Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies

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Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies Courses

 


This page includes information about current courses. Descriptions of past courses are available on the Comparative Literature and Folklore course pages.


Summer 2017

 

“Introduction to Folklore” (FL 100)

Sallie Anna Steiner 


Monday- Thursday, 9:00- 11:30 (june 19-July 16)

           Introduction to Folklore—the art and expression of everyday life—examines a wide range of oral and material genres, including folk narrative, belief, custom, foodways, folk art, music, and ritual. Studying folklore offers the opportunity to hone important skills like information-gathering, critical reading, and critical thinking. Folklore students take these skills beyond the classroom, library, and printed text as we venture out in the world as ethnographers, engaging folkloric "texts" such as objects, landscapes, and performances through observation, documentation, and interviewing.

 

"I Love Livin in the City: Punk, Comix, Avant-Gardes" (CL 203)

Max Woods

Monday-Thursday, 9:00-11:30 (June 19-July 16)

This course will investigate how global urbanization has interacted with three modern art and literary forms: the avant-gardes, punk, and comix. Through analyzing these three forms, we will trace the development of modern cities. Our reading and discussions will focus on:

  • How was the modern city created, and how is it represented and imagined in literature, art, and music?
  • How does punk respond to the city, and why has punk often thrived in urban environments throughout the world?
  • How have comics represented cities in the wake of disasters?
  • What is the avant-garde and what does it have to do with the city?

 

 For more information click here

 

 

 

Spring, 2017

 

“Religion and Sexuality” (RS 101 / JS 231)

Jordan Rosenblum

MW 11:00-11:50 am plus discussion section

This course examines “what religion is” by investigating how religious traditions imagine, interrogate, and regulate sexuality. Mapping out the contours of this inquiry requires exploration of related topics such as gender, embodiment, and historical (re)constructions. We will focus on the religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (especially that of Greeks, Romans, Rabbinic Jews, and early Christians). 

  

“Weird Lit.: Humans, Cyborgs, and Animals” (CL 202)

Frédéric Neyrat

MW 9:55-10:45 plus discussion section Room:

This class will focus on the singular forms of being that people literature: humans and also non-humans, a vast category including animals, insects, plants, cyborgs, and robots. We will pay attention to the weird characters that we encounter in novels: Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote), Bartleby (Herman Melville’s “Bartleby”), and a “blind but wise” old woman (Toni Morrison’s “Nobel Lecture”). We will meet a famous monster (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), and neurotic superheroes (Alan Moore’s Watchmen). We will also try to understand why robots can become more human than humans (Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot). These readings will lead us to reconsider the representations we have of humans, animals, and technological beings.

 

“Literature and Prison” (CL 203)

Max Statkiewicz

MW 2:25-3:15 plus discussion section

Is prison an auspicious place for reflecting on the cruelty of human fate or for developing exalted ideas of freedom and happiness? Some important and influential works of literature, philosophy, and political thought were written in prison. One can think of Boethius, of Miguel de Cervantes, of John Bunyan, Marquis de Sade, Henry David Thoreau, Oscar Wilde, Antonio Gramsci, Jean Genet, Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X. In this course we shall refer to these authors and we shall focus on the texts that combine the sensibility to the prison experience with an intellectual reflection on the conditions of imprisonment in general in its social, political, and existential aspects.

 

“American Girls and American Girlhood” (CL 203)

Brigitte Fielder

MW 11:00-11:50 plus discussion section

The popular American Girl franchise of dolls, accessories, and books introduces many young people to different periods of American history. In its stories, stores, and catalog, American Girl also constructs the categories “American” and “girl” in interesting and complex ways that demand a closer examination of how “American girlhood” has been represented in other literature. In this course we will put American Girl’s historical fiction stories into conversation with literary texts written for both children and adults, by authors such as Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Jacobs, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our comparisons will give insight into how “American girlhood” is constructed.  


“Detectives and Noir” (CL 203)

Sarah Wells

MW 12:05-12:55 plus discussion section

Since its emergence over a century ago, our obsession with narratives of crime and detection shows no signs of diminishing. This course focuses on the literature and film spawned around the detective, a privileged figure for tracing the modern pairings of the law and the criminal, of order and disorder. We will explore how detective fiction morphs over a variety of geographical, political, and media contexts: from Edgar Allan Poe’s Inspector Dupin in Paris to Jorge Luis Borges’ Argentine map games, passing through the boom in Scandinavian detective fiction, Mexican crime novels, and Japanese techno-detective fictions; and from the unique imprint exiled German Jewish directors gave to Hollywood cinema to the mean streets of the post-apocalyptic whodunit film.The detective genre is our way to understand how fiction powerfully explores the operations of legal and political institutions, including their role in shaping race, gender, class, and nationality. But detective fictions are also a model for our own work: as students, readers, and scholars, we too track down signs and silences in books and films, learning to read at once closely and against the grain.

 

“Tolkien and Mythology” (CL 203)

Chris Livanos

T-Th 9:30-10:45

We will study Tolkien’s engagement with ancient and medieval mythology as well his creation of a new mythology that is well known in the modern world.  We will read Tolkien’s major works as well several of the mythological texts that influenced him. Later in the semester, we will read Junot Díaz´s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and discuss Díaz´s use of Tolkien´s mythology to interpret political events in the Dominican Republic.

  

“The Comparative Study of Race - In & Beyond the US” (CL 205)

Mary Layoun

MW 1:20 - 2:10 plus discussion section

An introduction to the comparative history of the idea of race, its modern literary and cultural representations, and modern cultural and social practices predicated on that idea and its representations. Course readings originate both from within and beyond the U.S. For understanding race in the U.S. is understanding the boundaries of its definitions, fictions, and practices here in contrast to definitions, fictions, and practices elsewhere.

CL205 focuses on the literary formulations of race matters. For, as Deleuze and Guattari remind us about literature, "it seeks to fill the conditions of collective enunciation that is lacking elsewhere in the milieu: literature is the people's concern."

  

“Myth: From Gods to Machines” (CL 350/ Folklore 359)

Beatriz L. Botero

T-Th 11:00-12:15

In this course we initially introduce a framework in which myths can be understood and then for the bulk of the semester consider four types of myths. We start with Myths of Creation and Foundation, considering different explanations of our origin, in which gods and religions explain the creation of earth and human beings. Then we move our attention to Myths of Progress and Modernity; we advance from Christopher Columbus’ arrival to America, to the eras of renaissance, enlightenment and industrialization and their popularization of progress and rationality. In the third segment of the course we tackle the Myths of Postmodernity, and the explosion of relativism and art as the expression of individuality. Finally, we shift our attention to Futuristic Myths, considering dystopian and utopian visions of our future envisioned by different art forms and cinema in particular.

 

“The Poetry of Love and Desire” (CL 350)

Vinay Dharwadker

MW 2:30-3:45 

Every human being experiences love and desire, and the desire to love and be loved. But both love and desire take many forms, and different societies and cultures, at different times in history, conceive of them and treat them differently. What do poets tell us about love and desire, especially erotic love, and what does poetry teach us about love and desire in our own lives? This course will explore some of our most complex emotions and emotional states through poetry from different times, places, and languages—in classical Sanskrit, Tamil, and Chinese, in Shakespeare’s sonnets, and in modern American, European, and Asian lyric poems in English and in English translation. Our readings will show us why some of the world’s greatest poetry is love poetry, and why poets who write about love and desire enrich our lives in countless ways!

“Anarchy” (CL 350)

Max Statkiewicz

MW 4:00-5:15 

Does literature only report on the political struggle between order and anarchy or does it place itself on the side of anarchy? We shall assume the latter and consider literature in its function of revolt. Let us say that literature is apt to reflect the phenomenon of anarchy because of its own rebellious potential, and such reflection would manifest, realize, and strengthen this potential. We shall trace the history of this revolt from Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and Sopholes’ Antigone through Bakunin’s Catechism of the Revolutionary to Palahniuk’s Fight Club and Pynchon’s “anarchic miracle” in his Crying of Lot 49.

 

“Heroic Epic: India and Greece” (CL 358/ 958)

Chris Livanos

T-Th 8:00-9:15

We will study the ancient epic poetry of Greece and India, cultures with two of the earliest literary traditions in the language family known as Indo-European. In the early weeks of the course we will discuss the religion, mythology and culture of the ancient Greek and Indian peoples. We will also study different theories about the origins of the Indo-European speakers and their migration into regions as far apart as South Asia and Western Europe.  We will discuss the origins of heroic epic in the oral story-telling traditions of pre-literate societies, and we will study theories on how the ancient epics came to be written down as writing systems developed. In our readings of these epics, we will study how different communities define heroism and use epic poetry to promote social and personal ideals.


Discussion topics will include thematic and linguistic links between the Greek and Indian traditions. In our reading of Ashvaghosha’s Life of the Buddha, we will examine how the poet alters earlier heroic epic traditions to recast the holy man as a new type of epic hero. We will then study how the Bhagavad Gita, the most famous section of the Mahabharata, responds to Buddhist claims by incorporating saintly as well as heroic qualities in the poem’s protagonist, Arjuna.

 

Folklore 359. See CL 350 Botero.

 

“Hegel beyond Hegel” (CL 371)

Frédéric Neyrat

MW 2:30-3:45

The True is the Bacchanalian revel in which no member is not drunk”: this sentence is not the poetic effusion of an inspired writer, but a central claim of Hegel, the famously staid 19thcentury German philosopher. This sentence might seem surprising from the master of dialectics, a rigorous method of thought based on logic: after all, its association of truth with drunkenness and Bacchus, the god of ritual madness and religious ecstasy, would not seem to fit a model of strict logicThe goal of this course is to show that Hegel’s thought is deeply open to madness, visionary poetry, and radical political events. To establish this point, we will alternate the study of philosophers (Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Kojève, Adorno, Deleuze, Irigaray, Žižek), poets (Silesius, Waldrop), play writers (Sophocles, Beckett), and unclassifiable essayists (like Bataille). Through these intertwined studies, we will encounter and define crucial concepts like beingnothingnessbecomingnegativitysublationhistory and its endsidealism, and dialectics.

  

"Practicum in Public Folklore" (Folk 491)

Ruth Olson

Meeting times arranged with students

In Spring 2017, the practicum in public folklore offers students, under the supervision of Dr. Olson, the opportunity to work as interns with the traditional arts specialist at the Wisconsin Arts Board to organize and publicize a concert and exhibition of Wisconsin “master” traditional artists. Contact Ruth Olson (reolson3@wisc.edu) for more details. Prerequisites: Folk 490 or permission of instructor.

 

“The Comparative In and Beyond Literature: This is what solidarity looks like?” (CL 500)

Mary Layoun
Th 2:30 – 5:00

What is “solidarity”? How has it been understood and practiced? How is it understood and practiced now?

In addition to our readings, viewings, observations, and discussions of modern concepts, practices, and representations of solidarity, “This is what solidarity looks like?” will also take advantage of selected lectures of Havens Center Visiting Scholars for the spring semester. (Information on the Havens Center here: http://www.havenscenter.org/programs & http://www.havenscenter.org/vsp). Specific information will be available prior to the beginning of spring semester, 2017.

 

“Guilt” (CL 500)

Ralph Grunewald

T-Th 1:00-2:15

Guilt is a central concept in law, psychology, literature, religion, and many other disciplines. It raises fundamental questions of human agency and accountability. In this seminar we will take a comparative approach toward guilt. How does an individual or a collective become guilty? What is the nature of guilt, what are its limits within the legal discourse? We will focus on how guilt is culturally and textually constructed and how it is influenced by different disciplines, like for example neurosciences. The reading list will include court cases, theoretical texts and (mainly) literary texts from, for example, Kafka, Shakespeare, Sophocles and Schlink.

 

“Foodways” (Folklore 439)

Janet C. Gilmore

Th 2:30-5:00

 

The “Foodways” class explores artistic, social, sensory, and spiritual expressions through food that convey personal, group, and place-based identities, ethnicity, gender, and class in work and play. It emphasizes distinctive folkloristic perspectives on the vast contemporary arena of food studies and the campus emphasis on food systems, and will connect with the emerging campus-wide Food Studies Network.  Building from Folklore’s legacy of foodways scholarship and public folklore from the 1950s, the study of foodways integrates material culture and folklife, performance, culinary historical, food writing, and ethnographic approaches. Class assignments integrate student fieldwork and help students understand beliefs, values, attitudes, and practices they bring to food that shape how they interact with others and more particularly in social activism surrounding issues of social justice and sustainability.  This semester the course will orient around the general concept of “Food & Diaspora”:  We will look at indigenous, old immigrant, and new immigrant experiences with food, food practices, survival, and celebration during the challenges of emigration, immigration, displacement, and adaptation to new and often changing circumstances, especially in the Upper Midwest—but with respect to contemporary crises in the Middle East, Europe, and in our inner cities and rural areas.

 

“Capstone for RS Majors” (RS 601)

Jordan Rosenblum

W 3:30-6:00

This course introduces students to the craft of research and academic writing. From the development of a research project to the final stages of editing their work, students will learn the tools necessary to produce Religious Studies scholarship. In addition to work in the classroom, students will spend significant time on their project outside the classroom. They will interact with their peers and with other scholars. Further, they will learn how to use campus resources, from the Writing Center to the library. By the end of class, students will have completed their senior thesis, a major academic achievement.

 

“Narrative, the Modern, and the Comparative: Telling Stories” (CL 690) Proseminar

Mary Layoun and Vinay Dharwadker

W 4:00-6:30

For spring of 2017, CL 690, a capstone seminar required for CL undergraduate majors and also open to non-majors, will circulate around two questions:

            What are the stories we tell of the modern?

            How does comparative analysis contribute to our understanding of those stories?

We’ll read selected short texts on narrative, the modern, and the comparative. And then each member of the class, in the languages and cultures that are your focus, will formulate a comparative project – on which you’ll do research, report back to the class on your progress, and of which research you’ll submit a final essay.

 

“Creating Race and Species in the Transatlantic World” (CL 750)

Brigitte Fielder

W 2:30-5:00

 

The categories “race” and “species” have been closely intertwined in transatlantic discourse. Scientific writing on human and nonhuman taxonomies and natural histories often conflated race and species categories in their arguments and overwhelmingly sought to justify global white supremacist endeavors of imperialism, enslavement, and oppression. Throughout the nineteenth century, questions of humans’ relation to and separation from nonhuman animals were intensely debated. The “dehumanization” of nonwhite people was fed by these discourses and further complicated by the racialization of human-animal interactions. The heterogeneity of animal-human relations and the importance of race to these relations is evident in phenomena such as Euro-American naturalizations of white supremacy in scientific taxonomies, myths about Native American and African people’s relationship to animals in shared geographical spaces, and the collection of animals and nonwhite people in museum and zoo exhibitions.


Human-Animal studies therefore necessitates a discussion of race and how this category has been constructed alongside and in connection with categories of species. This course will ask students to examine commonalities between how race and species have been discussed in American and transatlantic literatures throughout the “long” nineteenth century. Readings will introduce students to the similar rhetorics for discussing race and species in places like scientific essays attempting to define these categories, stories in which ideas of race and species uncomfortably overlap or which interrogate these categories, and literatures in which animals are racialized and humans are animalized. We will read texts in which race and species come together in various genres, including European and American scientific writing, nineteenth-century novels, children’s literature, and Native American and Afro-Caribbean folklore. We will consider how race and species have been historically constructed through a shared lineage and how this history matters for how we discuss these categories in the present.

 

“Labor Theory, Literature and Cinema” (CL 770)

Sarah Wells

W 3:30-6:00

The course will map out the extraordinary outpouring in contemporary scholarship—bridging the fields of literary studies, sociology, film and media studies, and political theory—that attempts to account for the drastic shifts taking place in our understanding of work’s character, legitimacy, and value over the last decades. We will explore accounts of the shift from Fordism to post-Fordism, material to immaterial labor, the erosion of the work/leisure divide, the emergence of the precariat, and the post-Occupy status of the strike, with an eye towards how these terms and figures travel globally. Among the contemporary theorists we will read are: Joshua Clover, Jonathan Crary, Isabel Lorey, Lauren Berlant, Fredric Jameson, and Alberto Toscano; we will also trace the dialogues these stage with now-classic approaches by Hannah Arendt, Arlie Hochschild, Simone Weil, Jacques Rancière, Siegfried Kracauer, C. Wright Mills, Paul Lafargue, the Italian Autonomists, and filmmaker-theorists Harun Farocki and Hito Steyerl. And we will anchor our theoretical readings around a series of contemporary films and novels, considering the specificity of the medium of books and films to apprehend labor’s affective and sensorial, as well as conceptual and political, dimensions. While we will focus on contemporary Brazilian, Chinese, German and U.S. examples as case studies, students are encouraged to bring their specific disciplinary and linguistic training to bear upon our discussions and in the final research paper, which might focus on a wide range of potential objects.

 

“Seminar on Translation” (CL 822)

Vinay Dharwadker

M 4:00-6:30

This seminar will focus on both the theory and practice of scholarly and literary translation. Translation Studies has expanded enormously as a field of study in the past two decades, and has become one of the primary areas of theoretical exploration and interdisciplinary practice across the humanities and social sciences today. In comparative studies generally, and especially in comparative literary and cultural studies, translation remains an essential practical discipline and skill. This seminar will review major elements and recent developments in Translation Studies (including theories of translation), and will explore the actual practice of textual and literary translation in a variety of contexts. This seminar is required for Ph.D. students in CLFS, but will also be very useful for advanced graduate students in other humanistic disciplines, ranging from Classics and Communication Arts to modern European and Asian languages and literatures.

  

CL 958. See CL 358. Livanos.

 

 

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Fall, 2016

 

“Introduction to Folklore” (FL 100)

Ruth Olson MW 1:20 - 2:10 5231 Social Science Bldg.

           An introduction to the study of folklore - the art and expression of everyday life, FL 100 examines a wide range of oral and material genres, including narrative and other forms of verbal folklore, belief, custom, foodways, folk art, music and events.

        Studying folklore offers the opportunity to hone several important skills: information-gathering (not only in the library, but also out in the world through interviewing and observation); critical reading (not only of print texts, but also folkloric "texts" such as objects, landscapes and events); and critical thinking (not only discerning cultural patterns, but also selecting effective details for specific audiences).

 

“Tragedy” (CL 201)

Christopher Livanos TR 11:00 - 12:15 2335 Sterling Hall

              This class will first focus on the Ancient Athenian tragic playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. For the second part of the course we will read four Shakespearean tragedies and a play by the French dramatist Jean Racine. As we turn to the Early Modern period, we will examine why Renaissance authors began writing in the ancient genre of tragedy which had rarely been used for some fifteen centuries. In the beginning of the course, we will discuss ancient theories of tragedy, particularly the theories spelled out by Aristotle in his Poetics, where he defines the tragic hero as a man who is good and noble yet somehow “misses the mark.”  In our discussions of Shakespeare, we will examine how the Elizabethans altered the characteristics of ancient  

“Global Science Fiction” (CL 202)

Sarah Wells MW 11:00 - 12:15 6104 Social Science Bldg. 

            Science fiction (“SF”) has become an important means of interpreting contemporary problems on a global scale. This course explores SF’s relationship to the problem of the global in two ways: first, by exploring multiple examples of SF around the world; secondly, by considering SF as a lens for investigating urgent global problems — including environmental destruction, surveillance, artificial intelligence, and genetic experimentation — that probe the limits of what it means to be human in the world. We will read short stories and novels and watch films by artists from the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Kenya, Japan, China, and more.

 

“Calling Planet Earth. Introduction to Environmental Humanities” (CL 203, Lecture 001)

Frederic Neyrat MW 1:20 - 2:10 6104 Social Science Bldg.

            We live on Earth, but do we know exactly what the Earth is? Is it a mere planet wandering in a cold universe? The quasi-living ecosphere some thinkers call “Gaia”? Or a sort of “spaceship” that geoengineers can enhance and pilot? Drawing on literature (Sun Ra, J.M. Coetzee), cinema (GravityPromised Land), philosophy (H. Arendt), science (P. Crutzen), environmental history (W. Cronon), and anthropology (T. Ingold), this class investigates the crucial issues of our terrestrial condition. If we want to address the environmental problems that humans are confronted with (climate change, loss of biodiversity, technological risks, environmental inequity), we need to change our representations of nature, humans, and technology.

 

“Law & Literature” (CL 203, Lecture 002)

Ralph Grunewald MW 11:00 - 12:15 1335 Sterling Hall

            In this course we explore the two major branches of the law and literature movement: Law in Literature (Part 1) and Law as Literature (Part 2).

            In the first part we discuss how legal themes are depicted in fiction. For example, what can Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird tell us about the law what a law journal article cannot?

            In the second part we address the similarities between law and literature as text-based sciences. How does legal interpretation work and how can narrative theory help us to get a better understanding of the power dynamics in a criminal trial?

 

“The Comparative Study of Race - In & Beyond the US” (CL 205)

Mary Layoun MW 1:20 - 2:10 5106 Social Science Bldg.

            An introduction to the comparative history of the idea of race, its modern literary and cultural articulations, and modern cultural and social practices predicated on that idea and its articulations. Course readings originate both from within and beyond the U.S. For understanding race in the U.S. is understanding the boundaries of its definitions, fictions, and practices here in contrast to definitions, fictions, and practices elsewhere.

            CL205 focuses on the literary articulations of race matters. For, as Deleuze and Guattari remind us about literature, "it seeks to fill the conditions of collective enunciation that is lacking elsewhere in the milieu: literature is the people's concern."

 

“Magical Realism: Cultural Disruption” (CL 350, meets with CL 750)

Beatriz Botero TR 1:00 - 2:15 2335 Sterling Hall

           The notion of Magical Realism has to be understood under the light of Realism. According to Wendy Faris, "the difference, between realism and magical realism; where realism intends its version of the world as a singular version, as an objective representation of natural and social realities (.) in magical realism texts, ontological disruption serves the purpose of political and cultural disruption: magic is often given as a cultural corrective causality, materiality, motivation" (3). This quote foreshadows the importance of order and disorder, the place where myth and reality make waves into each other, blurring the boundaries of what is real and what is magical.

 

“Helen of Troy” (CL 370/Classics 373)

Patricia Rosenmeyer TR 9:30 - 10:45 594 Van Hise Hall

            Helen of Troy is said to have been the most beautiful woman in the world, yet we have no evidence of what she really looked like. This missing piece has worked in her favor, as authors and artists have tried to “fill in the blank” ever since. For over two millennia, her story has inspired countless creative responses, from Homer’s Iliad to Hollywood’s Troy.  Helen makes us think about issues that still resonate today: how do we define beauty? what is worth fighting for? how far should one go for love?  In this course, we will study the story of Helen in multiple retellings, asking questions about the value of beauty, the risks of desire, and the consequences for society when individuals place love above all else. The course fulfills Humanities requirements and requires no prior knowledge of the material.

 

“American Indian Folklore” (AIS 431 / FL 431)

Theresa Schenck MW 2:30 - 3:45 222 Ingraham Hall

 

“Gender and Technology: Literature and Visual Culture” (CL 466)

Sarah Wells MW 2:30 - 3:45 2335 Sterling Hall 

            This course on literature and visual culture explores the political, ethical, artistic, and historical dimensions of the intersection between technology and gender in the modern period. We will begin tracing the trope of the machine woman, from her early incarnations in The Future Eve (1886), through its send-up in the contemporary cyborg film Ex Machina (2015). Why are new media, often depicted as both terrifying and seductive, frequently feminized? How do these depictions shift according to media — including the telephone, the phonograph, the cinema, the typewriter, and the computer? These are the questions we will explore throughout the semester, incorporating literary, filmic, and photographic works from Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The last weeks of the class will be project-based, focusing on contemporary initiatives like Girls Who Code.

 

“Wine and Madness (the Dionysian) in Literature” (CL 475, Lecture 001)

Max Statkiewicz TR 2:30 - 3:45 2319 Sterling Hall

            All great work of literature, all great poetry is the result of a "divine madness," maintained Socrates in Plato's Phaedrus. But the Dionysian can be also excessive and then react detrimentally. Madness and drunkenness were often portrayed in literature as dangerous and disturbing, as for example in Euripides' Bachai or Sophocles' Ajax. In modern literature the question arises as to the divine inspiration of the work. Is it possible to artificially create “divine madness”? If so, what are the limits of such inspiration? In our readings we shall combine both aspects of the Dionysian: the thematic questioning and the question of inspiration.

 

“Narrative, Story, and Fiction” (CL 475, Lecture 002)

Vinay Dharwadker MW 2:30 - 3:45 1335 Sterling Hall

 

“Field Methods & the Public Presentation of Folklore” (FL 490)

Lecturer F 12:00 - 3:00 1323 Sterling Hall

            The course combines a fieldwork practicum with scrutiny of the cultural, political, and ethical dimensions underlying the documentation and public presentation of folklore through festivals, exhibitions, publications, and audio-visual productions.

 

“This is what solidarity looks like?” (CL 500, Lecture 001)

Mary Layoun W 4:00 - 6:30 1335 Sterling Hall

            In addition to our readings, viewings, observations, and discussions of modern concepts, practices, and representations of `solidarity,’ “This is what solidarity looks like?” will also intersect with the lectures of selected Havens Center Visiting Scholars for the semester. (Information on the Havens Center here: http://www.havenscenter.org/programs & http://www.havenscenter.org/vsp). Specific information will be available prior to the beginning of fall semester, 2016.

 

“The Double: Modernity & the divided self” (CL 500, Lecture 002 / meets with FL & RS 359)

Ernesto Livorni TR 11:00-12:15 209 Animal Science Bldg.

            The course focuses on the concept of the doppelgänger, or the double. This is a concept that received great attention in a theoretical work by Otto Rank, The Double (1914). Although that study privileges a psychological approach, it discusses the mythical dimension of that concept, as it develops from ancient religions (Greece, Judaism, and Christianity) to modernity. The double is a figure that becomes an image of terror once the collapse of religion causes the transformation of the gods into demons. Modernity is the historical and cultural phase in Western culture in which the double becomes a prominent representation of the divided self no more able to find its wholeness in contact with the divine. 

 

“Scottish Traditions” (FL 518)

Christopher Livanos TR 8:00 - 9:15 1335 Sterling Hall

This class will study an overview of the multilingual and multicultural literary and folkloric traditions of Scotland.  We will read texts that were originally in Gaelic, Scots, and English, and we will discuss how modern Scotland continues to change.  Parts of the class will examine voices from the Scottish diaspora as well as voices from communities that have arrived in Scotland in modern times.

 Tentative reading list

The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse, eds. Robert Crawford and Mick Imlah

Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton: Na Beanntaichean Gorma Agus Sgeulachdan Eile à Ceap Breatainn, trans. John Shaw

Walter Scott,  Rob Roy

John Buchan, The Thirty-Nine Steps

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Jackie Kay, Trumpet

Iain Crichton Smith, Consider the Lilies

 

“Transposing Experience: The Intellectual Work of Re-Presenting Expressive Culture” (FL 530 / meets with Scandinavian Studies 520)

Tom DuBois R 4:00 - 6:30 2335 Sterling Hall

            This seminar examines the ways in which culture workers—artists, writers, scholars—work to transform the complexities of apparent or emergent meaning within expressive culture into fixed records. Creating anthologies, novels, documentaries, ethnographies, exhibits, films and other products, workers aim to preserve, convey, interpret and display the ideas of other people. Drawing on contemporary theory and practice from the fields of folklore studies, textual studies, literary studies, linguistics and anthropology, we will examine case studies in the representation of cultural phenomena from the medieval to the modern, from the scriptural to the digital, and from the Nordic region to Native North America.

 

“In Search of the Real: Literature and Realism” (CL 771)

Frederic Neyrat M 4:00 - 6:30 1335 Sterling Hall

            Back to reality! This might be the motto of several contemporary thinkers: Graham Harman’s “speculative realism” and Karen Barad’s “agential realism” strive to reinvent a more material relation to reality, things, and objects. Yet what kind of reality is shaped through these theoretical frames? Is realism the disguise of an unmentionable fiction? Through the analysis of novels, poems, theoretical texts, and videos (John Steinbeck, Charles Reznikoff, H.P. Lovecraft, Reza Negarestani, Georg Lukács, Jacques Lacan, Fredric Jameson, Anna Tsing, Donna Haraway, Jussi Parikka, David Lynch), we will consider if works of art represent reality or confront the impossibility of exhausting its description.

 

“Literary Sublime” (CL 770)

Max Statkiewicz R 4:30 - 7:00 1407 Sterling Hall 

            The question of the sublime is the question of the sensible presentation or rather of the unpresentable, which according to Lyotard we (the postmodern) should "put forward in presentation itself." We are going to try to understand Lyotard and other proponents of the postmodern sublime, but also survey the long tradition of the sublime – from Longinus to Burke and Kant. The collection of essays from the eighties of the last century, Off the Sublime, will be our point of departure. We shall read some texts that form the basis of the theories of the sublime: Homer, Sophocles, Plato Shakespeare, Baudelaire.

             

 

 

 

Previous Courses

Spring, 2016

CL 202 (001): “Weird Lit.: Humans, Cyborgs, and Animals”
Professor Frederic Neyrat
MW 1:20 - 2:10 /  1310 Sterling Hall

     This class will focus on the singular forms of being that people literature: humans and also non-humans, a vast category including animals, insects, plants, cyborgs, and robots. We will pay attention to the weird characters that we encounter in novels: Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote), Bartleby (Herman Melville's "Bartleby"), and a "blind but wise" old woman (Toni Morrison's "Nobel Lecture"). We will meet a famous monster (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), and neurotic superheroes (Alan Moore'sWatchmen). We will also try to understand why robots can become more human than humans (Isaac Asimov's I, Robot). These readings will lead us to reconsider the representations we have of humans, animals, and technological beings. 

 

CL 202 (002): “Magical Realism: Cultural Disruption” 
Dr. Beatriz Botero 
TR 11:00 - 12:15  / 1339 Sterling Hall
     The notion of Magical Realism has to be understood under the light of Realism. According to Wendy Faris, "the difference, between realism and magical realism; where realism intends its version of the world as a singular version, as an objective representation of natural and social realities (.) in magical realism texts, ontological disruption serves the purpose of political and cultural disruption: magic is often given as a cultural corrective causality, materiality, motivation" (3). This quote foreshadows the importance of order and disorder, the place where myth and reality make waves into each other, blurring the boundaries of what is real and what is magical.
     In this class, we will employ theoretical approaches from different disciplines and perspectives to explore the relationships between love and violence in literature, film and our imagination. We will consider works by Gabriel García Márquez among others and movies like Amelie (2001) Dir. Jean Pierre Jeunet.

 

CL 203 (001): "American Girls & American Girlhood" 
Professor Brigitte Fielder
MW 9:55 - 10:45  /  5231 Social Science Building

     The popular American Girl franchise of dolls, accessories, and books introduces many young people to different periods of American history. In its stories, stores, and catalog, American Girl also constructs the categories "American" and "girl" in interesting and complex ways that demand a closer examination of how "American girlhood" has been represented in other literature. In this course we will put American Girl's historical fiction stories into conversation with literary texts written for both children and adults, by authors such as Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Jacobs, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our comparisons will give insight into how "American girlhood" is constructed. 

 

CL 203 (002): "Scary Monsters"
Professor Christopher Livanos
MW 11 - 11:50  /  180 Science Hall
     
We will examine how and why the human imagination creates non-human monsters. Beginning with the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh’s portrayal of humanity rising to civilization from an earlier beast-like existence, we will read Beowulf and The Saga of the Volsungs for a sense of Tolkien’s background in Medieval Literature when we read his The Children of HurinThe Saga of The Volsungs will also show us examples of transgressors whose crimes cause them to forfeit their humanity and become monsters or animals.
     Mary Shelley provides a more modern twist on the monster story by sympathizing with the monster as a well-meaning but misunderstood social outcast. We will then examine H.P. Lovecraft’s construction of extraterrestrial, malign, and superhuman monsters as the embodiment of the modern fear that man is not the center of the universe, the measure of all things, or really very significant at all. 

 

CL 203 (003): "The Folktale" (meets with FL 220)
Professor Tom DuBois
MW 9:55 - 10:45  /  5206 Social Science Bldg.
     Storytelling--narration--is one of the most universal of human arts. Stories let us express and shape ourselves, interpret the world, and seek to influence others. This course examines stories and storytelling cross-culturally. Drawing on folkloristic perspectives, we look at questions of genre, gender, human interaction, and history, and examine stories particularly about work, health, childhood, aging, and belief. The course involves fieldwork as well as readings of folktales from various parts of the world. 

FL 220: "The Folktale" (meets with CL 203:003)
     See course description above.

 

FL 230: "Introduction to American Folklore"
Dr. Ruth Olson
T 9:30 - 10:45  /  1339 Sterling Hall

     This introduction to American folklore considers ethnic, regional, religious, occupational and other cultures, emphasizing how diverse peoples (African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Appalachians, Chicanos, Germans, Jews, miners, service workers, etc.) use stories, songs, customs, and material culture to express their experiences within American life. Students will have opportunities to practice such folklore methods as interviewing, observation and documentation as well as critical thinking, analysis and description. The format of this course is BLENDED (on-line work followed up with in-class active-learning projects). The class will meet once during the week; each class is based on work already completed online.

 

Religious Studies 278: "Food in Rabbinic Judaism" (meets with Jewish Studies 278)
Professor Jordan Rosenblum
MW 2:30 - 3:45  /  22 Ingraham Hall

     When considering the kosher laws, people often think of the prohibitions of pork, mixing milk and meat, and eating food not prepared under rabbinic supervision. However, only the pork prohibition is explicit in the Hebrew Bible. The other two are found only in rabbinic literature. Rabbinic Judaism greatly expands upon biblical legislation, innovating a wide array of food practices. Focusing on rabbinic texts, students will explore how and why these novel approaches to food come about. In doing so, students will see how food has been shaped by - and, in turn, shapes - rabbinic Judaism. In order to complete this perspective, the course includes an examination of the modern impact of early rabbinic decisions on food practices. Come hungry to learn! 

 

FL 347: "Kalevala & Finnish Folklore" (meets with Literature in Translation 347 & Scandinavian Studies 444)
Professor Tom DuBois
TR 1 - 2:15  /  205 Van Hise Hall

It is arguable that Finland is a country created by a book.  In 1835, in the aftermath of an 1809 territorial transfer of the Finnish Grand Duchy from Sweden to Russia, a young Finnish intellectual Elias Lönnrot published the Kalevala,  the Finnish "national epic." That book became the basis of a notion of Finnish national identity that developed in remarkable ways over the course of the nineteenth century, becoming the focus of folkloristic, literary, symphonic, operatic, dramatic, artistic, and political activities. It helped Finnish nationalists resist processes of Russification and imagine a national independence for the country of Finland that became a reality in 1917.  Over the course of two wars against the Soviet Union, and through the tense era of the Cold War, the Kalevala remained an important implement in imagining and defending a sense of Finnishness in the world. In more recent years, the Kalevala and the musical traditions and ancient heritage it enshrines, have helped Finns think through the implications of EU membership and imagine the place of Finnish identity in a global world,, one in which international authors like J.R.R. Tolkien could experience and borrow from Finnish culture in their own literary and artistic works. This interdisciplinary course examines the Finnish and Karelian song traditions that Lönnrot used to create his epic, the epic itself, and the myriad artistic products that have come since, both Finnish and international. Students will learn why The Kalevala stands as the most important book ever published in Finland and the many ways in which its ancient messages become renewed and revealed in culture over time.

CL 350: "Buddhism & Literature"
Professor Christopher Livanos
MW 8 - 9:15  /  1335 Sterling Hall
      
We will study literary texts from a variety of Buddhist traditions as well as modern texts influenced by Buddhist thought. The class will discuss the development of the Buddhist religion and differences between the various forms of Buddhism. Readings include
    Kevin Trainor's anthology Buddhism,
    the influential early text The Dhammapada
    the works of Ashvaghosha, 
    the work of the eighth-century Chinese poet Wang Wei, 
    a collection of poems by the Tibetan yogi Milarepa. 
Continuing to read our selected texts in chronological order, we will study 
    Yoshida Kenko's Essays in Idleness; 
    parts of Osamu Tezuka's series of graphic novels based on the life of the Buddha. 

 

FL 359: "The First Murder: The Myth of Cain and Abel" (meets withReligious Studies 359CL 500:001Legal Studies 450)
Professor Ernesto Livorni
TR 1 - 2:15  /  4308 Social Science Bldg.
     
The course wants to read the myth of Cain and Abel as it is narrated in the so-called Old Testament and as it is retold in modern and contemporary literature. Some of the questions that the course will contemplate concern the possible difference between murder and homicide, the reasons for God's punishment to Cain, death penalty. The literature we will read will include the following authors among others: Byron, Baudelaire, Conrad, Melville, Unamuno, Hesse, Ungaretti, Luzi, Steinbeck. The course will also consider the work of organizations such as Amnesty International and Hands Off Cain. 

 

CL 371: "Myth & Literature"
Professor Max Statkiewicz 
TR 2:30- 3:45  /  2319 Sterling Hall
     If myth tends to occupy the totality of the social, political, and cultural space, there seems to be no place from which to analyze myth in a non-mythic, scientific way. Perhaps literature, as the place of myth's origin, would be an alternative place where its nature could be revealed. We shall examine some Western classical myths as we know them from the texts of Homer, Sophocles, Ovid, and others, as well as the texts confronting mythology, not only as a collection of beautiful stories, but also as part of the tradition that determines our understanding of the world. 

 

FL 467: "Women and Politics in Popular Culture and Folklore" (meets with Gender & Women's Studies 467)
Professor Christine Garlough
M 3 - 5:30  /  Room pending
     How popular culture and folklore have been used by women as rhetorical tools that promote deliberation and debate, broaden political engagement, and advance particular social identities. Global content, with examples from around the world. 

 

FL 430: "American Indian Religion" (meets with Religious Studies 403)
Professor Theresa Schenck
TR 11 - 12:15  /  1313 Sterling Hall
This course examines the traditional knowledge and practices of the indigenous peoples of North America, as well as post-contact developments such as the influence of Christianity and the revitalization movements.

 

FL 460: "Folk Epics"
Dr. Scott Mellor
TR 11 - 12:15  /  1407 Sterling Hall
     Folk Epic is a course that will look at the poetic narrative form from primarily Europe and West-Asia. This course approaches the Folk Epics along theoretical lines, with a look at the oral nature, structure, performance traditions, epic ideology as well as life transition and gender. 

 

CL 466: "Working"
Professor Sarah Wells
MW 8:25 - 9:40 / 1339 Sterling Hall
     Work is what a body is obligated to do, according to Mark Twain. But work has just as often been a source of pride, community, artistic inspiration — and even pleasure. This interdisciplinary course explores how literature, cinema, and visual art take on work in the modern period. From Marx to the Mexican muralist movement, and from the ruins of Detroit to contemporary science fiction, artistic production makes vivid the emotional, embodied, ethical, and political dimensions of labor, exploring how work captures our dreams and anxieties about our place in the world. The course will emphasize group discussion, collaborative work, and a final project that investigates the unique challenges of labor in the contemporary period. 

 

CL 500 (001): "The First Murder: The Myth of Cain and Abel" (meets with Religious Studies 359FL 359Legal Studies 450)
Professor Ernesto Livorni
TR 1 - 2:15  /  4308 Social Science Bldg.
     See description for FL 359 above. 

 

CL 500 (002): "Guilt"
Professor Ralph Grunewald
TR 2:30 - 3:45  /  579 Van Hise Hall
     Guilt is a central concept in law, psychology, literature, religion, and many other disciplines. It raises fundamental questions of human agency and accountability. In this seminar we will take a comparative approach toward guilt. How does an individual or a collective become guilty? What is the nature of guilt, what are its limits? We will focus on how guilt is culturally and textually constructed and how it is influenced by different disciplines, like for example neurosciences. The reading list will include court cases and texts from psychology (Freud), philosophy (Nietzsche) and literature (Kafka). 

 

FL 510: "Folklore Theory"
TBA
F 11 - 2  /  1339 Sterling Hall

     Symbolical, psychoanalytic, Marxian, structuralist and performance theory models for analyzing expressive culture. Topics include play, ritual, festival, food, customs, class and the symbolism, structure and politics of narrative. 

 

FL 522: "Digitally Documenting Everyday Communication" (meets withCA 522)
TBA
TR 11 - 12:15PM  /  3161 Vilas Hall
TR 2:30 -3:45  /  3161 Vilas Hall
     Teaches the use of digital recording technologies, archiving, and analysis of everyday communication and culture. Surveys scholarly approaches to everyday expressive communication.
 

 

CL 750: "Race in Cultural & Literary Theory"
Professor Brigitte Fielder
W 2:30-5:00  /  1335 Sterling Hall

     This graduate seminar will explore the question of what we talk about when we talk about race in the study of literature and literary culture. The significance of race for understanding literature has been taken up by various interdisciplinary fields, including Ethnic Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Cultural Studies. As the intersectionality of identity and embodiment complicates structures of power and oppression, fields such as Gender and Feminist Studies and Queer Studies have taken up race, broadening theoretical avenues further. Our texts will include writing by some foundational theorists, such as Aimé Césaire, Paul Gilroy, Toni Morrison, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, as well as more recent scholarship. We will also discuss strategies for incorporating antiracist practices into our own scholarship, writing, colleagueship, and pedagogy. 

 

CL 771: "Global Modernisms?"
Professor Sarah Wells
M 2:30 - 5  /  1335 Sterling Hall
     
This course has a dual purpose: first, to map the global turn in modernist studies and the disciplinary and institutional shifts that make it possible; and second, to collectively sketch the terms for a comparative, multilingual modernist studies that does not take English as its center. To that end, we will analyze manifestos, novellas, poetry, and essays by modernists from Peru, Russia, Brazil, France, Japan, Germany, India, and Norway, along with cinema and muralism. And we will read and view them alongside theories of modernism/modernity’s itineraries. The second half of the semester will be conducted as a workshop, allowing students to translate their specific expertise to their colleagues. 

 

CL 975: "Phenomenology and/in Literature"
Professor Max Statkiewicz
R 4:30 - 7  /  1323 Sterling Hall
     
The English verb "to appear," like the Greek phainesthai, is ambiguous: its participle can either indicate what is "only apparent" and deceptive, covering up the real thing, or it can point to an outward look of the thing itself, to the way it "shows itself." Contrary to the so-called natural attitude, phenomenological thought thematizes this ambiguity. Phenomenology has been the most influential current in contemporary (continental) philosophy, closely related to art and literature. In this seminar, we shall explore this relationship in the texts of the phenomenologists (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty), theorists and literary critics (Ingarden, Wellek), and writers famous for their "phenomenological descriptions" (Rilke, Robbe-Grillet).