World Literature

Contact: TBA, Chair, Foreign Languages and Literatures

Courses in world literature are designed to enable students to pursue their interests in literature beyond linguistic, cultural, or departmental boundaries. Classes and readings are in English, but students with foreign language proficiency are encouraged to read in the original language. The courses are taught by the members of the foreign languages and literatures and Spanish departments. The material may be drawn from various literatures such as Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish.

Distribution: Courses completed in world literature apply to the humanities and cultural pluralism distribution areas, with the following exception:
     No distribution: 391, 392

The World Literature minor: A minimum of 18 credits in World Literature. Besides courses listed here, selected courses in Classics, Environmental Studies, French, German Studies, Spanish, and Theatre will count toward the minor in World Literature, including Classics 130, 140, 217, 226, and 377; Environmental Studies 217 and 226; French, all 400-level courses; German Studies all 400-level courses; Spanish, all 400-level courses; and Theater 371, 372, and 377. For other courses, please consult the World Literature contact person.

201-204 Special Topics in World Literature, Intermediate Level
4

Courses under this category explore selected topics in world literature at the intermediate level. Any current offerings follow.

222 Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture
4; not offered 2014-15

This course introduces students to selected works of Japanese literature from the 20th century. The course will cover a wide range of prose fiction including autobiographical fiction, realist and fantastic novels as well as works in popular literature genres, including detective and satirical fiction. We will explore the ambivalent ways in which Japanese writers incorporated Western literary theories and concepts into the domestic literary tradition in their efforts to create a “modern Japanese literature.” In addition to the impact of industrialization on human perception and writers’ narrative modes, we will consider how modern printing technologies changed reading practices. Taught in English. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Japanese minor.

301 Chinese Literature and Film Adaptation
x, 4 He

Since the 1920s, the rise of cinema has reinvented the Chinese artistic sphere, providing artists and producers alike with a modern medium of expression. While the emergence of a movie-going culture has created new audiences in a shifting society, the stories and their subject matter have been largely carried over from literature. Currently, over 65% of Chinese films are adapted from literary works, a statistic that suggests Chinese literature as an extension as well as reinterpretation of the culture’s literary tradition. This class will discuss literary works and their movie adaptations comparatively. By considering both types of media, it will analyze the emergence of the new cinematic tradition while fostering a debate over the emergence of the 20th and 21st Century Chinese identity. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies or Film and Media Studies majors or Chinese minor.

315 Between History and Fiction: Classical Chinese Narrative
4, x Hu

This course familiarizes participants with the major works of traditional Chinese narrative. In order to broaden general knowledge of this rich literary heritage and to acquaint students with works from historical narratives in the Han dynasty to the great 18th century novel Dream of the Red Chamber, the course will combine a close reading of texts with broader questions about literature and culture across different periods of Chinese history. We will explore how these works reflected and influenced the changing ideals of Chinese society—of its readers, writers and critics –paying special attention to issues such as the concept of “fiction” and “fictionality,” the birth of the novel in traditional China, the portrayal of heroic figures, the representation of history, and the treatment of gender relations, among others. Skills emphasized will include close reading, writing analytical papers, and verbal expression. Readings and discussion will be in English; there are no pre-requisites for this course. May be elected as Asian Studies 315. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Chinese minor.

320 Race, Trauma, Narrative
4; not offered 2014-15

This course examines the concept of racial trauma in contemporary literature and literary theory. Often described as a hallmark of modern life, trauma has attracted critical attention as a limit case through which to explore the nature of language, memory and the self, and the ethical and political implications of representing violence. Taking postcolonial French texts as a point of departure, this course asks how race and trauma intersect, and how their study illuminates relationships between the personal and the collective; the historical and the transhistorical; narrative genre and transmission; and witnessing, writing and power. May be taken for credit toward the French or Race and Ethnic Studies majors.

325 Imagining Community through Contemporary Japanese Fiction and Film
4; not offered 2014-15

In this course we will explore selected works of Japanese fiction and film created during the “postmodern” period (from 1980 to the present.) During this period, the sense of belonging to a traditional community such as nation and family is said to have weakened—or perhaps dissipated altogether— in Japan. The overarching question we engage with is what kinds of different communities and subjectivities are imagined in and through literary and filmic texts during this period. Hence, we will not treat these works merely as representations of contemporary Japanese society but also as the sites where creative efforts to imagine different forms of community are unfolding. We will conduct close readings of each literary and filmic text and examine their varying functions within their socio-historical context particularly the economic bubble and subsequent recession. In order to do a contextual reading, along with assigned fiction and filmic texts, we will read works from such fields as cultural studies, anthropology, and critical theory. In so doing, students will be expected to constantly question their assumptions about contemporary Japanese culture and society. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Japanese minor.

326 The Femme Fatale: the Question of “Woman” in Modern Japanese Fiction
4; not offered 2014-15

Women have often been represented as idealized, seductive, and dangerous femme fatales in Japanese literature. In this course we shall trace and analyze various literary configurations of femme fatales specifically in the context of late 19th century and 20th century Japan. The questions we shall engage with will include: what are the implications of the femme fatale in the construction of male subjectivity and what constitutes a modern subject? We shall also investigate how some literary works, particularly those written by women writers, offer understandings of female subjectivity that are irreducible to an idealized object of male desire or to a marginalized figure lacking full-fledged selfhood. The writers whose works we will read include Mori Ôgai, Izumi Kyôka, Tanizaki Jun’ichirô, Kawabata Yasunari, and Enchi Fumiko. We will bring primary works of fiction into dialogue with supplementary critical and theoretical materials. May be elected as Gender Studies 326. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Japanese minor.

328 Haiku and Nature in Japan
x, 4 Takemoto

This course will enter the haiku/haikai world by reading poems and essays by two haiku poets, Basho (1644-1694) and Issa (1763-1827), and stories by Japan’s first Nobel Prize winning novelist, Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972). The course will explore the nexus between Haiku and Mahayana Buddhist thought and trace how writers and poets and monks shared a literary and religio-aesthetic vocabulary to express an insight into the human condition, the nature of reality, time and eternity, world and nature. Environmental studies students may use this course to satisfy humanities distribution requirements in the major. Environmental humanities students may use this course as one of the three elective courses required for their major. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Japanese minor.

330 Introduction to Chinese Film
4; not offered 2014-15

What is Chinese cinema and what is Chinese cinema? We will explore this question through an introduction of major authors, genres, and cinematic movements in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan from the 1930s to the present. Combining textual analysis and readings in socio-cultural background, this course examines what has shaped Chinese film industry and screen imagery. Among other things, it will focus on: the genre structuring of Chinese films in relation to Hollywood and European cinemas and the ways nation, gender, social and private space are imagined and constructed on the silver screen. All films are subtitled in English. No prerequisite in Chinese language is required. This course should be of interest to students in Cinema Studies, Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, Media Studies, and Postcolonial Studies. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies or Film and Media Studies majors or Chinese minor.

338 Undoing the Japanese National Narrative through Literature and Film
4, x Shigeto

In this course we focus on the literary works and films of Japan’s post-WWII period from the mid-1940s through the 1970s and explore the ways in which writers and filmmakers responded to the social and cultural transformations brought about by war, defeat, occupation, and recovery. The main questions to be addressed include: How did writers and filmmakers engage with the question of war responsibility in and through their works? What does it mean to “take responsibility for war”? How do their works, at both levels of form and content, critique and undo the official national narrative that largely coincided with the modernization theory put forth in the early 1960s? How long does the “postwar” last? Taught in English. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Japanese minor.

343 Women Writers in Imperial China: In Search of the “Real” Female Voice
4; not offered 2014-15

Despite the dominance of men as authors, subjects, and readers of literature throughout the two millennia of imperial China (221 BCE-1911 CE), this same period also saw the emergence and development of a rich tradition of women’s literature. In this course, we will discuss what kinds of women wrote literary works, and how the marginal status of women’s literature affected the genres in which women wrote and the subjects with which they could deal. As China’s male literature came to develop its own tradition of writing in the voice of women, we will pay special attention to the questions of how women found their own voice despite this pre-existing feminine tradition. Literary works from different historical periods will service as a means to learn about the changing historical and social conditions behind women’s writing. We will also put some long-existing assumptions about pre-modern Chinese women and Chinese society into critical scrutiny. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Chinese minor.

349 China through the Cinematic Eye
4; not offered 2014-15

This course examines contemporary Chinese language cinematic works that are well-known to general audiences or critically acclaimed at film festivals. We will discuss popular as well as arthouse films, either by one auteur (director) who has taken on multiple roles or by selected directors from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas. Thematic and generic aspects of the film will be discussed in relation to evolving images of China discretely constructed for domestic or international audiences. All films are subtitled in English. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Chinese minor.

359 A Brave New World: Contemporary Chinese Literature
4; not offered 2014-15

An introduction to Chinese literature from the early 20th century to the present. In China the written word was traditionally treated as a link between people who were otherwise divided by mutually unintelligible dialects. The institution of a new modern vernacular in the 20th century therefore constituted an inaugural moment in modern Chinese history, opening up literature to a much larger audience for the imagination of a new China. How would Chinese literature shape and be shaped by the imagination of the new China? How would modernity/revolution be naturalized through native traditions (such as martial arts genres and ecological romanticism)? How would women, youth, and established artists find a place in larger dialogues? We will discuss these questions through reading major works and literary movements in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The course is conducted in English. No prerequisite in Chinese language is required. May be taken for credit toward the Asian Studies major or Chinese minor.

387-390 Special Studies in World Literature
4

Selected problems of developments in a non-English literature. Such topics as Medieval Courtly Literature, Scandinavian Drama, European Romanticism, Twentieth Century German Fiction, Existentialism, the Enlightenment, the Picaresque and Symbolism may be studied. All material will be read in English translation. Any current offerings follow.

391, 392 Independent Study
1-3, 1-3 Staff

Directed reading and preparation of a critical paper or papers on a topic suggested by the student. The project must be approved by the staff. The number of students accepted for this course will depend on the availability of the staff. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

395 Contemporary Literary Theory
x, 4 Zalloua

This course will expose students to the major contemporary theoretical approaches to literary studies. We will examine a broad array of critical schools and perspectives, including reader-response theory, feminism, poststructuralism, and postcolonial studies. We will pay special attention to the recent “Ethical Turn” in literary studies influenced by the works of French philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. May be taken for credit toward the major in French, Gender Studies, or Race and Ethnic Studies.