A re-examination of “Lyric” as occasion as well as genre. Central questions to be explored will include: how do the “lyrics” of composed song come alive in performance? For example, how do the two librettists of Puccini’s opera La Bohème contribute to the making of a masterpiece in song? Shared readings include The Lyric Theory Reader: A Critical Anthology, edited by Virginia Jackson and Yopie Prins.
In this HarvardX presentation, Martin Puchner explores how the concept of World Literature came into being, describing the conversations of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Peter Eckermann.
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.
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.
Students’ work-in-progress on a semester-long translation project will be presented, discussed, and critiqued each week with the aim of publication. Readings on strategies, theories, and methodologies will complement participants’ work in the seminar’s shared enterprise of exploring the pleasures and risks of translating literature. Working as scholars and practitioners, we will challenge the division between theory and practice in the field of translation studies today. Guest translator-scholars will visit the seminar. Requirements: all source languages are welcome; translations into English. Enrollment limited to twelve (graduate students and advanced undergraduates); course application due by August 22.
This course introduces students to some of the most important Latin American literary works produced during the twentieth century. We will explore the ways in which these novels, short-stories, essays and poems interrogate the historical traumas, political contexts and aesthetic potential of the region between 1920s and 1980s. We will shed light on their place in the historical and cultural formation of the literary canon, as well as on the concept of ‘classic’. The goal of this seminar is two-fold. On the one hand, it introduces students to the Latin American literary and critical tradition through some of the best and most interesting literary and critical works (each novel or grouping of short stories and poems are paired with an important critical essay that situates them historically and aesthetically). On the other, it provides them with the fundamental skills of literary analysis (close reading, conceptual and historical framing, continuities and discontinuities with the aesthetic tradition), and that is why I have selected a relatively small number of readings, in order to have time to work through them, discuss them and have some flexibility to extend the classes we dedicate to a given author when our discussions merit it.
How did ancient Greek heroes, both male and female, learn about life by facing what all of us have to face, our human condition? How to face death? Concentrating on this central human question, we will explore some of the greatest works of ancient Greek literature in English translation. For the Greeks, a special way to address the problem of death was to think long and hard about what they called heroes in their myths. Our purpose in this course is to extend that kind of thinking to the present. Assignments invite you to engage in personal reflections on the meaning of life and death in the light of what we read in Greek literature about the ordeals of becoming a hero.