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Fall 2015

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR

CMLIT 503: Comparative Method in Literary Studies, Mondays, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

(Robert Edwards)

This course examines literary criticism and theory from the eighteenth century to contemporary practices of interpretation. This forward movement toward modernity might, however, be just as easily imagined as retrospective—as a series of historical moments which claim to occupy the present and shape the future but inevitably negotiate the past. Our aim in the course will not be to do criticism or theory but to understand how they function as methods and systems of interpretation. Accordingly, we will be asking three large questions of the works we read this semester: what are the explicit principles of interpretation? what is the historical context for those principles? what are the underlying suppositions that we need to recognize and assess? Our reading will be drawn from the now-canonical (once revolutionary) authors and works that underwrite standard accounts of literary periods and the hermeneutical methods connected with them. This is a largely Western and European curriculum. We will want to set it against other critical traditions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America that not only differ in the suppositions but actively contest the dominant formulations. Finally, we will want to consider the place that Comparative Literature occupies in the construction of criticism and theory and in our current practices.

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CMLIT 503:001: Jan 11-Feb 8. Schedule #627727

CMLIT 503:002: Feb 15-Mar 21. Schedule #627730

CMLIT 503:003: Mar 28-Apr 25. Schedule #627742

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLIT 505: “Studies in Literary Periods & Movements: Medieval.”  Wednesdays 9:05 a.m.-12:05p.m.

(Caroline D. Eckhardt). Concurrent with ENGL 542.

This seminar concentrates on two great secular narratives of the European Middle Ages — the Arthurian legends and the Trojan War tales. These narratives complemented and contested each other in generating constructions of the past that were repurposed again and again for new contexts, whether as nostalgic precedents with implied critiques of the present, as ethical models for proper and improper behavior, or as political and nation-building propaganda.  We will study both of these narratives and also situate them in relation to a third great body of traditional narrative, that of the Bible, as expressed in late medieval drama. After a glance at Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain (12th century), our course will include the two most important English Troy versions, Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and Lydgate’s Troy Book, along with major Arthurian works: Gawain and the Greek Knight, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, selections from Brut chronicles and from Malory.  Excerpts from continental works, such as Guido delle Colonne's History of the Destruction of Troy, will provide essential comparative contexts.  Finally, we will read examples of late medieval drama, at the juncture of the medieval and the early modern, to consider how these performed Christian narratives relate to the Trojan and Arthurian secular traditions.  All texts will be available in modernized versions or, if in Middle English, in annotated versions, and we will also consider the manuscript archives. Prior experience with manuscripts or with Middle English is not necessary.

CMLIT 543: “Romantic Spaces.” Tuesdays & Thursdays 2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m.

(Daniel Purdy). Concurrent with GER 592.

Once upon a time, it was common to subordinate spatial relations to temporality. Time was considered the more fundamental quality of modern consciousness, both in literature and philosophy. Modernist literature was seen as concerned foremostly with the passage of time, memory and the unstable cohesion of subjectivity; only post-modernist writing was considered spatially oriented with its interest in commodity relations, globalizing capitalism, simultaneity and description. This course will take a step or two back to investigate how Romanticism (broadly defined) constructs space in order to 1) organize interior feelings, along the axes of knowledge, sexuality, and power ; 2) establish a domestic terrain and boundaries for the nation state; 3) define differences between home and foreign spaces. Along these lines we will read Romanticism in light of theories of subjectivity, nationalism and Orientalism. These three areas will overlap so that we will readily interpret the Orient as a space allowing for alternate modes of identity or the nation as an arena that incorporates ethnic, sexual and cultural differences. We will study how literary texts construct the borders between Europe and the Orient while simultaneously arranging sexualities into heteronormative and queer spaces. All along the way, we will be reading some of the most important canonical texts in the Romantic tradition, in order to provide you with an overview of cultural history.

 

CMLIT 570: “Digital Humanities.”  Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m.

(Thomas Beebee).

This seminar will function as a workshop and laboratory for sampling, exploring, and experimenting with a variety of computer-based technologies that are currently being applied to (typically) large corpuses for the purposes of algorithmic criticism. Our focus will be hands-on experimentation with software for network analysis (gephi); stylistics (R); topic modeling (mallet), and mapping, with attention paid to foundational ideas of information theory, visualization, spatial humanities, etc. Exploration of further topics and methods according to student interests, preparation, and usefulness for specific research agendas. 

 

CMLIT 580: “The Ends of Postcolonialism: Thinking at the Limit.” Tuesdays 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

(Nergis Ertürk).

“A thought that stands outside subjectivity, setting its limits as though from without, ...— a thought that, in relation to the interiority of our philosophical reflection and the positivity of our knowledge, constitutes what in a word we might call ‘the thought from the outside’” (Foucault, “The Experience of the Outside”). Treating the project of postcolonial literature and theory as an (impossible) opening to thought from the outside, in this sense, this seminar will review foundational texts of postcolonial studies including the writings of Marx, Lenin, DuBois, Fanon, Said, Nandy, Spivak, Young, Coetzee, Césaire, and McKay, among others. We will address the following questions: how does postcolonial theory transcend (or fail to transcend) the limits of colonial epistemologies? Is there an outside to the colonial archive? What are the figures of radical alterity in postcolonial literature and theory (the subaltern, the veiled woman, the native informant)? How effective is the form of the novel in relating to this exteriority? Other topics addressed may include colonial translation, Orientalism and the institution of world literature, nationalism, and (post)secularism. The reading list is designed to support students working on non-European literary modernities and postcolonial studies.

Spring 2015

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR IN WORLD LITERATURE, CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 502: Comparative Criticism I: Classical to Neoclassical. M 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

CMLIT 502:001: What the World Thinks About Literature. Jan 12-Feb 9. Thomas Beebee / Schedule # 455263

In this short course we will begin the task of complementing knowledge of world literature with an exploration of world theory and criticism. You can only get the latter in this course (or on your own), because the Norton Anthology, for example, lists not a single theorist from East Asia or Latin America. Thinking with various tradi-tions on the meta-level will be one method for helping us conceptualize world literature as something beyond just a collection of texts or a literary shopping mall. Topics/readings may include: Daoist and Confucianist ap-proaches and their modern avatars; Zeami and Zen; Sanskrit rasa theory; Wole Soyinka's Ogunism vs. his Marx-ist detractors; and concepts of national literature in Machado de Assis, Borges, Mariátegui, and Antônio Cândi-do.

CMLIT 502:002: Medieval Rhetoric and Interpretation (Allegory, Ethical Reading) Feb 16-Mar23. Caroline Eckhardt / Schedule # 455266

This one-credit short course, offered as part of the CMLIT 502 sequence, explores medieval rhetoric and ethical reading, two major critical preoccupations of the approximately thousand-year-long timespan that is conven-tionally considered medieval or, towards its end, early modern. Given our short-course format, the reading list is ruthlessly selective and constitutes a sampling, not a survey. We will study texts that deal with medieval practices of both writing and reading: (1) concepts of how to write, rewrite, adapt, and persuade, including the traditional rhetorical figures and tropes; and (2) concepts of how to read for pragmatic, moral, ethical, and aes-thetic purposes. Versions of these preoccupations still inform many critical discussions today. The aims of the seminar also include becoming acquainted with the ways in which theory and criticism circulated within manu-script cultures.

CMLIT 502:003: Legacies of the Enlightenment(s) Mar 30-Apr 27. Surya Parekh / Schedule # 455269

The contested legacies of the Enlightenment feature in a range of current literary critical discussions, among them: post-coloniality; world-literature and cosmopolitanism; the role of the aesthetic in mediating literature, philosophy, and ethics; and notions of a reading public. In this short course, we will ask about Enlightenment inheritances, specifically considering what it means to (dis)figure the Enlightenment. We will pay special atten-tion to questions of method and interpretation. Questions we may ask include: can the Enlightenment be con-ceptualized outside of its European provenance? What reasons compel us to contest its legacies and received narratives? How do we negotiate anachronism in Enlightenment thinking concerning race, gender, sexuality, and class? What new critical frameworks and vocabularies might we need to develop in order to construct our objects of study differently? We will read a small selection of Enlightenment texts--possibly Amo, Baumgart-en, Burke, Kant, Lessing, Pope, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Wheatley--alongside influential interpretations of them in contemporary literary theory.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLIT 505: Marxism and Media (Shaoling Ma / Schedule # 391525) W 1:25 p.m.-4:25 p.m.

If to say that media operates within the space of global capital is now to state the obvi-ous, the even more apparent implication is that media itself does not do all the work of mediation--to accept for now a preliminary understanding of the term as the reconcilia-tion of two opposite meanings by a third. This course starts from the premise that this troubling relation between media and capital provides some of the most productive ways to rejuvenate some of the basic inquiries of Marxian analyses today such as value, mate-riality, the social, history, culture, and language. We will focus on how recent attempts to rematerialize media come up against the materialist tradition of Marxist critique that they inherently inhabit. We will explore how media functions within capital and how it provides possibilities for subjectivation that cut against capital's efforts to create new experiences of alienation. To the extent that "the" techno-logical innovation of our time has been the computer, we will analyze if technology that does not process and store information has any place in contemporary media studies.
We will consider limitations to the notion of “cognitive capitalism” from analyses of Marxi-an theory developed by the anti-colonial and feminist movement, which have shown that capitalist accumulation depends precisely on its ability to organize development and un-derdevelopment, waged and un-waged labor, production at both the highest and lowest level of technological know-how. Since such debates pivot on the troublesome distinction between "old" and "new" understandings of materiality and labor, we will end by examin-ing controversies around the notion of "immaterial labor" from the post-Autonomist writ-ers.
Authors studied will include: Marx, Adorno and Horkheimer, Althusser, Lacan, Baudrillard, Raymond Williams, Maurizio Lazzarato, Nigel Thrift, Dallas Smyth, Tiziana Terranova, Bernard Stiegler, Alex Galloway, Franco ("Bifo") Beradi, Hardt and Negri, Matteo Pasquinelli, Paolo Virno, N. Katherine Hayles, Lydia Liu, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis, and Mark B. N. Hansen.

CMLIT507: Comparative Poetics (Eric Hayot / Schedule # 437935) T 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

This course explores theoretical and practical concepts in the history of poetry and/or poetics. Like all comparative literature courses, it pursues this task through discussions of poetry from a wide variety of national or linguistic origins and ranges widely across historical period, medium, and social form, where appropriate. Students will develop a broad array of in-terpretive skills appropriate to poetry and poetics; they will acquire a knowledge of a wide variety of poetic forms; they will undertake compara-tive analyses of poems and poetic structures; they will learn how to think about poetics outside poetry. Readings from Barthes, Jakobson, Todorov, The Lyric Theory Reader, and poems from all over and from all time. We will spend the last five weeks of class close reading 2-4 poems per session, with the poems selected by students. Work: one take-home exam (scansion in English and meter/prosody identification in French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Latin, Greek), plus 20pp of writing (three for-mats, depending on student's standing: 4 five-page papers, 2 10-page pa-pers, or 1 five-page and 1 15-page paper).

CMLIT543: German Literature as World Literature (Thomas Beebee / Schedule # 455344) T 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

From the Germania of Tacitus to the Chinese studies of Leibniz, from the east-ward gaze towards India of Friedrich Schlegel and Hermann Hesse to the emergence of Turkish-German literature and the presence of Russian–German writ-ers such as Wladimir Kaminer on the current scene, German literature has been imbricated in other cultural traditions. It has ventriloquized other cultures, taken them as mimetic objects, translated and transadapted their texts. Other cultures of the world have, of course, done the same with German literature. German literature has been written in non-German-speaking countries, and by people for whom German is a second language. German authors have been of vital im-portance to people who encounter them for the first time in English, Japanese, Spanish, Urdu, and other translations.
This course, (cross-listed with German) will convey an image of, and further the conversation about, German literature as world literature. We will examine the-oretical pros and cons in the writings of Goethe, Marx, Nietzsche, and Spengler, and a variety of primary texts from Goethe to Anna Seghers to Jonathan Fran-zen. Participants will help shape the reading list (as should happen in a seminar), as will also a series of invited lecturers from other universities. German language skills are NOT required to take this seminar. Texts will be selected for their availability in English translation, and the goal is to allow all interested students the chance to become acquainted with some of the more interesting texts of German literature.

CMLIT 597: Globalization and Cinema (Sophia McClennen Schedule #: 391543) W 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

How has globalization affected the pro-duction of national cinema? And how does the story of film production teach us about globalization? Where are films from? Or where do they seem to be from? And how do these geographical markers influence identity construction? Cinema has long been linked to the pro-duction of national identity. It has equally been associated with the representa-tion of transnationalism, cosmopolitan-ism, and globalization. In addition, the cinemas most thought of as "national," like that of Hollywood in the 40s, were often multinational in terms of talent, production, and economy. Similarly the recent wave of "global" films have often been successful due to their connections with particular national identities, as in the case of the Mexican director González Iñárritu's Babel.
This course will examine, unpack, and theorize these relationships. By reading film theory, postcolonial theory, and especially theories of nationalism and globalization, this course will examine the ways that cinema has projected group identities that have alternately been national and post-national. We will also examine questions of cultural policy and film production in order to challenge the projected cinematic images with the actual practices behind them. Films to be studied will be chosen from a wide geographical range.

Fall 2014

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR IN WORLD LITERATURE, CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 501: Comparative Method in Literary Studies: Mondays, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

These three one-credit micro-seminars (or one aggregate 3-credit seminar) introduce students to crucial aspects of literary study and praxis. While based on the discipline of comparative literature, these five-week seminars also explore interdisciplinary topics and methods of interest to students in other literary fields.

CMLIT 501:001: (Shuang Shen). Aug 25- Sept 29

 

CMLIT 501:002: (Caroline Eckhardt). Oct 6- Oct 27

 

CMLIT 501:003: (Eric Hayot). Nov 3-Dec 8

 

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLT 506. Chaucer and Medieval Authorship (Robert Edwards). Concurrent Listing with ENGL 545. M 9:05 a.m.-12:05 p.m.

This seminar will read a selection of Chaucer’s major works against the background of medieval theories of authorship. Those theories have sources in the poetics that emerged in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries from late-classical grammar and rhetoric and in practices of interpretation used in the medieval curriculum and scriptural exegesis. Chaucer positions himself warily within those traditions as well as in prehumanist vernacular writing in French and Italian. His dream visions, Troilus and Criseyde, and much of the Canterbury Tales negotiate aesthetic agency and his place within European literary tradition while resisting the titles of poet or author (Dante, Petrarch, Machaut, and Gower would be the counter examples to Chaucer’s resistance). We will read his poems closely to examine how Chaucer consequently invents his own version of authorship and to track his reception as “our Antient and Learned English poet” over the next two centuries. The seminar will require active participation, several short research exercises, a conference presentation, and final seminar paper. No prior knowledge of Middle English is assumed, and any foreign-language materials will be read in translation.

CMLT 509. Brazil & Comparative Modernisms (Sarah Townsend) Concurrent listing with SIP 597 B. TR 9:45 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

In recent years scholars of modernism and the avant-gardes have made a push to rethink the canon and reexamine the fundamental assumptions of the field by shifting the focus to what is sometimes called “comparative” or “global modernisms.” This course seeks to intervene in this effort by taking Brazil as its primary locus of comparison. Over the course of the semester we will read commentaries by critics (most of them based in the U.S. and Europe) on current debates over how to (re)define the notoriously muddy term “modernism,” how (or whether) to deal with its connections to the messy business of capitalism, imperialism, etc., and how attention to border crossings can help unsettle certain modernist “truths.” We will also study key texts by earlier figures such as Theodor Adorno, Leon Trotsky, and Walter Benjamin. Most of our time, however, will be devoted to looking at how Brazilian artists and intellectuals--as well as other major figures who spent time in the country—grappled with the question of how to create “modernist” art in a country typically regarded as “backward” and “peripheral.” How might their diagnoses of and responses to this seeming contradiction allow us to reimagine the very category of “modernism” (and the “avant-garde”), and what implications do they have for our methodologies of comparison?

Some likely topics/material: one of the sardonic novels of Machado de Assis, dubbed a “master on the periphery of capitalism” by the critic Roberto Schwarz, whose analysis of Brazilian modernism as an “idea out of place” has long been recognized as a major contribution to postcolonial theory though its potential implications for modernist studies have yet to be fully explored (this will be among our objectives); connections between the theme of cannibalism in French surrealism and the notion of anthropophagy proposed by Oswald de Andrade, the bad boy of the modernista avant-garde who argued that Brazilians should lay claim to the old stereotype of the man-eating Indian by critically consuming the colonizer’s culture in order to absorb its totemic power; Tristes Tropiques by the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and its relation to the motif of “sadness” or melancholy as a peculiarly Brazilian trait; the French surrealist Bejamin Péret, who attended candomblé services as part of his research on Afro-Brazilian rituals and also co-founded a Trotskyist organization before being deported; Péret’s wife, the Brazilian singer Elsie Houston, who later gained fame in New York for her experimental vocalizations, billed as "Haitian voodoo songs"; and concrete poetry and conceptual art in the late fifties and sixties in Brazil and Japan. Despite the relative lack of direct dialogue between Brazil and the rest of the continent (a subject we will also discuss), we will also draw some of our own comparisons between Brazil and other Latin American countries, looking particularly at Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba.

The class will be conducted in English, and all readings will be available in both the original Portuguese and in English translation; in many cases Spanish translations are also available. No prior background in the study of Brazil is expected.

CMLT 580. Contemporary Literary Theory (Hoda El Shakry). T 2:30pm- 5:30 pm

This seminar will focus on concerns at once seminal to the production as well as the theorization of cultural artifacts - texts, images, visual art, cinema, new media - namely, the relationship between aesthetics and evolving formulations and articulations of ‘the political.’ In this regard, we will explore canonical debates within various philosophical, critical and aesthetic schools of thought, from Marxism to Affect Theory.

More crucially, however, this course seeks to problematize continental philosophy as the privileged site of aesthetic thought by exploring diverse articulations of aesthetic theory emerging from a transnational context. Consequently we will examine how these debates are interpolated, transformed and contested as they encounter sites of difference pertaining to race, class, (dis) ability, gender and sexuality, as well as geopolitical contact zones such as decolonization, (post) coloniality and neo-liberal globalization. In attempting to think beyond the theoretical, disciplinary, and geopolitical borders that normally structure inquiries into aesthetic theory, the course will be organized around particular thematic and philosophical concepts – tracing their transgressive and transnational movement in order to map points of intersection across these various traditions and sites.

This seminar is intended to broadly outline some of the major preoccupations and debates within aesthetic theory and their relationship to social and political concerns broadly understood. In so doing, we will consider the following questions: What is the function of art - aesthetic, social, cultural and political - and are their limitations to it? What is the relationship between beauty, the sublime, engagement and political commitment? What is the relationship between artistic media and their capacities for social, cultural or political mediation? How do these aesthetic choices facilitate particular strategies for reading and interpreting cultural artifacts? What are some of the different conceptualizations of the avant-garde? How has aesthetic theory evolved in relation to the increasingly ubiquitous discourse of “World Literature?” And finally, how does a transnational framework complicate canonical understandings of aesthetic theory?

Readings will include such thinkers as: Emanuel Kant, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Bertolt Brecht, Georg Lukács, Frederic Jameson, Roland Barthes, Viktor Shklovsky, Mikhail Bakhtin, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Rancière, Jean-Paul Sartre, Erich Auerbach, Gilles Deleuze, Paul Ricoeur, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Luc Nancy, Maurice Blanchot, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-François Lyotard, Emmanuel Levinas, Julia Kristeva, Helen Cixous, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, Ranjana Khanna, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Robert Young, Ann Laura Stoler, Anne McClintock, Édouard Glissant, Abdelkebir Khatibi, Abdelfattah Kilito, Abdallah Laroui, Abdelwahab Meddeb, Moustafa Safouan and Ebrahim Moosa.

CMLT 597. Lost in Translation? The Theory and Practice of Translating Poetry (Adrian Wanner). W 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm

Poetic form presents a particular conundrum to translation theory. If, according to Robert Frost’s much-quoted dictum, poetry is “what is lost in translation,” the task of rendering a poetic text into a different language seems doomed from the outset. On the other hand, any translation of any text entails a creative rewriting. This seminar will survey different 
approaches to translating poetry both from a theoretical and practical angle. Students will be asked to critique existing translations of poetic texts as well as try a translation of their own. Special attention will be devoted to the phenomenon of self-translation, which poses a challenge to the customary dichotomy between author and translator, “original” and "copy,” as well as the “domestic” and the “foreign.” Concrete case studies will include the polemical debates triggered by Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial English rendering of Alexander Pushkin’s verse novel Eugene Onegin. We will also study Joseph Brodsky’s bilingual poetic oeuvre in Russian and English. Other texts will be chosen in accordance with the linguistic background of the seminar participants. The course will also include encounters with various PSU faculty members who are active translators of poetry.

Prerequisites: Students should have a good reading knowledge of at least one other language than English. Note: This course is not identical with CMLIT 510. It can be taken in addition to CMLIT 510, or independently from it.

Spring 2014

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR IN WORLD LITERATURE, CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 503: Comparative Literary Criticism and Theory: Mondays, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

These three one-credit micro-seminars introduce students to major aspects of literary criticism and theory in the modern period.  While based on the discipline of comparative literature, these short courses are open to students in other literary fields.

CMLIT 503:001: The Age of Reason (Jonathan Eburne). Jan 13- Feb 10

A survey of key works of criticism and theory from the Enlightenment to the Belle Epoque, interrogating the status of “reason” in an age of revolution, Empire, and colonial expansion.

CMLIT 503:002: Restless Theories of the Rest (Jonathan Abel). Feb 17- Mar 24

In recent years, it has become something of a commonplace that theory is formed in the West and applied to the Rest. This short course will examine this pernicious notion that theory necessitates a Western, male discourse. Readings will include work by Said, Achebe, Karatani, Johnson, Fuss, Kristeva, Spivak, Butler, Chow.

CMLIT 503:003: The Pleasures and Pains of Reading: Contemporary Theories of Book and Body (Charlotte Eubanks). Mar 31-Apr 28

An introduction to contemporary theoretical and critical work through close consideration of a series of influential essays. The readings and discussions of this five-week module of the seminar aim to explore the intertwined ontologies of the books we read, and the critical bodies that read them.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLT 505/ENGL 545: Medieval Studies - Chaucer, Continental Narrative, and a Challenge to Literary Periodization (Caroline Eckhardt) W 9:05 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Geoffrey Chaucer -- author of works ranging from comedy to tragedy, scientific prose, philosophical translation, dream-visions, and parodies of love and desire -- is among the most versatile and widely circulated writers in the English language. We will read a selection of his works, beginning with his earlier poems, such as the Book of the Duchess, including examples of his philosophical and scientific prose, and then emphasizing the love-story Troilus and Criseyde (very different from Shakespeare's) and the Canterbury Tales. We will also compare his narratives with those of continental writers, and consider the way in which Chaucer and his near-contemporaries constitute a challenge to the conventional periodization that separates medieval from Renaissance/early modern European culture.

Topics will include Chaucer's position as public poet and social critic, his sense of the past, gender issues, the multiple discourses (including scientific and philosophical) in which he participates, his humor, his role in the circulation of European culture in England, and questions of literacy, language, power, and audience (did he write for the court? the city? International audiences?). We will also consider whether fourteenth-century England can validly be regarded as a postcolonial context, and we'll glance at Post-Chaucer Chaucer, or Chaucer’s editors, translators, and imitators in Shakespeare's era and beyond.

CMLT 506. Diasporic Literature as Comparative and World Literature (Shuang Shen). R 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

Diasporic cultures worldwide reflect artistic sensibilities derived from the unique experiences of migration and settlement, the histories of slavery and colonization, the practice of political and cultural internationalism. The production of diasporic culture, both in terms of targeted audience and social concerns, often goes beyond the boundaries of the nation-state or a singular cultural tradition. Thus, diaspora presents itself as a fertile ground of exploration for comparatists. This course introduces some key theoretical conceptualizations of diaspora (Gilroy, Hall, Spivak, etc) along with select cultural texts from the African, Asian and Jewish diasporas as case study. Juxtaposing diaspora studies and comparative literature, particularly the current discussions of world literature, the course seeks to explore various forms of embedded and embodied comparisons that diasporic subjects and cultures present.

At the same time, it also examines the advantages and pitfalls of diasporic claims and investigates the different uses of the diaspora and the "overseas” in specific cultural and political contexts. The course asks questions such as “How do translingual and multilingual practices in the diaspora allow us to reconceptualize the genealogy of national cultures?” “What roles do diasporas play in contemporary condition of neo-liberal globalization and in the world republic of letters?” “What contributions do diaspora theories make to the world literature discussions and vice versa?” This course is intended to broadly outline some major concerns and debates in recent studies of the diaspora with particular emphasis on the new possibilities and challenges posed by diaspora studies to comparative literary studies.

CMLT 570. Narrative, Embodied Suffering, and Health (Rosemary Jolly) (Cross-listed with Bioethics, English, and Women’s Studies). W 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

This seminar comprises an introduction to applied narrative studies. We shall look at what narrative can -- and cannot -- ‘do’ for writers, readers, speakers and listeners. To achieve this goal, we in no way jettison the idea of the aesthetics of narrative, but contextualize it as the quality of the interaction between specific narratives, authors, and readers/listeners. Rather than taking a cosmopolitan postcolonial view that both assumes and constructs reading as inherently constitutive of, and good for, positive human relations, this course looks at narrative from the perspective of its role in both constructing and undermining health - the health of humans, non-human animals, and ecological well-being.

Readings will include fictional texts; testimony drawn from the South African and Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and the Australian Apology and Northern Territory intervention; interview transcripts and focus group research transcripts from my research into gender-based violence and HIV/AIDS; and narratives constructed by the seminar participants themselves. Our primary goal will be to conclude the seminar with an understanding of how participants can consciously and intentionally use the critical skills they’ve developed in analyzing texts in ways that can actually interact with what we tend to call “the real world”. By the end of the term you will have had the opportunity to develop an understanding of narrative’s capacity for playing key roles in both destruction and creative, or ‘well'-being.

This seminar aims to develop a set of skills throughout the course of the semester, including:

The importance of critical readling/listening skills in understanding the testimony of vulnerable and victimized subjects, who are in positions of multi-generational abuse and deprivation

An understanding of the role narrative can play in diagnosing human and non-human ill-being

Exploring rhetorics of apology, healing and restoration at the limit: do they impinge upon the lived experience of victim-survivors, and if so, with what limitations?

When and how to make our own storytelling a conscious and explicit process, in research vs. therapy vs. critical responses to narrative

When it is healthy to make another’s storytelling processes explicit to them, and how to do this ethically

The capacities and incapacities of literary theory relating to postcolonialism, trauma studies, and critical gender and race theory from the perspective of an applied narrative studies framework

The role of our bodies in narrative performance: how and what do our bodies mean?

Familiarity with methodologies for textual analysis, such as phrase coding and other tools for qualitative textual analysis

CMLT 597. The Ends of Postcolonialism (Nergis Erturk) T 3:30 pm -6:30 pm

“What remains of the postcolonial?” asks Robert J. C. Young in a recent article on the state of postcolonial studies. This course will examine the legacies of postcolonial literature and theory, as well as explore the new directions the field has taken in the political conjuncture after 2001. We'll begin with foundational accounts of European colonialism and imperialism (Marx, Lenin and Du Bois), continue with theories of anticolonial resistance (Fanon, Anderson, Spivak, and Chatterjee), and conclude with analyses and critiques of empire in the present (Coetzee, Derrida, Butler, and Balibar). We will ask the following questions: How are modern knowledges, institutions (including those of literature and criticism), and subjectivities shaped by colonialism and imperialism? What are the forms of literary, material, and psychological resistance to empire, and what are the successes, failures, and contradictions of such resistance? How does literature consolidate, mediate, and/or figure (post)coloniality? Other concepts to be discussed include Orientalism and the institution of English and world literatures, colonial translation, (post)secularism, terror, subalternity, and hospitality.

Fall 2013

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR IN WORLD LITERATURE, CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 502: Comparative Literary Criticism and Theory: Mondays, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

These three one-credit micro-seminars introduce students to major aspects of literary criticism and theory. While based on the discipline of comparative literature, these short courses are open to students in other literary fields.

CMLIT 502:001: Pre-Modern Foundations (Thomas Beebee) Aug 26 - Sept 30

Introduces the classical foundations of comparative criticism and theory through readings from the pre-modern period. The seminar examines formative ideas for our critical and theoretical discourses in such defining figures as Gorgias of Leontini, Zhuangzi, Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Quintilian, Longinus, and Lu Chi. Key elements in this exploration include thinking about knowledge, wisdom, language, writing, reading, representation, inspiration, artisanship, ethics, and pedagogical and critical responsibility.

CMLIT 502:002: Medieval Theories of Rhetoric and Ethical Reading (Caroline Eckhardt) Oct 7 - Oct 28

Studies medieval texts that deal with two topics of continued interest today: (1) how to write, rewrite, adapt, and persuade, including the traditional figures and tropes (what Chaucer calls the colors of rhetoric); and (2) how to read for moral, ethical, and aesthetic purposes. Allegory is a system of writing and reading that joins both these topics. We will read selections by John of Salisbury, Matthew of Vendôme, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, the Ovide moralisé (an allegorization of Ovid's Metamorphoses), the medieval mythographers, Dante, Gower, and Christine de Pizan.

CMLIT 502:003: What is an Archive? (Jonathan Eburne) Nov 4 - Dec 9

Explores the ambiguities between the Greek and Roman roots of contemporary thinking about archives-- that is, between the Greek notion of arche [origin or "first cause"] and the Latin/Roman notion of arca [strong-box, coffin]. Thus, in addition to studying works by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and medieval biblical scholars, as well as by the likes of Derrida, Foucault, Steedman, Agamben, Flusser, Doane, Benjamin, Zielinski, Malcolm, and others, we will also take time to discuss and practice the work of archival research in the digital age.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLIT 506: Of Media and Mimesis, the Digital and Diegetic. R 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM (Jonathan Abel)

Can new media can be made legible through older mechanisms of reading? What do literature and literary readings have to offer to new media? What does new media have to offer studies of literature? In literary studies, the rise of cultural materialism and new historicism has oddly undergirded the more recent ascent of “the digital humanities”; yet what has been left behind in these epistemic shifts are questions of literariness and pleasure. If context and form have provided the grist for recent scholarship, this seminar proposes not a simple return to text and content but thorough rethinking of what constitutes these stubborn distinctions.

Though it is said that new media threatens to quash both old media (books, telegraphs, film, and faxes) and cultural diversity through speedy worldwide delivery, there are ways in which new media preserves and continues longstanding cultural divides. Much of the attention to electronic literature (both narrative and lyrical) has been limited to texts that are written originally in English. And yet literature carried in such recent forms as hypertext, flash, twitter, video games, and cell phone screens has been global from the start. This seminar will provide an overview of existing scholarship on electronic literatures while emphasizing global and transhistorical continuities and divergences. We will examine a long history and broad geography of new media in order to reconnect today’s media with those of other times and to recall that even the same technology will be employed in vastly differing ways depending often on cultural and linguistic difference. Areas, linguistic cultures, and media covered in the syllabus will be determined through consultation with the expertise of seminar participants. Readings may include theoretical work by Aarseth, Benjamin, Barthes, Freud, Gitelman, Hayles, Luhmann, Marx, Manovich, McGann, McLuhan, Schopenhauer, Ryan, and Weber.

CMLIT 510: Seminar in Literary Translation. T 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Thomas Beebee) (cross-listed w/GRSL 591)

Are literary translations inevitably doomed to being “belles infidèles” – beautiful because faithless (to the original); faithful only if unattractive (to readers)? What are we blinded to in the act of translation (including perhaps its gendered nature, as the first question hints) by the fact that it occurs between languages? Why do we always hear about things being “lost in translation” when in reality there is only increase (of text, of meaning, of language)? These and other unanswerable questions will preoccupy this seminar, which will be organized around three approaches to the topic of translation, namely: 1) the practical (what problems and questions arise in doing a translation?); 2) the theoretical (what issues do the encountered problems raise?); 3) the critical/historical/transmetic (what has translation meant to authors and for literary history and cultural survival?). We will begin the seminar by addressing #3 through readings of translational fictions. This will be following by workshop presentations of brief translations done by students. We will then examine the long tradition of translation theory, from St. Jerome to Lawrence Venuti. Finally, participants will present an oral version of their final project, which may address translation from any of the perspectives mentioned above, or as yet unthought.

CMLIT 543: Literary London. T 9:05 AM- 12:05 PM (Robert Edwards) (coss=listed w/ ENGL 541)

This seminar will examine late-medieval London as an international urban center for literary composition and the material production of vernacular texts. In Britain, regional literary centers had been the norm for creating and transmitting literary works (a category we will want to examine closely) in Latin, Anglo-Norman, and English since the Norman Conquest, and some of the most challenging recent scholarship argues that multiple centers rather than a metropolis sustained secular, religious, and institutional writing. Nonetheless, late-medieval London is a cultural space for scribes, entrepreneurs in the book trade, and readers from differing social strata. It is also the locus for the poets who come to comprise the English literary canon. The seminar will focus in part on textual culture (manuscripts, book history, patrons, copyists, medieval writers in print culture) but mainly on Chaucer’s London contemporaries and self-anointed disciples: John Gower (who wrote in Latin, English, and French), William Langland, John Lydgate in his laureate phase, Thomas Hoccleve in his madness and recovery, and possibly Thomas Usk before he was denounced as “faux and malveise,” drawn, hanged, and beheaded. Besides offering short reports and leading discussion, students will develop a research project to present first as a conference paper and then as a seminar paper. No prior experience reading Middle English or other medieval languages is expected.

CMLIT 570: Global Perspectives on Feminism. T 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM (Gabeba Baderoon) (cross-listed w/WMST 502)

This course examines some of the principal themes related to feminism as scholarship and as political practice in different contexts and at different scales. How feminism is perceived as “global” in some instances and as “local” in others is a question explored throughout the class, along with investigations into what is at stake in these politics of scale. The course also investigates the often conflicting meanings for the term “feminism” that cut across international feminist politics, academic debates and the politics of place and identity. Drawing on scholarship from across the globe, we will explore the stakes of the terms "global" and "transnational" for feminist thought and practice.

Spring 2013

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR IN WORLD LITERATURE, CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 501: Comparative Method in Literary Studies Seminar: Mondays, 2:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.

These three one-credit micro-seminars introduce students to crucial aspects of literary study and praxis. While based on the discipline of comparative literature, these five-week seminars may also be of interest to students in other literary fields.

CMLIT 501:001: Reading Machines/Teaching Systems (Jonathan Eburne) Jan 7- Feb 4

This short course studies and practices the way we -- as well as our students -- exchange, store, and circulate knowledge in an era after the (alleged) decline and death of print media.

CMLIT 501:002: Teaching World Literature (Charlotte Eubanks) Feb 11- Mar 18

A praxis-oriented course in "World Literatures." This course will give students a solid grounding in the field, practical approaches to teaching, and a chance to develop syllabi and teaching materials.

CMLIT 501:003: Academic Writing for Comparatists (Nergis Erturk) Mar 25-Apr 22

This short course is designed to improve a variety of writing forms (abstracts, journal articles, reviews) required for success as a scholar of literature and culture.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLIT 505: "Medieval Practices of Reading: Reading the Arthurian Legend, Reading Troy." W 9:05 AM- noon. (Caroline Eckhardt) (cross-listed w/ ENGL 541).

Two great secular narratives of the European Middle Ages -- the Arthurian legends and the Trojan War tales -- both complemented and contested each other in providing constructions of the past that were used again and again in new contexts. Sometimes these two narratives intersect, with the Trojan story set as an antecedent to the Arthurian era, as in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (12th century); or in the framing stanzas at the beginning and ending of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century); or in the career of William Caxton, England's first printer and an extraordinarily influential figure at the ostensible juncture of the medieval and early modern periods: the first book ever printed in English was Caxton's Troy collection (ca. 1475), followed a few years later by his printing of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde (1484) and Malory's Morte Darthur (1485).

Course readings will include the two most important English Troy versions, Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde and Lydgate's Troy Book, along with major Arthurian works: Gawain and the Greek Knight, the Alliterative Morte Arthure, the Stanzaic Morte Arthur, selections from Brut chronicles and from Malory. Excerpts from continental works, such as Guido delle Colonne's History of the Destruction of Troy, will provide essential comparative contexts. We will emphasize medieval practices of reading and literary circulation, considering topics such as how reading was performed (silently? aloud? privately? at court? to family groups? by women?); literacy and authorship (who was producing and reading these texts? - Lydgate was a monk, Malory a soldier, a prisoner, and perhaps a scoundrel); how allegory and prophecy were deployed; and why both bodies of legend are still widely productive today. We will study medieval texts not only through recent printed editions but also through the archival record of manuscripts, often in facsimile. The course will include workshop opportunities for practice in paleography, the reading of medieval handwriting. Prior experience with manuscripts or with Middle English is not necessary.

CMLIT 506: "Visuality and Violence." T 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM (Andrea Bachner)

Visuality seems to be inextricably linked to violence:
1) Violence is often accessible to theoretical reflection only through its (overwhelmingly visual) representations 2) Visual representation itself is frequently associated with violence, as a violent framing of the world according to specific ideologies, or, obversely, as harboring a transgressive power that breaks through and destabilizes norms
3) The complex links between violence and visuality are especially strong and problematic, whenever identity, difference, and alterity are at stake. This seminar will offer a thematically oriented overview of important theoretical approaches to visuality (and thus to violence). Theorists will include Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Martin Heidegger, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Ernst Junger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Derrida, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Friedrich Kittler, Roland Barthes, Jacques Ranciere, Georges Didi-Huberman, Judith Butler, and others. As a dialogic counterpoint, we will analyze visual examples from different cultural contexts and reflect critically on theory's investment in connecting violence and visuality.

CMLIT 509: "Oddity, Unreason, Modernity." W 2:30 PM- 5:00 PM & appt. (Jonathan Eburne) (cross-listed w/ ENGL 597D)

Do we live in an age of unreason? In an era of global fiscal crisis and the increasing polarization of political, class, and ideological positions, we seem to be hearing more from pseudoscientists and other fringe thinkers than ever before. In spite of decades of well-intentioned efforts to purge contemporary thinking of such "bad" ideas, they seem to be "redoubling their influence. To what extent, though, might such purgative efforts in fact contribute to the restriction and even eradication of good sense? And to what extent might the very history of modernity-- and the very promise of Enlightenment reason--be instead bound up with the errancies and excesses of unreason? This course seeks to discern and study forms of oddity and unreason that do not always spring from false consciousness or the politics of hate, but which instead suggest alternative means for processing information, institutions for disclosing meaning, and ways of transmitting knowledge. Not all bad ideas are bad in the same way; this course will study the histories and permutations of what Michel Foucault called "discontinuous knowledges" throughout post-Enlightenment thought. To study the history and resonance of such knowledges is to recognize their pervasive role throughout intellectual history.

Course texts may include literary works by Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Brockden Brown, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, William Blake, Charles Baudelaire, Lady Gregory, William Butler Yeats, Mary Butts, Djuna Barnes, Georges Bataille, Robert Graves, Leonora Carrington, Jorge Luis Borges, Angela Carter, and Ishmael Reed; as well as writings by James George Frazer, Frances Yates, Lewis Spence, George Mead, as well as texts by Giordano Bruno, Helena Blavatsky, G.I. Gurdjieff, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell Immanuel Velikovsky, Erich von Daniken, L. Ron Hubbard, Charles Fort, and others. We will also read from critical and philosophical works by Adorno and Horkheimer, Nietzsche, Foucault,
Cixous, Derrida, Deleuze and Guattari, Butler, and Zizek; as well as contemporary writings by Susan Jacoby, Richard Wolin, Harry Frankfurt, Alan Sokal, Isabelle Stengers, and Michael Gordin.

CMLIT 597: "Romantic Spaces." TR 2:30 PM-3:45 PM (Daniel Purdy) (cross-listed with German 581)

This course will investigate how Romanticism (broadly defined) constructs space as a means for organizing interior feelings along the axes of knowledge, sexuality, and power; for establishing a domestic terrain and boundaries for the nation state; and for defining differences between home and foreign spaces. We will read Romanticism in light of
theories of subjectivity, nationalism, and Orientalism, studying the Orient as a space that allowed for alternate modes of identity or nation, and which incorporated ethnic, sexual, and cultural differences. This course will also examine how literary texts represent the subjective experience of space. Our readings will lead us through ancient Italian labyrinths, psychic caverns, neo-gothic ruins, cartographic landscapes, broad boulevards, dark alleys, and bureaucratic compartments. We will also ponder the difference between the beautiful and the sublime.

Romanticism stressed the unique qualities of place. The poetic descriptions of natural sites such as the Rhine, the Danube or the Alps will receive our particular attention. Along the way, we will read canonical texts in the Romantic tradition, as well as key post-Romantic texts, including work by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Immanuel Kant, Johann
Wolfgang Goethe, Ludwig Tieck, William Wordsworth, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Heinrich Heine, Thomas Carlyle, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, August von Kotzebue, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Adalbert Stifter, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Caspar David Friedrich.

Fall 2012

ONE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN WORLD LITERATURE, CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 596A Jorge Amado. (Thomas Beebee)

Scheduled by appointment. This one-credit mini-course will sample the work of Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado, the centenary of whose birth falls in 2012, and examine the process by which he made Brazil a best-seller. One session will be a public celebration of the centenary and of Amado’s residence at Penn State in 1971.

CMLIT 501: Comparative Method in Literary Studies Seminar: Mondays, 2:30‐5:30

These seminars introduce students to the discipline of comparative literature. Students wishing to sign up for all three five- week seminars in the Fall sequence should select CMLIT 501; to sign up for a single 5-week seminar, choose 597A, B, or C.

CMLIT 597A: Histories of Reading. (Jonathan Abel)

Through a brief look at the history of New Criticism, its rivals, and antecedents, this unit will examine Roland Barthes’s perceptive quip that "a little formalism turns one away from History, but that a lot brings one back to it." (Mythologies) Our focus on the aesthetics of poetry, genre criticism, and media studies will define relationships amongst close reading, decon-struction, historicism, and new historicism.

CMLIT 597B: Research Design and Research Ethics in Literary Studies. (Caroline Eckhardt)

From archival projects to textual and cultural analyses, and other kinds of literary inquiries, how do you frame a research question and situate it within the discourse surrounding your topic? When you are reading across cultures, how can you lo-cate convincing grounds for comparison? What kinds of evidence do you need to answer your research question, and what ethical responsibilities, as well as practical considerations, are involved both in conducting your research and in presenting the results as a conference paper, a journal article, etc.? This short course will focus on comparative projects and will ad-dress questions such as these. Meets the Graduate School's research ethics requirement.

CMLIT 597C: History of Comparative Literature. (Thomas Beebee)

This course examines the history and meta-questions of comparative studies. The meta-questions of comparative literature include: What do expect to achieve through comparison? Who was the first comparatist? What are other comparative disci-plines, and what are their methodologies? In what ways does the concept of world literature relate to that of comparative literature? Why did comparative literature (as a formal discipline) begin in the late 19th century? Is Wellek’s “crisis in com-parative literature” the same as Spivak’s “death of a discipline”? Readings may include: a selection of proto-comparatists (Herodotus, Plutarch, Montaigne); philosophical foundations (Herder, Goethe, Nietzsche); foundational essays (Meltzl, Brandes); exilic reconfigurations (Auerbach, Wellek); intersections with postcolonial and globalization theory (Said, Spivak); and ACLA reports.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS

CMLIT 504: Poetics of Memory. Wednesday 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM (Charlotte Eubanks)

Explores major genres of memorial writing (testimony, memoire, hagiography, diary, etc) with an emphasis on East Asian, South Asian, and Latin American authors. Primary literature will also be chosen for its temporal range, classical to post-modern. Theoreti-cal readings by Pierre Nora, Henri Lefebvre, Marianne Hirsch, Edward Said, Michael de Certeau, Joseph Roach, Diana Taylor, Maurice Halbwachs, Cary Caruth, Wulf Kansteiner and others. Discussion to include topics such as memory as narrative, as lyric, as performance; memory and trauma; memory and self; memory and place.

CMLIT 521: American Poesis. Tuesday 2:30-5:30. (Djelal Kadir)

The creation, history, and apocalyptic end of America are writ large in the poetry of the Western Hemisphere. This seminar reads the textual record of America from its genesis in the Songs of the Aztec Nobility and the Sycamore First Peoples to the Baroque prosody of Spanish and Portuguese weaving of the Old World with the New, the gender inflected lyricism of a series of "tenth muse" designees--Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, the epic voices of twentieth-century Nobel laure-ates such as Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Derek Walcott, and the self-questioning modernist voices of such figures as José Lezama Lima, Wallace Stevens, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Jorge Luis Borges, Elizabeth Bishop, James Merrill. The seminar explores the poetic symphony, antiphony, counterpoint among the American voices that have engendered, defined, praised, and cursed the world in diverse prosodic forms that have come to constitute the American poetic tradition at large.

CMLIT 543: Becht(ians). Thursday 2:30-5:30 (Martina Kolb) (cross-listed with GER 592 )

With Bertolt Brecht’s revolutionary dramaturgy at its core, this seminar traces Brecht’s literary and theatrical precursors as well as his dramatic legacy. While we will begin by examining theater history from Sophocles and Aristotle, Shakespeare, Zeami, and G.E. Lessing, Georg Büchner and Frank Wedekind to Brecht’s major plays and writings on what he called Verfremdung and the epic the-ater, we will conclude by tracking and analyzing where and how Brecht’s work has continued to reverberate in co-/anti-/post-Brechtians such as Antonin Artaud, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Caryl Churchill, Dario Fo, Franca Rame, Tom Stoppard, and Heiner Müller. Film versions of Brecht’s plays, as well as additional texts by Freud and Benjamin, Helene Weigel and Peter Brook, among others, will also find their way into our discussion of Brecht against the background of his Weimar years, his exile from Nazi Ger-many, and his postwar return to East Berlin. This class will be conducted in English. Students have the option of completing course readings in the original language or in English, and may write their papers in English, German, French, or Italian.

 

Fall 2011

ONE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 502: Comparative Criticism I/ Mondays, 2:305:30

Three five-week one-credit seminars on pre-modern theory and criticism. Students wishing to sign up for all three five-week seminars in the Spring sequence should select CMLIT 502; to sign up for a single 5-week seminar, choose 597A, B, or C.

CMLIT 597A: Pre-modern Foundations. (Djelal Kadir) / Aug 22 - Sep 26

This first five-week module of COmparative Criticism and Theory seminar is an introduction to the classical foundations of comparative criticism and tehory through readings from the pre-modern period. The seminar examines formative ideas for our critical/theoretical dicourses in such defining figures as Gorgias of Leontini, Zhuangzi, Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Quintilian Longinus, and Lu Chi. Some of the elements of this compaative/contrastive exploration and analysis are: knowledge, wisdom, language, writing, reading, representation, inspiration, artisanship, ethics, and pedagogical and critical responsibility.

CMLIT 597B: Medieval Theories of Rhetoric and Ethical Reading. (Carey Eckhardt) / Oct 3 - Oct 24

This module is a one-credit comparative short course on medieval texts that deal with two topics of continued interest today: (1) how to write, rewrite, adapt, and persuade, including the traditional figures and tropes (what Chaucer calls the colors of rhetoric); and (2) how to read for moral, ethical, and aesthetic purposes.

CMLIT 597C: What is an Archive (Jonathan Eburne) / Oct 31 - Dec 5

This five week graduate seminar will explore the ambiguities between the Greek and This five week graduate seminar will explore the ambiguities between the Greek and Roman roots of contem-porary thinking about archives— that is, between the Greek notion of arch? [origin or "first cause"] and the Latin/Roman notion of arca [strong-box, coffin]. Thus, in addition to studying works by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and medieval biblical scholars, as well as by Derrida, Foucault, Steedman, Agamben, Malcolm, and others, we will also take time to discuss and practice the work of archival research in the digital age.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS

CMLIT 506: Anti-colonialism: Literature and Theory T 2:305:30 (Nergis Ertuk)

This course will trace the genealogies of anti-colonial thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We'll be-gin with accounts of modern European colonialism and imperialism in the foundational works of Marx, Lenin, and Du Bois, continue with anti-colonial nationalism, and conclude with an analysis of anti-colonial thought in the pre-sent. Concepts to be covered will include Orientalism, subalternity, "global apartheid," "enemies as strangers," and postsecularism.

CMLIT 510/GER592: Literary Translation, R 2:305:30 (Thomas Beebee)

This seminar will be organized around three approaches to the topic of literary translation, namely: 1) the practical (what problems and questions arise in doing a translation?); 2) the theoretical (what issues do the encoun-tered problems raise?); 3) the critical/historical/transmetic (what has translation meant for literary history and cultural survival, and how has it appeared as a theme in fiction and philosophy?).

CMLIT 580/ENG 582: Psychoanalysis and its Literature, W 2:30-5:30 (Jonathen Eburne)

This class will offer an introduction to psychoanalysis as both a practice (clinical, scientific, analytical, theoretical, discursive, etc.) and a mode of interpretation. We will pay particular attention to the place of the literary in psy-choanalytic thought, as well as to the ways "psychoanalytic reading" has been practiced by scholars and analysts alike. Course texts may include works by Kafka, Poe, Jensen, Sophocles, and Shakespeare, as well as by Freud, La-can, Kristeva, Horney, Mitchell, Bonaparte, Derrida, Copjec, Zizek, Butler, and Deleuze.

 

Spring 2011

 

ONE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 501: Comparative Method in Literary Studies Seminar/ Mondays, 2:305:30

These seminars introduce students to thediscipline fo comparative literature. Students wishing to sign up for all three five-week seminars in the Spring sequence should select CMLIT 503; to sign up for a single 5-week seminar, choose 597A, B, or C.

CMLIT 597A: History of Comparative Literature (Thomas Beebee)/ Jan 10-Feb 14:

This course deals with the history and meta-questions of comparative studies. Who was the first comparatist? What are other comparative disciplines, etc.?

CMLIT 597B: Teaching World Literature (Charlotte Eubanks) / Feb 21-Mar 21:

A praxis-oriented course in all thins "World Literatures." Will give students a solid grouning in the field, practical approaches to teaching, and a chance to develop syllabi and teaching materials.

CMLIT 597C: Academic Writing for Comparatists (Sophia McClennan) Mar 28-Apr 25:

Designed to improve a variety of writing forms (abstracts, journal articles, reviews) required for success as a scholar of literature and culture.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS

CMLIT 521: Seminar in Inter-American Literature: America as World Literature T 2:305:30 (Djelal Kadir)

America is as much a literary invention as the literatures it has engendered, even before 1492 and the beginning of the first era of globalization. The seminar explores the intersection of this hemispheric geography and the trajectory of writings on, in, and of those junctures where the world is made by literature and literature finds its correlative as the world it thought to have invented. In the process, the seminar investigates the ways in which world and literature make an American kind of "world literature." The seminar is intended for graduate students in Comparative Literature, American Studies, Literacy and Cultural Theory, and for students who seek insights in the intriguing convergence between worldly reality and textual (literary) worlds.

CMLIT 523: Comparative Seminar in African Literature and Cinema, R 2:305:30 (Thomas Hale)

Students in this seminar will seek answers to two basic questions. How do verbal and visual media interpret African cultures to readers and viewers inside and outside the continent? What is the relationship between these two art forms? Films sourced in books, books and films on the same topic, and cinematic reinterpretations of archetypes from other cultures will provide material for our analyses.

CMLIT 597D: The Violence of Language: Ethics, Aesthetics, Rehtoric, W 2:30-5:30 (Sophia McCelnnen and Jeremy Engels)

What is the relationship between language and violence? At the heart of this course is the basic idea that the study of the ties between language and violence requires attention to the multiple processes through which humans come to take violence for granted, as acceptable, or as inevitable. This course has been awarded an IAH collaborative teaching grant and will be connected to a series of guest speakers (e.g. John Beverley and James Dawes) and events.

Fall 2010

ONE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 501: Skills, Histories, and Methods/ Mondays, 2:305:30

These seminars introduce students to the skills, histories, and methods appropriate to graduate training in literature, with a particular focus on the discipline of Comparative Literature. Students wishing to sign up for all three five-week seminars in the Fall sequence should select CMLIT 503; to sign up for a single 5-week seminar, choose 597A, B, or C.

CMLIT 597A: Close Reading (Eric Hayot) / Aug 23-Sept 27:

Beginning with poetry, and using the giants as our guides, we will learn the basic language of the critical analysis of poetic form, including scansion. Moving beyond poetry, we will develop vocabularies of formal and informal interpretation tht touch on genre, mode, medium, and other major categories of aesthetic emergence. We will close with narrative and culture.

CMLIT 597B: Ideas of World Literature (Djelal Kadir)/ Oct 4-Nov 1:

"world Literature" has re-emerged as a central concern of literary studies and of Comparative Literature in particular. This second five-week module aims to explore the significance of ideas of World Literature as disciplinary discourse, as historical phenomenon, and as critical/theoretical formation. The focus of readings is and discussion is, specially, the significance of these developments to the field of Comparative Studies in a historical time of globalization and planetary diffusion of literary production defined as coterminous with the world.


CMLIT 597C: Research Design and Research Ethics in Literary Studies (Caroline Eckhardt) / Nov 8-Dec 6:

From archival projects to textual and cultural analyses, and other kinds of literary inquiries, how do you frame a research question and situate it within the discourse surrounding your topic? When you are reading across cultures, how can you locate convincing grounds for comparison? What kinds of evidence do you need to answer your research question, and what ethical responsibilities, as well as practical considerations, are involved both in conducting your research and presenting the results as a conference paper, a journal article, etc.? This short course will focus on comparative projects and will address questions such as these.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS

CMLIT 504: Prose Fiction, T 2:305:30 (Eric Hayot)

This is a course in the history of prose fiction from the eleventh century to 1880. Among other things it aims to destabilize the category of the "novel." Readings will come from a variety of novelistic (or para-novelistic) forms, including the monogatari, the romance, the picaresque, the xiaoshuo, the maqama, the historical novel, the episto-lary novel, the fictional memoir, and the bildungsroman. We will also study theories of narrative and narratology, theories of genre, and theories of literary history.

CMLIT 505: Medieval Studies, W 9:0512:05 (Caroline Eckhardt)

Discovering and using the medieval archive: book cultures and modes of circulation in Europe before printing, em-phasizing Arthurian and Trojan War narratives. We will practice reading from (mostly) English manuscripts. Cross-listed with ENGL 541.

CMLIT 506: Mytho-Poiesis: Mapping Memory in Modern Mythology, R 3:00-6:00 (Martina Kolb)

An exploration of (post)modern (re-)writings of ancient and medieval Mediterranean mythology. A re-assessment of myth and epic in Gilgamesh, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, and Dante through the literary prisms of Kafka, Joyce, Pound, Broch, Levi, Ransmayr, and Walcott, as well as through the critical and philosophical lenses of Aristotle, Lukács, Eliot, Adorno, Auerbach, and Barthes. Concurrent with GER 597 B.


CMLIT 597D: Law and Literature: The Nomological Imagination, W 2:30-5:30 (Tom Beebee)

In this course we will examine literary texts that imagine law (Greek "nomos"), together with the philosophical and theoretical responses these have inspired. Examples include: Sophocles's Antigone (Hegel, Heidegger, Nussbaum, Butler); Melville's Benito Cereno (Carl Schmitt); Kafka's The Trial (Derrida, Richard Posner).

Spring 2010

ONE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 503: Modern Criticism & Theory / Mondays, 2:305:30

These seminars introduce students to the global histories of literary theory and criticism, from the pre-modern (Fall) to contemporary theory networks (Spring). Students wishing to sign up for all three five-week seminars in the Spring sequence should select CMLIT 503; to sign up for a single 5-week seminar, choose 597A, B, or C.

CMLIT 597A: The Theory Canon (Sophia McClennen) / Jan 11‐Feb 8:

Introduces some of the most significant contributors to the modern theory canon, including work by Nietzsche, Freud, Gramsci, Foucault, and more. In addition, Jeffrey Williams, one of the co-editors of the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, will join the course as a guest seminar leader for one of our sessions.

CMLIT 597B: Concepts of Modernity (Eric Hayot) / Feb 15‐Mar 22:

Traces the history of modernity as a philosophy of history, and probes its origins (and theories of its origins), its developments (and theories of its development), and current debates on its status, its existence, and its relation to the future: Kant, Hegel, Marx, Weber, Heidegger, Foucault, Anderson, Poovey, Wallerstein, Tu, and beyond..

CMLIT 597C: Global Theory Networks (Alexander Huang) / Mar 29‐Apr 26:

Focuses on how to read across cultures and how critical theories and critics travel, in an era of globalization, through the translation, reception and transformation of their texts and their own experience abroad. Texts by Anzaldua, Derrida, Spivak, Kristeva, and Said, on non-Western theory, and on world literature.

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS

CMLIT 504: What is an AvantGarde?, T 2:305:30 (Jonathan Eburne)

What defines an avant-garde? Does avant-garde cultural production necessarily entail shock, extremity, and rupture? Do its provocations matter only at particular historical moments? This class offers new approaches to studying the relationships between historical change and the cultural life of experimental aesthetic, political, and social movements. Texts will include writings associated with Symbolism, Dada, Negritude, Situationism, and Magical Realism, as well as with feminist, queer, proletarian, and anticolonial political and cultural movements.

CMLIT 505: Medieval Studies, W 9:0512:05 (Caroline Eckhardt)

Book cultures in medieval Europe before printing: texts, authorship, readership, and modes of circulation, emphasizing Chaucerian narrative. We will practice reading from (mostly) fifteenth-century English manuscripts.

CMLIT 506: Art Under Surveillance: Copyright, Censorship, and Literary Production, R 2:305:30 (Jonathan Abel)

This seminar examines the stormy relationships between literature and the law. In practice, legal bans and copyright protections often contravene their stated purposes as censorship fosters the literature it bans or as copyright becomes an obstacle to artistic expression. Our consideration of past literary cases will inform contemporary questions, including those surrounding derivative novels, digital reproduction, and password sharing. Writings from Kant, Darwin, Marx, Nabokov, Adorno, Joyce, Rushdie, Karatani, Coetzee, Balzac, Derrida, Soseki, Foucault, Colting, Butler, Wallace, Tanizaki, Zizek, and Yu.

CMLIT 506: Urban Imaginaries in Postcolonial and Global Contexts, W 3:356:35 (Shuang Shen)

This course examines the relationship of urban cultural formation to the postcolonial condition and globalization. Using literature, film, architecture, and art as cultural texts, we will discuss such topics as modernity, circulation, mobility, diaspora, and the production of space . We will also consider the negotiation of cities with its histories, their imagination of the future, and their relationship with the nation and the world. Course materials will be drawn from theories and case studies of Western and non-Western cities to convey a comparative perspective on city cultures.

Fall 2009

NEW IN 2009:
ONE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN CRITICISM AND THEORY

CMLIT 502: (A) PREMODERN FOUNDATIONS; (B) ALLEGORY AND REPRESENTATION; (C) POSTSTRUCTURALISM’S CLASSIC FIGURES / Mondays, 2:30-5:30

These seminars are part of a yearlong sequence in criticism and theory. Taught by six different professors, these seminars introduce students to the global histories of literary theory and criticism, from the pre-modern (Fall) to contemporary theory networks (Spring). Students wishing to sign up for all three five-week seminars in the Fall
sequence should select CMLIT 502; to sign up for a single 5-week seminar, choose 597A, B, or C (descriptions below).

CMLIT 597A (Djelal Kadir) / Aug 24-Sep 25:

Foundations of comparative criticism and theory through readings from the pre-modern period. The seminar examines formative ideas of our critical/
theoretical discourses in such defining figures as Gorgias of Leontini, Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus, Quintilian, Plotinus, St. Augustine, Thos. Aquinas, Dante, and Vico, among others.


CMLIT 597B (Caroline Eckhardt) / Sep 28-Oct 30:

Allegory and representation from the pre-modern and medieval periods. Texts from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine,, Boethius, Macrobius, Maimonides,
Marie de France, Dante, Chaucer, Christine de Pizan, and Giambattista Giraldi, as well as fables, parables, comic tales, and short stories.


CMLIT 597C (Tom Beebee) / Nov 2-Dec 11:

This course will examine the reanimation and deployment of Western Classical ideas in poststructuralist thought. Examples may include: Barthes’s use of ancient rhetorical theory, Derrida’s reading of Plato’s “Phaedrus,” Foucault’s reinterpretation of Greek “paideia,” and Lacoue-Labarthes’s revisiting of the Longinian sublime.

CMLIT 570: SPECTERS OF COMPARISON
Nergis Erturk (nerturk@psu.edu) / Thursdays, 2:30-5:30

This course examines the comparative logic of capitalist modernity in the works of Marx, Weber, Adorno, Benjamin, Foucault, Mudimbe, and Derrida. Guided by a methodological concern with the ethics and politics of comparative work, it aims to construct a critical intellectual genealogy of the concept and method of “comparison.”


CMLIT 580: MATERIAL TEXTS
Charlotte Eubanks (cde13@psu.edu) / Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30

The “history of the book” has become a major intellectual and transnational undertaking, which brings to the fore questions regarding the birth of the vernacular, the idea of national culture, and the material nature of the written word. This course will introduce students to the major scholars, key terms, and overarching theoretical concerns of
book history, the ontology of the written word, and the sociology of text.

CMLIT 597D: POETICS: INTERNATIONAL LEGACY OF E.A. POE
Djelal Kadir (kadir@psu.edu) / Tuesdays, 2:30-5:30

Few American writers have been as consequential internationally in their influence as Edgar Allan Poe. This seminar explores the reasons for this renown, examines a number of key works by the American master and their avatars in various writers from around the world. The topical focus of the seminar is on the principal bipartite categories in which
Poe divided his own work—horror and detection. Writings from Baudelaire, Borges, Cortázar, Kafka, Tarchetti, Vittorini, Manganelli, Sakutaro, Ranpo, Veríssimo, and Enrique Vila Matas, among others.

 

Spring 2009

CMLIT 503: COMPARATIVE CRITICISM AND THEORY II: CRITICS AT LARGE

Dr. Alexander Huang (acyhuang@psu.edu) / Thursdays, 2:30-5:30
Global literary and cultural theory and criticism, Romanticism to the present, especially the dialectics between: contingencies of history and universalizing theories; textuality and visuality; formalist and ideological approaches to cultural phenomena; and various modes of representation--digital, local, etc. Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Hu Shi, Barthes, Foucault, Fanon, Wang Guowei, Paul de Man, Lu Xun, Bhabha, Rey Chow, Bourdieu, Cixous, Butler, Derrida, Achebe, Bolter and Grusin, and others.

 

CMLIT 505/ENGL 541: MEDIEVAL TEXTUALITIES: READING THE ARTHURIAN LEGEND, READING MEDIEVAL DRAMA

Dr. Caroline Eckhardt (e82@psu.edu) / Wednesdays, 9:05-noon
Given the simultaneity of three pervasive “historical” narratives in the late Middle Ages - the narrative of Biblical events as performed in drama, and the two great secular narratives of the Arthurian and Trojan War legends - using manuscripts and early printed books we’ll consider how these understandings of the past complemented or contested
each other.


CMLIT 510: SEMINAR IN LITERARY TRANSLATION

Dr. Tom Beebee (tob@psu.edu) / Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30
Are literary translations inevitably doomed to being “belles infidèles” - beautiful because faithless (to the original); faithful only if unattractive (to readers)? What are we blinded to in the act of translation (including perhaps its gendered nature, as the first question hints) by the fact that it occurs between languages? The seminar will focus on three approaches to translation: the practical, the theoretical, and the critical/historical/transmetic.

 

CMLIT 522: ENIGMATIC VOICES FROM/ABOUT ASIA

Dr. Reiko Tachibana (rxn6@psu.edu) / Tuesday, 2:30-5:30
Narrative voices from/about the in-between space (Homi Bhabha's term) or the gap in-between (Zwischenraum, Yoko Tawada's term), surreal/bizarre/fantastic fiction, anime, manga, films. Works by Murakami Haruki, Tawada Yoko, Karen Tei Yamashita, Mo Yan, Zheng Yi, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, among others.

 

APLNG/CMLIT 589: TECHNOLOGY, MEDIATION, AND SECOND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

Dr. Steven Thorne (slt13@psu.edu) / Tuesdays, 6:00-9:00
We will examine the roles, functions, and possibilities of technology use in everyday life and second language education contexts. Critical discussion of Internet communication, information, and composition tools, synthetic immersive environments and massively multiplayer online games. Readings on second language acquisition, sociocultural and
activity theory, linguistics, cultural studies, and educational theories of development.

 

CMLIT 597A: GEOPOESIS: GOETHE, NIETZSCHE, & FREUD’S ITALY

Dr. Martina Kolb (muk23@psu.edu) / Tuesdays, 4:00-7:00
In this seminar, we will trace the geopoetic grounds through which Goethe, Nietzsche and Freud’s Italy-influenced writings combine autobiography, geography, and archeology with poetry, art history, philosophy, and psychoanalytic theory. Great attention will be paid to the critical points where philosophy, poetry/fiction and psychoanalysis meet and diverge.


CMLIT 597B: PROJECTING IDENTITY: NATIONALISM, GLOBALIZATION, & CINEMA

Dr. Sophia McLennen (sam50@psu.edu) / Mondays, 2:30-5:30
Where are films from? Or where do they seem to be from? And how do these geographical markers influence identity construction? By reading film theory, postcolonial theory, and especially theories of nationalism and globalization, this course will
examine, unpack, and theorize the relationship between cinema and national/global identities.

 

Fall 2008

CMLIT 501: COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND ITS FUTURES

Dr. Jonathan P. Eburne (jpe11@psu.edu) / M 12:20-1:20 & W 2:30-4:25 Schedule #980392

This proseminar studies the history and practice of Comparative Literature. In addition to providing an introduction to the field, this course will undertake a focused examination of the discipline’s premises and possibilities. The course’s aims are twofold: first, we will address major theoretical issues within the field of Comparative Literature, reading key texts by writers such as Barthes, Freud, Kristeva, Said, Derrida, Butler, Fanon, Foucault, Deleuze, Spivak, Agamben, Hardt, and Negri. Second, we will address practical aspects of Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study. To this end, we will
examine the history of the discipline, as well as prepare its future by developing new approaches for the study of transnational literature and culture. This course is a requirement for first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and is highly recommended for students taking (or considering) a minor in this field.

 

CMLIT 504: VIRTUAL WORLDS

Dr. Eric Hayot (ehayot@psu.edu) / Thursdays, 2:30-5:30 Schedule #165841

What does it mean to imagine a world into being? What are the relevant parameters of a worldly imaginary? What is the field of representation within which the worldly imagination operates? And how might we begin to describe them? These questions will motivate the course, which will articulate its answers via readings in literary history (Dante, More, Ibsen, Abbot, Woolf, Gibson), literary criticism (Auerbach, Anderson, Ronen, Dolezel), geography (Tuan, Soja, Harvey), and philosophy. The course will include a substantial (2-3 weeks) component on contemporary online virtual worlds, including Second Life and World of Warcraft. Students will be required to spend time in both worlds as part of the course.

 

CMLIT 597A: POETICS AND SPECULATION: ON SOME PROBLEMS IN AETHETIC THEORY SINCE KANT

Dr. Dennis Schmidt (djs61@psu.edu) / Tuesdays, 2:30-5:30 Schedule #168712

This course will examine the development of aesthetic theory in the wake of Kant’s Critique of Judgment and the challenge that work posed for aesthetic theory and our conception of the beautiful and its significance. We will begin the course by examining some of the key passages in Kant’s 3rd Critique in order to pose some specific questions about the beautiful, the sublime, as well as the relation of art and nature. Then we will concentrate on the treatment of these issues in German Idealism and German
Romanticism. The key figures for this part of the course will be Hegel, Hölderlin, Schelling, Schiller, and Schlegel. We will focus on very close readings of selected portions of texts from each of these writers. The final portion of the course will focus on the reception and new impulses given to these questions by recent French philosophical and literary critical works. Here deconstructive readings will be of central concern. Lacoue-Labarthe, Nancy, and Derrida will be read as readers of Kant and his successors.

 

CMLIT 597B -COMPARATIVE MODERNISMS: A TREBLE SYLLABARY

Dr. Djelal Kadir (kadir@psu.edu) / Mondays, 2:30-5:30 Schedule #204700

Modernism has been the most persistent and internationally the most ubiquitous cultural movement since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Despite its appropriative impetus, it has also been among the least monolithic cultural movements when viewed comparatively in a global, international context and across inter-artistic and transdisciplinary lines. This seminar aims to explore and reassess, comparatively, the
ironies, conundrums, aporias, paradoxes, and the self-defying and self-engendering strategies of Modernism’s relentless activity. This reassessment is pursued through a series of theoretical texts and literary works, principally poetry, across cultural contexts, international traditions, and linguistic frontiers. It examines the Modernist impulses that would cast world history and all cultural movements as prolepses, or as typological fulfillments and sidereal orbits of Modernism’s own problematic centrality, thus giving us Pre-modernism, Early Modernism, High Modernism, Post-modernism, and Pre-posterous Modernity.

 

Spring 2008

CMLIT 501 PROSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

Instructor: Caroline Eckhardt .For further information, contact Dr. Eckhardt (e82@psu.edu). M 12:20 – 1:20 p.m. & W 2:30 – 4:25 p.m., Schedule # 807349, 306 Burrowes Building

What is the current shape of the discipline of Comparative Literature? This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques; and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) read the discipline, looking at Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study: (2) consider a sampling of theoretical and critical approaches to the study of literature as transnational cultural production; (3) become acquainted with some of the tools and expectations of comparative scholarship; and (4) practice research design and several forms of professional writing. Guest faculty will describe a range of research projects currently under way. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in this field.

 

CMLIT 502 Concurrent with PHIL 597A - THE HISTORY OF CRITICISM I

Instructor: Dennis J. Schmidt. For further information, contact Dr. Schmidt (djs61@psu.edu). T 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., Schedule # 807352, 306 Burrowes Building

The purpose of this course is threefold: to look at the origins of literary and aesthetic criticism both as a practice and as theory; to trace the history of the development of this idea up to the Enlightenment; to examine some of the key concepts framing the project of criticism. A number of questions will inaugurate this course: How does a text come into being? What transformations does writing introduce into poetic practices and into the problem of understanding such texts? What is the meaning and role of reading for the text? How does the problem of interpretation emerge? The problem of the relation of texts and interpretations will guide our readings throughout the semester. While we focus on literary texts, we cannot ignore the importance of juridical and religious texts in the development of the notions of interpretation and criticism. Most of the semester will be devoted to tracing the development of these questions in the Western literary critical tradition; however, about one-third of the semester will take up these themes in other traditions. Readings include works by Homer, Aristophaness, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Longinus, Horace, Augustine, Wang Bi, Confucius, Maimondides, and Boccaccio.

 

CMLIT 503– COMPARATIVE CRITICISM II: THE THEORY CANON

This course studies the history of criticism and theory from the 18th to the 21st century.  Readings and class discussions will focus on the major conceptual problems tackled by the foundational intellectuals who have come to form the body of thought we now know as “theory.”  In addition to studying key concepts in critical thought (aesthetics, ideology, materialism, dialectic, hegemony, deconstruction, power, etc), this course will examine how these concepts shape the work of literary, cultural, and aesthetic criticism.

This course studies the history of criticism and theory from the 18th to the 21st century.  Readings and class discussions will focus on the major conceptual problems tackled by the foundational intellectuals who have come to form the body of thought we now know as “theory.”  In addition to studying key concepts in critical thought (aesthetics, ideology, materialism, dialectic, hegemony, deconstruction, power, etc), this course will examine how these concepts shape the work of literary, cultural, and aesthetic criticism.

Why are certain theorists more significant than others?  To what extent does the work of theorists—whether philosophers like Hegel and Derrida; psychoanalysts like Freud, Lacan, Fanon, and Kristeva; literary scholars like Barthes, Cixous, and Butler; or political thinkers like Marx and Gramsci— determine the possibilities for the study of literature and culture?  These theorists form a canon, to the extent that the terms and concepts they use form part of the lingua franca of literary and cultural studies.  Yet whereas the issue of canonicity has often been discussed in the field of literature during the past 30 years, it is rarely discussed in the field of literary criticism and critical theory.

This course aims to open up new avenues in contemporary thought by studying the canonicity of “theorists” and their ideas.  To this end, this course will ask how issues of aesthetics in the works of these thinkers relate to their ideas about morality, history, politics, and epistemology. What other genealogies become possible?  How do we articulate the conceptual stakes of our own work as scholars and intellectuals?   

Readings may include texts by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Saussure, Freud, Benjamin, Beauvoir, Lacan, Fanon, Foucault, Kristeva, Gramsci, Derrida, Barthes, Irigaray, Cixous, Butler, Spivak, and Deleuze.

 

CMLIT 506 /Concurrent with English 541 RHETORIC, PERFORMANCE, DESIRE: MEDIEVAL INVENTIONS OF SUBJECTIVITY

Instructor: Robert Edwards. For further information, contact Dr. Edwards (rre1@psu.edu). T 9:05 a.m. – 12:05 p.m., Schedule #947674 , 059 Burrowes Building

This seminar will explore the ways in which medieval writers represent erotic attachment, moral and social agency, and the project of writing. Our aim is to understand critically and historically a wide range of mimetic, persuasive, and performative strategies and techniques. These features permit medieval texts to describe, constitute and frequently interrogate the private and public spheres and to negotiate the roles of authors and readers within them. We will look at literary texts and other documents as well as influential modern scholarship on invention, description, adornment, language, gender theory, love, and desire. Our primary texts cover a range of discursive forms (epistolary, didactic, allegorical, prosimetrum, pastoral, and visionary). We will read the correspondence of Peter Abelard and Heloise, the _De amore_ of Andreas Capellanus, the _Romance of the Rose_ (arguably the most important poem of the Middle Ages), Dante's _Vita Nuova_, Boccaccio's "Questioni d'amore," and Chaucer's Prologue to the _Legend of Good Women_. Depending on their preferences and background, students will read the texts in the originals or in English translation. The seminar will require several class presentations, an abstract with annotated bibliography, a conference-length paper (10-pages), and a final article-length version of the paper (15-20 pages).

CMLIT 580 CONTEMPORARY LITERARY THEORY PERFORMATIVITY

Instructor: Charlotte Eubanks .For further information, contact Dr. Eubanks (cde13@psu.edu). R 3:30 – 6:30 p.m., Schedule # 807358, 306 Burrowes Building

From the development of performative linguistics in the early decades of the 1900s, to the fusion of theatre and anthropology in the 1970s, to the more recent establishment of formal academic departments of Performance Studies, notions of “performance,” “the performative,” and “performativity” have comprised one of the most rapidly growing fields of literary inquiry over the past century. Scholars, authors, performers and activists have sought to apply new theories of performativity to issues as varied as hate speech, oral literature, medieval spirituality, reader response, gender and race identity, writing aesthetics, textual studies and indeed drama. This seminar will explore the three major origins of performance studies: theatre, linguistics, and anthropology—though not necessarily in that order. One recurrent topic of conversation will be the nature of performance studies: Is it a methodology? A hermeneutic? A theme or mode of inquiry? A theory (or set of theories)? Simply a cluster of related questions? Though our focus will be on ‘straight theory,’ we will also be considering various non-Western concepts.

Fall 2007

CMLIT 505-PARALLEL CONSTRUCTIONS, MULTIPLE ORIGINS: AMERICAN SELF-DEFINITIONS, NORTH AND SOUTH

This course will offer a transhistorical and transnational exploration, from the Colonial period to the present, of claims of American distinction--exception and particularity--in both the U.S. and Latin America.  Sometimes the claims are made vis-à-vis Europe, sometimes in a providential and religious context, sometimes in a nationalistic vein. We will concentrate on four threads: (1) picaresque and empire, with examples from the late Colonial and early Republic periods (writers such as Concolorcorvo, Brackenridge, Lizardi, Twain) as well as the 20th century “Road” genre; (2) discourses of 17th century aesthetics and the 20th century “neobaroque” (such as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Lezama Lima, Sarduy); (3) anarchy and the “negative sublime” in modernity (such as Nathanael West, Roberto Arlt); (4) the erotics of the New World (such as Nabokov, Neruda).  Students without Spanish are welcome:  class discussion will be in English, and all readings will be available in translation.

 

CMLIT 543 -AFTER BORGES: THE INTERNATIONAL LEGACY OF JORGE LUIS BORGES

Instructor: Djelal Kadir. For further information, contact Dr. Kadir (kadir@psu.edu). M 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., Schedule # 896728, 306 Burrowes Building

A reading and research seminar that takes Jorge Luis Borges as pivotal figure of literary and meta-literary discourses in the global context of modern literature and its international practitioners. The seminar will explore such issues as language and narrative modes, philosophy and trans-discursive paradigms, influence and literary traditions, genre and subterfuge, modernity and post-modernism, systematicity and the counter-intuitive, violence and humor, necessity and randomness, gender and geometry, writing and reading, coitus and cognition, production and reproduction, ephimerae and immortality. Readings will range from Borges's precursors such as E.A.Poe, Franz Kafka, Macedonio Fernández, and successors such as the Italian Italo Calvino, the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, the Chinese writer Yu Hua, the German Gerhard Kopf, the Chilean Luis Sepúlveda, the U.S. writer Oliver Sacks, the Israeli writer Dan Tsalka , the Serbian Danilo Kis, Moroccon writer Tahar ben Jellun, French writer Michel Rio, among other authors that the participants in the seminar may wish to explore in conjunction with the Borges corpus.

 

CMLIT 580- CONTEMPORARY LITERARY THEORY PERFORMATIVITY

From the development of performative linguistics in the early decades of the 1900s, to the fusion of theatre and anthropology in the 1970s, to the more recent establishment of formal academic departments of Performance Studies, notions of “performance,” “the performative,” and “performativity” have comprised one of the most rapidly growing fields of literary inquiry over the past century.  Scholars, authors, performers and activists have sought to apply new theories of performativity to issues as varied as hate speech, oral literature, medieval spirituality, reader response, gender and race identity, writing aesthetics, textual studies and indeed drama.  This seminar will explore the three major origins of performance studies: theatre, linguistics, and anthropology—though not necessarily in that order.  One recurrent topic of conversation will be the nature of performance studies: Is it a methodology?  A hermeneutic?  A theme or mode of inquiry?  A theory (or set of theories)?  Simply a cluster of related questions?  Though our focus will be on ‘straight theory,’ we will also be considering various non-Western concepts.

Spring 2007

CMLIT 505– THEORY, PHILOSOPHY, AND SHAKESPEARE STUDIES

For many reasons, Shakespearean texts have been used as test cases in continuing philosophical and theoretical debates over the nature of the humanistic enterprise. New Historicism is only one of the most notable examples. This graduate seminar examines the dynamics of literary criticism, concentrating on important philosophical developments.

The seminar focuses on major philosophers' engagement with literary works, including Hegel, Karl Marx, and Derrida. In addition to theoretical texts, we will work with a group of core primary texts.

A second focus is the relationship between philosophy and theory. We will trace the tensions between literary criticism and cultural criticism, and between Shakespeare studies and "Shakespeare" studies, following the development of authorship theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, feminism, Cultural Materialism, Postcolonial Studies, New Historicism, Presentism, as well as the bourgeoning field of critical race studies propelled by a renewed awareness of the importance of religion and travel in the period and in our post-9/11 world.

There will be ample opportunity to relate the course to any of your prior or developing interests. Seminar members are encouraged to contribute to the reading list. Most of the readings will be available online in English and the original languages.

CMLIT 521: FOUNDING NARRATIVES OF THE AMERICAS

This graduate research seminar will examine a number of seminal narratives that define America as textual, contextual, national, transnational, and continental phenomenon.
Our purpose is to trace and seek a fuller understanding of the genesis of American narratives by re-evaluating the processes of "worlding" the New World and the modes that narrate cultural forms and textual significance said to be distinctly peculiar to the Americas. We shall scrutinize, comparatively and contrapuntally those distinctions and claims of particularity.
 For the most part, we shall be reading narrations that emanate from axiomatic paradigms that inevitably founder on historical contingencies. The seminar will focus on the dialectical histories and narratives that issue from processes of cultural formations and national self-fashioning in the contexts of the Americas.
 
Requirements and Procedures
1. Preparation of weekly assigned readings on the syllabus. Each student is expected to prepare readings from more than one language area from among the weekly assignments. Preparation should entail the reading and writing of a precis (minimum of half page, typed) of each chosen item. Also, at least one item from "Secondary readings" should be read for each week. The reading preparation should serve as basis for each student's contribution to the discussion during the seminar sessions. This preparations, as well as regular attendance, are expected of all seminarians.

2. A mid-term oral presentation and a final oral presentation (15 minutes each) are required of all seminarians. Those regularly registered will use these presentations in developing their mid-term and final papers. The mid-term paper should be between 10 and 15 pages and the final paper between 20 and 25 pages, prepared in typescript form for publication (MLA Handbook Style). Auditors, while expected to

read some of the materials assigned for each seminar session, are not required to submit finished papers, though papers submitted by any auditor will be duly read and critiqued.
 
3. The seminar will be conducted in English, though the official languages of the seminar are English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French and written work may be submitted in any of these languages. Oral presentations should be in English, since this is the language all the seminarians have in common.
 
4. For those enrolled for a grade, the final grade will be based on weekly preparation and contribution to the seminar (20%), mid-term and end-term oral presentations (30%), mid-term paper (20%), final term paper (30%).

5. A master copy of the materials will be placed on reserve (complete volumes), and/or available outside N436 Burrowes copy for your own files (excerpted materials).


CMLIT 589- TECHNOLOGY IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION

This graduate level survey course explores the theoretical and pedagogical implications of Internet-based communication and multimedia in a wide array of language education contexts. Course activities include experimentation with established and emerging Internet communication and composition tools (e.g., wikis, blogs, podcasting, and chat) and readings of relevant research drawing from second language acquisition, communication theory, descriptive linguistics, cultural studies, poststructuralism, and educational theories of development (the latter primarily in the form of sociocultural and activity theoretical research). Participants will be expected to exit this course with a broad knowledge of educational uses of technology and will have the opportunity, through a variety of course activities, to focus on specific empirical, theoretical, and/or pedagogical contexts that relate to their academic and professional specializations.

CMLIT 597A  BLACK PARIS

This interdisciplinary graduate seminar focuses on the history of African, Caribbean, and African-American people in Paris.  It includes both the role of
the city within the writing, art, and thought of the African Diaspora as well as the impact of Paris’s black population on French cultural and political life
from the 18th century to the present.  The seminar is open to graduate students from any field as well as to undergraduate students in the Schreyer Honors College.  The only pre-requisite is a reading Knowledge of French.
 
Co-taught by professors of French and Francophone Studies, Comparative Literature, and History, and drawing on the expertise of visiting scholars
from France and this country, the seminar will introduce students to major issues in transnational writing, art, music, and thought; colonial and post-
colonial history and theory; integration, citizenship, and identity; histories of slavery, abolitionism, and revolution; theories of race and colonialism;
cosmopolitanism, pan-Africanism, Negritude, and créolité; migration during World War I and World War II, and developments in jazz and modernist
literature.
  
The Black Paris Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar is sponsored by the Department of French and Francophone Studies, the Department of
Comparative Literature, the Department of History, the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, and the Cultural Service of the French Embassy. 

Fall 2006

CMLIT 501 PROSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

What is the current shape of the discipline of Comparative Literature? This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques; and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) read the discipline, looking at Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study: (2) consider a sampling of theoretical and critical approaches to the study of literature as international cultural production; (3) become acquainted with some of the tools, conventions, and expectations of comparative scholarship; and theorists; and (4) practice research design and several forms of professional writing. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in Comparative Literature or seeking a graduate-level introduction to the field.

CMLIT 502 COMPARATIVE CRITICISM I

This seminar welcomes students from all disciplines who are interested in the foundations and applications (or “mis-applications”) of literary and aesthetic theory. This course fulfills a requirement for doctoral students in Comparative Literature, and also counts towards the Doctoral Minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics. The seminar compares “classical” theoretical and critical approaches to literary and aesthetic concepts such as inspiration, mimesis, rhetoric, semiotics, allegoresis, the sublime, decorum, and taste. In the West, the period of “classical” theory and criticism extends from the Greeks through Immanuel Kant. However, we will also consider writings outside this period and outside the western tradition which have a bearing on the topics enumerated above. We will stress these critical approaches from a primarily practical and comparative standpoint, although historical context will be considered. Critics and theorists to be considered include Aristotle, Augustine, Corneille, Ibn Rushd, Lu Ki, Plato, Pisan, Soyinka, and Zeami, among others. The seminar will also allow students to consider these critical approaches as tools for discussing “post-classical” or modern texts and artworks. In addition to theory, students will read and discuss short literary works as an exercise in determining the value, if any, of theory in the reader’s approach to a text. In an individualized context, students will discuss and investigate applications of theory to their own areas of interest and expertise.

CMLIT 504 /ENGLISH 515 ESSAYISM

We'll consider the essay as form, anti-form, and nostalgia for form; as genre, anti-genre, and law of genre; as constellation, piece work, defacement, life writing, art de faire, Bruchstück, sur-vivre. The first half of each class session will meet as a seminar, working from a reader of articles and book chapters (and time permitting, a film screening); the second half will meet as a colloquium and workshop, discussing one seminar member's work in progress in any form of nonfiction prose (literary, critical, or scholarly). This course should be useful to both M.F.A. candidates working in literary forms of nonfiction prose and to M.A./Ph.D candidates in literature with interests in genre studies, rhetoric, poetics, literary and critical theory, or philosophy and literature. Requirements: One presentation on course readings; one presentation of work in progress, for your colloquium/workshop session; final project (a piece of literary or critical nonfiction written for submission to a journal, or a researched scholarly article on a topic related to the course theme and readings; in either case, of publishable length and quality); a short talk based on the final project, for presentation during the final class session. Students who have the relevant language skills should read certain works in French or German as appropriate. Readings may include Adorno, "The Essay as Form," Derrida, "The Law of Genre," Fish, "Georgics of the Mind," Guillory, "The Memo and Modernity," Lukacs, "On the Nature and Form of the Essay," Lyotard, "The Postmodern Explained," and chapters or extracts from Agamben, The Idea of Prose, Atkins, Estranging the Familiar, Barthes, Roland Barthes by RolandBarthes, Benjamin, One-Way Street, BensmaÔa, The Barthes Effect, Blanchot, The Writing of theDisaster, Burgard, Idioms of Uncertainty, de Obaldia, The Essayistic Spirit, Fredman, Poets' Prose, Harrison, Essayism, Heilker, The Essay: Theory and Pedagogy for an Active Form, McCarthy, Crossing Boundaries, McFarland, Romantic Cruxes, Musil, The Man withoutQualities, Poovey, History of the Modern Fact, Smith, Contingencies of Value, Snyder, Prospectsof Power, Wells, Sweet Reason, Ziarek, The Rhetoric of Failure.

CMLIT 580/ ENGL 582 THEORY AGAINST THEORY

A rash of recent scholarship and journalism presents the death of theory as both an allegory and a symptom of a frightening set of historical conditions: fiscal and ideological crises in the academic humanities, as well as the more general demise of liberalism in the contemporary global environment. Yet are current intellectual and political conditions so dire as to disrupt the very possibility for thought altogether? This course proposes instead that the forms of intellectual inquiry we know as “Theory” have always faced conditions of crisis. In fact, rather than thinking of crisis as the occasion for theory's death, its decay, or its dissolution, we will explore the extent to which theory's crises have provided its generative force. That is, we will study how theory's uneasy synthesis of unorthodox political philosophy, revisionist psychoanalysis, and avant- garde writing derives historically from moments of debate—about the epistemological and ethical stakes of intellectual discourse; about the boundaries between the humanistic and scientific disciplines; and about the relationships between the individual subject, the work of art, and the political world. This class will historicize some of the major questions in literary and cultural theory by studying some key debates between theorists. These debates may include: Marx and Proudhon, Engels and Duhring; Washington and Du Bois; Pound, Riding, Leavis; surrealists and existentialists on the question of political writing; Althusser and E.P. Thompson; Césaire, Depestre, Senghor; French and American feminism (Cixous, Irigaray, Beauvoir; MacKinnon, Friedan, Dworkin); Barthes and Picard; Lyotard and Habermas; the new pragmatists "Against Theory”; and the Sokal affair. Students are encouraged to suggest readings and discussion topics that draw upon their own historical periods and geographical regions of interest.

CMLIT 597A GLOBAL COUNTER-CINEMA

Beginning with the work of Luis Bunuel, Sergei Eisenstein, and the Italian Neo-Realists, and moving on to counter-cinema from the United States, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, this course considers the various ways that filmmakers have used cinema as a form of political and artistic engagement. The term "counter-cinema" typically refers to films that challenge the predominant influence and conventions of mainstream Hollywood cinema and instead offer contrastive ideological and aesthetic positions. This course will take an even broader view of the concept of “counter-cinema” in order to teach films and film theories from a wide comparative context and to explore the early film movements that influenced the later development of “Third Cinema” and global counter-cinema. The course examines the social, historical, ideological, and aesthetic aspects of these films and will provide students with an introduction to the core concepts of film theory and film analysis. It will cultivate a comparative appreciation of local frameworks of knowledge and also of theoretical developments in film and media studies, such as those associated with Third Cinema, modernism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, revolutionary cinema, feminism, and globalization. The seminar will benefit from a series of guest speakers, including the Academy Award winning documentary director, Barbara Trent.

Fall 2005

CMLIT 501 PROSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

What is the current shape of the discipline of Comparative Literature? This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques; and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) “read” the discipline, looking at Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study: (2) consider a sampling of theorists and the place of theory with in comparative literature; and (3) read a sampling of journal-articles and book-chapters dealing with concepts in comparative study; and (4) practice several forms of professional writing. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in Comparative Literature or seeking a graduate-level introduction to the field.

CMLIT 504 THEORIES AND POLITICS OF ADAPTATION FROM SHAKESPEARE TO BRECHT

This graduate seminar examines the phenomenon of adaptation across the Anglo-European, African and Asian traditions, beginning with an overview of adaptation as a historical and colonial practice and concluding with contemporary case studies. While an emphasis is placed on the global and historical perspective on Shakespearean adaptations and the history of performances of Shakespeare's plays, seminar members are encouraged to contribute to the reading list. Specifically, the seminar considers both cross-cultural and cross-genre adaptations: that is, adaptations of dramas and literary texts into different artistic media such as theatre and film. We will discuss issues of authority, authenticity, (post)colonial displacement, representations of difference, adaptation as imitation or intervention, the migration of meanings associated with literary works, race and gender in translation, Orientalism and Occidentalism, as well as theatrical and cinematic re-presentations of cultural texts. A number of critical responses to adaptation are studied in class: Foucault, Derrida (The Ear of the Other), Walter Benjamin, Antonin Artaud, Edward Said, Brecht, Roland Barthes, and Alan Sinfield. Our texts include Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Brecth's The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Heiner Müller's Hamletmachine, Ong Keng Sen's pan-Asian Lear, Kurosawa's Ran, Branagh's Hamlet, and John Fletcher's The Woman's Prize. The forces of globalization, war and terrorism, as well as commodity culture place special pressures on the (re)production of literary and dramatic works. As a result, canonical texts are often repositioned. As established interpretations are being displaced, new ideologies are foregrounded. We will discuss how adaptations adapt the past and alter the present and how performances produce and manipulate ideologies and allegories. The seminar is of special interest to graduate students in Comparative Literature, English, Theatre, German, Asian Studies, Film Studies, Women’s Studies and History.

CMLIT 570 MORPHOLOGIES OF POSTMODERNISM

The seminar will trace some of the more common versions of the history of Postmodernism––its aesthetic, social, and ideological facets––and examine the phenomenon in its relationship to other "Posts-" (post-structuralism, post-colonialism, the post-human). We shall consider Postmodernism as: ••epochal term (as what might come after Modernism) ••philosophical concept (extensive of thought, interruptive of order, disruptive of reason) ••post-historical historiographic episteme (making history after the end of history) ••futurity and ideological regression (if Modernism is the avant-garde, is what comes after, Postmodernism, the rearguard?) ••discursive agency of empire and imperial repertoire ••political paradox (emancipatory and oppressive) ••cultural contradiction (popular and elitist, revitalizing and exhausting, progressive and regressive) ••post-utopian construct (heterotopic instrument of post-industrial teletechnologies in cybernetics, communications, weaponry, and prosthetics) ••vehicle for global capital and commodification of culture ••critique and instrument of globalization and neo-colonialism ••literary complex and poetic value of cultural transformation (this is where most of our illustrative prooftexts accompanying the critical readings will originate)

CMLIT 580/ ENGL 582 THEORY AGAINST THEORY

A rash of recent scholarship and journalism presents the death of theory as both an allegory and a symptom of a frightening set of historical conditions: fiscal and ideological crises in the academic humanities, as well as the more general demise of liberalism in the contemporary global environment. Yet are current intellectual and political conditions so dire as to disrupt the very possibility for thought altogether? This course proposes instead that the forms of intellectual inquiry we know as "Theory" have always faced conditions of crisis. In fact, rather than thinking of crisis as the occasion for theory's death, its decay, or its dissolution, we will explore the extent to which theory's crises have provided its generative force. That is, we will study how theory's uneasy synthesis of unorthodox political philosophy, revisionist psychoanalysis, and avant-garde writing derives historically from moments of debate - about the epistemological and ethical stakes of intellectual discourse; about the boundaries between the humanistic and scientific disciplines; and about the relationships between the individual subject, the work of art, and the political world. This class will historicize some of the major questions in literary and cultural theory by studying some key debates between theorists. These debates may include: Marx and Proudhon, Engels and Duhring; Washington and Du Bois; Pound, Riding, Leavis; surrealists and existentialists on the question of political writing; Althusser and E. P. Thompson; Césaire, Depestre, Senghor; French and American feminism (Cixous, Irigaray, Beauvoir; MacKinnon, Friedan, Dworkin); Barthes and Picard; Lyotard and Habermas; the new pragmatists "Against Theory"; and the Sokal affair. Students are encouraged to suggest readings and discussion topics that draw upon their own historical periods and geographical regions of interest.

Fall 2004

CMLIT 501 PROMSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

What is the current shape of the discipline of Comparative Literature? This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques; and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) “read” the discipline, looking at Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study: (2) consider a sampling of theorists and the place of theory with in comparative literature; and (3) read a sampling of journal-articles and book-chapters dealing with concepts in comparative study; and (4) practice several forms of professional writing. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in Comparative Literature or seeking a graduate-level introduction to the field.

CMLIT 502 COMPARATIVE CRITICISM I

This seminar welcomes students from all disciplines who are interested in the foundations and applications (or “mis-applications”) of literary and aesthetic theory. This course fulfills a requirement for doctoral students in Comparative Literature, and also counts towards the Doctoral Minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics. The seminar compares “classical” theoretical and critical approaches to literary and aesthetic concepts such as inspiration, mimesis, rhetoric, semiotics, allegoresis, the sublime, decorum, and taste. “Classical” in this context means that literature is not yet considered autonomous in relation to other social sub-systems. In the West, the period of “classical” theory and criticism extends from the Greeks through Immanuel Kant. However, we will also consider writings outside this period which have a bearing on the topics enumerated above. We will stress these critical approaches from a primarily practical and comparative standpoint, although historical context will be considered. Critics and theorists to be considered include Aristotle, Augustine, Boileau, Ibn Rushd, Lu Ki, Plato, Pisan, Soyinka, and Zeami, among others. The seminar will also allow students to consider these critical approaches as tools for discussing “post-classical” or modern texts and artworks. In addition to theory, students will read and discuss short literary works as an exercise in determining the value, if any, of theory in the reader’s approach to a text. In an individualized context, students will discuss and investigate applications of theory to their own areas of interest and expertise.

CMLIT 505 MEDIEVAL STUDIES: THE EARLY BOOK IN ENGLAND

This course will address book production in medieval England, with some ventures into the beginning of the early modern period. Part seminar, part workshop, the course will consider ways in which book production intersects with broader social issues of literacy and readership, the circulation of ideas, and the preservation and transmission of the past. Insofar as the acts of writing and reading represented specialized crafts, who had access to these powerful abilities? We will combine hands-on how-to practice in paleography (the reading of medieval manuscripts) with a broader consideration of issues such as literacy, the act of reading, book production and consumption, etc. We will concentrate on manuscripts, but some of the issues cross the border into the world of print. In medieval England, books were written (and read) in several languages, and in multiple formats. For example, to expand or question the definition of "a book" we will glance at the Bayeux Tapestry, now available in a splendid CD-ROM version. This cultural document combines text, visual images, and a display function in a way not usually characteristic of books, but it is nevertheless a text-bearing material object that records and interprets a narrative event important to both British and continental cultural history. Rather than undertaking a detailed survey of the development of ancient and medieval handwriting and book production, we'll begin near the end of the period of manuscript culture, with relatively accessible late-medieval texts. We’ll read selections from chronicles , romances (including Arthurian texts), a few lyrics, and two or three medieval plays. We'll consider topics such as whether women served as scribes, when the practice of reading silently (rather than aloud) was developed, how the London book trade operated, who owned books, and, to borrow a phrase from the title of a recent book, "the ethics of reading in a manuscript culture." Course expectations include several brief exercises, such as using traditional and electronic resources to find information about manuscripts, and a longer project to be presented orally and then written up in the format of a journal article. Text: Henri-Jean Martin, The History and Power of Writing, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994). Other items are in the Library on Reserve (R), in the non-circulating area of the Arts and Humanities Library (A&H), or in Rare Books and Special Collections.

CMLIT 522 COMPARATIVE SEMINAR IN CRITICAL THEORY “ORIENTALISM AND VISUAL CULTURE: HISTORY, THEORY, PROSPECTS”

This seminar will investigate the discourse of Orientalism, the post-colonial critique of Orientalism as "white mythology," and the implications of both for the discipline of art history. Because Orientalism(s) have historically involved the production of particular theories, images, and forms of understanding that vary according to time, place, and gender, we will consider diverse expressions of Orientalism (in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the United States) as articulated by both men and women through painting, architecture, sculpture, film, art collecting/display, and scholarship. The heart of the course will be an examination of the historical vicissitudes of Orientalism and their relationship to an ever-shifting and expanding Orient; the critique of Orientalism by Edward Said and others; and the varied responses to this critique. While instances of Arabism and Islamophobia will be addressed, we will track changing conceptions of the Orient as applied not only to West Asia and North Africa, but also India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Asian-Americans, the "Oriental Woman," and the notion of "Yellow Peril." In querying Orientalism's reliance on ontological and epistemological distinctions between categories of "Orient" and "Occident," we will need to develop a sensitivity to Occidentalism, as well as Orientalism, and the complexities that arise with the appropriation and deployment of Orientalism by- and in- the so-called Orient itself. Ultimately we must ask what becomes of these categories in an era characterized by both globalization and a potential "Clash of Civilizations." To what extent is our knowledge of what has been called the "Orient" embedded in a hegemonic discourse, and what are our alternatives?

CMLIT 570 REHEARSALS OF MODERNISM

Modernism has been the most persistent and internationally the most ubiquitous cultural movement since the latter part of the nineteenth century. It has also been the least monolithic cultural movement, in spite of its hegemonic impetus, when viewed comparatively in a global, international context and across inter-artistic and transdisciplinary lines. Despite its persistence, its programmatic agendas, its virulent manifestos, its apocalyptic zeal, and modernity's vocation for mastery, Modernism as aesthetic and cultural movement has remained an open, process oriented, self-transgressive, and self-succeeding performative rehearsal. This seminar will explore and reassess the ironies, conundrums, aporias, paradoxes, and the self-defying and self-engendering strategies of Modernism's relentless movement and self-justification. We shall pursue this re-assessment through a series of theoretical texts and literary works--in prose, but principally poetry--, across cultural contexts, international traditions, and linguistic frontiers. The seminar will interrogate Modernism's self-serving impulses that would cast world history and all cultural movements as prolepses, or as typological fulfillments and sidereal orbits, of its own problematic centrality, thus giving us Pre-modernism, Early Modernism, High Modernism, Post-modernism, and Preposterous Modernity.

Spring 2004

CMLIT 503 Comparative Criticism II: The literatures of theory

The focus of this seminar is on the relationship of criticism to theory and their connection to literature. The work of the seminar consists in tracing the genesis of key critical formations and theoretical discourses with exemplary works of literature that illustrate, underwrite, or contest the theoretical forms that would be imputed, applied, or affiliated to them. Theories, therefore, will be read in concert and/or in counterpoint to the literary texts in which those theoretical constructs purportedly have their genesis, sanction, or instantiation. The chronological scope of the seminar is mandated by departmental curricular design to extend from 1800 forward. The seminar will touch on the most significant theoretical paradigms of this period, aiming, for the most part, to examine texts that theorize and interrogate the very notion of theory and critical formations. While the seminar readings are designed to cover the formative, and now canonical, texts of the theoretical enterprise, this constellation of texts is aimed at examining the theoretical enterprise itself through an evolving critique of theorization and formative canonicity, thereby constantly probing the line between critique and criticism. SEMINAR GOALS 1. Familiarize seminar participants with a number of seminal texts of theoretical discourse and academic scholarship since 1800. 2. Hone the critical and theoretical skills of the seminar participants so that they may become conversant with the scholarly and pedagogical practices of literary study and enabled to negotiate the field of comparative discourses critically and productively. 3. Offer a practicum in the critique of theoretical formations and for the deployment of theory for the reading of literary texts.

CMLIT 522 Comparative Seminar in Asian Literatures

This course concentrates on the diverse literatures of Asia in comparative perspective. Topics may include the origins of Asian literatures, literature from oral sources, literary periods and genres, ethnicity and identity, the writer and society, the emergence of women writers, relations with European literatures, and the evolution of theories of literary criticism in and about Asia. The Spring 2004 offering is entitled “Transnational Literatures of the Asian Diaspora.” This seminar will comparatively investigate the cultural situations (e.g. marginality, postcolonialism, and nomadic subjectivity) and writings of transnational authors who represent various aspects of the Asian diaspora. These authors are of Asian descent but live and write in countries or cultures other than that of their origin or heritage. Further, we will analyze the desire for return, as some diasporic writers have attempted to live in, or return to, their culture of heritage. Material in the course will include novels by writers of Japanese descent, such as the Japanese-Americans (nikkeijin) Ruth Ozeki and Lois Ann Yamashita; Minako Oba, who lived for many years in Alaska; Norma Field, who came to the U.S. in her late teens; Yoko Tawada, who has been living in Germany for more than two decades; and Kazuo Ishiguero who went to England at the age five; also, writers of Korean descent, such as the Japanese-Koreans Yi Yan Ji and Miri Yu; the Chinese-Americans Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston. We will add other readings as suggested by the members of the seminar. Although the writers mentioned above are recent, we can also include earlier material, such as the body of work called “Angel Island Poetry” (poems written on the walls of their California detention cells by people arriving from China). Students interested in the novel as a genre, ethnicity, and cultural identities, as well as students focusing on Asia and the Asian diaspora, may benefit from this course. Grades will be based on participation, oral presentations, and a term paper in journal-article format. Some of our readings were originally written in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or other languages, and those who can read the works in the original are urged to do so, but students who have no training in languages other than English may read the works in translation. The course will be conducted in English.

CMLIT 523 Comparative Seminar in African Literatures

The offering focuses on women writers. We will seek answers to a variety of questions. What are African women writers saying in their novels? How is their writing distinctive from that of their male counterparts? What is the significance of place of expression for these writers? What is the relationship between the oral tradition and contemporary novels by women? What is the future for these writers, both in Africa and outside the continent? In addition to novels by Ama Ata Aidoo (Changes), Lauretta Ngcobo (And They Didn’t Die), Tsitsi Dangarembga (Nervous Conditions), Calixthe Beyala (Your Name Shall Be Tanga), Assia Djebar (Fantasia), and Fatima Mernissi (Dreams of Trespass), we will contextualize our analyses with written and oral texts composed or narrarated originally in African languages during the 19th and 20th centuries.

CMLIT 521 Queering the Americas

This seminar investigates the production, representation, and consumption of homosexuality in the Americas from roughly 1960 to the present. We will think about, historicize, and analyze, that is, how homosexuality is produced, lived, and represented in diverse geographical, political, and social milieus. We will look for similarities as well as differences in these productions to better understand the relationships among sexual, political, national, transnational, and cultural communities. All of these matters will, of course, be connected to how subjects construct identities, the effects and effectivtiy of these identities, and the discourses through which they are shaped. In addition, to the required texts, I will make secondary materials available through regular and electronic reserves.

Fall 2003

CMLIT 501 PROMSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

What is the current shape of the discipline of Comparative Literature? This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques; and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) “read” the discipline, looking at Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study: (2) consider a sampling of theorists and the place of theory within comparative literature; and (3) read a sampling of journal-articles and book-chapters dealing with concepts in comparative study; and (4) practice several forms of professional writing. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in Comparative Literature or seeking a graduate-level introduction to the field.

CMLIT 502 COMPARATIVE CRITICISM I

This seminar welcomes students from all disciplines who are interested in the foundations and applications (or “mis-applications”) of literary and aesthetic theory. This course fulfills a requirement for doctoral students in Comparative Literature, and also counts towards the Doctoral Minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics. The seminar compares “classical” theoretical and critical approaches to literary and aesthetic concepts such as inspiration, mimesis, rhetoric, semiotics, allegoresis, the sublime, decorum, and taste. “Classical” in this context means that literature is not yet considered autonomous in relation to other social sub-systems. In the West, the period of “classical” theory and criticism extends from the Greeks through Immanuel Kant. However, we will also consider writings outside this period which have a bearing on the topics enumerated above. We will stress these critical approaches from a primarily practical and comparative standpoint, although historical context will be considered. Critics and theorists to be considered include Aristotle, Augustine, Boileau, Ibn Rushd, Lu Ki, Plato, Pisan, Soyinka, and Zeami, among others. The seminar will also allow students to consider these critical approaches as tools for discussing “post-classical” or modern texts and artworks. In addition to theory, students will read and discuss short literary works as an exercise in determining the value, if any, of theory in the reader’s approach to a text. In an individualized context, students will discuss and investigate applications of theory to their own areas of interest and expertise.

CMLIT 570 CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE: ABSOLUTE AMERICA

This seminar will trace the formation of American public discourse to its textual/literary foundations. From its originary Ishmaelite fate (the ostracism to the ends of the earth for murder at the heart of the Vineland Sagas, Columbus's jail-bird crew, the Puritan divines as outcasts from an irredeemable world) to its current crusader/jihadic obsession, America defines itself through emphatic disambiguations of history, language, and geography. Ahab-like, it pursues formative parameters that de-define complexity through reductively pragmatic expediencies (as with Columbus's obsessive, post-apocalyptic New World and New Earth, as with New England's foundational Zionism in a New Canaan, its avatars instituted as official government policy and imperial imaginary, now more resonant than ever at the heart of fundamentalist Neo-conservatism in a New World Order). We shall examine whether this fundamentalist anxiety might be a compensatory gesture for the originary Ishmaelite fate of castoffs perennially clamoring for re-integration into the mainline genealogical history as the chosen people. In their insistent regularity, those serviceable simplicities of self-identity reify, essentialize, and globalize cultural pluralities into manageable objects of appropriation, capital, and hegemony. Might the current discursive/ideological New World Order as "One World," with a shrill univocity steeped in the absolutism of terror, be a historic correlative of this perennial monadic syndrome? Could the current terroristic summons that stridently disallows any critique, deflection, difference, deviation, or divergence from the manic chase of other, equally aberrant jihadic monisms represent yet another episode in the anxious history of predictably recurrent exceptional events? Having imploded into the mirror reflection of its pursued object, U. S. American subject agency now lives, yet again, as collective cultural self-reduction. In doing so, might it be enacting, once more, its regular oscillation between the primal errand of its Ishmaelite (self-)ostracism from the Old World, on the one hand, and the Ahab-like obsession of a furious quest as a rage for a one-world new order, on the other? The readings and deliberations of this seminar will deal with the textual genesis, cultural contradictions, and discursive morphology of America's anxious absolutism in literary, historiographic, and ideological constructs as literature and as public discourse. Readings in English, Spanish, and Portuguese will be included, with the Spanish and Portuguese items available in translation.

CMLIT 589 Technology in Foreign Language Education: an overview

This course explores the uses of Internet information and communication tools (ICTs) in the arena of language education. We will focus on technologies used in language education from a variety of theoretical perspectives, including, but not limited to, second language acquisition, communication theory, linguistics, cultural studies, post structuralism, and educational theories of development (the latter primarily in the form of sociocultural and activity theoretical research). Graduate students interested in carrying out independent research projects based on their area of specialization are specifically encouraged to participate.

CMLIT 597a narratives of the hebrew bible: LITERATURE, HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY, TRANSLATION

This seminar is broadly interdisciplinary, in the spirit of Penn State’s Sawyer Seminar Project (funded by the Mellon Foundation) on cultural interchange in the Mediterranean world. Using the Hebrew Bible as our main text, the course will include readings on topics such as the intersections between Biblical narrative and archaeology, Biblical Hebrew as an ancient Mediterranean language, the textual development and cultural transmission of the Bible through many centuries, the relations between Biblical narrative and later literary texts in several languages, especially translations, and the capacity of language to convey multiple layers of meaning. Readings will be available in English, and there is no language prerequisite for this course. However, students with knowledge of Hebrew equivalent to 1-2 years’ college instruction may participate in a tutorial to read Biblical passages in the original. There will be supplemental meetings in the first half of the semester, fewer meetings in the second half. Student responsibilities will include two short reports (or translation exercises for those in the Hebrew tutorial) and a seminar paper on any approved topic related to Biblical narrative.

Spring 2003

CMLIT 503 -- COMPARATIVE CRITICISM II: THE LITERATURES OF THEORY

The course will provide an overview of Idealist aesthetics and its nineteenth-century critics as prelude to an examination of late twentieth-century theories of subjectivity. We will discuss how theories of art from the eighteenth century continue to inform critical debates in the present. Our discussion will move from definitions of the artwork as an autonomous entity to post-modern gender theory. To that end, we will begin with an introduction to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Aesthetic Judgement and the German Idealist tradition that surrounds Kant's definitions of the beautiful and the sublime. Selections from Hegel, Schiller, and Goethe, as well writings by Coleridge and Wordsworth, will allow us to understand broadly the Romantic work of art. Modernist critics such as Nietzsche, Baudelaire and Freud will expand the concept of subjectivity while providing us with a new vocabulary of criticism. Feminist critiques of the literary canon and its ongoing re-evaluation of psychoanalysis will allow us to formulate more precisely gendered theories of cultural production. Works by Virginia Woolf, Monique Wittig, Laura Mulvey, Luce Irigary and Judith Butler will be read in relation to post-structuralist epistemology of the artwork. We will read essays by Roland Barthes and Louis Althusser, as well as selections from Derrida (Of Grammatology, Dissemination) and Foucault (Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality). Finally, these critiques of Idealism will be read in relation to a late twentieth-century defense of Kant and Hegel, namely Theodor Adorno's essay on Beckett's Endgame. Students will be asked to write two short, eight-page papers and give one class presentation.

CMLIT 523 – POOLING MEMORIES ACROSS THE ATLANTIC : MIGRANCY, DIASPORIC IDENTITIES, AND THE AFRICAN IMAGINATION

Using a wide range of theoretical works by thinkers of/on the Global South, and creative works by African writers, this seminar will examine the various kinds of subjectivities that are produced by the experience of diaspora and migrancy. It will seek to understand how the dynamics of an increasingly inter-connected, borderless, globalized landscape have occasioned a radical remapping of concepts like home, roots, location, space and, even, culture. The seminar also examines the identity formations that emerge out of the disconnection between migrant subjects' conceptualization of the metropolitan space and the realities they confront on arrival. We will also consider the role of nostalgia and discourses of return. Theoretical Approaches: Four theoretical perspectives will form our discussions: traditional paradigms of diasporic discourse, postcolonial paradigms, representations of diasporic space in immigrant discourse, and exile. Traditional Paradigms: We shall discuss seminal essays by Brent Hayes Edwards, George Shepperson, Arlene Torres, and Norma Whitten. One class will be devoted to Paul Gilroy's The Black Atlantic and critical responses to it. Postcolonial Paradigms : Texts by Arjun Appadurai, Masao Miyoshi, Iain Chambers, and Mary Louise Pratt will inform our discussions in this rubric. Representations of Space: We will discuss chapters from Salman' Rushdie's Imaginary Homelands and Caryl Phillip's The European Tribe. Exile: We will discuss essays on literature and exile by Edward Said, Wole Soyinka, Achille Mbembe, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Migrancy and African Fiction: We will apply theoretical insights from the above array to a study of trans-national, immigrant fiction by the following African novelists: Sembene Ousmane, Armah Darko, Biyi Bandele Thomas, Alika Mokkedem, and Buchi Emecheta. Course requirements will include a review essay devoted to theoretical work on any aspect of the Black diasporic experience, an essay on the African novels above, class presentations, and a final seminar paper.

CMLIT 580 CULTURAL STUDIES AND CRITICAL THEORY

This seminar will address our emergent interdisciplinary field of inquiry, i. e. Cultural Studies, and its crucial relationship to modern intellectual traditions of critical theory in philosophy, aesthetics, and literary criticism. The topics to be covered include theory and methodology; politics and ideology in cultural and aesthetic domains; modernity/alternative modernity and postmodernity; media and popular culture; class, race, gender, and ethnicity. A wide variety of contemporary theories, from postmodernism, postcolonialism, and feminism to neo- or post-marxisms, will be surveyed in the course, with a focus on the central theoretical concepts or "key words." At the beginning, a selected body of seminal theoretical works will be scrutinized, including works (excerpts and full-length) by Marx, Adorno, Benjamin, Gramsci, Mao, and Althusser, among others. Theories will then be tested, validated, or refuted by applying them to practices of contemporary life, interpreting current cultural "texts" in literature, the arts, and media across linguistic and geopolitical boundaries. Assignments include one presentation (15-20 minutes), two short book reports (3-5 pages each), and a final paper, which either analyzes multi-media texts (either verbal or audio-visual), or makes a critique of certain theoretical issues. The presentation may start in the beginning weeks, and can be related to the final paper.

Fall 2002

CMLIT 501 PROSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

What's the current shape of the discipline of Comparative Literature? This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques; and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) "read" the discipline, looking at the traditions of Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study, and at what's happening in Comparative Literature now; (2) consider a sampling of theorists and the place of theory within comparative literature; and (3) read a sampling of journal-articles and book-chapters dealing with issues in comparative study, such as canon formation, the nature of genre, the importance of translation, the validity of conventional periodizations of literature, questions that arise when literature is compared to other forms such as film or the visual arts, and challenges encountered in juxtaposing familiar with less familiar literatures. The course will acquaint students with research tools ranging from traditional library collections to databases and other electronic resources, provide practice in several forms of professional writing, and involve students in the overall process of professionalization in this discipline. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in Comparative Literature or seeking a graduate-level introduction to the field.

CMLIT 506 CULTURAL REPRESENTATIONS OF ASIA: IMAGES OF WOMEN, FEMINIZING IMAGES

This course will look at representations of Asia, particularly East Asia, through studies of human geography, history, media, art, film and literature, both produced in and read across East and West. With a focus on images of women and feminizing images, we will consider orientalist approaches and recent re-positionings in terms of topics as diverse as Asian women's reproductive rights in recent law-making, women film directors, media from the avant-garde to anime, and texts as diverse as NGO newsletters and performance art, as well as short stories and other literary works. The corpus of images of Asia will include those produced for and by East Asians, and will be studied in local as well as comparative and global contexts. Primary texts will include films by Zhang Yi Mou, Mizoguchi Kenji, and Mamoru Oshii, women directors such as Tanaka Kinuyo and scriptwriter Tanaka Sumie, performance art by Yoko Ono, literature by Shimada, Mizumura Minae, Ohara Mariko, Can Xue, short stories by Korean, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese writers, etc. Supplementary readings will include postcolonial studies of Chinese film by Rey Chow, Japanese film by Livia Monnet, Sandra Buckley, feminist approaches to Japanese visual culture, modernity by Lydia Liu, theoretical applications to topics of Asia and visuality by Thomas Lamarre, and Alexandra Monroe on Korean film and art, as well as feminist, visual theory, and postcolonial writings by Spivak, Pollock, Harding, Sinha, etc. This seminar is an interdisciplinary venture that will be either co-taught or/and will include several resident as well as off-campus experts for lectures and discussion.

CMLIT 510 SEMINAR IN LITERARY TRANSLATION

Is literary translation doomed to being “la Belle infidèle” – beautiful but faithless (or faithful only if ugly)? Does the translator of a poem transmit it, or create it anew? Is there any aspect of human communication that cannot be called translation? These and other unanswerable questions will preoccupy this seminar, which looks at three different ways in which translation can affect literary studies: The practical. Nearly every comparatist, and many writers and scholars who do not necessarily define themselves as comparatists, will undertake translation at some point or another: for publication as an independent text; as part of a scholarly work; or for teaching purposes. What are the problems which commonly arise in literary translation? (Continued) The theoretical. Do the problems encountered in the act of translation admit of formalization? What underlying ideas of language and communication – and literariness – are implied in (un) translatability? The critical/historical. How has translation extended or altered the cultural life of literary texts? What effects have reliance on, or rejection of, translated texts had on particular cultures? In the course of the seminar, we will study and discuss translation theorists such as Friedrich Schleiermacher, Walter Benjamin, José Ortega y Gasset, Vladimir Nabokov, George Steiner, and Jacques Derrida. Course requirements include a review essay devoted to a theoretical work on translation, a short translation of a literary text, and a seminar paper in the form of a journal article, which may be related to any of the three aspects of literary translation outlined above.

CMLIT 543 WORLDING AMERICA: GLOBAL REFLECTIONS

In collaboration with PSU Americanists (a graduate-student initiated working group) and a number of internationally recognized Americanists from the U.S. and abroad, we shall consider the textual, discursive, and institutional possibilities of "Worlding America," or reflecting upon America in a global context. The seminar readings will come principally from texts on America (hemispherically defined) written by authors from outside America. A comparative and contrastive juxtaposition of American self-imaging, and the portrayal of America by non-American authors, will also be pursued. The seminar will begin with early colonial texts and extend to current treatments of America in a post-911 global context. The main goal of the seminar is to reconsider the textual corpus that has figured and that could help us re-configure and refocus the discourse on America as a hemispheric and global phenomenon taken as object, not merely as the subject agency of globalization. We shall examine the worlding of America in counterpoint to the Americanizing of the world. We know the two processes are dialectically enmeshed, and this mutual interpellation will be the focus of our scrutiny and discussion. The work of our seminar will be featured through a panel or roundtable at the first world congress of the International American Studies Association next spring.

CMLIT 597A CHAUCER AND BOCCACCIO

This seminar, jointly taught by a Chaucerian and an Italianist, will examine the works of two major writers--Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio--who stand at a point of transition from the medieval world to modernity. At one time or another, each has been claimed as distinctly medieval or modern, though we now regard both of them as late-medieval poets who combine learned and courtly traditions with popular and mercantile contexts. Boccaccio is the literary source whom Chaucer nowhere names, but borrows from extensively to compose his major works; he is the figure Chaucer reads and rewrites in order to invent his own versions of antiquity and modernity. Our readings will focus on several pairs of texts: Boccaccio’s Teseida and Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, Boccaccio’s Filostrato and Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, the frame and novelle from the Decameron and their counterparts in the Canterbury Tales. We will even look at one case where Chaucer and Boccaccio both rewrite Boccaccio (Menedon’s story from the Filocolo as revised in Decameron X.5 and the Franklin’s Tale). In reading these texts, our interest is not confined to sources and influences. Boccaccio devises several literary programs (classical imitation, mercantile epic, encyclopedic learning) and invents a peculiar genre (the glossorial poetic self-commentary), and we will analyze his achievement in its own right. We will also examine the critical commentary that has developed around each author and analyze the ways they have been read against one another (from, say, Dryden’s appraisal of them as the writers of “Novels” to contemporary intertextual and historicist approaches). The seminar will require two short papers, a 20-minute conference presentation, and a final article-length paper (15-20 pages). English translations exist for all the texts we plan to read. Knowledge of middle English or Italian is not a prerequisite, though we will offer several sessions designed to help people work through Boccaccio’s Italian and Chaucer’s English, depending on their interests and fields.

Spring 2002

CMLIT 503 COMPARATIVE CRITICISM II: THE LITERATURES OF THEORY

This is a research and reading seminar whose focus will be on the relationship of criticism to theory and their connection to literature. The members of the seminar will trace the genesis of key critical formations and theoretical discourses in the literatures from which they emanate. Those critical and theoretical discourses will then be read in concert and/or counterpoint to the literary texts that engendered them. The work of this seminar will thus focus on the relationships between theory and literature, transdisciplinary discourses, and theoretical and critical approaches that have engendered our current discursive formations and pedagogical focii. The chronological scope of the seminar's work will span the period from 1800 to the present and will focus on the most significant paradigms in the field during this period.

CMLIT 522 TRANSNATIONAL LITERATURES OF THE ASIAN DIASPORA

This seminar will investigate the cultural situations (e.g. marginality, postcolonialism, and nomadic subjectivity) and writings of transnational authors who represent various aspects of the Asian diaspora. These writers are of Asian descent but live and write in countries or cultures other than that of their origin or heritage. Further, we will analyze the desire for return, as some diasporic writers have attempted to live in, or return to, their culture of heritage. Material in the course will include novels by writers of Japanese heritage, such as the Japanese-Americans (nikkeijin) Ruth Ozeki and Lois Ann Yamashita; Minako Oba, who lived for many years in Alaska; Norma Field, who came to the U.S. in her late teens; Yoko Tawada, who has been living in Germany for more than two decades; and Kazuo Ishiguro, who went to England at the age five; also, writers of Korean heritage, such as the Japanese-Koreans Yi Yan Ji and Miri Yu; and writers of Chinese heritage, such as the Chinese-Americans Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston. We will add other readings as suggested by the members of the seminar. Although the writers mentioned above are recent, we can also include earlier material, such as the body of work called "Angel Island Poetry" (poems written on the walls of their California detention cells by people arriving from China). Students interested in the novel as a genre, ethnicity, and cultural identities, as well as students focusing on Asia and the Asian diaspora, may benefit from this course. Grades will be based on participation, oral presentations, and a term paper in journal-article format. Some of our readings were originally written in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or other languages, and those who can read the works in the original are urged to do so, but students who have no training in languages other than English may read the works in translation. The course will be conducted in English.

CMLIT 543 SUBJECTS OF EMPIRES: THEORIES AND CONTEXTS FROM THE AMERICAS

"Subjects of Empire" theorizes imperial subjection through its expression in literary and critical texts from various locations in the Americas. Taking established theories of the subject as a point of departure, we will attempt to pull a theory of American imperial subjection from literary and critical texts. One of the goals of the seminar is for students to practice reading theory in relation to a variety of genres, including poetry, essay, autobiography, novel, and manifesto. Whereas studies of American imperialism often import theories of British and French empire, we will pursue theory from the Americas as it emerges in literary and critical works from the mid-19th century to the mid-twentieth century. As the subject of American empire defines itself through relations of difference within and without its boundaries, our readings will include representations of and responses to territorial expansion, exclusion, annexation, transplantation and enslavement, insurrection, exploitative working conditions, and assimilation. Reading knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese, French or of other languages is welcome, but not a prerequisite. Students are required to make one oral presentation and have the option of writing either short weekly position papers or one term paper. Readings may include Martin Delany, D.F. Sarmiento, José Martí, Helen Hunt Jackson, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, W.E.B. DuBois, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Oswald de Andrade, Zitkala-Sa, Sui Sin Far, Roque Dalton, C.L.R. James, Jesus Colón, José María Arguedas and Gabriela Mistral. Our theoretical readings may draw on Louis Althusser, Michael Hardt/Antonio Negri, Judith Butler, Slavoj Zizek, Antonio Cornejo Polar, Ana Lydia Vega, Edouard Glissant, Roberto Schwarz, Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said and Angel Rama.

CMLIT 570 CONTEMPORARY LIT, CYBER CULTURE(S) AND POST-HUMANISM(S)

This seminar explores the impact of cybernetics and of information technologies on literature and culture around the globe. Surfing between fiction, hypermedia, and theory, we will visit as many of the fractalized progeny of mecha and orga - cyborgs, cyberfeminists, cyberpunks, cyberqueers, and so on - as time permits. Predecessors in cybernetic fiction may include: J. L. Borges; Italo Calvino; Milorad Pavic; and William Burroughs. Scriptors of hypermedia may include: Mamoru Oshii; Michael Joyce; Talan Memmott; Stuart Moulthrop; and Oulipo. Theorists may include: Jean Baudrillard; Donna Haraway; N. Katherine Hayles; Douglas Hofstadter; Humberto Maturana; Marie-Laure Ryan; and Paul Virilio. In true seminar style, participants will bear major responsibility for investigating developments and perhaps providing texts in languages other than English, as well as for sharing their research and creative projects with the group.

CMLIT 589 TECHNOLOGY IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDUCATION

This course will acquaint graduate students with the principles and practices concerning the use of technology in foreign language education. Its main focus will be to explore the connection between Second Language Acquisition theories and the implementation of current Internet and multimedia technologies. Open to students of any specialization, this course aims to cover the essentials that language educators need. Only basic prior technical experience is required (i.e., email and World Wide Web).

Fall 2001

CMLIT 501 PROSEMINAR IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

This course considers both practical matters, such as research techniques, and theoretical concerns, such as the nature and assumptions of literary study as undertaken from a variety of comparative perspectives. Together, we will (1) "read" the discipline, looking at the traditions of Comparative Literature as a field of teaching, research, and study, and at what's happening in Comparative Literature now; (2) consider a sampling of theorists and the place of theory within comparative literature; and (3) read a sampling of journal-articles and book-chapters dealing with issues in comparative study, such as canon formation, the nature of genre, the importance of translation, the validity of conventional periodizations of literature, questions that arise when literature is compared to other forms such as film or the visual arts, and challenges encountered in juxtaposing familiar with less familiar literatures. The course will acquaint students with research tools ranging from traditional library collections to databases and other electronic resources, provide practice in several forms of professional writing, and involve students in the overall process of professionalization in this discipline. This course is required of first-semester graduate students in Comparative Literature, and recommended for students taking a minor in Comparative Literature or seeking a graduate-level introduction to the field.

CMLIT 502 COMPARATIVE CRITICISM I

This seminar welcomes students from all disciplines who are interested in the foundations and applications (or "misapplications") of literary and aesthetic theory. This course fulfills a requirement for doctoral students in Comparative Literature, and also counts towards the Doctoral Minor in Literary Theory, Criticism, and Aesthetics. This seminar compares "classical" theoretical and critical approaches to literary and aesthetic concepts such as inspiration, mimesis, rhetoric, semiotics, allegoresis, the sublime, decorum, and taste. "Classical" in this context means that literature is not yet considered autonomous in relation to other social sub-systems. In the West, the period of "classical" theory and criticism extends from the Greeks through Immanuel Kant. However, we will also consider writings outside this period which have a bearing on the topics enumerated above. This course will stress these critical approaches from a primarily practical and comparative standpoint, although historical context will be considered. Critics and theorists to be considered include Aristotle, Augustine, Boileau, Ibn Rushd, Lu Ki, Plato, Pisan, Soyinka, and Zeami, among others. This course will also allow students to consider these critical approaches as tools for discussing "post-classical" or modern texts and artworks. In addition to theory, students will read and discuss short literary works as an exercise in determining the value, if any, of theory in the reader's approach to a text. In an individualized context, students will discuss and investigate applications of theory to their own areas of interest and expertise.

CMLIT 505 LOVE AND DESIRE IN ANTIQUITY AND THE MIDDLE AGES

This seminar will examine the representation of love and desire in a group of texts ranging from classical Antiquity to the late Middle Ages. We will study how poets and writers in these historical periods portray and distinguish love and desire, how literary and social narratives develop around those terms, and how values and meanings emerge from them. Ovid’s Art of Love and Amores and St. Augustine’s Confessions will be our starting points, which is to say that we will begin with the competing literary and philosophical traditions that significantly shape the discourse of desire in these periods. We will read Alan of Lille's De planctu naturae (famous for its equation of bad grammar and homosexuality), Andreas Capellanus’s De amore, the Roman de la rose (which announces that it contains all the art of love), Dante's Vita Nuova, Chaucer’s poetry, and portions from John Gower’s Confessio Amantis. We will also look at some of the Lais of Marie de France and at the writings of medieval secular and religious women. Besides these primary texts, the course will include modern theorists such as Girard, Sedgwick, Lacan, Butler, and Kristeva, who have defined many of our modern interpretive categories for desire. The primary texts will be read in a bilingual format. The seminar will require several short writing assignments, a 20-minute conference-style presentation, and a final article-length paper (15-20 pages) growing out of the presentation.

CMLIT 521 INTER-AMERICAN LITERATURE: RETHINKING AMERICA

With the collaboration of an international team of distinguished practitioners of American Studies, this seminar aims to interrogate the multiplicity of America as literary, historical, geographic, and cultural phenomenon. Our project of "re-thinking" entails a reconsideration of America (U.S. and non-U.S.) as national, plural, transnational, and international / hemispheric agency in a global context. America rethought from the outside is also America rethinking from within. As a diverse team of Americanists engaged in this process, we aim to re-read America through a number of key texts that examine, critically and reflectively, the genesis, morphology, ascendancy, and hegemonic historical phases of America in the world. We will re-examine American culture as a globally repercussive and locally self-reinforcing site of national and post-national discourse, and as an international narrative formation. In the process, the trans-disciplinary field of American Studies itself will undergo a reassessment, as will its geographical purview, scholarly and pedagogical practices, discursive parameters, and performative role in the study and critique of America. In revisioning these professional acts, we examine how they might be defining and re-inscribing, as well as critically considerate of their object. The seminar, cross-listed as Comparative Literature, English, and Spanish, is a project of the Center for Global Studies at Penn State and a collaborative endeavor with the International American Studies Association.

CMLIT 523 WOMEN WRITERS FROM AFRICA

Focusing on selected works by women writers from Africa, we will seek answers to a variety of questions. What are women writers saying in their novels? How is their writing distinctive from that of their male counterparts? What is the significance of place of expression for these writers? What is the relationship between the oral tradition and contemporary novels by women? What is the future for these writers, both in Africa and outside the continent? In addition to novels by Ama Ata Aidoo (Changes), Lauretta Ngcobo (And They Didn't Die), Tsitsi Dangarembga (Nervous Conditions), Calixthe Beyala (Your Name Shall Be Tanga), Assia Djebar (Fantasia), and Fatima Mernissi (Dreams of Trespass), we will contextualize our analyses with written and oral texts composed or narrarated originally in African languages during the 19th and 20th centuries