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COMPLIT 172: Visions of a Golden Age: Nature and Pastoral in Literary History

In the light of ecological collapse and climate catastrophe, eco-critics like Timothy Morton have asserted the need to abandon the very concept of nature. For Morton, it is in literature where the development and limitations of nature are most visible. Taking pastoral, i.e. stories about shepherds in idyllic landscapes, as the genre that has done the most in European contexts to shape how nature is seen and understood, this course proposes a historical appraisal of its literary history from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century. How has pastoral constructed nature? How has this changed over time? What is the relation between the historical contingency of nature as it develops in literary history and theories of human nature? While tracking the development of nature as a concept in plays, poems, and prose will be our main focus, this course will also investigate the ways in which shepherd lives and songs have shaped debates on gender, criticized city-life, depicted a Golden Age and more »
In the light of ecological collapse and climate catastrophe, eco-critics like Timothy Morton have asserted the need to abandon the very concept of nature. For Morton, it is in literature where the development and limitations of nature are most visible. Taking pastoral, i.e. stories about shepherds in idyllic landscapes, as the genre that has done the most in European contexts to shape how nature is seen and understood, this course proposes a historical appraisal of its literary history from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century. How has pastoral constructed nature? How has this changed over time? What is the relation between the historical contingency of nature as it develops in literary history and theories of human nature? While tracking the development of nature as a concept in plays, poems, and prose will be our main focus, this course will also investigate the ways in which shepherd lives and songs have shaped debates on gender, criticized city-life, depicted a Golden Age and the ideal state of humankind, and confronted political tyranny. Students will analyze poems, prose, and plays as autonomous works of art that shape how we imagine and understand nature. Reading literary texts from different moments in history and from a diversity of cultural contexts will permit students to reflect critically on their own conceptions of nature and those of contemporary political and economic discourses. The course will empower students to construct their own literary histories of nature and bring literature to bear on contemporary debates about the environment and climate change.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

COMPLIT 181: Philosophy and Literature (CLASSICS 42, ENGLISH 81, FRENCH 181, GERMAN 181, ITALIAN 181, PHIL 81, SLAVIC 181)

What, if anything, does reading literature do for our lives? What can literature offer that other forms of writing cannot? Can fictions teach us anything? Can they make people more moral? Why do we take pleasure in tragic stories? This course introduces students to major problems at the intersection of philosophy and literature. It addresses key questions about the value of literature, philosophical puzzles about the nature of fiction and literary language, and ways that philosophy and literature interact. Readings span literature, film, and philosophical theories of art. Authors may include Sophocles, Dickinson, Toni Morrison, Proust, Woolf, Walton, Nietzsche, and Sartre. Students master close reading techniques and philosophical analysis, and write papers combining the two. This is the required gateway course for the Philosophy and Literature major tracks. Majors should register in their home department.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

COMPLIT 199: Senior Seminar

What is criticism? When we interpret literature today, are we fulfilling the critical vocation? What are the alternatives? We consider the origins of the idea of the critic in nineteenth-century culture, its development in the twentieth century, and its current exponents, revisionists, and dissenters. Senior seminar for Comparative Literature Senior majors only.
Terms: Win | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Key, A. (PI)

COMPLIT 222A: Myth and Modernity (GERMAN 222, GERMAN 322, JEWISHST 242G, JEWISHST 342)

Masters of German 20th- and 21st-Century literature and philosophy as they present aesthetic innovation and confront the challenges of modern technology, social alienation, manmade catastrophes, and imagine the future. Readings include Nietzsche, Freud, Rilke, Musil, Brecht, Kafka, Doeblin, Benjamin, Juenger, Arendt, Musil, Mann, Adorno, Celan, Grass, Bachmann, Bernhardt, Wolf, and Kluge. Taught in English. WAYS Note: To be eligible for WAYS credit, you must take GERMAN 222 or COMPLIT 222A for a minimum of 3 Units and a letter grade. Note for German Studies grad students: GERMAN 322 will fulfill the grad core requirement since GERMAN 332 is not being offered this year.
Terms: Spr | Units: 1-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Eshel, A. (PI)

COMPLIT 229B: Camus (CSRE 129, FRENCH 129, HISTORY 235F)

"The Don Draper of Existentialism" for Adam Gopnik, "the ideal husband of contemporary letters" for Susan Sontag, and "the admirable conjunction of a man, of an action, and of a work" for Sartre, Camus embodies the very French figure of the "intellectuel engagé," or public intellectual. From his birth in 1913 into a poor family in Algeria to the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957, from Saint Germain-des-Prés to his predilection for the mediterranean culture, Camus captured the quest for universalism, for the politics of justice, and engaged in the great ethical battles of his time, from the fight against nazism and communism, from questioning colonial rules to the haunting Algerian War, and his complex "silence" over the war. Camus the Algerian, Camus the moralist, Camus the Resistant: through readings and films, we will explore his multiple, long-lasting legacies. Readings from Albert Camus, Kamel Daoud, Mouloud Feraoun, Alice Kaplan, Orhan Pamuk, A.B. Yehoshua, Assia Djebar, Jean-Paul Sartre, Yasmina Khadra. Movies include "The Stranger," and "Far from Men." This course is a gateway for French Studies, with special emphasis on oral proficiency. Taught in French.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Ulloa, M. (PI)

COMPLIT 233A: Literature and Society in Africa and the Caribbean (AFRICAAM 133, AFRICAST 132, COMPLIT 133A, FRENCH 133, JEWISHST 143)

This course aims to equip students with an understanding of the cultural, social, and political aspects at play in the literatures of Francophone Africa and the Caribbean of the 20th and 21st century. Our primary readings will be Francophone novels and poetry. We will also read some theoretical texts. The assigned readings will expose students to literature from diverse French-speaking regions of the African/Caribbean world. This course will also serve as a "literary toolbox," with the intention of facilitating an understanding of literary genres, and terms. Students can expect to work on their production of written and spoken French, in addition to reading comprehension. Special guest: Moroccan author Meryem Alaoui. Required readings include: Aime Cesaire, Maryse Condé, Fatou Diome, Dany Laferriere, Leonara Miano, Albert Memmi. Taught in French. Prerequisite: FRENLANG 124 or consent of instructor.
Terms: Win | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Ulloa, M. (PI)

COMPLIT 249A: The Iranian Cinema: Image and Meaning (GLOBAL 249A)

This course will focus on the analysis of ten Iranian films with the view of placing them in discourse on the semiotics of Iranian art and culture. The course will also look at the influence of a wide array of cinematic traditions from European, American, and Asian masters on Iranian cinema. Note: This course must be taken for a minimum of 3 units and a letter grade to be eligible for Ways credit.
Terms: Aut | Units: 1-3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Beyzaie, B. (PI)

COMPLIT 249B: Iranian Cinema in Diaspora (GLOBAL 249B)

Despite enormous obstacles, immigrant Iranian filmmakers, within a few decades (after the Iranian Revolution), have created a slow but steady stream of films outside Iran. They were originally started by individual spontaneous attempts from different corners of the world and by now we can identify common lines of interest amongst them. There are also major differences between them. These films have never been allowed to be screened inside Iran, and without any support from the global system of production and distribution, as independent and individual attempts, they have enjoyed little attention. Despite all this, Iranian cinema in exile is in no sense any less important than Iranian cinema inside Iran. In this course we will view one such film, made outside Iran, in each class meeting and expect to reach a common consensus in identifying the general patterns within these works and this movement. Questions such as the ones listed below will be addressed in our meetings each week: What more »
Despite enormous obstacles, immigrant Iranian filmmakers, within a few decades (after the Iranian Revolution), have created a slow but steady stream of films outside Iran. They were originally started by individual spontaneous attempts from different corners of the world and by now we can identify common lines of interest amongst them. There are also major differences between them. These films have never been allowed to be screened inside Iran, and without any support from the global system of production and distribution, as independent and individual attempts, they have enjoyed little attention. Despite all this, Iranian cinema in exile is in no sense any less important than Iranian cinema inside Iran. In this course we will view one such film, made outside Iran, in each class meeting and expect to reach a common consensus in identifying the general patterns within these works and this movement. Questions such as the ones listed below will be addressed in our meetings each week: What changes in aesthetics and point of view of the filmmaker are caused by the change in his or her work environment? Though unwantedly these films are made outside Iran, how related are they to the known (recognized) cinema within Iran? And in fact, to what extent do these films express things that are left unsaid by the cinema within Iran? NOTE: This course must be taken for a minimum of 3 units and a letter grade to be eligible for Ways credit.
Terms: Win | Units: 1-3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Beyzaie, B. (PI)

COMPLIT 249C: Contemporary Iranian Theater (GLOBAL 249C)

Today, Iranian plays both in traditional and contemporary styles are staged in theater festivals throughout the world and play their role in forming a universal language of theater which combine the heritages from countries in all five continents. Despite many obstacles, some Iranian plays have been translated into English and some prominent Iranian figures are successful stage directors outside Iran. Forty-six years ago when "Theater in Iran" (a monograph on the history of Iranian plays) by Bahram Beyzaie was first published, it put the then contemporary Iranian theater movement "which was altogether westernizing itself blindly" face to face with a new kind of self-awareness. Hence, today's generation of playwrights and stage directors in Iran, all know something of their theatrical heritage. In this course we will spend some class sessions on the history of theater in Iran and some class meetings will be concentrating on contemporary movements and present day playwrights. Given the d more »
Today, Iranian plays both in traditional and contemporary styles are staged in theater festivals throughout the world and play their role in forming a universal language of theater which combine the heritages from countries in all five continents. Despite many obstacles, some Iranian plays have been translated into English and some prominent Iranian figures are successful stage directors outside Iran. Forty-six years ago when "Theater in Iran" (a monograph on the history of Iranian plays) by Bahram Beyzaie was first published, it put the then contemporary Iranian theater movement "which was altogether westernizing itself blindly" face to face with a new kind of self-awareness. Hence, today's generation of playwrights and stage directors in Iran, all know something of their theatrical heritage. In this course we will spend some class sessions on the history of theater in Iran and some class meetings will be concentrating on contemporary movements and present day playwrights. Given the dearth of visual documents, an attempt will be made to present a picture of Iranian theater to the student. Students are expected to read the recommended available translated plays of the contemporary Iranian playwrights and participate in classroom discussions. Note: This course must be taken for a minimum of 3 units and a letter grade to be eligible for Ways credit.
Terms: Spr | Units: 1-3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
Instructors: Beyzaie, B. (PI)

COMPLIT 252A: Great Arabic Poetry

Introduction to the canon of Arabic poetry from the sixth to the twenty-first century. Imru' al-Qays, al-Mutanabbi, Mahmud Darwish, and more. Readings in Arabic. Two years of Arabic at Stanford or equivalent required. Counts for the Arabic Track in the MELLAC Minor.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
Instructors: Key, A. (PI)
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