A year-long series of workshops on researching in foreign languages, proposal writing, translation, close reading, the junior essay, and the senior thesis proposal. This junior tutorial is required of all concentrators.
A year-long series of workshops on researching, proposal writing, the senior thesis, and the oral exam. This senior tutorial is required of all concentrators.
What is the relation between literary biography and documentary film? What might the life of a writer tell us about the work? To explore these questions, we will study a range of writers in tandem with documentaries made about their lives. With an emphasis on travel, exile, expatriatism, multilingualism, modernism, and Paris as a literary nexus, we will read work by a selection of twentieth-century authors including James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Isak Dinesen, Ernest Hemingway, Beryl Markham, and Julia Child. Frequently we will pair the viewing of a documentary film with selections from the sources on which it is based. As we challenge the intentional fallacy, we will analyze the cinematic technique with which the film is made and the literary evidence from which it draws. Selections of fictional and nonfictional texts featured in the documentaries will frame our seminar discussions. A centerpiece of the course will be the work of Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen, a Dane who wrote primarily in English, whose memoirs will be read alongside her short fiction and compared to the feature films and documentaries made about her life and her writing. To that end, the seminar will offer students the opportunity to collaborate on and contribute original research to a new documentary film about Blixen’s 1959 transatlantic tour, including her legendary trip to New York and Boston.
A bastardized German, a jargon, a woman’s vernacular, an old world language, a dying and ghostly tongue, a Hasidic language, a queer language, a radical language—these are just a few of the ways that Yiddish has been labeled over its one-thousand-year history. This course will trace the shifting politics attached to Yiddish from its early modern beginnings as a language of translation between Jewish and non-Jewish cultures to its postwar vacillation between a language of mourning and nostalgia, Jewish American humor, Hasidic isolation, and contemporary Jewish radicalism. Through poetry, fiction, essays, and film, we will discuss what it might mean to discover “the secret” language of the Jews” at the origins of Jewish socialism and at the foundations of diaspora nationalism. All texts will be read in translation.
The novel has been described as the quintessential literary form of modernity, but do we know what a novel actually is? And is it even an exclusively modern form? This course will look at a range of pathbreaking works that have bent the norms of prose fiction, opening up new ways of understanding the world, from antiquity to the present. Readings will include The Golden Ass, The Tale of Genji,Tristram Shandy, and a range of modern novelists, including Woolf, Duras, Perec, Calvino, and Pamuk, together with major formulations by Lukács, Bakhtin, and novelists themselves.
The maritime counterpart to ancient trade routes that brought silk and cannon-fire to Europe, the Indian Ocean was a space re-imagined through successive tides of trade, conquest, and exploration, historically mediating between the diverse cultures of several continents. This course introduces students to the literatures of this cosmopolitan space and to its historic lines of influence and exchange, through a comparative reading of literary texts drawn from its perimeter and from travel accounts both fictional and historical/semi-biographical. Readings will include Indic, Arabic, and Persian classics, Sufi poetry from across Asia and Africa, travel narratives in Portuguese and English, and twentieth century writing on the region’s imperial afterlives. Class sessions will be complemented by visits to relevant library and museum collections throughout the semester. (Readings will be made available in English.)