Comparative Literature, LLC


Fall 2011 Schedule of Classes: Undergraduate

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121 – International Short Story

(AL) Staff
Lec. 1 – MWF 9:05-9:55
Lec. 2 – MWF 9:05–9:55
Lec. 3 – MWF 1:25-2:15
Lec. 4 – Tu Th 8:00-9:15
Lec. 5 – TuTh 8:00-9:15

Lecture, discussion.  Reading and analysis of a variety of short stories from the Russian, Czech, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, American, and Latin American traditions from the early 19th century to the present.  We will analyze fantastic tales, character sketches, surprise endings; main types of the short story as a special genre marked by compassion and intensity of effect.  All works read in translation.  Course requirements   to be announced.

122 – Spiritual Autobiography

(ALG)  Petroff, office: 413 Herter Hall
Lec. 1 – MW 2:30-3:20
Dis. 1 – F 9:05-9:55
Dis. 2 – F 10:10-11:00
Dis. 3 – F 9:05 -9:55
Dis. 4 – F 12:20-1:10
Dis. 5 – F 11:15-12:05

Lecture, discussion.  Spiritual Autobiography is writing about the self or selves in confrontation with the unknown, during times of personal or social crisis, loss, and rebirth.  (Spiritual in this sense does not necessarily refer to institutionalized religion - in fact, a spiritual crisis may happen through the failure of religion).  We will read autobiographies from several traditions and many time periods – medieval Christianity, 11th century Japan, 20th century Black America, the slums of Modern Brazil, China just before WW II, etc.  Some possible readings:  The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, The Book of Margery Kempe, The Education of Henry Adams, Black Elk Speaks, Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli, Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Daughter of Han, Chogyan Trungpa's Born in Tibet, Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book, and others.  Requirements:  4 short autobiographical papers, 2 pages each.  Midterm in class, take-home final.  No prerequisites.  Heavy Readings.

131 – Brave New World

(ALG) Lenson, office: 427 Herter Hall
Lec. 1 – TuTh 1:00-1:50 – David Lenson
Dis. 1 – F 10:10-11:00
Dis. 2 – F 11:15-12:05 – David Lenson
Dis. 3 – F10:10-11:00
Dis. 4 – F 12:20-1:10
Dis. 5 – F 12:20 – 1:10
Dis. 6 – F 11:15-12:05
Dis. 7 – F 11:15-12:05

Lecture, Discussion. Aim: This course studies texts in the Utopian and Dystopian traditions, prophetic projections of Modernist totalitarian worlds, and postmodern worlds of fragmentation, diversity and abandonment. It will address issues of interest in the current cultural crisis, for example: What is the role of war in maintaining social cohesion? Is individualism still tenable in a world of seven billion people? Is freedom an absolute condition? And what role do art and culture play in the era of global Consumerism? Tentative Readings: Huxley, Brave New World and Island; Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale; Butler, Parable of the Sower; Requirements: Attendance in lecture and section; a weekly quiz; two seven-page papers.  Prerequisites: None.

141 – Good & Evil: East-West

 (ALG) Staff
Lec. 1 – MWF 10:10-11:00
Lec. 2 – MWF 9:05-9:55
Lec. 3 – MWF 12:20-1:10
Lec. 4 – MWF 11:15-12:05
Lec. 5 – MWF 1:25-2:15

An introduction to the imaginative presentation of good and evil in Western and Eastern classics, folktales, children's stories, and 20th century literature.  Cross-cultural comparison of ethical approaches to moral problems such as the suffering of the innocent, the existence of evil, the development of a moral consciousness and social responsibility, and the role of faith in a broken world.

231 – Comedy

(AL) Staff
Lec. 1 – MWF 8:00-8:50a.m.

Our course begins with the premise that contemporary American comedy is informed by the histories of ethnic American groups  — African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and U.S. Latinos/Latinas — along with issues of race, class, sexuality and citizenship. American comedians, independent filmmakers, feminists and transgender comics deploy the language of comedy to invoke serious social matters in contemporary American life: racism, heterosexism, and homophobia, class biases against the poor and the undocumented, misogyny, war and other burning issues of the day. We will thus consider that the ends of comedy are more than laughter. Comedy confronts political issues that are constitutive of and threatening to the U.S. body politic.

256HPoets & Poetry of New England 

(AL) Moebius, office 428 Herter Hall
Commonwealth College students only
Lec. 1 – Th 4:00-6:30

A study of poets and poetry of New England, with attention to the role and function of the natural, social and cultural landscape in nurturing, attracting or sustaining poets, immigrant or native. While poets writing in English, from Ann Bradstreet to Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath, will figure prominently, immigrant poets writing in languages other than English will also be introduced, recognized and discussed. Resources for this course will include specially produced videotapes.

319 Representing the Holocaust

Same as Judaic 319 and English 319
(AL)  James Young
Lec. Tu 2:30-3:45
Dis. 1 – Th 1:00-2:15
Dis. 2 – Th 2:30-3:45
Dis. 3 – Th 1:00-2:15
Dis. 4 – Th 11:15-12:30
Dis. 5 – Th 9:30-10:45

Major writers, works, themes, and critical issues comprising the literature of the Holocaust.  Exploration of the narrative responses to the destruction of European Jewry and other peoples during World War II (including diaries, memoirs, fiction, poetry, drama, video testimonies, and memorials).

335 Comic Art in North America

(AL) Couch, office: 325 Herter
Lec. MW 10:10-11:00
Dis. 1 – W 3:35-4:25
Dis. 2 – F 12:20-1:10
Dis. 3 – F 1:235-2:15
Dis. 4 –F 9:05-9:55
Dis. 5 – F 8:00-8:50

An introduction to comic art, from the beginnings of the newspaper comic strip through the development of comic books, the growth of graphic novels, and current developments in electronic media.  We focus on the history and aesthetics of the medium, comparison between developments in the United States, Mexico, and French Canada, and the social and cultural contexts in which comic art is created and consumed.

The first half of the semester concentrates on early comic strips and the development of the comic book form through the 1940s; the second on the social changes affecting comic art in the 1950s and 1960s, and the development of a comic book subculture in the 1970s and 1980s, and contemporary electronic media developments.  Requirements: Midterm for first half of the course, final on the second half. and one ten-page paper. Reading knowledge of at least one language other than English, preferably Spanish or French.

350French Film

(AT)  Portuges, office: 320 Herter Hall and Lachman, office: 319 Herter Hall
Lec. M 3:35-6:05 – Portuges/Lachman
Dis. 1 – Tu 9:30-10:45
Dis. 2 – Tu 11:15-12:30
Dis. 3 – Tu 1:00-2:15
Dis. 4 – Tu 2:30-3:45

Course taught in English (with screenings).  The development of French film from the 1930s and its relations to French society.   Analysis and reading of specific films, the ideology of different film practices, and relevant aspects of film theory, including questions of representations.  Films by directors such as Vigo, Carné, Renoir, Bresson, Resnais, Godard, Truffaut, Ackerman, Kurys, Tavernier.

387H Myths of the Feminine

Petroff, office: 413 Herter Hall
Lec. 1 MWF 11:15-12:05
Dis.1 W 12:20-1:10

A survey of the ancient and medieval stories of women and men and their goddesses. We’ll begin in the ancient Near East, with the stories of Inanna and Ishtar and their devotees, and then turn to the classical world of Greece and Rome, with the Homeric Hymns and the tale of Cupid and Psyche.  We’ll then survey the images of women in the three ‘religions of the book’--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Taoism and Buddhism.  The medieval world inherited all these traditions, and we’ll read stories from The Arabian Nights, The Canterbury Tales, and the Decameron that illustrate these themes.  We’ll learn about the complexity of images of the feminine, including women as goddesses and priestesses, as leaders of their people, as the embodiment of sexuality and fertility, as pious housewives and cunning deceivers.  This is a 4 credit Honors course.  Readings:  Baring and Cashford, The Myth of the Goddess; Young, An Anthology of Sacred Texts by and about Women; Kinsley, The Goddesses’ Mirror; Wolkstein and Kramer,  Inanna; Rayor, Sappho’s Lyre; selections from the Arabian Nights, Canterbury Tales, and Decameron. Requirements:  Journal every two weeks, three five-page papers, class participation.

391I – Spiritual Cinema East/West

Dienes, office: 405 Herter Hall
Sem –M 7:00-10:00pm
Dis.  – Tu 2:30-3:45

An introduction to spiritual cinema, its themes and characteristics, from early to modern masters. In the context of a brief look at the cinematic achievements of such filmmakers as Bergman, Bresson, Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Pasolini, Fellini and others and their philosophy of film as a spiritual art, we will focus on the art and times of the Russian film director, Andrey Tarkovsky. Of interest to students in Comparative Literature, Film, English, Art, Philosophy, History, Religion, and Russian Studies. No prerequisites, other than an open mind and a genuine interest in filmmaking that is unlike any other. No prior familiarity with the work of these directors is assumed. OIT computer account is required. A significant portion of the course will use resources on the Web; students will be expected to do some of the coursework electronically. Comparative Literature and Russian majors and graduate students will be expected to do some research in a foreign language.

393R Polish & Russian Writers

Lec.  TuTh 9:30-10:45a.m.

In this course we will read masterpieces of twentieth-century Polish and Russian literature. Although Polish and Russian belong to the same linguistic family of Slavic languages, and hence share some cultural affinities, historically they have occupied two opposing ends of the geopolitical spectrum. Keeping in mind their distinct histories and cultural traditions, we will read representative works by major Polish and Russian writers to see what common philosophical themes, if any, can be traced in the cultural production of these two neighboring Eastern European countries. Readings will be chosen from such Russian writers as Evgeny Zamyatin, Boris Pasternak, Mikhail Bulgakov and Liudmila Petrushevskaya and such Polish writers as Bruno Schulz, Czeslaw Milosz, Slawomir Mrozek, Stanislaw Lem, Wislawa Szymborska, Pawel Huelle and Dorota Maslowska. All readings will be in English translation, and no familiarity is assumed with either literary tradition.

397B – Junior Year Writing

Tu Th 1:00-2:15

Junior Year Writing is an advanced composition class, designed specifically to improve the research and writing skills of students majoring in Comparative Literature. Through library sessions and hands-on experience, students will learn how to do library research for an academic paper. In addition, they will learn how to do close readings of texts spanning over a variety of literary genres and media (e.g. poems, short stories, novels, films, comic books, etc.).  Finally, the class will provide a brief overview of the most significant literary theories and their application in text analysis. In order to complete this class successfully, students are expected to choose a topic, research it carefully, and organize their findings into a conference-length paper. The finished papers are to be presented in a formal setting at the end of the semester. Although not specifically intended to teach other types of writing, the class will include sessions that will help the students develop certain skills necessary for job and graduate school applications (e.g. how to write a resume, a statement of purpose, etc.).  The structure of the class is flexible, and it will change every year in order to accommodate best the interests of the students currently enrolled in it. Please note, however, that this is a class in advanced, not basic composition, and as such it will not teach skills covered in English 111 or 112. Students are expected to have developed basic writing skills, including paragraph and essay structure, as well as correct grammar and mechanics, before enrolling in Junior Year Writing.


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