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Course Offerings

Spring 2016

CMLT-C 110 (30528)
Writing the World: Dysfunctional Couples
Carries GenEd Foundations in Writing: EC and CASE EC credits.
They put the “fun” in dysfunctional! Power-couples, trophy spouses, arranged marriages for strangers, love at first sight, mortal enemies, jilted lovers, jealous exes, frigid partners, May-December romances, and boy and his horse—these are just some of the strange couples we will encounter this semester. From the confines of a happy home to the wide-open spaces of a barren wasteland, we will see just how many different forms a close relationship can take: friends, enemies, and lovers.
All sections of CMLT-C 110 will read Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, and Peter Shaffer’s Equus. Each section will read additional works unique to that section that may include short stories, poetry, novels, and drama. Individual sections may also include television, art, music, and film.                 
This course emphasizes critical thinking, clear communication, and effective argumentation. Assignments include 3 analytical essays, short papers to help develop the 3 essays, 3 short quizzes, and an introduction to basic academic research skills.

CMLT-C111 (33422)
Reading the World: Another New World
MW 5:45-7:00PM
Dacha Tran
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Our two main goals for this course:
1) To examine identity formation and self-determinism by observing characters from “true stories”. We will read texts by E. Wharton and G.B. Shaw, some Middle English Breton Lays and various short stories & essays. We will review/learn basic literary terms and analysis techniques, so as to better understand the stories we read.
2) To help students improve their reading & presentation skills. Students will present their analysis every week in front of the class, and discuss the texts in groups. To give better presentations, we will work on voice management, with various theater-inspired exercises and frequent in-class “performance readings”.
Assignments include up to 50 pages readings per class session, 2 Essays, 2 Short Papers, 2 Reading Tests (written work), 1 Presentation and 1 Performance Reading (oral work).

CMLT-C147 (14914)
Images of the Self: East and West
MW 4:00-5:15PM
Tsaiyi Wu
Carries GenEd A&H, GenEd WC, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Annie Dillard asks why our modern scientists would be able to draw meaning from anything human, including doodles by schizophrenics, but never from the raw universe, such as a puddle of rain? Why is astronomy scientific and astrology superstitious? The modern science limits human meaning to the human realm, but has sadly prevented the given natural world from speaking to us (Living by Fiction, Chapter 8). Guided by a single question of how we might still find ourselves related to the world, or better, part of the world, this course searches for literature and philosophy across cultures and histories. Readings--many of which convey mystic sentiments or compel idealistic pursuits--are selected from Confucius, Zhuangzi, Buddhist scriptures and Zen masters, Chinese classical poems, Arthurian Romances, Paracelsus, Baudelaire, William James, Pater, Proust, Woolf, Arthur Edward Waite, Osho, Alphonso Lingis, and Annie Dillard. Discussions and presentations, two 4-7 pages papers, no examinations.

CMLT-C151 (14019)
Introduction to Popular Culture
TR 4:00-5:15PM
Zachary Scalzo
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
To Love and to Lose: How do we talk about love? What do we do when confronted with death? How do we deal with love, loss, and the unknown?
This course will explore how pop culture narratives treat the topics of love and loss. We will discuss how these themes have functioned in, developed, and inspired works of literature and popular culture with a particular emphasis on narratives in which these themes intersect. Students should expect up to three full papers, a midterm exam, and intermittent reading quizzes as graded assessments.
Genres may include: Poetry, Short Story, Drama, Musical Theatre and Opera, Film, Adaptation
Works may include: Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Michael Lehmann’s Heathers, Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years, Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Moisés Kaufman and The Tectonic Theater Project’s The Laramie Project, John Caraini’s Almost, Maine.

CMLT-C151 (11006)
Introduction to Popular Culture
TR 2:30-3:45PM
Ali Frauman
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
Dragons, giants, werewolves, and orcs continue to excite our imaginations; sometimes they horrify or disgust us, but often we find ourselves drawn to them, fascinated by them. They can be friend or foe, destroyers of cities or builders of a better world. In this course we will look at the medieval roots of the fantasy genre, asking why these monsters continue to entertain modern audiences. What is it about a dragon that makes us want to keep fighting it? Why are stories about giants and trolls as popular now as they were a millennium ago? How have our conception of these creatures changed with time, and why? To answer these questions, we will be looking at different media from the medieval and modern periods, including Beowulf, The Hobbit, The Prose Edda, Skyrim, Thor, The Vǫlsunga Saga, Harry Potter, The History of the Kings of Britain, and Game of Thrones.

CMLT-C155 (9181)
Culture and Modern Experience: An Interdisciplinary and International Approach
TR 9:30-10:45AM
Emerson Storm Fillman Richards
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
We will examine cultural artifacts from each year successively in the 1960s, in order to try to understand the 1960s and its legacy of tensions that exploded and changed the nation. Broadly, we will cover the Cold War and the Space Race, the racial tensions, the conflicts between the New Left and the Conservative Right, and the culture around the Viet Nam war (protesters and patriots, and patriotic protesters). Readings will include Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Ed Sander’s 1968, selections from Tod Gitlin’s The Sixties: Days of Hope, Years of Rage, in addition to journalism from the time and modern critical literature. We will watch Hair, and speeches by JFK, MLK, and Malcolm X, with propagandistic and candid images of the time.  For each year covered, we will listen to popular songs from that year, and analyze the lyrics for cultural contexts.

CMLT-C205 (29797)
Comparative Literary Analysis: Laughing Matter
MW 11:15AM - 12:30PM
Professor Daniel Lukes
Carries GenEd A&S, CASE A&S, and CASE IW Credits
What’s so funny? What are you laughing at?
This course examines literary and cultural forms of comedy, to determine what produces laughter and how. From antiquity to the present, Aristophanes to Amy Schumer, LOL to ROFL, across jokes, satire, farce, parody, caricature, sarcasm, irony, cabaret, stand up, and more, we shall interrogate and gain a critical perspective on what makes the “body genre” of comedy work. We’ll investigate how what’s funny and what isn’t gets determined, and what is acceptable to joke about and what is not; we will observe how humor changes over time, and seek to understand the power structures, politics, violences, and intersectionalities at play within acts and cultures of laughter.

CMLT-C 216 (14362)
MW 4:00-5:15PM
Sci-fi, Fantasy and the Western Tradition: Robots, Clones, and Other Aliens
Marie Papineschi
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
Whether they take place light-years away or in an alternate universe, deal with angry aliens or confused robots, works of science-fiction have always challenged not only the way our society is structured, but also the very nature of what it means to be a human in this mysterious universe. Science-fiction has the ability and privilege of opening the doors to infinite possibilities, and as such plays a crucial role in (re)defining the way in which humans relate to their environment, each other, and themselves.

In this section, we will read excerpts from philosophical works, watch movies (Alien, Ghost in the Shell, and others) and read science-fiction texts from authors such as Ursula K Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, and James Tiptree Jr.
Students will be required to write two papers, participate in class and on an online forum, and do small presentations.

CMLT-C217 (13972)
Detective, Mystery, and Horror Literature
TR 2:30-3:45PM
Julie Le Hégarat
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
We will look at various modes of expression such as literature, film, and TV shows. We will investigate how gender is constructed and represented in horror fiction texts. How are other factors such as race, ethnicity, and class tied to questions of gender? Why are sexuality and violence omnipresent in horror fiction?  Possible questions are: How is masculinity constructed in the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King?  How are adolescent sexuality and gender roles portrayed in slasher films such as It Follows? Who is really the Final Girl in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Friday the 13th? How are racial tensions portrayed in Southern Gothic fiction such as True Blood? Why is pregnancy a major theme such as in Rosemary’s Baby, and Maury and Bustillo’s Inside? Expect to read theory alongside fiction. Short blog responses should be posted before each class. Emphasis on discussion over lecture.

CMLT-C219 (32662)
Romance and the Western Tradition: Tales of Conversion
MW 5:45-7:00PM
Professor Sonia Velazquez
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.

Long-lost lovers, magic potions, mistaken identities, false renegade pirates and faithful knights—this is the stuff of romance, a literary genre characterized by adventure, love, and detours rather than the reproduction of a realistic picture of the world. In this course, we will examine how these sometimes outlandish tales, by stretching their readers’ imaginations of what can be believed, negotiate cultural and religious differences. We will begin in Late Antiquity comparing the trials and travails of Heliodorus’ lovers Theagenes and Chariclea and the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla, then move to the lustful Roman world of Apuleius’ Golden Ass and its Renaissance reincarnation in the picaresque. Finally, we’ll study love, conversion and deception in tales of the seductive “Orient” (Chaucer’s “Man of Law’s Tale,” Floris and Blanchefleur, The Abencerraje) and conclude our exploration of the genre with Cervantes’ self-proclaimed masterpiece—not Don Quijote—but the Great Persiles.

CMLT-C255 (7548)
Modern Literature and Other Arts
TR 11:15-12:30PM
Morgane Flahault
Carries IUB GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Through the idea of the garden, the artist makes us think of how we humans relate to space. Gardens may represent Eden or the cosmos. In literature and the other arts, gardens encompass notions such as the Sublime, aesthetics vs. utilitarianism, the public and the private, but also pleasure, survival, status, healing.
We will read from selections from bell hooks’ Belonging: a Culture of Place, African American nature poetry, Nicola Sacco’s letters, analyze photographs by Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton, sculpture, ecological art as performance and activism, and we will analyze examples of landscape architecture, along with works by Debussy, Beethoven, and Stravinsky. We will also analyze paintings, visit the IU Art museum and explore local gardens. You will learn how to formally analyze works of art, identify artistic movements, and draw parallels between different media. Assignments will include 2 analytical papers, class presentations and a creative project.

CMLT-C301 (32669)
Special Topics in Comparative Literature: Sound, Meaning, Style: How Language Shapes Literature
MW 9:30-10:45AM
Professor Bill Johnston
Carries CASE A&H and CASE GCC credits.
Literature is made of language. But what is language made of?
This course offers an introduction to linguistics in the context of literary texts. From phonology (the study of the sounds of language) to semantics (the study of meaning) and pragmatics (how language works in spoken and written use), we’ll look at how writers use and abuse linguistic patterns and preferences in creating prose style, the distinct voices of characters, and the rhythms and allusions of poetry. We’ll also take a close look at translation, and at what happens when literary texts are transported across linguistic and cultural boundaries. You’ll learn basic linguistic terminology and concepts, and use them to gain a deeper understanding of how literary texts work. Assignments will begin with exercises focusing on the forms and functions of language, and will progress to a series of short analyses of the language of literary texts of various kinds.

CMLT-C310 (29996)
Literature and Film: Free Time and the Meaning of Life
TR 4:00-5:15PM
Professor Eyal Peretz
Carries CASE A&H credit.
One of the great questions of our time, when human activity is increasingly replaced by technological means, is how to experience free time, the time in which we have nothing specific to do, meaningfully. One of the great paradoxes of our time is that the more free time we have the less we know how to render it meaningful. The cultural developments that have allowed us to have more time have as if simultaneously deprived us of the capacity to make it meaningful. Why is this so? Is there a solution? This class will turn to two traditions that have dedicated themselves to exploring the relations between free time and meaning, the philosophical and artistic, in search for answers. While for philosophy the highest aim of human life is not to do anything specific but just to think, for the artistic tradition the highest satisfaction of human life is not in any productive doing, but in creative play.

CMLT-C311 (30402)
Drama: YouTube – Everyone Is An Artist
TR 1:00-2:15PM
Professor Eyal Peretz
Carries CASE A&H credit.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”
Describing the time of the French revolution, the age of the emergence of democratic societies, this saying of Dickens is no less resonant today, in the age of YouTube, where the democratic revolution has reached a fever pitch. If democracy means the becoming equal of everyone then YouTube is one of the most fascinating media of democracy. Our thesis is that by exploring the possibilities, for better and for worse, of this medium we will learn something essential about our times. Two main issues will occupy us: that of self-showing, or of self portraiture, and that of artistic creativity. We will examine the tradition of autobiographical self-portraiture from the Renaissance onwards as well as the growing democratization of art from Shakespeare to YouTube– the medium in which, finally, everyone has become an artist.

CMLT-C347 (32669)
Literature and Ideas: The Human Condition
MW 1:00-2:15PM
Professor Sonia Velazquez
Carries CASE A&H and CASE GCC credits.
What distinguishes humans from animals and other created things? Does mortality define us? Is mankind defined by what we produce, what we consume, or by our words and actions? We will examine multiple aspects of what it means to be human by pairing short stories, plays, paintings and films with chapters drawn from one of the most influential philosophical books of the 20th-century: Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition. We will consider issues such as artificial intelligence, the mechanization of the world, the importance of language and storytelling for politics, the distinction between the private and the public, the proper role of science, the force of forgiveness. We take our cue from Arendt’s explicit goal in writing The Human Condition: “nothing more than to think what we are doing,” as we study her book together with stories by Cervantes, Borges, Isak Dinesen, mythology, films such as Chaplin’s Modern Times and Garland’s Ex Machina.

CMLT-C349 (30031)
Literature & Science: Methods & Madness
MW 4:00-5:15PM
Dr. Jeffrey Johnson
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Atomic physics, crop rotation, clinical psychiatry, orbital mechanics, transplant surgery, meteorology, fetal anatomy, the material structure of the human soul—are these the subjects we normally expect to find in the world of poetry, epic, and drama? Apart from the world of science fiction, where and how do scientific data, the figure of the scientist, and creative writing come together? This course focuses on literary works from Greek antiquity to the modern era that blend science, fiction, and literary forms, but do not clearly belong to the category we commonly call science fiction. While conventional science fiction takes us to distant planets and parallel dimensions usually in the medium of novels, the literature we will read cross-breeds scientific information and investigative methods with sophisticated literary traditions: heroic epic, didactic poetry, Greek and Roman mythology, Biblical characters, quest narratives, social satire, and stage dramas. From the pre-modern era, we will read the Phaenomena of Aratus, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, Vergil’s Georgics, and Dante’s Purgatory. From the modern era, H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo, and Peter Shaffer’s Equus. To fulfill the Intensive Writing requirement, workload includes 4 analytical essays, one draft for revision, and 4 short papers.

CMLT-C351 (30076)
Adaptation: Tales of Troy
TR 11:15-12:30PM
Professor Sarah Van der Laan
Carries CASE A&H credit.
One hero must choose between an early death in exchange for immortal fame and a long life that leaves no mark upon the world. Another struggles through unimaginable dangers and powerful temptations to return to the wife and home he left twenty years ago. The Iliad and the Odyssey—the oldest surviving works of European literature—continue to inspire films, plays, novels, and poems: war stories and love stories, queer and feminist revisions, parodies and tragedies. Explore these adaptations and learn why Homer’s tales of Troy, with their questioning of ideals of honor and glory, their awareness of the human cost of warfare, and their struggle to find heroism in human experience, remain necessary in the modern world. Discover how authors and directors reinvent myths for new audiences and examine the nature of adaptation itself. Assignments to include extensive readings, papers, and the option of a final creative project.

CMLT-C355 (30026)
Literature, the Arts, and Their Interrelationship: Graphic Novel, Comics, and Animation
MW 9:30-10:45AM
Professor Daniel Lukes
Carries CASE A&H credit.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what happens when pictures and words work together?
A powerful mode of communication that reaches readers in ways unavailable to non-pictorial texts,  the graphic novel is now commonly accepted as a canonical literary and cultural genre: this course examines how it responds to its growing mainstream status, at times with increasing creativity and experimentation. As the digital era re-evaluates the primacy of the visual, the sign, and the icon, across linguistic and cultural barriers, graphic fictions, comics, and cartoons appear as central to modern forms of expression and storytelling. This class will chart the rise of the graphic novel, from its comic strip satire roots, and analyze its interplay with animated film, to consider how it develops from outsider art form to global genre fit to engage and illuminate the complexities of aesthetic and socio-political topics.


Topics in Comparative Literature: Nabokov
Professor Jacob Emery

04:00-05:15 MW room WH007
This course provides an overview of Vladimir Nabokov’s work in both Russian and English and contextualizes that work within the Russian diaspora. The focus is on his prose fictions, but we will also consider Nabokov as a poet, playwright, critic, translator, and puzzle constructor. In exploring a selection of Nabokov’s major literary works, as well as samples of poetry and fiction by Nina Berberova, Boris Poplavsky, Joseph Brodsky, Eduard Limonov, and Gary Shteyngart, we will explore the themes that make Nabokov a central figure of twentieth century literature. These include: the poetics of exile and nostalgia; translation and transnational culture; literary trickery and deceit; paranoia as a tactic of reading; the relationship between the aesthetic and the sadistic; artifice and the imagination; and art as an image of a higher reality.


CMLT-C457 (30030)
Capitals, Crosscurrents and Borders
TR 11:15AM-12:30PM
Professor David Hertz
Carries CASE A&H, GCC, and IW credit.
The role of capitals in the development of literary and artistic culture. Capitals as sites of cultural encounter, both national and international, crucial places where foreign and local artists interact culturally with the larger populations and where the permeable nature of borders become clear. Special focus on literary and artistic developments, with an exploration of changes in the fields of poetry, music and the visual arts. Interdisciplinary connections,  international exchange, and comparisons between cultural capital and political capital. For spring semester 2016, the loci are Paris, Florence, and New York. Our exploration of Paris in the early 20th century will cover Picasso, Stravinsky, Apollinaire, and related figures. Next, we will move to Florence, examining dissent under fascism in the early 1930s, and we will read the work of  poets, writers and view Italian art and architecture of the period. Some exposure to Italian modernist music as well. We will finish with New York, the ultimate city of modernism and the Jazz Age, and our study will concern F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, the Gershwins, Art Deco artists,  Diego Rivera and other foreign visitors. Student will write two papers and do one revision. Short exams for each section.


Courses from previous semesters

  • Fall 2015
  • Spring 2015
  • Fall 2014
  • Spring 2014
  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2013
  • Fall 2012
  • Spring 2012
  • Fall 2011
  • Spring 2011
  • Fall 2010
  • Spring 2010
  • Fall 2009
  • Spring 2009
  • Fall 2008