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Graduate Courses

551 Translation and Technology

This is an introduction to the exciting world of translation and multilingual computing. The course covers a range of technologies that are useful for students of all languages, helping them expand their international communication skills. Technologies covered include multilingual word processing, desktop publishing, proofing tools, Web translation and design, video subtitling, and the transfer and translation of sound and image files. Open to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Readings with discussion, experiments with latest technology, practice in lab.

559  Global Modernisms

Working outward from the tools and techniques used by modernist novelists in Europe and the Americas, this course explores the intersection of engagement and global modernism.  The course focuses on the ways that novelists move beyond social realism, using formalist methods to create engaged narratives that serve the purposes of social critique and national building in the tradition of Joyce, Faulkner, Garc a Marquez, and Morrison. Questions to be explored include the implied readership, boundaries between modernism and postmodernism, and the porous genre boundaries of the novel internationally. Reading will include Soseki, I am a Cat; Le Sueur, The Girl; Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood; Sidwa, Cracking India; Roy, The God of Small Things; Pamuk, My Name is Red; Grenville, The Secret River; and Okri, The Famished Road.

581 Introduction to Interpreting and Translation Research and Practice I

This course is the first part of a two-semester certificate course in the study of interpreting and translation; students who enroll are not required to take the second course unless they are interested in receiving the Certificate in Translation and Interpreting Studies. This course is open to upper level undergraduates and graduate students. While no prior experience in interpreting or translation is necessary, students must have a strong command of English and at least one other language. The course will introduce students to research in the field of interpreting and translation studies and to a number of practical skills required of professional interpreters and translators. Interpreting and translation will be viewed throughout the course as socio-cultural activities as well as linguistic ones. The social, cultural and ethical complexities of the role of interpreters and translators will therefore be an important focus of the course. Students will work with written and spoken texts to develop an understanding of micro-textual elements and macro-textual structures and patterns and understand how to analyze both written and spoken texts. They will begin to develop consecutive and simultaneous interpreting skills using recorded spoken texts in the language lab. Role plays will be conducted to familiarize students with the triadic nature of interpreted communication.

582 Introduction to Interpreting and Translation Research and Practice II

This course is the second part of a two-semester Certificate in the study of interpreting and translation across a range of contexts. In this course, students will continue to build on the knowledge and skills they acquired in the previous semester. Students will work on understanding the institutional and discursive structures of particular institutional domains, gain relevant vocabulary in English and other languages and practice translating, sight translating and interpreting a variety of relevant texts. This course is a designated “Service-Learning” course and endorsed by the office of Civic Engagement and Service-Learning (CESL) at UMass. A part of the course has been designed to provide opportunities for students to engage in a service project outside the classroom that is guided by appropriate input from a community partner and contributes to the public good. Selected project sites have been selected and students, with the help of faculty, will be matched with one or more community partners in the first three weeks of the semester. The CESL component of this course reflects the view that interpreting and translation are socio-cultural activities as well as linguistic ones. Your experiences of serving the community will increase your understanding of the social, cultural, and ethical complexities of the role of interpreters and translators. It will give you first-hand knowledge of the significance of interpreting and translation (and its absence) for members of communities for whom English is not their primary language. All projects will involve some additional reading of relevant literature. Successful completion of this course is a requirement for the Certificate in Translation and Interpreting Studies for undergraduates.

597  NY, LA, Paris: Literature of the Francophone Diaspora

This course examines different theoretical approaches to diaspora alongside contemporary francophone fiction produced in New York, L.A., Paris, and Montreal. We will read novels, short stories and poetry by such major figures as Condé, Césaire, Pineau, Laferrière, Mabanckou, Nichapour, Dongala, and Waberi

691GS  Reading the Global South

This course explores topics in Comparative Literature and the cultural politics of the Global South, taking as a point of departure the history of decolonization and theoretical writings on the postcolonial condition. We will begin by considering the relationship between anticolonial nationalisms and literary culture, the impact of print-colonialism on the grounds of comparison, and debates on the "third world" and the "postcolonial" as both political and literary designations. Interdisciplinary approaches to the question of uneven "development" and cultural "progress" will be further explored through readings on globalization and world systems analysis, theories of cosmopolitanism and literary transnationalism, and comparative writings on the terms of "modernity" and the stakes of lit erary "modernism." The final segment of the course emerges as an outgrowth of critiques of "modernity" and global theories of uneven development: the assertion of (temporal) alterity, literary incomparability, and cultural exceptionalism within the Global South will be explored through readings on linguistic difference, secularism, and the sacred - investigating the question of literary circulation through the prism of translation and the prospects of linguistic untranslatability.

691A Literature and Music 

This course examines the relationship between music and the 20th- 21st-century novel. How has music influenced narrative form? How do texts appropriate musical elements in order to create the illusion of orality and presence? What political and ideological assumptions accompany music in literature? In our discussions, we will also address the status of musical metaphors in literary criticism. Readings will include selections from Abani, Kundera, Carpentier, Cortazar, Morrison, Chamoiseau, Coetzee, Djebar, Bakhtin, Said, Levi-Strauss, Lacoue-Labarthes, and Derrida.

691D   Discipline and Its Discontents

The professional seminar considers both practical matters and theoretical and historical concerns for new and current graduate students in Comparative Literature. Within the practical, we will consider the institutional roles and functions of Comparative Literature alongside World Literature, Translation Studies and Cultural Studies Programs worldwide within the dynamic setting of  the “humanities.” We will discuss practical matters such as the writing and presentation of conference papers, using databases and electronic resources, working with bibliographic software and visual presentations, the politics of the job market and publishing.  Within the historical sphere, we will examine the origins and evolution of Comparative Literature as a discipline, and within the theoretical, we will consider some of the leading debates within the field over the past twenty-five years, from Postmodernism, Deconstruction and Gender and Sexuality studies to Translation Studies and Globalization, Culture and Empire in the 21st century. Guest faculty may speak on their teaching experience within the discipline, on their fields of research, and on their views of problematic aspects within the discipline itself. Several short position papers will be required throughout the semester, and a final presentation based on ongoing research in the student’s current area of study within the discipline.

691MA  The Idea of Writing in the Middle Ages

This course will investigate the concepts of authorship, subject-construction, and reading in medieval literature. In the Middle Ages, the word "author" meant something quite different from what we understand it to mean today, and this distinct notion of authorship - associated with accepted authority rather than originality and with citational interrelationships between texts - had implications for medieval explorations of what it meant to write. Seminar readings will draw from medieval visionary and dream literature, vernacular and Latin prologues, and romance, as well as contemporary critical scholarship. All texts will be available in translation, but students will be expected to read in the original languages when possible.

691NS  Literature and the Formation of the Nation-State in the 19th Century

This course examines the formative role literature played in the process of nation-building in the Americas during the 19th century with particular emphasis on Argentina, Peru and the United States. Authors include-- but are not limited to-- James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ricardo Palma, Clorinda Matto de Turner, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento and Esteban Echeverria. After a brief introduction to methodology and theory and a careful historical contextualization of each writer we will analyze the texts focusing on topics such as gender and romance, race and miscegenation, the past, and space/nature/frontier. 

691NW    Writing the New World
This course offers a hemispheric and comparative approach to the study of Anglo- and Latin American literature and culture from the late fifteenth until the eighteenth century, from the age of exploration to the late colonial period. We will look at a wide variety of texts produced in the wake of European imperial expansion in the Americas (e.g. letters, journals, natural histories, ethnographies, captivity narratives and travel accounts) that chronicle the creation of the so-called New World. How has exploration and travel writing produced the Americas for a European readership and what were the epistemological challenges authors were facing when writing the “New World”?  How did non-Europeans (e.g. indigenous and Creole writers) react to these representational practices and what revisionist accounts did they provide?  How was culture contact portrayed and how were racial ideologies constructed? These are just a few of the questions this course will address.

693A Critical Approaches to North African Literature

This seminar explores the dialogue between North African literature and critical theory since the 1950s.  We will consider how writers engage with and contest prevailing theories of memory, nationalism, gender, language, ethnicity, subjectivity and trauma.  Among the writers we will study are Kateb Yacine, Assia Djebar, Albert Memmi, Driss Chraibi, Albert Cossery, Yasmina Khadra, Leila Sebbar, Ahlam Mosteghanemi and Boualem Sansal. Reading knowledge of French is highly recommended; class discussions will be conducted in English.

693A     Word, Image, and Book
We examine the contested and potentially sublime relationship between words and graphic images as they come together, or are evoked in or by the book in the West.  Although we will begin, of necessity, with an exploration of the political dimensions of image-making, we will not stop there.

693D   Truth in Representation

This seminar will sample the recent critical debate on truth, representation and relativism; we will look at a selection of scientists, critics, writers, and artists as well, in order to describe a variety of dances on the head of this pin. Ours will be a cross-disciplinary investigation of the claims on truth - or the will to truth - across a variety of narrative representations, e.g. in scientific (Oliver Sacks) or psychoanalytic case studies (Freud), in war reporting (Mathew Brady, Paul Fussell, Semezdin Mehmedinovic), in stand-up comedy (Richard Pryor), in film (Haneke) and theater (Beckett), in the graphic novel (Joe Sacco), as well as in more traditional literary texts (Kafka, Woolf, Ondaatje, Saer, Danticat).

695C   Fassbinder/ Godard/Melodrama

What were Godard's early films for Fassbinder?  Instead of rejecting the most influential avant-garde film maker of the sixties, Fassbinder adopted Godard as father. Yet this fathering was a highly selective progeneration. What does the juxtaposition of these film makers reveal and conceal - and not only about Fassbinder's films, since we cannot now see those of Godard without having our past viewings of Fassbinder films in our heads.  Fassbinder sets us on track with two remarks: "Godard believes that film is the truth 24 frames per second, while I believe film is the lie 25 frames per second," and "Both Godard and I despise our characters." The course will raise theoretical issues of spectatorship, tone (irony, distanciation, citation) gender, genre, while being firmly grounded in the formal analysis of filmic text; the construction of the filmic text and its "meaning," and the destruction of subject by means of abyssal structures (mises-en-abyme, structural or metaphoric infinite regresses); Fassbinder's ideological fatigue and complex sexual politics, Godard's political innocence (which is not the same as naivete), his cinematic energy amidst his films' increasing cultural despair. Pre-requisites: familiarity with film theory and discourse, preferably by at least two courses in film analysis.  Course meets as intensive seminar, once a week for 4 hours.  Films selected from: Why Does Herr R. Run Amok and Breathless; American Soldier and Les Carabiniers; The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant and Une Femme Mariée; Effie Briest and Vivre sa Vie; Beware of the Holy Whore and Contempt.

695A   International Film Noir

Often referred to as the only indigenous American film style, "film noir" in its very appellation reveals that its major effects (for certain modern conceptions of cinema) lay elsewhere.  We will examine film noir in its American heyday (1945-1957) and how it came to be a major propelling force in the new European cinema of the 1960's (Godard, and the Cahiers du cinema).  How film noir displaces American social mores and their constitution of "reality" within the imaginary and symbolic fields, and within the symptomatic concretization of those fields that is normative (dominant) cinema.  How film noir both makes film different and allows already latent difference to be manifested.   How film noir takes shape in the U.S. as expression of the inexpressible (and the ‘unheimlich”) or, at least, of the allusion to it; which in the lens and on the screen of directors such as Godard and Fassbinder becomes pseudomorphic, 

751  Theory and Practice of Translation

A many-sided consideration of the practical problems and theoretical issues raised by translation.  Consideration will be given to recent research on the role of translation and translated literature in the history of literary development; special attention will be paid to the politics of translation also.   Practical aspects to be discussed include translation of genre and form (including poetry, dramatic literature), language register and tone, metaphor and imagery, word play.  Lecture/discussion with workshop elements.  Readings: translation theorists, philosophers, linguists.  Requirements: one historical analysis, one translation project, class participation.  Prerequisites:  proficiency in a language other than one's native tongue.

752     Theory and Practice of Comparative Literature

An examination of current issues in Comparative Literature:  their relation to contemporary intellectual debates, and their roots in the history of the discipline.  Topics include translation theory and practive; perspectives on the canon and cultural literacy; cultural and intercultural studies; literary interrelations and polysystems theory; debates over "literature" and Comparative Literature"; gender theory; reading theories; feminist perspectives; interdisciplinary approaches (e.g., film, psychoanalysis); genre theory; and the institution of Comparative Literature:  its research and pedagogy, its role in higher education, and the job market.

791C      International Shakespeare
The purpose of this course is to explore the translation and reception of various Shakespeare plays in different countries. The most widely translated texts in the world are books of the Bible and the plays of William Shakespeare. While much scholarship exists on Bible translations, surprisingly little exists on Shakespeare translations. Students will read several Shakespeare plays in English, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest and review the translation of the plays in different parts of the world, including Germany, France, Canada, the USA, and Latin America. In many instances, the translation of Shakespeare serves as a major event, legitimizing a national language and contributing to the formation of a national identity. Students learn how translators, directors, and critics “use” translation to participate not just in the development in literary culture, but also in the construction of a nation.  Reading, critical engagement, and discussion of the texts will play an important part of the course. Each student will present a short assignment on one Shakespeare translation or production, a translation history paper, and a translation comparison, comparing a translation to the original, two translations, or a translation to a production. Finally, each student will also submit a research paper, either a comparative analysis of one translation/production or a series of translations/productions in one culture over a period of time. The class is intended to be interdisciplinary, open to students from Comparative Literature, English, and the various language and literature departments.

791MN   Engagement and the Modern Novel

A comparative approach to the writing of James Joyce, William Faulkner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Toni Morrison.  These writers are linked in their ability to reveal and comment upon their cultures, their ideological perspicuity, and yet their avoidance of polemic or didacticism.  An exploration of their textual methods that make possible these effects will include the following topics:  speaking from the margin; scrupulous meanness; localism and the creation of imaginative space; mythic structuring as a narrative mode; symbols, reification, and dissociated metaphors; apparitions and voices; repetition as a narrative device; methods of stream-of-consciousness; the power of focalization; modernist and postmodernist strategies.  A broad comparative perspective will be set through student reports on additional authors.  Requirements:  class participation; an oral report; 20-page seminar paper.

792M     Engagement and Global Modernism

Working outward from the tools and techniques used by modernist novelists in Europe and the Americas, this course explores the intersection of engagement and global modernism.  The course focuses on the ways that novelists move beyond social realism, using formalist methods to create engaged narratives that serve the purposes of social critique and national building in the tradition of Joyce, Faulkner, Garc a Marquez, and Morrison. Questions to be explored include the implied readership, boundaries between modernism and postmodernism, and the porous genre boundaries of the novel internationally. Reading will include Soseki, I am a Cat; Le Sueur, The Girl; Rushdie, Midnight's Children; Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood; Sidwa, Cracking India; Roy, The God of Small Things; Pamuk, My Name is Red; Grenville, The Secret River; and Okri, The Famished Road. Requirements:  Reading, class participation, one oral report, and a final paper.

895A   Dissertation Research Seminar

This course is a writing seminar/workshop open to graduate students in Comparative Literature/Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and a forum for individual and collaborative writing and research, including preparation for comprehensive examinations, drafting a dissertation prospectus and chapters; preparation of abstracts and proposals for publication of journal articles and academic conference presentations; refinement of job letters and resumes; and submission of proposals for fellowships, grants, and doctoral research funding.  Students  share information on professional academic opportunities and funding sources, present their own work, and critique drafts and presentations in a mutually supportive environment. New units include: Applying for Jobs Across Professions, Taking Your Career Abroad, Beyond Academia, Applying for a Job, and Getting Published. Selected guests will be invited to join occasionally to share areas of specialization. The seminar is especially appropriate if you are planning to take or have recently completed the comprehensive examination and are ready to develop a prospectus for the dissertation or you find yourself having difficulty making progress on a chosen topic already underway.