Professor: M. Armstead
Time: Tu Th 8:50 am - 10:20 am OLIN 201
Historian, sociologist, editor-propagandist, fiction writer, socialist, Pan-Africanist, W. E. B. DuBois led a life marked by political and intellectual metamorphosis. Raised in late-nineteenth-century Great Barrington, MA as one of a handful of local African-Americans, he became the first black Ph.D. to graduate from Harvard University, studying under such pioneers of modern humanistic and social scientific inquiry as William James and Max Weber before taking up first, a brief academic post and later, his most celebrated role as public intellectual and "race" advocate. In this course, we will attempt to "read" DuBois, by exploring his writings--autobiographical, scholarly, creative, and journalistic--and considering the perspectives offered by his most recent biographers. Throughout, the focus will be on the shifting and evolving constructions of that subject which most consistently concerned DuBois--the meaning of "race" in modern civilization.
Professor: E. Bloch
Time: Tu Th 10:30 am - 11:50 am PRE 101
The Torah (literally, the Law, in Hebrew) consists of the five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books form the beginning of both the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament, and are at the foundation of the Jewish and Christian traditions. The Torah is also the source of many myths, concepts and moral principles that have become a part of the fabric of all Western civilization. The Torah has been studied as a work of literature, as a cultural artifact, as an inspiration for moral behavior, as a source of religious beliefs and as a divinely written work. We will read large parts of the Torah, examining how it can be interpreted in these different ways. Readings from the Torah will be supplemented by a variety of commentators, both Jewish and Christian, ancient and modern.
Professor: L. Botstein
Time: Tu Th 6:00 pm - 7:20 pm OLIN 205
A close reading of the entire text, focusing on the problems it presented for Nietzsche in his time, and still presents for us today. Weekly papers. Students with a reading knowledge of German or expectations to acquire one are welcome.
Professor: J. Brockopp
Time: Tu Th 9:00 am - 10:20 am OLIN 310
Although the history of the Islamic world is full of masterpieces of literature, few texts have had as great an impact on the Western world as the 1,001 Nights. Themes from the Nights have found their way into all forms of cultural expression, from animated films to classical music to painting. But as much as the Nights influences our culture, it also distorts our views of the Middle East. Discussions of serious issues,such as gender relations in Islam, slide far too easily into visions of the Sultan and his harem of female slaves. The Nights is important also for its style and structure. As a series of tales collected over the course of centuries, the Nights is the classic example of an oral literature bound together by a frame narrative. The majority of these stories were invented for the purpose of pure entertainment, so they may also be analyzed as both performative and vulgar speech. Finally, the Nights inform us of the imaginative powers of Muslims, their ideas of heros, vices and intrigue in a Baghdad more myth than reality. The seminar will be divided into three sections. To begin with, we will read a modern collection of the Nights as a basis for exploration of both the history of medieval Islamic civilization and the unique characteristics of this literature. From this common base, students will develop individual projects in which they explore the influence of the Nights on Western art and literature. Finally, the whole class will address some modern impressions of the Nights in Arab literature and literary criticism. The course will focus intensively on students' writing, particularly on the skills of analysis, criticism, research and presentation.
Professor: B. Clough
Time: M W 10:30 am - 12:00 pm LC 120
The term "saint", although originally a designation employed solely by certain Christian traditions to recognize individuals who have lived lives of exemplary virtue, has been adopted recently by historians of religion as a meaningful cross-cultural category, now used to refer to the state of special holiness which many religions attribute to certain people. Judaism has its hasid and tsaddiq, Islam has its wali, Chinese religion has its sheng-jen, Hinduism has its rishi, sant, and jivan-mukti, Buddhism has its arhat, bodhisattva, and siddha, etc. This course will examine traditional accounts of certain saints' lives as "great texts" which provide models for imitation and inspiration in the world's religious traditions. The core text will be Gandhi's autobiography, for the simple reason that as the most contemporary of the selected "saints", whose process of "canonization" (such as it is in India) is presently observable, he and his life provide the most accessible starting point for the study of thie topic. The reading list includes: Saint Augustine Confessions; Gstan-smyon Heruka The Life of Milarepa: Tibet's Great Yogi; Louis Massignon The Passion of al-Hallaj; Elie Wiesel Somewhere a Master: Further Hasidic Portraits and Legends; Black Elk and John G. Neihardt Black Elk Speaks; Mohandas K. Gandhi The Story of My Experiments with Truth.
Professor: D. D'Albertis
Time: W F 2:50 pm - 4:10 pm OLIN 310
Virginia Woolf described George Eliot's Middlemarch (1870-1) as "one of the few English novels written for grown-up people." Eliot aspired to create a "home epic" of English provincial life, uniting scientific, medical and philosophical learning with a critical investigation of marriage and the condition of women in Victorian society. Looking back to England on the eve of the first Reform Bill in the 1830s, the novelist represented the lives of individual men and women as subject to political, economic, and social forces beyond their control, even as she celebrated the idealism and will to self-determination of ordinary people. Our aim will be to explore the formal, intellectual, and ethical dimensions of this important Victorian multiplot narrative, studying Eliot's masterpiece with particular attention to its rich historical context.
Professor: T. Dewsnap
Time: Tu Th 10:30 am - 11:30 am OLIN 301
In 1794 William Godwin published Caleb Williams, a Gothic detective novel intended to popularize the anarchistic ideas of his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793). In addition to Caleb Williams: Or Things as They Are, we will read representative works by discipline including Shelley and Poe, and his daughter Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Professor: A. Dolan
Time: M W 9:00 am - 10:20 am AVA
A close reading of the most often studied and widely interpreted of Shakespeare's plays, Hamlet. We will examine this tragedy and the several plays that it has inspired and spawned. Students should also expect to encounter this text experientially.
Professor: P. Gadsby
Time: M W 7:00 pm - 8:20 pm OLIN 301
Samuel Johnson--essayist, lexicographer, poet, critic--was already established, at the age of 54, as the foremost man of letters of his time when James Boswell, a young Scottish gentleman of 23, engineered a meeting with him in 1763. Over the next twenty years, until Johnson's death in 1784, Boswell recorded Johnson's conversation and collected material about his life, which he eventually published as The Life of Samuel Johnson in 1791. It is in turn a humorous and deeply compassionate portrait of the man with all his flaws, as well as a record of literary England during the last half of the century. Our main focus in this class will be on this lengthy work, with reference to biography as a genre, the art of conversation, and Johnson's own writings. We will consider the relationship between a literary biographer and the author he memorializes, and what difference it makes when the subject is a willing participant. Boswell announced his intention of writing the Life in 1772, and Johnson read much of the material that Boswell collected. Furthermore, Johnson himself was a noted biographer. We will consider what Boswell learned from his master, and what he invented in what has been called one of the most celebrated biographies in the English language.
Professor: F. Grab
Time: W F 9:00 am - 10:00 am OLIN 301
A close reading of the entire text, focusing on the problems it presented for Nietzsche in his time, and still presents for us today. Some attention will also be paid to The Gay Science. Weekly papers.
Professor: G. Hagberg
Time: M 6:00 pm - 7:20 pm OLIN 202 W 2:40 pm - 4:00 pm OLIN 202
In this seminar we will undertake a close reading of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle's masterpiece of ethical theory; we will consider the motivations of human action, the nature of happiness, the relations between habit and morality, complexities of voluntary and involuntary action, moderation and extremity in moral life, practical wisdom, moral strength and weakness, the analysis of friendship, and the value of pleasure. At the end of the course we will examine Aristotle's Poetics and investigate relations between ethics and the philosophy of art.
Professor: C. Hahnemann
Time: M W 9:00 am - 10:20 am OLIN 309 In this course we will accompany Odysseus on his ten-year long wanderings from the battlefield at Troy to his home on Ithaca. The voyage will take us to a strange world full of gods and monsters, yet its motivation is familiar to all of us: it is the quest for the place where we belong. As such the story of Odysseus has continued to fascinate readers for three thousand years, and it still lives in the creative imagination today. Supplementary readings for the course will include scholarly as well as literary texts.
Professor: J. Kahn
Time: M W 2:50 pm - 4:10 pm OLIN 107
This course will examine the reasons, arguments, and ideologies underlying the drafting and ratification of the original Constitution of the United States. This brief document embodies a rich array of philosophical, political, and legal traditions. We will explore the meaning of the Constitution by analyzing the pamphlets, treatises, and debates that informed its various provisions. Such basic concepts as Representation, Equality, and Sovereignty will be among the topics considered. We will also read a selection of secondary sources to help place the primary sources in their historical context.
Professor: F. Kempf
Time: M Th 11:00 am - 12:20 pm LC 206
An intensive study of Goethe's drama about a man in league with the devil. The dynamics of Faust's striving for knowledge of the world and experience of life and Mephistopheles' advancement and subversion of this striving provides the basis for our analysis of the play's central themes, individuality, knowledge and transcendence, in regard to their meaning in Goethe's time and their relevance for our time. To gain a fuller appreciation of the variety, complexity, and dramatic fascination of Goethe's Faust, we will also consider Faust literature before and after Goethe and explore the integration of Faust in music, theater, and film (e.g., Arrigo Boito's opera Mefistofele, Friedrich W. Murnau's film Faust).
Professor: B. LaFarge
Time: Tu Th 9:00 am - 10:20 am OLIN 309
Among the world's greatest novels, Tolstoy's War and Peace is an unparalleled achievement, as it cannot be reduced to a single genre. It is not a history, although its focus is historical. It is not an epic, though epic in scope; nor is it like any other novel previously written, although its method and its interest in life are novelistic. Yet its importance as a philosophical treatise on the question of chance and agency in warfare and on the interdependence of the public and the private in political affairs is indisputable. In demonstrating the role of the "will of the people" as an historical force, it anticipates later developments in Russian and world history. Perhaps the ultimate source of its power is that it reflects Tolstoy's inner struggle between a rational, positivistic view of history and a spiritual nationalistic view of Russia, but it is the famous characters themselves, ranging from Pierre, Andrew, and Natasha to General Kutuzov and Napoleon, who give this struggle a larger dimension and make it so memorable. We will also read a number of Tolstoy's masterful short stories. Frequent short papers.
Professor: R. Rockman
Time: M W 10:30 am - 11:50 am OLIN 201
Chiefly, a study of the play by William Shakespeare, with an examination of the play as poetic drama the full power of which is intended to be realized in performance. To see the play acted, then, we shall view selected excerpts from filmed versions of the play. Attention, of course, to the play's construction, characterizations, language. In addition, the course will consider retelling and adaptations of the story (legend? history?) of Lear and his daughters by Edward Bond in his play "Lear" (1971); by Akiro Kurosawa in his film "Ran" (trans. "Chaos")(1957); and by Jane Smiley in her novel "A Thousand Acres" (1991; King Lear in Iowa). Complementary reading in a variety of secondary materials. Students will be encouraged to take part in impromptu classroom readings of passages from "King Lear".
Professor: J. Rosenberg
Time: M 3:40 pm - 5:00 pm OLIN 205 W 9:00 am - 10:20 am OLIN 205
One of the most neglected works of modern American fiction, this novel serves as the focal text for an exploration of the experiences, feelings and emotions of a sensitive young boy growing up in a ghetto. We compare how authors of different eras and origins deal with the terror of family life and the imagination of a child caught between two cultures by reading parts of Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," Michael Gold's "Jews Without Money," Nelson Algren's "Never Come Morning," Styron's "Lie Down in Darkness," Baldwin's "Notes of a Negative Son," and short works by Philip Roth and Malamud.
Professor: L. Schwartz
Time: M 10:30 am - 11:50 am OLIN
Th 1:20 pm - 2:40 pm OLIN 303
In this course we will explore the figure of Dionysus in all its ritual, mythic, and philosophical complexity. The primary text, to which we will return in several different versions and translations, is Euripides The Bacchae. These include the Arrowsmith and C.K. Williams versions, as well as Woly Soyinska's imaginative The Bacchae: A Communion Rite. Thus readings will be drawn not only from Greek sources but also from modern reconstructions of Dionysus, both derivative and original. Other works to be read include The Homeric Hymns, E.R. Dodds' essential study The Greeks and the Irrational, Nietzsche's monumental philosophical work The Birth of Tragedy, Rene Girard's Violence and the Sacred, Winkler's anthology of essays on Greek tragedy, Nothing To DO With Dionysus?, and selections from the work, both literary and philosophical, of Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud.
Professor: L. Schwartz
Time: M 1:20 pm - 2:40 pm OLIN 303
Th 2:50 pm - 4:10 pm OLIN 303
In this course we will explore the figure of Dionysus in all its ritual, mythic, and philosophical complexity. The primary text, to which we will return in several different versions and translations, is Euripides The Bacchae. These include the Arrowsmith and C.K. Williams versions, as well as Woly Soyinska's imaginative The Bacchae: A Communion Rite. Thus readings will be drawn not only from Greek sources but also from modern reconstructions of Dionysus, both derivative and original. Other works to be read include The Homeric Hymns, E.R. Dodds' essential study The Greeks and the Irrational, Nietzsche's monumental philosophical work The Birth of Tragedy, Rene Girard's Violence and the Sacred, Winkler's anthology of essays on Greek tragedy, Nothing To Do With Dionysus?, and selections from the work, both literary and philosophical, of Georges Bataille and Antonin Artaud.
Professor: T. Ziolkowski
Time: Tu Th 1:20 pm - 2:40 pm OLIN 304
One theory of that relatively new form, the novel, is that the novel is able to include all other genres of writing (poetry, letters, drama, etc.) within itself and still remain a novel. Herman Melville's Moby Dick; or, The Whale (1851), one of the greatest of American literary achievements, is a supreme example of the novel's capaciousness. It encompasses the sea yarn, the technical manual, metaphysical speculation, lyric poetry and many other forms. We will be reading Moby Dick with an eye to the ways in which its many generic inclusions seek to define its indefinable subject matter, and take on specific meaning in the larger social context of mid-nineteenth century America.