Graduate Seminars 2016-17

Tentative Graduate Seminars, 2016-17
Comparative Literature, French, and German

The seminars below respond to the needs and interests of students in Comparative Literature as well those students studying in French in Comparative Literature (CLF) or German in Comparative Literature (CLG).  Our students also take seminars from other departments of areas of interest to them such as Classics, English, East Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Global Studies, Feminist Studies, etc.

Fall 2016

Comparative Literature 210:  Proseminar in Comparative Literature (taught in English). Reading Comparatively: Old and New Questions in “Comparative” Literature.  Taught by Catherine Nesci, Professor of French & Feminist Studies.
What does it mean to read and study literatures and cultures from comparative perspectives, across geographical and linguistic boundaries, through wide historical periods, along other print or visual media? In this pro-seminar in Comparative Literature, we pursue this multi-pronged question and address the tools and goals of comparative literature as an evolving discipline (or indiscipline), from the early nineteenth century to the present. We discuss seminal essays and theoretical works that have shaped and are currently reshaping “comparative literature” and “world literature” from Western as well as non-Western vantage points, from Goethe and Germaine de Staël to Edward Said and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. We also read the last two reports on the state of the discipline prepared by the American Comparative Literature Association, and examine issues pertaining to the material conditions and interpretive practices of literary inquiries in the era of globalization and digitization. This seminar allows students to examine and assess the key concepts, themes, and debates that have shaped the evolving fields of Comparative Literature and the literary humanities in the western world.

French 233A: Advanced Critical Writing (in French). Taught by Renan Larue.
Ce séminaire a deux objectifs méthodologiques : 1) une amélioration de la maîtrise du français écrit et oral par les étudiant(e)s et du vocabulaire de l’analyse et de la critique ; 2) un approfondissement des techniques rhétoriques propres à la rédaction d’essais et aux exposés oraux. Le séminaire permet également aux étudiants de consolider leur connaissance des principaux thèmes et des principaux auteurs de ce que l’on a nommé la « French theory ». L’étude, par exemple, de textes décisifs de Pierre Bourdieu sur l’éducation, de Michel Foucault sur la prison et la sexualité, de Simone de Beauvoir sur les femmes ou encore de Jacques Rancière sur la démocratie offre l’occasion de mieux saisir l’importance et l’influence considérable de ces intellectuels français dans le champ contemporain des humanités. Du point de vue pratique, chacune des dix séances est consacrée à un thème et à un auteur particulier. Enfin, parce que l’exercitatio est la meilleure façon de progresser, les étudiant(e)s sont invité(e)s chaque semaine à remettre un court essai ou à faire un exposé.

Winter 2017

French 232B: Female Patronage in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance: Translation, Adaptation, and the Illustrated Book (in English, with enhancement sessions in French). Taught by Cynthia J. Brown, Professor of French.
The shifting shapes, design and dynamics of books and their function in the dissemination of meaning and in the redefinition of authorship, patronage and bookmaking during the transition from manuscript to print have inspired researchers over the last few several decades.  To better understand the socio-political dynamics of literary creation and transmission and the relationship between a book’s materiality and its content, this graduate seminar will concentrate on the role of female patronage and gift-giving in medieval and Renaissance bookmaking, on the illustrated book as the artistic object shaped and designed with women in mind, and on translation and adaptation as the mode of literary expression that was at once tailored to this female readership and embodied in the book as cultural artifact.  Seminars will focus on topics such as the translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Heroides in France, the tradition of the Romance of the Rose, and the enduring influence of Boccaccio’s De claris mulieribus, with close examination—thanks to online technology—of the very books written by or for women: those owned by collectors (such as Louise of Savoie and Margaret of Austria), those dedicated to European queens and other nobles (such as Charlotte of Savoie and Anne of Brittany), and those containing well-known texts adapted or translated by female writers (such as Christine de Pizan and Anne de Graville).

Comparative Literature 200: Formalism, Semiotics, Bakhtin (taught in English, with potential Russian enhancement sessions). Taught by Sara Pankenier Weld, Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature.

This seminar examines three fundamental movements in literary theory arising in Russia and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century. These include Russian Formalism, often credited with inventing literary theory as a scholarly discipline; Bakhtin and his circle of philosopher critics; and the Moscow-Tartu School of Cultural Semiotics. We examine formalist texts by Shklovsky, Tynianov, Jakobson, and Eikhenbaum, key works by Mikhail Bakhtin, and semiotic analysis by Lotman and Uspensky. We consider theoretical works in relation to major works of Russian or world literature and also reflect on the historical significance and legacy of these theoretical movements today. Students also will have the opportunity to apply these approaches to their own areas of interest.
 

Spring 2017

French 230E. Littérature urbaine et migration à l'ère de la mondialisation (in French). Taught by Eric Prieto, Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Comparative Literature and Spatial Studies.
L'exigence du « droit à la ville », proclamé par Henri Lefebvre en 1968, occupe une place importante dans la littérature contemporaine. Mais si cette exigence reste aussi actuelle que jamais, ses enjeux ont bien évolué depuis 1968, surtout si on aborde la question depuis une perspective postcoloniale et transnationale. Dans les pays en développement, le problème le plus urgent est celui de la migration incontrôlée vers les villes, liée au problème de l’urbanisation sauvage (des bidonvilles aux megaslums). Dans les pays riches, la question se pose en termes de logement social (cités), ghettoïsation des quartiers défavorisés (banlieues), immigration transnationale (Sud-Nord) et racisme, et, plus récemment, terrorisme et réfugiés politiques. Ce séminaire interrogera donc l’évolution des conditions de possibilité du droit à la ville, telles qu'elles se révèlent dans quelques cas exemplaires. Nos exemples seront empruntés principalement à la littérature et au cinéma francophones, mais sans oublier le côté comparatiste et transnational de la question. On étudiera les romans de Patrick Chamoiseau (Martinique), Naïma Lahbil Tagemouati (Maroc), Mongo Beti (Cameroun), et Mehdi Charef (France), aussi bien que des films de Malik Chibane (France), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (Cameroun), et Nabil Ayouch (Maroc). Notre étude portera tant sur les qualités littéraires et esthétiques de ces œuvres que sur leur apport à la résolution des problèmes spatiaux et sociaux dont ils traitent. Pour assurer une bonne compréhension de ces problèmes, nous nous appuierons sur un éventail d’approches disciplinaires: géographie (Mike Davis, David Harvey), sociologie (Henri Lefebvre, Azouz Begag), urbanisme (Rem Koolhaas, Serge Letchimy), anthropologie (Pierre Bourdieu, Janice Perlman), théorie postcoloniale (Achille Mbembe, Edward Saïd), et critique littéraire (Bertrand Westphal).
 

Comparative Literature 200: Shakespeare and Hegel (taught in English, with enhancement session in German). Taught by Anselm Haverkamp, Kade Visiting Professor.
Hegel knew Shakespeare (almost all of Shakespeare) by heart; this is not obvious, since he quotes from memory, without quotation marks, and without mentioning the name. In short: Hegel developed his philosophy of history and his philosophy of right with a lot of Shakespeare in mind. Thus, the combination of Hegel and Shakespeare works in both directions: it is profitable to know Shakespeare, if one wants to understand Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, as it is profitable to read Hegel in order to understand Shakespeare. The rediscovery of Shakespeare in the 18th century comes along with a philosophical interest in Hegel, whose modern dimension has been most thoroughly investigated by Hegel and, in his wake, by an implicitly Hegelian New Historicism or Cultural Materialism. The seminar shall discuss both perspectives, but shall first of all read closely the more or less explicit Shakespearian passages in Hegel’s philosophy and, consequently, read all the more closely the Shakespearian texts, motifs and cruxes, identified and problematized by Hegel and dealt with in recent philosophical criticism, notably by Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida. Please check the document in our download area for more precisions on book purchases.

 

Comparative Literature 252: Aesthetics: Art and Literature and the Object, from 1960 to the Present (taught in English). Taught by Sven Spieker, Professor of Russian Studies and Art History.

My seminar looks at post-1960 art and literature that eschews or even destroys objects—art that minimizes objecthood in favor of linguistic elaboration and/or performance or dance—from a decentered perspective. Taking its cue from the 1999 exhibition Global Conceptualism at the Queens Museum, we will deliberately approach such practices from the global margins—from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union/Russia to Latin America, Japan, the USA and Western Europe--, assuming, with Luis Chamnitzer, that each of these regions functioned “according to their own clock. What ties these practices together, regardless of their heterogeneous regional origins, is the idea of dematerialization or de-objectfication: the replacement of the aesthetic/consumer object with words, narrative, performance, or dance. The seminar should appeal to interested students in Comparative Literature, Art History, Art, and generally speaking, those interested in aesthetic ideas and the history of art and literature from the 1960s to the present.

***

Note: the following seminar will be taught in 2017-18.

CLIT 200/ French 231B: Flânerie et modernité (in French). Taught by Catherine Nesci, Professor of French and Comparative Literature. Dès l’aube du dix-neuvième siècle, la représentation de Paris, capitale en mutation constante, passe par la flânerie, art de la déambulation, nouvelle gestuelle et modalité perceptive qui devient rapidement le concept clé d’une modernité délestée de l’idéal de la perspective. Appareillée sur les techniques modernes d’impression et de reproduction, la flânerie se relaie d’abord dans le journalisme ethnographique, pour occuper ensuite l’espace littéraire, lui aussi moderne et neuf, du journal. Nous verrons ainsi comment le boulevard devient, sous la monarchie de Juillet et le Second Empire, le lieu de prédilection où le flâneur-artiste saisit au vol choses vues et scènes de mœurs. Telle la ville où il évolue, le flâneur est un Protée dont nous analyserons les mutations et les multiples avatars (bohème, conspirateur, prostituée, chiffonnier, etc.), de Balzac (Ferragus, Le Père Goriot) à Baudelaire (la section « Tableaux parisiens » des Fleurs du mal, Le Spleen de Paris), Nerval (Les Nuits d’octobre), Flaubert (L’Education sentimentale), Vallès (les chroniques et reportages du Tableau de Paris), Zola (Le Ventre de Paris), Colette (La Vagabonde), les Surréalistes (Nadja, Le Paysan de Paris) et Walter Benjamin (« Paris, capitale du dix-neuvième siècle » ; les essais sur Baudelaire des années 1930). Philosophe de la rue, déchiffreur de signes ou poète du boulevard, le flâneur artiste affronte les chocs de l’inconnu, de l’insolite, du quelconque et capte les flux d’images sonores et visuelles, voire olfactives ou multisensorielles, baignant l’espace urbain. Créant une esthétique du décentrement et de la sérialité, les écrivains inventent à leur tour une écriture du discontinu modelée sur ces dispositifs optiques qui fascinent l’époque (mosaïque, kaléidoscope, diorama, panorama, etc.), produisant l’image instable, multiple, mobile et perpétuellement recomposée de Paris. Nous étudierons ainsi les formes artistiques qui naissent avec la modernité urbaine, technologique et médiatique et l’analyse qu’en ont fait des penseurs nomades tels Walter Benjamin et Siegfried Kracauer dans l’Allemagne weimarienne. Nous étudierons le roman de mœurs, ainsi que le poème en prose baudelairien et les miniatures urbaines à partir du dernier ouvrage d’Andreas Huyssen, Miniature Metropolis (2015), et explorerons les nouvelles approches du dix-neuvième siècle comme première ère médiatique de masse dans laquelle s’invente une culture urbaine, et notamment une culture populaire urbaine.