Courses

Autumn 2017 Courses

The course descriptions below are to the best of our knowledge the most recent available. The descriptions from previous years can be found at UChicago Catalogs or on department websites.  Many of these courses are cross-listed with other departments. For information on courses that count towards the Creative Writing Major, please visit the Creative Writing website.

 

ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LITERATURE
 

Introduction to Poetry
ENGL 10400
Rachel Galvin

In her poem “Poetry,” Marianne Moore writes, “I, too, dislike it. / Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in it, after all, a place for the genuine.” This 3-line poem is a condensed version of an earlier, 30-line poem. Why did Moore compress it so much? Surely she must be joking about disliking poetry? This course will introduce you to a wide range of poetry and poetics, emphasizing how literature develops in concert with social, historical, and technological changes. We’ll begin by discussing irony and other poetic and rhetorical tools, such as diction, imagery, rhyme, meter, and enjambment. In the second unit, we’ll continue to develop strategies for analyzing poetry while we investigate the links between poetry and history (trauma, war, social activism). The third unit emphasizes representation and identity in U.S. poetry, with a focus on African American poetry, Latinx poetry, Asian American poetry, and Native American poetry. We’ll conclude by looking at some very recent experiments in new media and digital poetry. By the end of the quarter, you will have the vocabulary to “talk shop” about poetic technique, and will have developed close reading and argumentation skills that you can apply across your intellectual work. You may also have the chance to try your hand at crafting lines ranging from iambic pentameter to haiku, as a way of learning how poems work from the inside out. 

London Program: Institution and Revolution in Romantic Arts
ENGL 20144
Timothy Campbell

In the first part of the course, focusing on William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s monumental poetic work Lyrical Ballads (1798), we will consider the implications of revolutions abroad and of institutionalizations of arts and culture at home for the rise of modern literary culture in Romantic-era Britain. Wordsworth famously envisioned a new role for the poet as that of a “man speaking to men” who could make “incidents and situations from common life” the proper matter of literature. As he did so, Wordsworth was confronting both the disappointed hope of the “blissful dawn” of the French Revolution and a cultural milieu reshaped by the emergence of institutions like the British Museum (1753), the Royal Academy of Art (1768), and the National Gallery (1824)—all of which continue to define British national culture. In the second part of the course, we will consider analogous developments of the present moment, including the institutionalization of new arts like fashion, to consider where (in what scenes, and in what forms of writing and media) we might look for Lyrical Ballads of our own time. 

London Program: BLAST: Avant-Garde London, 1912-1920
ENGL 20145
Bill Brown

BLAST (1914-15) sought to distinguish London as a new center of radical innovation in the literary and visual arts. Edited by Wyndham Lewis—the controversial painter, novelist, and polemicist—the magazine introduced Vorticism as a movement that sought to galvanize a cultural revolution. (“Curse with expletive of whirlwind the Britannic aesthete cream of the snobbish earth.”) This course will concentrate on the two issues of the magazine itself, attending to its literary and graphic experiments in the context of other modernist magazines. We will also engage related work by the artists and writers who contributed to the journal (Ezra Pound, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein, Jessica Dismoor, Helen Saunders, El Lissitsky, Rebecca West, Ford Madox Ford, Dorothy Shakespeare); and we will situate Vorticism in relation to the modernist contexts against which it emerged (including Cubism, Imagism, Futurism, and the Bloomsbury Group). Moreover, we will examine the brief history of Blast against the backdrop of the Great War. In London we will take particular advantage of the collections at the Tate.

Edgar Allan Poe: Aesthetics of the Future
ENGL 25426
James Duesterberg

This course will be an intensive engagement with the wide-ranging and idiosyncratic corpus of Edgar Allan Poe. Through Poe’s fiction, poetry, theory, and miscellaneous writings, students will also gain an introduction to some of the crucial philosophical, political, and social questions that haunted him and that persist today. 

Anglophone Modernisms
ENGL 26780
Sophia Sherry

This course is designed as a survey of global fiction in the twentieth century. More specifically, it is a survey of Anglophone modernisms, or modern/modernist English literatures which are written in English even as they rely on non-English speaking contexts and figures. Through a primary, though certainly not unassailable, logic of historical development, the course engages the fictional-historical worlds of these modern novels and poems (Conrad, James, Yeats, Achebe, Naipaul, Gordimer, Ishiguro) in chronological order, and considers especially the literature’s relationship to the historical contexts it reconstructs. Film intertexts are also part of the course: Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1976) and James Ivory’s The Remains of the Day (1993). Major themes to be explored include, but are not limited to: media, travel, and cultural exchange; psychoanalysis; global, world war; the dissolution of empire, chiefly British and French; and new colonial frontiers of subaltern labor. 

Prosody and Poetic Form: An Introduction to Comparative Metrics
ENGL 22310 / 32303
Boris Maslov

This class offers (i) an overview of major European systems of versification, with particular attention to their historical development, and (ii) an introduction to the theory of meter. In addition to analyzing the formal properties of verse, we will inquire into their relevance for the articulation of poetic genres and, more broadly, the history of literary (and sub-literary) systems. There will be some emphasis on Graeco-Roman quantitative metrics, its afterlife, and the evolution of Germanic and Slavic syllabo-tonic verse. No prerequisites, but a working knowledge of one European language besides English is strongly recommended. 

 

Poetics
ENGL 34800
Srikanth Reddy


In this course, we will study poetry “in the abstract.” We will study various efforts on the part of philosophers, literary critics, and poets themselves to formulate theories of poetic discourse. We will examine a range of historical attempts to conceptualize poetry as a particular kind of language practice, from Aristotle to Adorno and beyond. But we will also question the very project of thinking about “poetics” as opposed to “poetry” or “poems.” Is it possible to theorize the art form without doing violence to the particularity—and peculiarity—of individual poems themselves? 

Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle Ages
ENGL 35700
Mark Miller

The field of gender and sexuality in medieval Western Europe is both familiar and exotic. Medieval poetry is fascinated by the paradoxical inner workings of desire, and poetic, theological, and philosophical texts develop sophisticated terms for analyzing it. Feminine agency is at once essential to figurations of sexual difference and a scandal to them. Ethical self-realization gets associated both with abstinence and with orgasmic rapture. This course will examine these and other topics in medieval gender and sexuality through reading a range of materials including poetry, theology, gynecological treatises, hagiography, and mystical writing. (Med/Ren)

CDI Seminar: From Baroque to Neo-Baroque
ENGL 63400
Rachel Galvin; Miguel Martinez


We will take a transatlantic and hemispheric approach to examining the political, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions of the concept of the Baroque, by reading European and Latin American theory and poetry from three centuries (17th, 20th, 21st). The course is purposefully designed to put modern and early modern texts in constant dialogue. The literary essays of 20th-c. Latin American writers such as Lezama Lima and Alfonso Reyes, for instance, will illuminate the 17th-c. poems of Góngora and Sor Juana, while these will be read in conjunction with those of José Kozer, Luis Felipe Fabre, and Tamara Kamenszain. The remarkable persistence of the Baroque across centuries, geographies, and cultures raises a number of questions. Why has the Baroque not gone out of fashion, but rather, been reborn again and again? How does this apparently recondite mode manage to remain politically relevant and articulate urgent ideas in its moment? How does the Baroque provide poets with a prism through which to explore questions of subjectivity, originality, and capital? How does the Baroque contribute to or complicate notions of intertextuality? How does a Baroque aesthetic theorize accumulation and waste in developing capitalist and late capitalist societies? How does the connection between the neo-Baroque and antropofagia, the Brazilian notion of cultural cannibalism, play out in poems not only written in Brazil, but also throughout Latin America and in the United States? Although the course will be conducted in English, most of the materials will also be available in Spanish.

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE


Includes courses cross-listed from other departments. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course.

Prosody and Poetic Form: An Introduction to Comparative Metrics
CMLT 22303 CLCV 21313, CLAS 31313, SLAV 22303, SLAV 32303, GRMN 22314, GRMN 32314, ENGL 22310, ENGL 32303
Boris Maslov

This class offers (i) an overview of major European systems of versification, with particular attention to their historical development, and (ii) an introduction to the theory of meter. In addition to analyzing the formal properties of verse, we will inquire into their relevance for the articulation of poetic genres and, more broadly, the history of literary (and sub-literary) systems. There will be some emphasis on Graeco-Roman quantitative metrics, its afterlife, and the evolution of Germanic and Slavic syllabo-tonic verse. No prerequisites, but a working knowledge of one European language besides English is strongly recommended. 


From Baroque to Neo-Baroque
CMLT 40000
CDIN 40000, ENGL 63400, SPAN 40017, LACS 40017
Galvin, Martinez


We will take a transatlantic and hemispheric approach to examining the political, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions of the concept of the Baroque, by reading European and Latin American theory and poetry from three centuries (17th, 20th, 21st). The course is purposefully designed to put modern and early modern texts in constant dialogue. The literary essays of 20th-c. Latin American writers such as Lezama Lima and Alfonso Reyes, for instance, will illuminate the 17th-c. poems of Góngora and Sor Juana, while these will be read in conjunction with those of José Kozer, Luis Felipe Fabre, and Tamara Kamenszain. The remarkable persistence of the Baroque across centuries, geographies, and cultures raises a number of questions. Why has the Baroque not gone out of fashion, but rather, been reborn again and again? How does this apparently recondite mode manage to remain politically relevant and articulate urgent ideas in its moment? How does the Baroque provide poets with a prism through which to explore questions of subjectivity, originality, and capital? How does the Baroque contribute to or complicate notions of intertextuality? How does a Baroque aesthetic theorize accumulation and waste in developing capitalist and late capitalist societies? How does the connection between the neo-Baroque and antropofagia, the Brazilian notion of cultural cannibalism, play out in poems not only written in Brazil, but also throughout Latin America and in the U.S.? Although the course will be conducted in English, most of the materials will also be available in Spanish.

 

GERMANIC STUDIES


Includes courses cross-listed from other departments. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course.

 

Literature of the Actual
GRMN 23605

Florian Klinger.


An inquiry into the ways in which poetic language stages its being actual – ways that involve different senses of actuality: (1) Poetic language showcases the fact of its own happening; (2) it produces the effect of a heightened or intensified presence; (3) it marks itself as of a particular historical present; (4) it marks itself as of the particular historical present that is ours. Materials include experimental prose by Alexander Kluge, Hubert Fichte, Werner Herzog, Rainald Goetz, Judith Hermann, Thomas Meinecke, Helene Hegemann, Wolfgang Herrndorf.
Readings and discussion in German.
 

Lyricology: Theories of Poetic Language
GRMN 40205

David Wellbery


Several recent theoretical contributions (e.g., Culler, Hempfer) have argued, contrary to a nearly forty-year-old research consensus, that it indeed makes sense to consider lyric poetry a legitimate “mode” of literary making at the same level as epic and dramatic poetry. At the same time, important theoretical advances have been made in the treatment of rhythm and meter, especially as applied to free verse. In this seminar we will take these theoretical advances as a point of departure to consider the possibility of developing a “lyricology” that would stand on an equal footing with the broad-based disciplines of narratology and performance studies. The seminar will operate on two levels: 1) classic texts in the theory of poetic language from the disciplines of linguistics/semiotics, philosophy, anthropology, and literary criticism will be studied; authors studied include: Mukarovsky, Jakobson, Heidegger, Valéry, Stierle, Ruwet, Abraham, Martin; 2) theories will be tested on a range of poems including e.g., Sappho, Shakespeare, Goethe, Hölderlin, Baudelaire, Benn, Bishop, Meister. Thus, the seminar will oscillate between theoretical reflection and the disciplined reading of lyric texts.
 

ROMANCE LANGUAGES & LITERATURES


Includes courses cross-listed from other departments. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course.

 

The Literary Avant-Garde

FREN 22203/32203

Alison James

This course surveys the history and aesthetics of French avant-garde groups and tendencies in the twentieth century, from Dada and surrealism to the Nouveau Roman and Oulipo. While our focus will be on literary texts, we will also consider theoretical perspectives on the avant-garde and explore connections and contacts between literature and the other arts. Authors studied include Apollinaire, Artaud, Breton, Robbe-Grillet, Sarraute, and Perec. Taught in French. PQ: FREN 20500 and one other literature course taught in French.

Nuevas formas de la intimidad en las escrituras latinoamericanas actuales

SPAN 26117/36117

LACS 25115/35115 (parent)

Tamara Kamenszain

La literatura del siglo XX se caracterizó por poner el foco en el “yo” del escritor. Ya sea para ocultarlo, para mostrarlo tímidamente o para exhibirlo sin prejuicios, lo cierto es que ese “yo” se transformó en el protagonista de los cambios literarios que apuntaron al siglo XXI. Este fenómeno, que se produjo tanto en la poesía como en la narrativa y en el teatro, permite hoy el surgimiento de formas nuevas que descolocan los viejos géneros literarios. Formas donde los restos de las novelas en primera persona, del “yo lírico” de la poesía, del viejo diario íntimo, de las autobiografías, de las crónicas, se pueden encontrar insertados en nuevas escrituras del presente que operan más a la manera de la producción escrita en las redes sociales, que con el protocolo estético de lo literario. Este curso se propone analizar el recorrido de estas verdaderas transformaciones subjetivas, en relación directa con los contextos históricosociales en los que se producen. Para esto se trabajarán textos narrativos, poéticos y teatrales de diversos creadores latinoamericanos contemporáneos. Taught in Spanish.

CDI Seminar: From Baroque to Neo-Baroque
SPAN 40017
Rachel Galvin; Miguel Martinez


We will take a transatlantic and hemispheric approach to examining the political, epistemological, and aesthetic dimensions of the concept of the Baroque, by reading European and Latin American theory and poetry from three centuries (17th, 20th, 21st). The course is purposefully designed to put modern and early modern texts in constant dialogue. The literary essays of 20th-c. Latin American writers such as Lezama Lima and Alfonso Reyes, for instance, will illuminate the 17th-c. poems of Góngora and Sor Juana, while these will be read in conjunction with those of José Kozer, Luis Felipe Fabre, and Tamara Kamenszain. The remarkable persistence of the Baroque across centuries, geographies, and cultures raises a number of questions. Why has the Baroque not gone out of fashion, but rather, been reborn again and again? How does this apparently recondite mode manage to remain politically relevant and articulate urgent ideas in its moment? How does the Baroque provide poets with a prism through which to explore questions of subjectivity, originality, and capital? How does the Baroque contribute to or complicate notions of intertextuality? How does a Baroque aesthetic theorize accumulation and waste in developing capitalist and late capitalist societies? How does the connection between the neo-Baroque and antropofagia, the Brazilian notion of cultural cannibalism, play out in poems not only written in Brazil, but also throughout Latin America and in the United States? Although the course will be conducted in English, most of the materials will also be available in Spanish.

Torquato Tasso
ITAL 26401/36401
Armando Maggi

This course investigates the entire corpus of Torquato Tasso, the major Italian poet of the second half of the sixteenth century. We read in detail the Gerusalemme Liberata and Aminta, his two most famous works, in the context of their specific literary genre. We then spend some time examining the intricacies of his vast collection of lyric poetry, including passages from his poem "Il mondo creato." We also consider some of his dialogues in prose that address essential issues of Renaissance culture, such as the theories of love, emblematic expression, and the meaning of friendship.

FUNDAMENTALS


Includes courses cross-listed from other departments. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course.

Torquato Tasso
FNDL 26401
Maggi

This course investigates the entire corpus of Torquato Tasso, the major Italian poet of the second half of the sixteenth century. We read in detail the Gerusalemme Liberata and Aminta, his two most famous works, in the context of their specific literary genre. We then spend some time examining the intricacies of his vast collection of lyric poetry, including passages from his poem "Il mondo creato." We also consider some of his dialogues in prose that address essential issues of Renaissance culture, such as the theories of love, emblematic expression, and the meaning of friendship.

 

CLASSICS


Includes courses cross-listed from other departments. If you have questions about course content, structure, and schedule, please contact the department offering the course.

Hellenistic/Imperial Literature
GREK 22300/33200). PQ: GREK 20300 or equivalent.
David Wray

This class features selections from the poetry and/or prose of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods. This year we will read selections from Hellenistic poetry, with a particular focus on the Hymns of Callimachus.