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Literature Graduate Course Descriptions Winter 2016

Close Reading
Instructor: Winifred Woodhull

The basic theoretical/critical text for this seminar will be Rebecca Walkowitz, Born Translated: The Contemporary Novel in an Age of World Literature (Columbia UP 2015), whose chapters are as follows:
Introduction: Theory of World Literature Now
1. Close Reading at a Distance
2. The Series, the List, and the Clone
3. Sampling, Collating, and Counting
4. This Is Not Your Language
5. Born Translated and Born Digital
Epilogue: Multiples
Under certain conditions, ie the writing of a seminar paper on a short text originally written in French for which there is no published English translation, and drawing on at least one critical essay written in French, this seminar may satisfy the Ph. D. language requirement in French.
Coincidentally, this seminar will unfold as the Department of Literature is conducting its search for a specialist in global literatures in English.  Students will be encouraged to attend the candidates' job talks and reflect, in our group meetings, on their ways of conceptualizing "global literature," their choice of texts to analyze, the stakes of their analyses, and the limits of an intellectual project that considers only texts originally written in English.
Students will be asked to present the readings for one seminar meeting and to conduct the group's discussion thereof, as well as to write two 8-page analyses of literary texts (or excerpts of texts) treated in the seminar.  These short analyses will be the length of typical conference presentations.  The production of these papers will be staggered so that students can read and critique each other's work in constructive and friendly ways during seminar meetings.

Topics in Environmental Humanities
Instructor: Pasquale Verdicchio

Please contact instructor for course description.

(Crosslisted with POLI 213) 
Bolaño’s Right and Left 
Instructor: Jacobo Myerston

Roberto Bolaño, one of the most influential Latin American novelists of the recent decades, advanced, in his work, a political program that strongly criticized a globalized right-wing tradition.  Augusto Pinochet, Jünger Ernst, and other right-wingers are common characters in his novels. In opposition to fascist writers and politicians, he also includes lefty heroes like the revolutionary Central American poets Roque Dalton and Ernesto Cardenal, and the French symbolist Arthur Rimbaud.  Bolaño used these two poles of fictionalized historical persona to construct his own poetics as well as a political theory that principally deals with degraded forms of social organization produced by the right. Despite appearances, this dualistic model is far from being simple and mechanistic because left and right in the Bolañian poetics are not always associated with good and evil.  This is because, in his writings, Bolaño gives life to zones of ambivalence where left turns right and vice versa, a transmutation that he attributed to his own cognitive “dyslexia.”  Through his deconstructive narrative style, Bolaño also intended to criticize a Latin American left that has often fallen into the traps of dogmatism.

In this class we will explore Bolaño’s politics and ethics in the short novels Monsieur Pain, Distant Star, By Night in Chile, Amulet, and sections of his highly acclaimed 2666. Students will be able to read the assigned material either in English translation, in the Spanish original, or both. Discussions will be in English, but papers will be accepted in English, Spanish or any other language known by the instructor. This class will be of interest to students of comparative literature, writers with a concern in the ethics of writing, students of English interested in the impact of Latin American literature in the US, and those eager to learn about the political history of Latin America.

Materialisms and Thing Theory 
Instructor: Page duBois

Explorations of the nature of matter began long before Marx’s disruption of Hegelian idealism. We will look at things and the material world in some archaeological texts, in Lucretius’ atomic De Rerum Natura, at the social life of things, things in the Victorian novel, Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, and essays in the anthology New Materialisms.
This seminar will satisfy the historical breadth requirement for graduate course work in the Literature Department.

Biopolitical Aesthetics. 
Instructor: Ari Heinrich

How can humanities scholars address questions of medicine, science, and the body in our studies of contemporary cultural phenomena?  How are these questions impacted by the dynamics of race, gender, post-coloniality, and trans/nationalism?  In this seminar we will explore ways of adapting Foucauldian biopolitical theory to analyses of representations of the medical or scientific body in literature, visual culture, and popular media under an emerging rubric of “biopolitical aesthetics.”  Works we will read include Catherine Waldby and Robert Mitchell’s Tissue Economies, Melinda Cooper’s Life as Surplus, Kalindi Vora’s Life Support, essays from Aihwa Ong’s Asian Biotech, Lydia Liu’s work on “Biomimesis” (as well as chapters from her volume The Freudian Robot), and Nicole Shukin’s Animal Capital, among others.  While we may focus on examples and case-studies from Chinese Studies, the seminar is open to students from diverse disciplinary and area-studies backgrounds.  Students are expected to bring or develop their own project on a topic related to medicine, science, and the body in literature, visual culture, or popular media for presentation at the end of the quarter.

Law and Literature 
Instructor: Sarah Nicolazzo

This seminar introduces students to the methodologies and theoretical foundations central to the study of law and literature. What can law teach us about literary history, and vice versa? How might we read statutes, legal decisions, and legal commentary as literary texts, and what are the limitations of such a method? Topics will include theories of sovereignty and state violence, legal histories of race and slavery, colonial legal archives, contract, evidence, and legal personhood.
Through readings of literary primary sources, legal and political theory, legal decisions, and statutes, as well as secondary readings in recent law and literature scholarship, students will build methodological resources for incorporating legal theory and history into the study of their own literary-historical specialties. Our primary readings will be mostly drawn from Anglo-American legal and literary archives from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, but students will workshop research in their own areas of specialization through presentations and discussions. Finally, we will address the practicalities of law and literature research: how to read and write productively beyond the humanities, how to engage substantively with relevant historical scholarship, how to find and cite legal documents and archival material, and how to teach legal texts in the undergraduate classroom.

Writing in Our Profession 
Instructor: Nicole Tonkovich

This course is intended for advanced graduate students (those who are currently involved in the qualifying process, who are preparing dissertation prospectuses, and who are writing dissertations).
In the weekly seminar meetings we will discuss how to approach the writing tasks that characterize the last years of graduate study and the first years of professional employment. Among the topics will be these:
--how to frame a dissertation,
--how to frame and write a conference paper,
--how to write a grand/funding proposal,
--how to write coherent and readable academic prose (stylistics),
--how to plan and carry out archival research.
Those who enroll in the seminar will each pursue a writing project appropriate to their research interests and programs (qualifying lists and cover statements, a qualifying paper, a dissertation prospectus, or a dissertation chapter).
If you have questions about enrolling in the seminar, about an appropriate topic for your work, or wish to suggest a research/writing-related topic you would like to have discussed, please contact Prof. Tonkovich by e-mail.

Catolicismo, globalización, y “la cuestión del Sur"
Instructor: John Blanco

In our secular understanding of religion today, we tend to regard the Catholic Church as one among many religious institutions, each with its own curious rituals and traditions but ultimately equal and confined to the private sphere of belief and opinion. In many parts of the world, however, the Church is synonymous with the very idea of community, and encompasses all spheres of life from the ethical to the scientific and technological, political, economic, and social. In this course we will explore the relationship of Catholicism to the concepts of political theology (Counter-Reform and Spanish Conquest ideologies), theological economy / oikonomia (the iconoclastic/iconophilic debates and the aesthetic of good works [buona opera]), and the cultural anthropology of “folk” practices in Catholic countries (festival days, ritual theater, votive offerings and recados). At the root of this relationship lies the paradoxical role of the imagination and invention in the service of tradition as the source of religious authority. Readings may include: John of Damascus, Hildegard von Bingen, Santa Teresa de Jesus, Ignatius de Loyola, José de Acosta, Donoso Cortés, José Enrique Rodó, Antonio Gramsci,  Carl Schmitt, Roland Barthes, Michel de Certeau, Bartolomé Clavero, Joan-Pau Rubies, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Bolívar Echeverría, Marcel Henaff, Antonio de Hespanha, and Enrique Dussel. Short response papers, oral presentation, and final paper or presentation. This course satisfies the historical breadth requirement for the Literature Ph.D. program.
Dada la disposición secular de nuestra mentalidad hoy en día, tendemos a considerar la iglesia Católica en términos de una institución religiosa entre otras, cada la cual con sus propios ritos y tradiciones pero últimamente todos iguales ante la división pública / privada. Sin embargo, en muchas partes del mundo la iglesia representa nada menos que la vida colectiva de las comunidades, englobando todas las esferas de vida la ciencia, las políticas, la economía, etc. En este curso exploraremos la relación del Catolicismo con los conceptos de la teología política (desde los tiempos medievales hasta la Contra-Reforma y su resurrección en la época moderna), la economía teológica (los debates iconoclastas y la estética de la buena obra / buona opera), y la antropología cultural de las prácticas “folk” en los países donde predomina el espíritu católico (días de fiesta, teatro ritual, los recados, etc.). A raíz de estas investigaciones es la relación paradójica entre tradición e invención / imaginación: el rol de la imaginación en el servicio de la tradición y vice-versa. Los requisitos son: ensayos breves (1-2pp.), una presentación oral, y un proyecto final. 

Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality 
Instructor: Meg Wesling

The focus is feminist literary/cultural theories and their relations with major contemporary theoretical discourses. We will focus in particular on Feminism and Queer Theory’s relationships to Marxism, poststructuralism, and psychoanalysis.