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Next Semester

Fall 2015

THREE-STAGE PROSEMINAR

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

Bibliography, research methods, and studies in comparative literature.

CMLIT 501:001: Aug 24-Sept 28. Eric Hayot / Schedule #478780

CMLIT 501:002: Oct 5-Oct 26. Charlotte Eubanks / Schedule #478783 

CMLIT 501:003: Nov 2-Dec 7. Thomas Beebee / Schedule #478786

THREE-CREDIT SEMINARS IN COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AND THEORY

CMLT 504: Studies in Literary Genres (History and Theory of the Novel). (Robert L. Caserio / Schedule #569731) R 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

What is fiction? What is fiction for? CMLT 504 solicits answers by canvassing the history and theory of “the novel” and by addressing novels ancient and modern. The genre’s interweaving of romance and history, and the impact of that mixture on “the historical novel,” will have special prominence in our considerations. Specimen texts will be drawn from a global array of writers, so that the usual suspects (Cervantes, Richardson, Goethe, Scott, Turgenev, Flaubert, Galdos, Joyce) will be constellated with novelists from Japan, China, the Middle East, India, Africa and Latin America. To make the survey most efficient, some texts will not be read in their entirety. Readings in theory will include works by Mieke Bal, Catherine Gallagher, Georg Lukacs, Franco Moretti, Thomas G. Pavel, and Bernard Harrison. Two short class presentations, and a seminar essay, will be required of seminar participants.

CMLIT 509: Comparative Modernisms. “Magical Formalism” (Jonathan Eburne / Schedule #478792) R 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

This course studies experimental poetry movements and poetic theories that privilege form as an historical reality with potentially interventionist— marvelous, even magical— capacities. Though often discredited as a naïve belief in the autonomy of art, or as the historical disconnectedness and irrelevance of the critic, the attention of formalist movements to the mechanics of language and the resistance of art to its immediate economic or political recuperability remains an important consideration in the history of literature and criticism alike. We will study the procedures of formal innovation, constraint, and play practiced collectively and individually by contemporary poets and thinkers, examining their poetry, their criticism, and their theories and processes.  In particular, we will pay attention to the forms of agency (“magical,” marvelous, epiphantic, anachronistic, or otherwise) granted to such formalisms: what, in other words, is the function of a formal a!
Though the course will focus on modern poetry of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, we will also briefly explore earlier formalisms as well, from scriptural texts to the work of scholastics and early modern experimentalists such as Andrew Marvell.  Course readings may include works from the symbolist, Russian formalist, cubist, and futurist movements; conceptual poetics and concrete poetry; the objectivist, OULIPO, Fluxus, and Black Arts movements; as well as écriture feminine, magical realism, and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.  We will also study the formalism of decidedly counter-formalist movements such as surrealism and magical realism.

CMLIT 580: Contemporary Literary Theory. “Walter Benjamin” (Samuel Frederick / Schedule #478795) T 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Concurrently listed with GER 591.

This seminar investigates the intellectual development of Walter Benjamin, one of the twentieth century’s most important critics. It focuses on the writings Benjamin produced up to the mid 1930s, with special attention to his thought prior to his serious engagement with Western Marxism. In these early years Benjamin was deeply influenced by Jewish mysticism and the utopianism of the German Youth Movement, pushing back against positivist and Neo-Kantian epistemology with the help of esoteric theology and Romantic aesthetics.

In the first two-thirds of the semester our primary texts will be Benjamin’s dissertation on German Romantic criticism; his long essay on Goethe’s Elective Affinities; his rejected habilitation The Origin of German Trauerspiel; and his aphoristic collection One-Way Street. Additional, shorter works will include “The Metaphysics of Youth,” “The Critique of Violence,” “On Language as Such and the Language of Man,” “The Task of the Translator,” among others. In the last third of the seminar we will ask how Benjamin carried over his project of “redemptive criticism” as developed in these early works to his new interest (after about 1928) in historical materialism, technology, and commodity culture. Main texts here will include his engagement with Brecht in “What is Epic Theater?”; “The Author as Producer”; and his debates with Theodor Adorno, which were occasioned by the now famous “Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility” essay and the “exposé” to Benjamin’s massive and uncompleted Arcades Project. In working our way through this material we will read the epistolary exchanges between Benjamin and Adorno, as well as Adorno’s “response” to Benjamin’s “Work of Art” essay: “On the Fetish Character of Music and the Regression of Listening.”
Students will be asked to present on important late 20th/early 21st century appropriations and interpretations of Benjamin’s thought in relation to their own areas of research. All readings and discussion in English. (Those who can read German are encouraged to read the original texts.)

CMLIT 597: Special Topics: “Communities of Effluence, Arts of Resilience and Surviving Dis-ease” (Rosemary Jolly / Schedule #557062) T 12:20 p.m. - 3:20 p.m. Concurrently Listed with ENGL 597C.

THE EBOLA VIRUS: CURIOUSLY BEAUTIFUL? DEADLY? BOTH OF THESE? DEADLY TO WHOM? SURVIVABLE BY WHOM? SIGN OF IMPENDING ZOMBIFICATION? SIGNIFIER OF GLOBAL INEQUITY PAR EXCELLENCE? 
This course looks at contemporary narratives from marginalized communities from a posthuman perspective.  We will investigate the ways in which creative narratives illuminate and underwrite the move from Foucauldian biopolitics to the “necropolitics” of Achille Mbembe and the “thanatopolitics” expounded by Roberto Esposito.  The course rests on the idea that communities relegated to the margins through late capitalist colonialist “accumulation through dispossession” due to racial, Aboriginal, ageist, gender and related forms of structural stigmatization, embody resilience and other strategies, such as environmental awareness, upon which we shall all need to draw to maintain sustainability in the no longer distant future. 
In particular, this course will offer students a strong foundation in the critical medical postcolonial humanities by exploring texts in ways that open up the connections between written and oral genres and bioethical questions. We shall also explore how interpretive skills used in English/Comparative Literature can work in applied contexts of health prevention, care and building resilience, in part by exploring connections between how ‘race’, marginalization and gender play out in literary, public health and biomedical contexts.
Texts and films will include a range comparable to the following: Alexis Wright (Waanyi; indigenous Australia); J.M. Coetzee (South Africa/Australia); A Windigo Tale (Film: Armand Garnet Ruffo (Ojibwe, Canada); Film: Ari Folman, Waltz with Bashir (Israel); Zakes Mda, Ways of Dying (isiXhosa, South Africa); and testimony and artworks drawn from global communities of “disposable populations”, including narratives not originally composed in English. 
The pedagogical point will be to compare understandings of embodiment, resilience and ecological awareness not embedded in Cartesian traditions of body/spirit dichotomies; texts that highlight the limitations of biomedical understandings of disease; and texts that explore the phenomena of objects with subjectivity, a way of thinking now highlighted in the body of theoretical work known as the “new materiality” (Bennett; Braidotti).
Graduates interested in histories of medical experimentation upon particular populations; bioethics; environmental ethics/postcolonial ecocriticism and feminism; and the ethical implications of the species boundary, among others, will be attracted to the class. Graduates from/studying languages other than English will be will be encouraged to submit texts/artefacts for our scrutiny, if they are translated into English/have English subtitles. Time is set aside to do so.

CMLIT 602: Supervised Experience in College Teaching (for second-year students) (Caroline Eckhardt / Schedule #563101) M 2:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.  

Supervision of teaching; consideration of instructional aims and objectives, methods of lecturing and leading discussions, evaluation of student work.