A recording of the opening lecture for the Institute for World Literature, Harvard, July 2016
This course will explore contemporary literature and cinema across Southeast Asia, focusing on regional developments after the Asian financial crisis of 1997 through the present. Themes discussed include literature’s relationship to economic turmoil and political change; questions of class and social mobility; anti-authoritarian writing and issues of censorship; literature, youth culture, and new media landscapes; and literary explorations of gender and sexuality. Readings will include a selection of critical essays to foreground these central themes of the course, along with poetry, short fiction, and films from: Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. Readings will be taught in English translation and films will be screened with English subtitles.
Beginning with jokes like this one, this course will examine the question of Jewish humor, exploring the concept of therapeutic joking, the politics of self-deprecation, and strategies of masking social critique behind a well-timed joke. Rather than reach some essential definition, we will instead investigate literature, stand-up comedy, film, and television of the twentieth and twenty-first century in order to 1) think together about the theory, mechanics, and techniques of comedy and humor and 2) ask how and when a text or performance gets labeled Jewish, by whom and for what purposes.
In this course, students will read English translations of novels that have won major prizes. In addition to exploring themes of contemporary literature from around the world, special attention will be paid to the role of translation in shaping the work and its reception, and to the question of what makes for a prize-winning translation. Each week students will read a prize-winning translation alongside reports from the prize committee, reviews of the translation, and what the translators say about their work.
Built around three seminal 20th century figures–the artist-designer Bruno Munari, the writer-educator Gianni Rodari, the novelist Italo Calvino–the course aims to explore structural, combinatory, and generative thinking about storytelling. It combines the study of literary theory and history, literary works such as folktales and children’s stories, and computer-assisted creation employing both textual and visual generative AI tools. By the end of the semester, the class will result in the creation of a well crafted, curated, and edited volume of AI folktales.
This course aims to examine the philosophical foundation of data-driven storytelling and explore how data is incorporated into contemporary transmedia storytelling. The course will also explore how data can provide not only an analytical but also an experimental mode of scholarship. Topics covered may include data visualization, database aesthetics, game studies, and pattern recognition/discrimination.
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.