Culture and Literature

Goethe's Faust

MLNG 1110: Approaches to Languages and Cultures
Dr. Tanya Ivanova

This course is an introduction to the foreign languages and cultures taught in LCL: Greek, Latin, German, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. By learning basic facts about these languages, such as information about their origins, writing systems, grammatical structure, and level of difficulties for English speakers, students will enter the fascinating world of human communication. How are languages different from one another? How are they similar? How do people learn one, two or more languages? What happens when the speakers of two or more languages get (and stay) in contact for a while? Similarly important are questions about inter-cultural communication. Why do people experience culture shock when they go abroad? How do people in different countries think and talk about time, space, emotions, etc.? By learning about other languages and cultures, students also gain more knowledge about themselves, their own languages and cultural patterns.

CLST 2110: Greek Civilization
Dr. Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr.

This course is designed to introduce students to the history, literatures, and art of archaic and classical Greece, and to trace its influence on Western Civilization. The class will emphasize Greek culture as manifested in the various primary literary sources, including epic, tragedy, comedy, historiography, philosophy, rhetoric, and legal speeches. In addition, we will look at Greek vase paintings, sculpture, and architecture, and discuss the historical and cultural context of these works. In exchange for your work, I offer you nothing less than access to some of the greatest works ever written. These texts are full of innumerable riches; they are the very basis of what makes the West what it is today. Our Greek heritage is like a million-dollar inheritance left us all by our ancestors. I will help you learn how to cash in on that inheritance by learning to read and think about Classical history, literature, and art in a critical way.

CLST 2120: Roman Civilization
Dr. Osman Umurhan

This course provides a survey of a civilization that began as a village around the banks of the Tiber river in central Italy around the mid-8th century BCE, grew into the western world’s largest and most powerful empire for more than a thousand years, then collapsed in the 4th century CE.  To this day, however, Rome’s legacy – its language, history, art, literature, and architecture – still endures and informs many facets of the modern day, from our law codes and institutions to the fine arts, and much more.  This course examines the origins of Rome and the Roman cultural experience. Lectures will reconsider and supplement key issues in the weekly readings, as well as illustrate aspects of Roman material culture such as art, architecture and daily life.  We will also consider issues of culture, politics, gender, sexuality and religion throughout the course.

CHIN 2150: Chinese Calligraphy
Dr. Peng Yu

Writing Chinese characters is considered very challenging for Chinese language learners given the fact that the Chinese writing system is character-based and very different from the western letter-based spelling system. The major goal of this course is to help students develop strategies to effectively and efficiently memorize and write Chinese characters. Students will also gain first-hand experience of creating arts through writing calligraphy. This course will include lectures about the history of Chinese calligraphy, the tools used in calligraphy, the five major writing scripts/styles, and strategies to effectively memorize and write Chinese characters. A major part of class time will be dedicated to actual calligraphy writing practice. Students will be practicing and mastering the basic writing techniques of the Standard script/style.

COMP 2225: Health, Illness and Culture
Dr. Carmen Nocentelli

Cultural difference is a central preoccupation of health humanities, reflective of the discipline’s expansion beyond Anglophone scholarship as well as the increasing diversity of US society. In this course, we will explore (1) how bodies, health, and pathology have been conceptualized in different cultures and at different times; 2) how social categories such as gender, sexuality, race, and class are implicit in these concepts; and 3) how these concepts shape different understandings of healthcare and health regimens. Humanities inquiry is especially useful here, as we examine how different cultures represent the intimacies, complexities, and contradictions of such concepts over time. We will focus on three themes and trace the different ways they have been deployed across time and space: (a) anatomical and medical illustration of bodies; (b) representations of, and responses to, illness and disease; and (c) approaches to health and healing.

GRMN 2227: Sickness, Insanity and Transgression in German Literature and Film
Dr. Jason Wilby

In this course students will explore the concepts of physical and psychological health and happiness by analyzing the ways in which sickness, insanity and social transgression appear in a range of cultural records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Germany.

Central questions include: How were the mind and body conceptualized during this foundational time period in the face of the emerging fields of scientific medicine and psychology? How did discourses pertaining to physical and psychological health and deviance expand their reach to encompass aspects of race, social status, ethnicity, sexuality and gender-identity? How are concepts such as sickness/health and insane/sane utilized in cultures in order to create or criticize communities of inclusion and exclusion?

We will address these questions by looking at a range of cultural records, including literary texts, medical, psychological and contemporary scientific writings and films.

CLST 314: Classical Traditions: The Trojan War: Tradition and Reception
Dr. Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr.

The tradition of the Trojan War begins with Homer’s Iliad which presents to us a strange world of passion and violence—the Iliad literally begins and ends with Achilles’ destructive anger. Yet, there is more to the story, for the heroic values expressed in the poem form the backbone of a long and enduring tradition of the war that survives into modern times. In this class, we will study the social, political, and aesthetic dimensions of the tradition of the Trojan War from Virgil’s Aeneid to Jean Giraudoux’s “The Trojan War Will Not Take Place” (La guerre de Troie n'aura pas lieu, 1935) and beyond—including, among others, Wolfgang Petersen’s film Troy (USA, 2004). The Trojan War is more than just the archetypal conflict of the Western tradition: the Trojan War, as this course will explore, provides a model for a society to consider its values and to craft an identity. The course will focus on Homer’s Iliad, select tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, Virgil’s Aeneid, and some more modern works of literature and cinema (Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Cavafy, Borges, Eastwood, Petersen); we will trace the mythology of the Trojan War in Greek art; and we will study the archaeology behind the enduring myth that is Troy.

CLST 319/RELG 319: Sex and Gender in Ancient Religion 
Dr. Luke Gorton

This course will examine the role and construction of gender (as well as how it is expressed through sexuality) in the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, including both Greco-Roman religion(s) and the religion of Jews and early Christians. Gender is a complex topic, and it cuts across boundaries to the heart of a society's conception of itself. To understand gender in ancient religion, we will discuss general ideas pertaining to both before examining the role of gender in a number of areas pertaining to religion, including mythology, ritual, and magic. We will then move on to a discussion of sexuality in ancient religion, discussing both laws prohibiting its expression and customs which incorporated sexuality into the very fabric of the religion.

CLST 320/RELG 320: Magic in Ancient Religion 
Dr. Luke Gorton

This course will examine the reality and the imagination of magic in the ancient world, focusing primarily on the cultures of Greece and Rome but with reference to Jewish and early Christian thought as well. Ancient magic manifested itself in a variety of ritual acts that were described, explained, and caricatured in a fairly large number of texts written in antiquity, and it is by reading these texts that we will come to an understanding of magic in the ancient world. Two questions which will permeate the course are as follows: What is magic? How does ancient magic differ from ancient religion? To answer these questions, we will begin with a brief overview of ancient religion (again, primarily Greco-Roman but with reference to ancient Judaism and Christianity) before continuing on to a full discussion of ancient magic. The very term “magic” originated in ancient Greece, and so we will have occasion to discuss both the terminology and practice of magic in the ancient world.

JAPN 320: JAPANESE SOCIETY: Everyday Life in Japan
Dr. Lorie Brau

This class introduces students to Japanese everyday life—language and social relationships, family, work, school, religion, and leisure.  We will inquire into how we think about and represent Japan and how the Japanese represent themselves to the world, what “everyday life” means for many Japanese people in the 21st century and what some of the challenges are in interpreting the images of Japan with which we are presented. Course objectives include being able to identify basic terms and concepts associated with studying Japan, and learning to recognize and question our own assumptions about Japanese culture.  In addition to readings in anthropology and short fiction, the class materials include documentaries and some contemporary Japanese film.

CLST 321/ RELG 321: Apocalypse in the Ancient World
Dr. Luke Gorton

Apocalypse is a fascinating genre which is famous for its strange images, cryptic messages, and predictions of future events. In Apocalypse in the Ancient World, we examine the development of the genre of apocalypse, starting in Second Temple Judaism and moving on into early Christianity. After discussing the cultural and literary topoi of the apocalypse, we read a number of apocalypses, including the two included in the Bible (Daniel and Revelation) as well as other well-known apocalypses such as the Book of Enoch. We study the symbolism, message, and meaning of each to ascertain what they meant to their original readers and what they might mean today. After tracing the development of the genre through early Christianity, we conclude the course by examining the ongoing legacy of apocalypticism in our world today.

COMP330/ENGL330: Immigration, Languages, Cultures
Dr. Irina Meier

America the Beautiful! So many dreams, opportunities, and adventures on the road to immigration! What drives people to embark on this journey? What cultural and linguistic challenges lie ahead of them? Identity shift, heritage languages, and ideological polarization are some of the markers of the ever-changing immigration landscape in the US. In this course, we will explore the concepts of adaptation and culture shock, loss of the language and bilingualism, homecoming and nostalgia, the American dream and cultural otherness, and many others. We will investigate these phenomena in visual and literary works created by well-known artists from various countries but also by ordinary people who have shared their immigrant stories. The impact and significance of the immigration experience on our collective cultural memory will guide our theoretical inquiry and help facilitate a dialogue about immigration myths and realities. Final projects will provide students with an opportunity for experiential learning and for deeper engagement with representatives of the diverse immigrant cultures in New Mexico.

FREN 332/AFST 397/COMP 332/ENGL 332: Rebels With a Cause: The Generation Gap in Francophone Africa
Dr. Steve Bishop

Adult-youth misunderstanding, mistrust, and miscommunication . . . an African theme as much as it is an American one. This course will concentrate on the cultural differences and also parallels around the generation gap dynamic. We will investigate issues such as school, respect for elders and traditions, love and marriage, politics, and social hierarchy. We will ask questions such as why traditions are so important to adults and so constraining to youths, exactly how universal the problem seems to be, how African society differs from American society, and whether generational conflict is good or harmful for a society.

COMP 332/ENG 332/AFST 380/WMST 397: African Women Writers

In this course we will investigate the contributions a number of African women have made to African literature.  The texts to be read and discussed do not share a geographic, linguistic, or temporal commonality.  Readings will consist of novels and short stories from places as diverse as South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, and Kenya among other places, will be originally in English or translated from French, Arabic, or Portuguese, and will be from the 1950’s through the turn of the century. Themes include, but are not restricted to: Independence from colonization, Women’s role in society, Politics, Love, Race relations, Sexuality, War, and Economics. Aside from looking at these specific issues, we will investigate to what degree their writing is “African”, to what degree it is “feminine”, and to what degree such categorizations are perhaps missing the point.

Fren 335/ AFST 380/ COMP 335/ ENG 335: Teaching (in) the Postcolony: Schooling in African Fiction 
Dr. Pim Higginson

This seminar will examine a small selection of novels from Francophone and Anglophone Africa and two Francophone African films to gain insight into the multiple and often contradictory forces that dictate the child’s experience of education, broadly defined, on a postcolonial African continent. It should be noted that there is not one such experience any more than there is one (type of) reaction. Rather, there are numerous ways, sometimes positive, often negative, but always complex and ambivalent, of registering the forces pulling the African subject in multiple directions. Whether it is the tightrope strung between tradition and modernity, the village and the city, Africa and Europe, men and women, the African artist thinking their childhood has to negotiate where they stand in relation to these problematic, yet very powerful oppositions. This process of negotiation with terms often dictated by other histories (that of European aesthetics and philosophy, for example) yields startling truths about coming of age as an African, but also underscores some of the important Western assumptions about what constitutes History, the Beautiful, or again the Subject. In sum, this is a course that asks us all to examine closely both the criteria Westerners deploy when they judge the “Other,” and to listen closely to the voices of those who have experienced those criteria as the “Other,” and lived to tell the tale.

FREN 335/ AFST 380/ COMP 332/ ENGL 332: Children in Conflict
Dr. Stephen Bishop

The use of the child narrator as critic of African society out of balance or plagued by injustice has been common since the late 1950’s. Ferdinand Oyono’s Une vie de boy (Houseboy, 1956) stands both as one of the classics of African literature as well as a perfect example of the critical eyes of an innocent youth revealing, in this case, the hypocrisy, deception, and cruelty of French colonial control in Africa. After independence, such narrative figures remained, although tending to focus more on the conflicts between the younger and older generations over the proper balance between social traditions and the benefits and ills modernity bring to a society. This class will look at a few of these earlier texts and ideas, but its main focus will be their application in the more recent manifestation of the child narrator in African literature – child soldier narratives. We will investigate the origins and resolutions of the conflicts, their literary representations, their effects on children, how they reflect broader cultural issues and debates, and what is being done to counter the practice. Questions to be considered include: How does one represent traumatic events without sensationalizing them? What does a child narrator bring to a story that an adult narrator does (can) not? Do such stories merely reinforce Western views of Africa as barbaric? How do depictions of child soldiers in Africa contrast with their depictions in Western settings? How (successfully) does such literature address the problems of child soldiers?

CLST 333: Ancient Drama and Stagecraft
Dr. Osman Umurhan

Entertainment and drama offer us one of the earliest views of Greek and Roman culture and the earliest attempts of a civilization trying its hand at literature. Ancient drama is especially famous for its introduction of various genres: tragedy, comedy and satyr plays, comic stock characters, such as the boastful soldier, the young lover, crotchety old man, pimps, prostitutes and parasites, and the exploration and recreation of famous Greek myths, such as the story of Medea and Oedipus. The comic characters and situations provide a useful lens into the make-up of Greek and Roman culture since they provide us insight into some core Greek and Roman values.

CLST 333: Ancient Food for Thought
Dr. Osman Umurhan

This class explores Greek and Roman perceptions of food within its appropriate cultural context, including its consumption, preparation, presentation, excretion, uses and abuses!

We will examine closely a wide range of texts in translation, as well as secondary scholarship, on authors from the Greek Homer, through the Roman Petronius, a span of about 800 years. In the course of our survey, we will learn about the wide variety of the function of food, from its religious and ritual to its social and culinary uses. We will discover how food is essential to demarcating class, forging personal and social identities and for criticizing political figures.

CLST 333: Ancient Comedy and Satire
Dr. Osman Umurhan

This class explores the definitions and development of the generic and cultural modes of ancient Greek and Roman comedy and satire. This course will emphasize the close analysis of texts in translation, the transmission and reception of these forms in the post-classical era, with a close look at Shakespeare, Swift and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, and culminates with an analysis of comedy and satire as cultural modalities in contemporary popular media such as film, television, stand-up and music. The cultural and historical contexts of each text will be supplemented by course lectures, secondary literature and student reaction papers throughout the semester. Class discussion is a major component of the course and will stress each text’s topicalities, major themes, staging and reactions to supplementary readings.

CLST 334/COMP 334: Homer, Hesiod, and the Near East
Dr. Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr.

During this course we will examine similarities and differences between the great Greek epic poets Homer and Hesiod and several Near Eastern texts from Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, as well as select passages from the Bible and other Western Semitic texts. The class will explore cross-cultural similarities between texts in terms of structuralist and psychoanalytic theory and discuss cultural contact between Greek and Near Eastern peoples through travel, intermarriage, and economic exchange. In addition to our reading of original texts, we will look to art, archaeology, and select scholarly works to guide our thinking about the possibility of cultural exchange through trade between Mycenaean and Near Eastern peoples during the Bronze Age. Finally, we will trace the trajectory of scholarly debate over Near Eastern “influence” on Mycenaean/Greek cultures, particularly as set forth in Martin Bernal’s seminal Black Athena (Rutgers, 1987) and the debate it sparked (including the special Fall 1989 issue of Arethusa on “The Challenge of Black Athena,” and the volume Black Athena Revisited, edited by Mary R. Lefkowitz and Guy MacLean Rogers).

CLST 334/COMP 334: Tyranny in Ancient Greek Thought
Dr. Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr.

This course will examine the representation of the tyrant in ancient Greek history, literature, and culture. Who is the tyrant (tyrannos, in Greek)? Tyrants were real figures in the early history of Greece, and they play prominent roles in the stories Greeks narrate about their own past and their attempts to craft a cultural identity of “Greekness.” Sometimes, the tyrant is represented as a cultural and ethnic outsider. Elsewhere, the tyrant is represented as Greek, though an outsider to a particular community where he seizes control by means of his superior intelligence, strength, and charisma, and comes to dominate the people. And finally, sometimes the tyrant becomes a figure for the problematic relationship between mind and body in ancient Greek philosophical discourse. The tyrannical soul indulges too much in pleasure and ironically becomes a slave to his own passions.In this course, then, we will trace the figure of the tyrant and his uses in Greek thought, particularly how Greeks thought about themselves, and consider how these representations resonate in our interpretation of ancient literature and of our own modern world.

CLST 334/COMP 334: Death and the Afterlife in Early Greek & Roman Thought
Dr. Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr. 

In Western culture death is ambiguous: it is at once a banal biological fact and a defining biographical event. As Martin Heidegger mused, since death is the point at which we cease to be, it is itself nothing, but as the end of our being (which is not itself part of our being), it gives our life meaning. Greek poets and philosophers considered death not only that which gives meaning to our lives, but as that which gives meaning to our afterlives as well. In the Phaedo, Plato argues that philosophy was the art of learning how to die well—in other words, if there is a soul that lives on after we are gone, death is not only an end, but a beginning, too. How we face death defines us as individuals; how we treat our dead defines us as a culture; how we conceive of death shapes our world-view and religion.

This class will explore the concepts of death, the soul, and the afterlife in ancient Greece and Rome. Through an exploration of literature, art, and culture, we will see how these concepts and the cultural practices and institutions that dealt with death came to shape our own modern views of these topics.

CLST 334/COMP 334: Homeric Cinematography 
Dr. Lorenzo F. Garcia Jr.

This course will explore the cinematographic elements of ancient Greek literature—that is, the way it “writes” or “draws” [graphein] “movement” [kinema]. The goal of this course is to learn to become sensitive to the “visual” elements in ancient literature through a close analysis of ancient Greek texts, filmed versions of and allusions to those texts, and key concepts in film theory. We will focus on Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, as well as select Greek tragedies, and compare them with films by Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven, Letters from Iwo Jima), Terrence Malick (The Thin Red Line), Joel and Ethan Cohen (O Brother, Where Art Thou), Sergei Eisenstein (Strike, Battleship Potemkin), and others.

At the end of this course, students will have gained competence in analyzing and writing about ancient literature and modern film.

FREN 335/COMP 335/ENGL 335: Paris 
Dr. Pamela Cheek

Exceptional cities incite great leaps of the imagination, while works of art shape urban life. As Charles Baudelaire wrote, “Parisian life is, in spite of everything, fertile in marvelous poetic subjects . . . it surrounds us like the air we breathe but do not see.” This course explores the relationship between writing and one of the greatest cities, Paris. It is partly a history of culture. We will look at several significant artistic and literary movements grounded in Paris between the late seventeenth and the early twentieth centuries, including Salon sociability, the Enlightenment, the rise of the novel, Realism, the invention of the modern, Naturalism, and Surrealism. And it is partly a cultural history. We will examine important historical moments and questions, including the invention of public life, the rise of consumerism, the diversity of people in the city, the distance between rich and poor, the social roles of women and men, and the influence of other cultures. How can we understand the conundrum of Paris? Is Paris, as American writer Henry James wrote, “the most brilliant city in the world”?

GRMN/COMP/ENGL 336: What's at Stake in Vampirism?
Dr. Katrin Schroeter

In this course, we will examine films that the fascination with blood-drawing creatures predominantly evident in Western cultures. We will analyze different cultural representations of vampires from ancient Greece to our own age. Why is the myth of the vampire connected to the myth of the undead (Nosferatu - means "undead" in Romanian)? At what periods in history does the vampire haunt the artistic imagination of humanity? How did the vampire of folklore and myth turn into the elegant "Dracula" of Victorian England? What is the correlation between the fantastic and the real in these texts? How does vampirism relate to questions of colonialism, gender, and sexual identity? We will analyze both literary and filmic representations of vampirism. Readings will include Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire," "The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories," as well as one of two New Mexico vampire novels, Suzy McKee Charnas' "The Vampire Tapestry," and/or Aaron Carr’s “Eye Killers”. Films will include Murnau's and Herzog's "Nosferatu," Tod Browning's, Andy Warhol's, and F.F. Coppola's "Dracula," "Interview with the Vampire," and "The Addiction". Possible guest lectures by Suzy McKee Charnas as well as others on topics such as "Vampirism and Folklore," and "Vampirism and Medical History".

GRMN/COMP/ENGL 336: Damned Heroes
Dr. Jason Wilby

For centuries, but especially since the dawn of modernity, the legend of the devil's pact has served as a metaphor for the desire to surpass the limits of human knowledge and power at any cost. Starting with the sixteenth-century, this legend created two “myths of the modern individual” (Ian Watt): Faust, the academic, who in his thirst for knowledge and power sold his soul to the devil; and Don Juan, the ultimate seducer of women, who would rather go to hell than deny his carnal pleasures. The representations and variations of these damned heroic figures down through the ages tell us something about modern European and Western culture. What do these figures, and their variations, relate to us about human desires, contradictions, moralities, and art? We will address this and other questions by looking at versions of the Faust and Don Juan stories from Renaissance England to contemporary Hollywood.

GRMN/ENGL/COMP 336: Fairy Tales 
Dr. Susanne Baackmann

This course explores the genre and the history of the fairy tale in the European context. What role and purpose did fairy tales serve when they first circulated? To what extent has the historical and social context shaped the form and content of these tales? How do fairy tales express social and psychological conflicts? Were they really intended for children? What is a child, then and now? How are gender roles portrayed? What happened to this genre in the last two centuries? How has the Walt Disney company and the film industry adapted fairy tales?  And last but not least: Should we still be reading and watching fairy tales?

RUSS/COMP/ENGL 338: Culture of Russian Terrorism
Dr. Irina Meier

Steven Marks argues that the 19th century Russian radicals shaped the modern world by introducing “terrorist practices that have been in use ever since.” Claudia Verhoeven looks at Russian terrorism “not simply [as] a strategy…but rather a paradigmatic way of becoming a modern political subject.” In this course, we will examine origins and representations of terrorism in Russia. We will analyze a number of fiction and non-fiction texts about political violence written for the last two hundred years by Russian writers, poets, philosophers, journalists, researchers, filmmakers, and terrorists themselves, in order to understand the cultural, philosophical, and historical contexts, in which modern terrorism emerged and evolved in Russia. We will also explore the controversial concept of cyberterrorism as it becomes a more common means of political warfare in today’s digital world.

RUSS/COMP/ENGL 338: Modern Russia
Dr. Irina Meier

Russia has always been a fascinating place, with its mixture of globe-shaking politics and world-class culture. The future -- whatever it holds -- promises nothing less. Through analysis of literature, film, and visual arts we will learn about Russia and the USSR in the twentieth century and its impact on the world; try to understand the present of post-Soviet Russia; and imagine Russia in the future. In an attempt to comprehend the Western puzzlement in dealing with unique Russian contradictions we will discuss the magnificence of Russian culture as well as look into the dark side of the Russian tradition, the destructive impulses of Stalinism and the Post-Soviet criminal world.

RUSS339/FDMA 339/HIST 335: 19th Century Russian Culture and History Through Film
Dr. Irina Meier

The course explores 19th-century Russia (‘The Golden Age’) through film, focusing particularly on films and written works that have addressed Russian history, culture, and society. We will discuss how these art forms reveal and construct the relationships between nobility and serfs, the social and political agendas of Russian intelligentsia, the emergence of the ‘Russian idea’, the attitudes and relationships with the West, the autocratic power of the tsars, and much more.

The fundamental purpose of this course is to enhance students’ critical thinking skills and deepen their understanding of native and foreign cultural developments and phenomena in the 19th century.

The films chosen for this course are all based on famous Russian classical works by Pushkin, Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and others.

RUSS340/COMP340/ENGL338: Immigration – The Russian Factor
Dr. Irina Meier

In this course we will examine Russian immigration, the legacy of Russian ideas, and representations of Russia in the American imagination. How did Russia and its people shape the modern world? You will learn about the biggest Russian diasporas and find out how Russian ideas influenced this country and the rest of the world. We will also explore general issues of immigration in the Russian context, such as loss of the language, bilingualism, homecoming, nostalgia, culture shock, assimilation, the American dream, etc. We will look at the variety of interdisciplinary topics from Russian ballet, art, and theater to Russian immigrant tech pioneers and inventors, from Russian literary émigré to Russian spies and Russian mafia, from Russian communism to Russian cuisine in exile.

RUSS/COMP 340: Saints and Sinners in Russian Culture
Dr. Irina Meier

This course explores some of the most complex and controversial images of Russian saints and sinners in fairy tales, poetry, films, and literary works from Medieval Folklore traditions to the present day. Two paths to holiness traditionally existed in Russian culture: the principle of Christian non-resistance and the way of fighting for truth and justice. At the same time, the line between saints and sinners has often been blurred. We will find out why Russian saints and sinners are not always on the opposite side of the moral spectrum and analyze the dimensions and problematized concepts of sin and holiness through the images of Dostoevsky’s saintly criminals and Christ-like prostitutes, revolutionary terrorists who turned into Christian martyrs and cult heroes, Bulgakov’s charming and socially conscious Devil, and the post-Soviet vigilante Danila Bagrov who operates with the familiar Russian notions of truth and righteousness to justify “ethical violence.” We will examine the ways in which creative artists, writers, and thinkers in Russia take on aspects of both roles.

JAPN/COMP/ENGL 341: Introduction To Premodern Japanese Literature and Culture
Dr. Lorie Brau

This class surveys Japanese literature and culture (in translation) from the 8th through the early 19th centuries, with a focus on major literary works and performances genres in their historical contexts. Our readings include a section of Tale of Genji, an early 11th c. work written by a court lady that is sometimes referred to as the first psychological novel, as well as short fiction, epic, drama, literary diaries, and poetry written by men and women.  In addition, the class introduces Japanese mythology, religion, folktales and popular literature, as well as the intersection between high canonical forms and popular performance. We consider the legacy of many of these Japanese classical texts and their reception and reinterpretation in contemporary Japan.

JAPN/COMP/ENGL 342: Introduction to Modern Japanese Literature and Culture in Translation 
Dr. Lorie Brau

This course is an introductory exploration of the literature and culture of modern Japan, from the mid-19th century to the present day. Our readings will emphasize fiction (short stories, novels) that illustrates how Japanese people have negotiated the tensions that arise between traditional values and modernity and change, symbolized by Western culture.



ARAB 375: Movies of the Middle East 
Dr. Heather Sweetser

Have you ever had questions about The Middle East (but were too afraid to ask)? Are you from The Middle East but don’t know much about the movie industry (or maybe you also have questions)? This course is for you! Through the magic of cinema, we will explore diverse topics such as the Arab Spring, immigration, religion, war and occupation, women’s rights, and more. Movies will cover countries across the region - including movies from Hollywood - and will be from the 1950’s through to today.

JAPN/COMP/ENGL 345: Supernatural Japan
Dr. Lorie Brau

Many recent Japanese anime, videogames and live action films feature supernatural elements, from oni (monsters) to the long-haired avenging female ghosts in J-Horror films. This class will deepen your understanding of Japan’s ghosts, demons, and other paranormal phenomena by placing them in context, introducing the beliefs and folklore that engendered them and some of the literary works that have given them life from ancient times to the present. What can we learn about Japanese religious beliefs, history and cultural values from supernatural tales? What factors influence the representation of supernatural beings and events in a given literary work? How do we interpret modern adaptations of myths and legends?


COMP 332/ENGL 332/AFST 380: African Literature
Dr. Steve Bishop

A course on African literature, with its long history, diverse regions, and many languages cannot hope to be complete. This course will therefore give an overview of African literature by focusing on three aspects of this literary arena. First, the course will include works from Francophone West Africa, Anglophone West Africa, and from northeastern “Islamic” Africa. Second, the course will concentrate on three reasonably distinct periods of post-colonial African literary production. These are the early 60’s immediately after independence when questions of identity and, ironically, European stylistics predominate, the late 60’s and early 70’s when authors start to break away from stylistic and thematic norms, and then the early 80’s when previously unheard voices and concerns began to emerge in African literature. Lastly, the class will be confined to fictional prose, largely short stories and short novels. Note that students wishing to read and write on other genres (poetry, plays, film, etc.), languages (Portuguese, Swahili, Kikuyu, etc.), time periods, or regions (Maghreb, southern Africa, Madagascar, etc.) are welcome to do so for their papers, final project, and/or presentation (see below).

FREN 385: Travels in Provence
Dr. Steve Bishop

One of the fantasy locations people name for a vacation destination or second home is southern France. Why is this region, Provence, so loved and revered? Why not Paris, Normandy, or Denmark for that matter? The main reason is that Provence has its own unique and charming character separate from other countries and even the rest of France. This course investigates the cultural traditions and characteristics particular to Provence, including its history, language, cuisine, literature, music, art, architecture, and other cultural manifestations. The texts include short works and excerpts of history and literature, films, and some artwork, music, and food (sorry, no wine). There is also room in the course for a few topics of the students’ choosing.

JAPN 411: Gender In Japanese Popular Culture 
Dr. Lorie Brau

This seminar investigates “femininities,” “masculinities,” and a host of alternative expressions of gender that are performed in Japanese popular culture. We explore this theme in historical perspective, focusing on particular moments in the early modern, modern and contemporary periods (the seventeenth through twenty-first centuries). How is gender ideology created, performed, maintained, and challenged in popular theatres, film, anime and other Japanese media, as well as through the practices of fans of these performances?  Topics examined may include: Kabuki theatre’s onnagata (female role players) and kabuki stereotypes of femininity;  the all-women’s popular musical theatre company called “Takarazuka;” girls’ manga (shōjo manga), in particular, works that emphasize boys’ love (and yaoi), as well as their fan cultures; shōjo and the “cute” culture lifestyle; masculinity as defined in samurai and yakuza film; alternative masculinities; non-heteronormativity (LGBTI) in Japan.

JAPN 411: Performing Gender in Japan 
Dr. Lorie Brau

This course is an introductory exploration of the literature and culture of modern Japan, from the mid-19th century to the present day. Our readings will emphasize fiction (short stories, novels) that illustrates how Japanese people have negotiated the tensions that arise between traditional values and modernity and change, symbolized by Western culture.

JAPN 411: Edo Culture In The City of Edo
Dr. Lorie Brau

This class introduces the city of Edo (now called Tokyo)—its people and culture.  The Edo period is also referred to as the Tokugawa period, named after the samurai dynasty that served as its leaders (shōgun) from 1603-1868.   For Westerners, traditional Japan calls to mind “geisha” and “samurai.”  Edo was indeed full of samurai, as well as artisans and merchants and their wives, and “professional” women to serve men’s needs (there were more men than women in the city.) The merchant class who patronized the city’s cultural productions, as well as artists, artisans, and workers who built the city’s physical structures also played a key role in creating this megalopolis. This class considers how this mix of people created an urban culture that, while drawing on the culture of Japan’s artistic (Kyoto) and commercial and financial (Osaka) centers, was nevertheless different from what came before.  Through an investigation of Edo’s literature and performance, we will consider the values and aesthetics of Edo in the literature and lifestyle of Edoites, and reflect on their influence on contemporary Japanese culture.

COMP/FREN/ENGL 432: Magic, Witchcraft, and Science
Dr. Carmen Nocentelli

The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries laid the foundations of modern science. Yet the period from 1550 to 1650 also saw widespread interest in magic and the occult—and was the height of the “witch-craze” in Europe. Were these contradictory trends or complementary aspects of the same historical development? How did magic differ from witchcraft? And how did magic and witchcraft differ from science? “Magic, Witchcraft, and Science” will attempt to answer these questions through an analysis of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European sources.