousness (W.E.B. Du Bois), double temporality (Spinoza), and double diaspora are some terms that will help us study the pain and loss involved in the plasticity of self, in the broken and rebuilt habits at the heart of our desire to be accepted.  Readings from Bourdieu's Distinction, RancièreThe Ignorant Schoolmaster, Nella Larsen, Passing, Henry James, The Europeans, W. D. Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham, Thomas Hardy, The Return of the Native, Carlyle, Past and Present, Annie ErnauxA Man's Place, Foucault, Herculine Barbin, Wharton, House of Mirth, Virginia Woolf Orlando, Nathalie SarrauteThe Golden FruitsDidier EribonReturning to Reims.  This course is a literature junior seminar.  Class size: 15



LIT 3205


Joseph Luzzi

 W         10:10 am-12:30 pm

HEG 300


Cross-listed:  Italian; Medieval Studies  This course will explore the fascinating reception of Dante's Divine Comedy over the centuries in multiple literary traditions, national cultures, and artistic media. We will spend the first few weeks of the course developing a reading of Dante's epic poem, then trace its presence in such phenomena as: Petrarch and Boccaccio's debates about poetry; Milton's epic imagination; the founding of the American Dante Society at Longfellow's Harvard; the cinematic Dante of Antonioni and other auteurs; the “illustrated” Dante from Doré to Rauschenberg; selected instances of Dante in the non-Western world; even Dante in American pop culture today. Course/reading in English with option of section/course work in Italian for qualified students.  This course counts as pre-1800 offering.  This course is a literature junior seminar. Class size: 15



LIT 352

 Shakespeare's Comedies

Noor Desai

 T          1:30 pm-3:50 pm

OLIN 307


This upper-level course will take up Shakespeare’s diverse comedies as avenues for exploring different critical and theoretical approaches. By placing special attention on the suppressed voices of comic plots—women, melancholics, foreigners, and lower classes—we’ll discover how Shakespeare’s plays and the varied approaches of criticism can together help us think about pressing topics like individual agency, racial and gender biases, class and hierarchy, political ideology, and the operations of law. We’ll read all of the comedies, including The Comedy of Errors, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado about Nothing, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, All’s Well that Ends Well, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Troilus & Cressida, and The Merchant of Venice as we develop a deep sense of Shakespeare's techniques. Alongside each play, we'll read exemplary works of literary criticism, as well as key texts by theorists like Brooks, Frye, Foucault, Althusser, Butler, Williams, Derrida, Sedgwick, Said, Spivak.  This course is a literature junior seminar.  Class size: 15