Graduate courses for Fall 2022

Title Instructors Location Time Description Cross listings Fulfills Registration notes Syllabus Syllabus URL
COML 5010-001 Comparative Literature Proseminar David C Kazanjian VANP 625 W 5:15 PM-8:14 PM This course will survey what has come to be known in literary and cultural studies as "theory" by tracking the genealogies of a select range of contemporary practices of interpretation. We will address the following questions. What are some of the historical and rhetorical conditions of emergence for contemporary critical theories of interpretation? What does it mean to interpret literature and culture in the wake of the grand theoretical enterprises of the modern period? How do conceptions of power and authority in literature and culture change as symbolic accounts of language give way to allegorical and performative accounts? How might we bring frameworks of globality and translation to bear on literary and cultural criticism? Half of the course sessions will involve the instructor and the students reading texts that represent a range of hermeneutic approaches, in classical and contemporary forms. For the other half of the class, we will welcome one visiting instructor per week from the Comparative Literature faculty, who will assign readings and lead discussion on their own area(s) of specialization.
The central, practical goals of the class will be to help first year PhD candidates in Comparative Literature prepare for their MA exam, to introduce students to a range of faculty in the Program, and to forge an intellectual community among the first year cohort.
Perm Needed From Department
COML 5050-401 Digital Humanities Studies Whitney A Trettien DRLB 4N30 M 1:45 PM-4:44 PM This course is designed to introduce advanced undergraduate and graduate students to the range of new opportunities for literary research afforded by Digital Humanities and recent technological innovation.
Digital Humanities: you've heard of it. Maybe you're excited about it, maybe you're skeptical. Regardless of your primary area of study, this course will give you the critical vocabularies and hands-on experience necessary to understand the changing landscape of the humanities today. Topics will include quantitative analysis, digital editing and bibliography, network visualization, public humanities, and the future of scholarly publishing. Although we will spend a good portion of our time together working directly with new tools and methods, our goal will not be technological proficiency so much as critical competence and facility with digital theories and concepts. We will engage deeply with media archaeology, feminist technology studies, critical algorithm studies, and the history of material texts; and we will attend carefully to the politics of race, gender, and sexuality in the field. Students will have the opportunity to pursue their own scalable digital project.
See the English Department's website at for a description of the current offerings.
CIMS5051401, CIMS5051401, ENGL5050401, ENGL5050401
COML 5110-640 Life Writing: Autobiography, Memoir, and the Diary Batsheva Ben-Amos COLL 311F W 5:15 PM-8:14 PM This course introduces three genres of life writing: Autobiography, Memoir and the Diary. While the Memoir and the diary are older forms of first persons writing the Autobiography developed later. We will first study the literary-historical shifts that occurred in Autobiographies from religious confession through the secular Eurocentric Enlightenment men, expanded to women writers and to members of marginal oppressed groups as well as to non-European autobiographies in the twentieth century. Subsequently we shall study the rise of the modern memoir, asking how it is different from this form of writing that existed already in the middle ages. In the memoirs we see a shift from a self and identity centered on a private individualautobiographer to ones that comes from connections to a community, a country or a nation; a self of a memoirist that represents selves of others. Students will attain theoretical background related to the basic issues and concepts in life writing: genre, truth claims and what they mean, the limits of memory, autobiographical subject, agency or self, the autonomous vs. the relational self. The concepts will be discussed as they apply to several texts. Some examples are: parts of Jan Jacques Rousseau's Confessions; the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin; selected East European autobiographies between the two world wars; the memoirs of Lady Ann Clifford, Sally Morgan, Mary Jamison and Saul Friedlander. The third genre, the diary, is a person account, organized around the passage of time, and its subject is in the present. We will study diary theories, diary's generic conventions and the canonical text, trauma diaries and the testimonial aspect, the diary's time, decoding emotions, the relation of the diary to an audience and the process of transition from archival manuscript to a published book. The reading will include travel diaries (for relocation and pleasure), personal diaries in different historical periods and countries, diaries in political conflict (as American Civil War women's diaries, Holocaust diaries, Middle East political conflicts diaries). We will conclude with diaries online, and students will have a chance to experience and report about differences between writing a personal diary on paper and diaries and blogs on line. Each new subject in this online course will be preceded by an introduction. Specific reading and written assignments, some via links to texts will be posted weekly ahead of time. We will have weekly videos and discussions of texts and assigned material and students will post responses during these sessions and class presentations in the forums.
COML 5111-401 Introduction to Paleography & Book History Eva Del Soldato VANP 627 W 3:30 PM-5:29 PM Writing and reading are common actions we do every day. Nonetheless they have changed over the centuries, and a fourteenth century manuscript appears to us very different from a Penguin book. The impact of cultural movements such as Humanism, and of historical events, such as the Reformation, reshaped the making of books, and therefore the way of reading them. The course will provide students with an introduction to the history of the book, including elements of paleography, and through direct contact with the subjects of the class: manuscripts and books. Furthermore, a section of the course will focus on digital resources, in order to make students familiar with ongoing projects related to the history of book collections (including the "Philosophical Libraries" and the "Provenance" projects, based at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and at Penn). The course will be conducted in English; a basic knowledge of Latin is desirable but not required. CLST7709401, CLST7709401, ITAL5110401, ITAL5110401
COML 5120-401 French and Italian Film Noir Philippe Charles Met WILL 516 T 3:30 PM-5:29 PM Topics vary. Please see the department's website for the current course description: CIMS5120401, CIMS5120401, FREN5120401, FREN5120401
COML 5245-401 Topics in Medieval Studies: Premodern Animals (c.500-c.1500) Emily R Steiner BENN 224 W 10:15 AM-1:14 PM From St. Cuthbert, whose freezing feet were warmed by otters, to St. Guinefort, a miracle-performing greyhound in 13th-century France, to Melusine, the half-fish, half-woman ancestress of the house of Luxembourg (now the Starbucks logo), medieval narratives are deeply inventive in their portrayal of human-animal interactions. This course introduces students to critical animals studies via medieval literature and culture. We will read a range of genres, from philosophical commentaries on Aristotle and theological commentaries on Noah’s ark to werewolf poems, beast fables, political satires, saints’ lives, chivalric romances, bestiaries, natural encyclopaedias, dietary treatises and travel narratives.
Among the many topics we will explore are the following: animals in premodern law; comfort and companion animals; vegetarianism across religious cultures; animal symbolism and human virtue; taxonomies of species in relation to race, gender, and class; literary animals and political subversion; menageries and collecting across medieval Europe, the Near East, and Asia; medieval notions of hybridity, compositeness, trans-species identity, and interspecies relationships; art and the global traffic in animals (e.g., ivory, parchment); European encounters with New World animals; and the legacy of medieval animals in contemporary philosophy and media.
No prior knowledge of medieval literature is required. Students from all disciplines are welcome.
CLST7710401, CLST7710401, ENGL5245401, ENGL5245401, RELS6101401, RELS6101401
COML 5730-401 Cultures of Reading in Imperial Russia D. Brian Kim JAFF B17 W 1:45 PM-4:44 PM Cultures of Reading in Imperial Russia --- What did it mean to be a reader in imperial Russia? What did people read, and to what ends? How was literacy cultivated, and what were the social implications? In this course, students will develop a broad theoretical apparatus in the history and sociology of reading in nineteenth-century Russia to analyze several canonical works of literature that thematize and foreground the act of reading: as a pursuit undertaken for the betterment of self, society, nation, and world; as a light pastime for the bored, contemplative, or idle; but also as an enterprise fraught with potential for moral or civic ruin. In addition to investigating allusions to the specific texts and authors read by literary characters, we will also examine the reading habits of our own authors as both consumers and producers of literary culture. We will consider these dynamics against a backdrop of constant fluctuations in educational policies, the book market, and the circulation of texts within and beyond Russia as we work together to develop an understanding of the imperial Russian reading public(s). ARTH5730401, ARTH5730401, CIMS5730401, CIMS5730401, ENGL5730401, ENGL5730401, GRMN5730401, GRMN5730401, REES6683401, REES6683401
COML 5735-401 Topics in Criticism: What is Poetics? Simone White BENN 140 R 10:15 AM-1:14 PM What is poetics? How does it differ from other forms of criticism in terms of both attitude or posture and method? In terms of practices of art and politics, What is its relationship to poieis and ethics -- what is poethics? -- as articulated by such varied thinkers as Joan Retallack, Denise Farreira Da Silva and R.A. Judy? What’s to be observed about the current turn of black studies toward poetics?
For the seminar, let’s think about the above as matters of a) critical inquiry b) art practice and c) professional discipline. It may be possible to triangulate by way of “critique” and “aesthetics.” Proposing the inseparability of critical inquiry and writing practice, the final assignment will be deemed experimental since the monograph-ish essay won’t be presumed. Consequently, we will discuss the institutional state/status of what participants will have made.
Possible readings incoude Michel Foucault, What is Critique?; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guatarri, What is Philosophy?; Hortense Spillers, Black, White & in Color (selections); Joan Retallack, The Poethical Wager; Denise Ferreira Da Silva, Unpayable Debt; Boris Groys, Going Public ; Rachel Zolf, No One’s Witness; Leslie Scalapino, Objects in the Terrifying Tense/Longing from Taking Place.
ENGL5735401, ENGL5735401
COML 5811-401 Modern/Contemporary Italian Culture Carla Locatelli WILL 307 T 3:30 PM-5:29 PM Please see department website for current description at: ITAL5810401, ITAL5810401, ITAL5810401, JWST5810401, JWST5810401, JWST5810401
COML 5904-401 English, Irish, and American Dantes David Wallace VANP 629 M 10:15 AM-1:14 PM You cannot build a wall to stop the free flow of literary and creative ideas. But in constructing narratives of national identity, states have long adopted particular texts as "foundational." Very often these texts have been epics or romances designated "medieval," that is, associated with the period in which specific vernaculars or "mother tongues" first emerged. France and Germany, for example, have long fought over who "owns" the Strasbourg oaths, or the Chanson de Roland; new editions of this epic poem, written in French but telling of Frankish (Germanic) warriors, have been produced (on both sides) every time these two countries go to war. In this course we will thus study both a range of "medieval" texts and the ways in which they have been claimed, edited, and disseminated to serve particular nationalist agendas. Particular attention will be paid to the early nineteenth century, and to the 1930s. Delicate issues arise as nations determine what their national epic needs to be. Russia, for example, needs the text known as The Song of Igor to be genuine, since it is the only Russian epic to predate the Mongol invasion. The text was discovered in 1797 and then promptly lost in Moscow's great fire of 1812; suggestions that it might have been a fake have to be handled with care in Putin's Russia. Similarly, discussing putative Mughal (Islamic) elements in so-called "Hindu epics" can also be a delicate matter. Some "uses of the medieval" have been exercised for reactionary and revisionist causes in the USA, but such use is much more extravagant east of Prague. And what, exactly, is the national epic of the USA? What, for that matter, of England? Beowulf has long been celebrated as an English Ur-text, but is set in Denmark, is full of Danes (and has been claimed for Ulster by Seamus Heaney). Malory's Morte Darthur was chosen to provide scenes for the queen's new robing room (following the fire that largely destroyed the Palace of Westminster in 1834), but Queen Victoria found the designs unacceptable: too much popery and adultery. Foundations of literary history still in force today are rooted in nineteenth-century historiography: thus we have The Cambridge History of Italian Literature and The Cambridge History of German Literature, each covering a millennium, even though political entities by the name of Italy and Germany did not exist until the later nineteenth century. What alternative ways of narrating literary history might be found? Itinerary models, which do not observe national boundaries, might be explored, and also the cultural history of watercourses, such as the Rhine, Danube, or Nile. The exact choice of texts to be studied will depend in part on the interests of those who choose to enroll. Faculty with particular regional expertise will be invited to visit specific classes. ENGL5940401, ENGL5940401, ITAL5940401, ITAL5940401
COML 5940-401 Cinema and Media Studies Methods Karen E Redrobe JAFF 113 M 1:45 PM-4:44 PM This proseminar will introduce a range of methodological approaches (and some debates about them) informing the somewhat sprawling interdisciplinary field of Cinema and Media Studies. It aims to equip students with a diverse—though not comprehensive—toolbox with which to begin conducting research in this field; an historical framework for understanding current methods in context; and a space for reflecting on both how to develop rigorous methodologies for emerging questions and how methods interact with disciplines, ideologies, and theories. The course’s assignments will provide students with opportunities to explore a particular methodology in some depth through the lenses of pedagogy, the conference presentation, the written essay, or an essay in another medium of your choice, such as the graphic or video essay. Throughout, we will be trying to develop practical skills for the academic profession. Although our readings engage a variety of particular cinema and media objects, this course will be textually based. The methods studied will be organized around the following concepts and challenges: History/Time; Archive/Gaps/Limits; Ethics and Access; Space/Location/Position/Perspective; Sharing Media: Technology/Exhibition/Experience; National/Transnational/Global/Glocal Frameworks; Voice/Listening/Volume; Against/Beyond Representation; Infrastructures & Environments; and Elements. No prior experience needed. The course is also open to upper-level undergraduates with relevant coursework in the field by permission of instructor.
Course Requirements:
Complete assigned readings and screenings and actively participate in class discussion: 20%
Canvas postings: 10%
Annotated bibliography or course syllabus on a particular methodology: 20%
SCMS methodology-focused conference paper proposal according to SCMS format: 10%
Research paper (5,000 words) or essay in other format (such as graphic or video essay) using the methodology explored in the syllabus or bibliography: 40%
ARTH5933401, ARTH5933401, CIMS5933401, CIMS5933401, ENGL5933401, ENGL5933401, GSWS5933401, GSWS5933401
COML 6050-401 Modern Literary Theory and Criticism Ian Fleishman
Andrea Goulet
VANP 626 M 1:45 PM-4:44 PM This course will provide an overview of major European thinkers in literary theory of the 20th and 21st centuries. We will pay particular attention to the following movements: Structuralism and Deconstruction (Levi-Strauss, Jakobson, Barthes, Derrida), Social Theory (Foucault, Ranciere), Psychoanalysis (Freud, Lacan, Abraham and Torok), Schizoanalysis (Deleuze and Guattari), Feminism and Queer Theory (Irigary, Kristeva, Sedgwick), Spatial Theory (Bachelard, DeCerteau, Lefebvre), and the Frankfurt School (Adorno and Horkheimer, Kracauer). Readings and discussion will be in English. ENGL7905401, ENGL7905401, FREN6050401, FREN6050401, GRMN6050401, GRMN6050401, ITAL6050401, ITAL6050401, REES6435401, REES6435401 Perm Needed From Instructor
COML 6631-401 The Sanskrit Epics Deven Patel Ancient India's two epic poems, originally composed in Sanskrit and received in dozens of languages over the span of two thousand years, continue to shape the psychic, social, religious, and emotional worlds of millions of people around the world. The epic Mahabharata, which roughly translates to The Great Story of the Descendants of the Legendary King Bharata, is the longest single poem in the world (approximately 200,000 lines of Sanskrit verse in the 1966 Critical Edition) and tells the mythic history of dynastic power struggles in ancient India. An apocalyptic meditation on time, death, and the utter devastation brought upon the individual and the family unit through social disintegration, the epic also serves as sourcebook for social and political mores and contains one of the great religious works of the world, The Bhagavad Gita (translation: The Song of God), in the middle of its sprawling narrative. The other great epic, The Ramayana (Rama’s Journey), though essentially tragic and about the struggles for power in ancient India, offers a relatively brighter narrative in foregrounding King Rāma, an avatar of the supreme divinity Viṣṇu, who serves as an ideal for how human beings might successfully negotiate the challenges of worldly life. Perhaps the most important work of ancient Asia, the Rāṃāyaṇa also provides a model of human social order that contrasts with dystopic polities governed by animals and demons. Our course will engage in close reading of selections from both of these epic poems (in English translation) and scholarship on the epic from the past century. We will explore the Sanskrit epic genre, its oral and textual forms in South Asia, and the numerous modes for interpreting it over the centuries. We will also look at the reception of these ancient works in modern forms of media, such as the novel, television, theater, cinema and the comic book/anime. COML2231401, COML2231401, SAST2231401, SAST2231401, SAST6631401, SAST6631401
COML 6860-401 Form, Figure, Metaphor Sarah P Brilmyer BENN 322 R 1:45 PM-4:44 PM This course will explore the tensions and overlaps between three concepts in literary studies: form, figure, and metaphor. Through readings of works in literary theory, literature, and literary criticism, we will ask what it means to pay attention to the form of a literary text, whether at the micro scale of its literary figures or the macro scale of its overarching structure. We will historicize the shifting relations between our three key terms by exploring their role in ancient rhetoric, Victorian aesthetic theory, Russian formalism, the New Criticism, and deconstruction, among other literary-critical schools. Special attention will be paid to the notion of metaphor as it operates across genres and disciplines. While our focus will be on modern European and American literary theory, students will come away with interpretive tools beneficial to the study of literature of any period or genre.
ENGL7052401, ENGL7052401
COML 7600-401 Realisms Seminar--19th Century to Contemporary Heather Love
Emily D Steinlight
BENN 140 T 10:15 AM-1:14 PM An advanced graduate seminar focused on Realism and spanning several centuries. This two-part course will consider the literary history of realism and will take on some fundamental epistemological questions entailed by the novel’s attempts to represent the real. We will read major theories of realism alongside canonical and marginal realist fiction. Emily Steinlight will address the variously formal, aesthetic, political, and epistemological status of realism in nineteenth-century novels and in theories old and new; some discussion will focus on the concept of totality and on the uneven histories and revitalized uses of realism across contexts. Heather Love will address the relation between classical realism, hyperrealism, and modernist/avant-garde departures in the 20th and 21st centuries, with special attention paid to the role of observation and description in literature and the social sciences. The range of readings may include novels by Honoré de Balzac, George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, George Gissing, Mariano Azuela, Virginia Woolf, Patricia Highsmith, Nicholson Baker, Georges Perec, Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Rachel Cusk, as well as critical and theoretical work by Viktor Schklovsky, Georg Lukács, Ian Watt, Roland Barthes, Catherine Gallagher, Fredric Jameson, Elaine Freedgood, Anna Kornbluh, Colleen Lye, the Warwick Research Collective, and others. ENGL7600401, ENGL7600401
COML 7708-401 Black Classicisms Emily Greenwood DRLB 4C8 W 1:45 PM-4:44 PM This course will explore heterogeneous responses to ancient Greek and Roman Classics in the literature, art, and political thought of Africa and the Black Diaspora, ranging from the late eighteenth century to the present day and encompassing Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. We will analyze how African and black diasporic writers, artists, and thinkers have engaged with and re-imagined Greco-Roman Classics, both to expose and critique discourses of racism, imperialism, and colonialism, and as a source of radical self-expression. Throughout, we will consider the reciprocal dynamic by which dialogues with ancient Greek and Roman classics contribute to the polyphony of black texts and these same texts write back
to and signify on the Greek and Roman Classics, diversifying the horizon of expectation for their future interpretation.
Writers and artists whose work we will examine include Romare Bearden; Dionne Brand; Gwendolyn Brooks; Aimé Césaire; Austin Clarke; Anna Julia Cooper; Rita Dove; W.E.B. Du Bois; Ralph Ellison; Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona; C.L.R. James; June Jordan; Toni Morrison; Harryette Mullen; Marlene Nourbese Philip; Ola Rotimi; William Sanders Scarborough; Wole Soyinka; Mary Church Terrell; Derek Walcott; Booker T. Washington; Phillis Wheatley; and Richard Wright. We will study these writers in the context of national and transnational histories and networks and in dialogue with relevant theoretical debates. Work for assessment will include a 15-page research paper and the preparation of a teaching syllabus for a course on an aspect of Black Classical Receptions.
AFRC7708401, AFRC7708401, CLST7708401, CLST7708401
COML 7920-401 Study of a Genre: The Manifesto Zita C Nunes VANP 629 T 1:45 PM-4:44 PM If ubiquity confers significance, the manifesto is a major literary form, and yet it has been relatively marginalized in genre studies, where attention to the manifesto has been largely devoted to anthologies. In this seminar we will focus on the manifesto as a genre by exploring its histories, rhetorics, definitions and reception from a Black Studies framework.
Associated with politics, art, literature, pedagogy, film, and new technologies, the manifesto involves the taking of an engaged position that is tied to the moment of its enunciation. The manifesto's individual or collective authors seek to provoke radical change through critique and the modeling of new ways of being though language and images. Included on the syllabus will be anticolonial, anti-racist, feminist, LGBTQ manifestos of the 18th through 21st centuries from throughout the Black world .
In addition to leading class discussion, students will be responsible for a seminar paper or a final project to be developed in consultation with the instructor.
AFRC7920401, AFRC7920401, ENGL7920401, ENGL7920401