Tracing adaptations of the great Chinese epic novel, Three Kingdoms, across diverse media, and considers what underlies the appeal of this classic narrative over the centuries. Through focus on historical events in the period 206 BC to AD 280, examines the representation of power, diplomacy, war, and strategy, and explores the tension among competing models of political authority and legitimacy. Covers basic elements of classical Chinese political and philosophical thought, and literary and cultural history. Final group project involves digital humanities tools. Readings in translation.
Explores fundamental questions about the experience of illness from the points of view of the patient, the physician, and the caretaker. Examines the ways in which these narratives have changed across centuries and across cultures. Asks about the physician's role in determining treatment; whether storytelling leads to more ethical life and death decisions; what special insights patient narratives provide; and what new awareness physicians derive from narrating illness. Materials include essays, fiction, poetry, memoir, blogs, film and television. As a capstone project, students develop their own medical narratives that emerge in interaction with a mentor from the greater-Boston medical community.
Examines relationships between popular culture and art, focusing on problems of evaluation and audience, and the uses of different media within a broader social context. Typically treats a range of narrative and dramatic works as well as films. Previously taught topics include Elements of Style; Gender, Sexuality and Popular Narrative. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. Approved for credit in Women's and Gender Studies when content meets the requirements for subjects in that program. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.
Examines the adaptation, performance and interpretation of Shakespearean plays on film and video. Focus varies from term to term, to include films such as the Olivier and Almereyda versions of Hamlet and Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet; "spin-offs" such as Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Shakespeare in Love; or theatrical videos of English language and international productions.
A cultural approach to television's evolution as a technology and system of representation. Considers television as a system of storytelling and mythmaking, and as a cultural practice studied from anthropological, literary, and cinematic perspectives. Focuses on prime-time commercial broadcasting, the medium's technological and economic history, and theoretical perspectives. Considerable television viewing and readings in media theory and cultural interpretation are required. Previously taught topics include American Television: A Cultural History. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.
Close study of one or more directors, genres, periods, artistic movements, or national cinemas which have been of major significance in the history of film. Previously taught topics include: Hollywood and Hong Kong; and Movie Realists: Chaplin, Renoir, Neo-realism, Truffaut. May be repeated for credit by permission of instructor.
Traces the history of science fiction as a generic tradition in literature, media, and popular culture. Considers formal ideological and cultural approaches to the analysis and interpretation of science fiction and fantasy texts. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Investigates relationships between the two media, including film adaptations as well as works linked by genre, topic, and style. Explores how artworks challenge and cross cultural, political, and aesthetic boundaries. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Immerses students in literature that represents the interaction between humans and nature as sublime, revelatory, and mutually sustaining. Without denying the damage humans have wreaked on the environment, explores the role that pleasure, wonder, and hope might play in helping us to envision new modes of engagement. Examples of authors studied include William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Annie Dillard, and Lauret Savoy. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Examines how we read texts and the questions that we, as readers, ask of them. Introduces different critical approaches to literature by examining the relationship between readers and text, between different texts, and between text and context. Topics vary but usually include reader-response theory, structuralism and semiotics, post-structuralism and post-modernism, historicism, psychoanalysis, intertextuality, cultural criticism, and media theory.
Highlights interactions between literary and philosophical texts, asking how philosophical themes can be explored in fiction, poetry, and drama. Exposes students to diverse modes of humanistic thought, interpretation, and argument, putting the tools and ideas of philosophy into conversation with those of the literary humanities. Students engage closely with selected literary and philosophical texts, explore selected topics in philosophy - such as ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics - through a literary lens, and participate in class discussion with peers and professors. Limited to 20.
Close examination of major works of classical Greek and Roman literature in translation. Topics may include epic, history, lyric poetry, or drama and the works of authors such as Thucydides, Homer, Virgil, and Cicero. Texts vary from term to term. May be repeated once for credit if content differs. Enrollment limited.
Introduces students to the three divisions of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, Prophets, Writings. Particular attention to literary techniques, the historical periods that produced and are reflected in the various books, issues resulting from translation, and the difference between Old Testament and Hebrew Bible. Students cannot also receive credit for 21L.458.
Introduces students to the genres that comprise the New Testament: gospels, history, letters, apocalypse. Particular attention to historical context, canonicity, translation, and the transformation of Hebrew Bible into Old Testament. Students cannot also receive credit for 21L.458.
An introduction to major books from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Particular attention given to literary techniques, issues resulting from translation from the original Hebrew and Greek, and the different historical periods that produced and are reflected in the Bible. Students cannot also receive credit for 21L.456 or 21L.457.
Tracing the evolution of King Arthur (and principal knights), students consider what underlies the appeal of this figure whose consistent reappearance in western culture has performed the medieval prophecy that he would be rex quondam et futurus: the once and future king. Examines how Arthur's persona has been reinvented and rewritten throughout history, including portrayals as Christian hero and war-leader, ineffective king and pathetic cuckold, and as a tragic figure of noble but doomed intentions. Enrollment limited.
Studies important examples of the literary form that, from the beginning of the 18th century to the present day, has become an indispensable instrument for representing modern life, in the hands of such writers as Cervantes, Defoe, Richardson, Sterne, Burney, Austen, Scott, Dickens, the Brontes, Eliot, Balzac, Stendhal, Flaubert, Hardy, Conrad, Woolf, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Proust, and others. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.
An examination of Jane Austen's satire in her seven complete novels, several fragments, and juvenilia. Students read these texts in relation to her letters and other biographical and historical information.
Examines selected topics in 18th- and 19th-century English/European literature and culture from the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660 to the end of Queen Victoria's reign in 1901. Topics vary by term; authors may include Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, and Arthur Conan Doyle, among others. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.
Focuses on LGBT literature from the mid-19 century to the present, with an emphasis on fiction and poetry. In particular, analyzes how LGBT identities and their literary representations have changed over time. Covers authors such as Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Cherrie Moraga, Melvin Dixon, Leslie Feinberg, and Luis Negron.
Examines cultural responses to HIV/AIDS in the US during the first fifteen years of the epidemic, prior to the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy. Students consider how sexuality, race, gender, class, and geography shaped the experience of HIV/AIDS and the cultural production surrounding it, as well as the legacy of this cultural production as it pertains to the communities most at risk today. Materials include mainstream press coverage, film, theater, television, popular music, comic books, literature, and visual art.
Tradition and innovation in representative fiction of the early modern period. Recurring themes include the role of the artist in the modern period; the representation of psychological and sexual experience; and the virtues (and defects) of the aggressively experimental character. Works by Conrad, Kipling, Babel, Kafka, James, Lawrence, Mann, Ford Madox Ford, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, and Nabokov. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Explores major modern plays with special attention to performance, sociopolitical and aesthetic contexts, and the role of theater in the contemporary multimedial landscape. Includes analysis of class, gender, and race as modes of performance. Typically features Beckett and Brecht, as well as some of the following playwrights: Chekov, Churchill, Deavere Smith, Ibsen, Fornes, Friel, Kushner, O'Neill, Shaw, Stoppard, Soyinka, Williams, Wilson. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Study of major poems and manifestos from the late 19th century through the early 21st century. Examines works written in English, with some attention to Modernist texts from other cultures and other languages as well. Poems by T. S. Eliot, W. C. Williams, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, Hilda Doolittle, Charles Baudelaire, Anna Akhmatova, Bertolt Brecht, Rabindranath Tagore, and others. Comprised primarily of discussions, short papers, and a final project. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Study of key themes and techniques in prose, poetry, and drama since the 1970s. Recent topics include postmodernism, globalization, new British and Irish writing, and literature and development. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if content differs.
Provides a workshop environment for understanding interactive narrative (print and digital) through critical writing, narrative theory, and creative practice. Covers important multisequential books, hypertexts, and interactive fictions. Students write critically, and give presentations, about specific works; write a short multisequential fiction; and develop a digital narrative system, which involves significant writing and either programming or the structuring of text. Programming ability helpful.
Explores the works of classical Russian writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including stories and novels by Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Bunin, Nabokov, Platonov, and others. Focuses on their approaches to portraying self and society, and on literary responses to fundamental ethical and philosophical questions about justice, freedom, free will, fate, love, loyalty, betrayal, and forgiveness. Taught in English; students interested in completing some readings and a short writing project in Russian should register for 21G.618.
Introduction to two millennia of Korean literature and culture. Discusses texts, artifacts, and films in their cultural context and from a comparative global perspective. Explores poetry; historiography, story-telling, drama and fiction; philosophical and religious texts and practices; and visual materials. Includes creative exercises to help students develop their own Korean wave and K-drama passions with a critically informed eye.
Surveys the nature, history, and distinctive features of Japanese literature and cultural history from the beginnings through the threshold of modernity. Examines various genres of poetry, historiography and mythological lore, prose tales and fiction, diaries, essays, Noh and puppet plays, short stories and novels; and helps students appreciate the texts’ relevance in the historical and cultural context in which authors wrote them, in the broader context of literary traditions from around the world, and for the humanistic and aesthetic powers, which makes them poignant to us today. Showcases how authors increasingly enjoyed adapting, redoing, and satirizing earlier models, while constantly developing new expressive forms suited to the urgent needs of their time. Includes an eco-literature lab, a creative writing lab, and a history-writing lab for collaborative experimentation.
Traces the evolution of the American musical from minstrelsy to Hamilton. Equips students with terms, tools, and techniques to enrich their analysis of how individual songs, scenes, and dances — as well as whole shows — are structured. Recovers the groundbreaking yet often forgotten or appropriated achievements of artists of color to Broadway and Hollywood musicals. Features a mix of creative and critical assignments, some of which may be linked to field trips to local theaters, dance studios, and archives. Limited to 20.
Works by major American novelists, beginning with the late 18th century and concluding with a contemporary novelist. Major emphasis on reading novels as literary texts, but attention paid to historical, intellectual, and political contexts as well. Syllabus varies from term to term, but many of the following writers are represented: Rowson, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Wharton, James, and Toni Morrison. Previously taught topics include The American Revolution and Makeovers (i.e. adaptations and reinterpretation of novels traditionally considered as American "Classics"). May be repeated for credit with instructor's permission so long as the content differs.
Questions posed by the literature of the Americas about the relationship of race and gender to authorship, audience, culture, ethnicity, and aesthetics. Social conditions and literary histories that shape the politics of identity in American literature. Specific focus varies each term. Previously taught topics include Immigrant Stories, African American Literature, and Asian American Literature. May be repeated for credit with permission of instructor if the content differs.
Examines in detail the works of several American authors selected according to a theme, period, genre, or set of issues. Through close readings of poetry, novels, or plays, subject addresses such issues as literary influence, cultural diversity, and the writer's career. Previously taught topics include American Women Writers, American Autobiography, American Political Writing, and American Short Fiction. Approved for credit in Women's and Gender Studies when content meets the requirements for subjects in that program. May be repeated for credit with instructor's permission so long as the content differs.
Introduces students to a variety of fictional works by contemporary women writers. International perspective emphasizes the extent to which each author's work reflects her distinct cultural heritage and to what extent, if any, there is an identifiable female voice that transcends national boundaries. Uses a variety of interpretive perspectives, including sociohistorical, psychoanalytic, and feminist criticism, to examine texts. Authors include Mariama Ba, Isabel Allende, Anita Desai, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing, Alifa Riyaat, Yang Jiang, Nawal Al-Saadawi, and Sawako Ariyoshi. Taught in English.
Students study theories of translation, compare examples of multiple renderings of the same work, and work on translation projects. Supplementary assignments focus on adaptation of works from one genre to another, and on transmission of information from one mode to another (visual to verbal changes, American Sign Language, etc.). Students write essays about relative theories of translation and about comparisons of variant versions, and also work on translation projects of their own in workshop-format. Includes texts such as the King James Bible, and writers such as Walter Benjamin, George Steiner, Wislawa Szymborska, Czeslaw Milosz, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Gass, and Robert Pinsky. Limited to 18.
Students travel to Spain to explore the country's influence on our understanding of contemporary culture, from its role as the crucible of the international avant-garde, to its genesis of political art and writing, to its Civil War that ignited the artistic passion of authors around the world, to the exuberant liberation after 40 years of dictatorship. Readings include Hemingway, Lorca, Orwell, Neruda, memoirs of Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Spanish poetry of the war and repression that followed, and the films of Saura and Almodovar. Films, readings, field trips to museums, and cultural events enable students to understand the full context in which today's vibrant Spanish democracy emerged. Contact Literature about travel fee and possible funding opportunities. Enrollment limited. Application required; contact Literature Headquarters for details.
Based in London, explores the specific locations, history and artistic institutions that have made London a world cultural hub, deepening students' knowledge gained on site through guided readings, theater performances, visits to homes associated with major authors, guest experts, and independent "author mapping" projects with reports back to the class. Sharpens students' understanding of the complexities of international exchange and identity formation in a global age. Contact Literature about travel fee and possible funding opportunities. Enrollment limited. Application required; contact Literature Headquarters for details.
Based in São Paulo, this course examines the relationship between race and place in the formation of modern Brazil and the U.S. through comparative analysis and interdisciplinary study of literature, film, visual art, music, and performance.
We will visit key cultural and historical sites; interact with archives and museum collections; and, most importantly, engage in dialogue with local scholars, religious leaders, community organizers, and activists.
Intensive introduction to Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon), the ancestor of modern English that was spoken in England ca. 600-1100. In the first half of the term, students use short prose texts to study the basics of Old English grammar. They go on to read short poems, and conclude by tackling portions of the epic Beowulf in the last third of the term. Assessment based upon translation work, daily vocabulary quizzes, and three exams.
Introduces rudiments of Greek to students with little or no prior knowledge of the subject. Aimed at laying a foundation to begin reading ancient and/or medieval literary and historical texts. Greek I and Greek II may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS Elective.
Introductory Greek subject for students with some prior knowledge of basic grammar and vocabulary. Intended to refresh and enrich ability to read ancient and/or medieval literary and historical texts. May be taken independently of Greek I with permission of instructor. Greek I and Greek II may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS Elective.
Introduction to reading ancient Greek literature in the original language. Provides a bridge between the study of Greek grammar and the reading of Greek authors. Improves knowledge of the language through careful examination of literary texts, both prose and poetry. Builds proficiency in reading Greek and develops appreciation for basic features of style and genre. Texts vary from term to term. May be repeated once for credit if content differs. 21L.609 and 21L.610, or two terms of 21L.609, may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS-H.
Building on 21L.609, develops the ability to read and analyze ancient Greek literary texts, both prose and poetry. Focuses on increasing fluency in reading comprehension and recognition of stylistic, generic, and grammatical features. Texts vary from term to term. May be repeated once for credit if content differs. 21L.610 and 21L.609, or two terms of 21L.610, may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS-H.
Introduces rudiments of Latin to students with little or no prior knowledge of the subject. Aimed at laying a foundation to begin reading ancient and/or medieval literary and historical texts. Latin I and Latin II may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS Elective. Limited to 20.
Introductory Latin subject for students with some prior knowledge of basic grammar and vocabulary. Intended to refresh and enrich ability to read ancient and/or medieval literary and historical texts. May be taken independently of Latin I with permission of instructor. Latin I and Latin II may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS Elective. Limited to 20.
Introduction to reading Latin literature in the original language. Provides a bridge between the study of Latin grammar and the reading of Latin authors. Improves knowledge of the language through careful examination of literary texts, focusing on prose and poetry in alternate years. Builds proficiency in reading Latin and develops appreciation for basic features of style and genre. Texts vary from term to term. May be repeated once for credit if content differs. 21L.613 and 21L.614, or two terms of 21L.613, may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS-H.
Building on 21L.613, develops the ability to read and analyze Latin literary texts, focusing on prose and poetry in alternate years. Increases fluency in reading comprehension and recognition of stylistic, generic, and grammatical features. Texts vary from term to term. May be repeated once for credit if content differs. 21L.613 and 21L.614, or two terms of 21L.614, may be combined by petition (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS-H.
A basic study of major French literary genres — poetry, drama, and fiction — and an introduction to methods of literary analysis. Authors include: Voltaire, Balzac, Sand, Baudelaire, Apollinaire, Camus, Sartre, Ionesco, Duras, and Tournier. Special attention devoted to the improvement of French language skills. Taught in French.
Explores feminist literary voices in France throughout the ages. Discusses the theory that the power of feminist writing lies in its ability to translate dominant language into a language of one's own. Studies lifestyles, family norms, political representation, social movements, as well as the perception of the body. Investigates how feminist genealogies redefine the relationship between belonging and knowledge through a dialogue between several generations of women writers. Taught in French. Limited to 18.
Focuses on literary and cinematic production in 20th- and 21st-century Spain and Latin America with a particular emphasis on how social, cultural, political, and technological changes led to aesthetic innovations. Topics include the literature of politics, the avant-garde and subsequent literary boom, the radical aesthetic of the post-Franco era, and post-modern film and art. Materials include short stories, novels, poetry, song, and film. Conducted in Spanish.
Studies how new literary, artistic and musical forms have emerged in response to tensions and contradictions in Hispanic culture, from the eighth century to the present. Examines distinctively Hispanic artistic movements and modes from Al-Andalus' vibrant heterogeneity to the enforced homogeneity of the Spanish Inquisition; from a rich plurality of pre-Colombian civilizations to the imposed conversions by conquistadors; from the revolutionary zeal of Latin America's liberators to the crushing dictatorships that followed; from the promise of globalization to the struggle against US cultural imperialism. Taught in Spanish. Limited to 18.
Considers how major literary texts illuminate principal issues in the evolution of modern Spanish society. Emphasizes the treatment of such major questions as the exile of liberals in 1820, the concept of progress, the place of religion, urbanization, rural conservatism and changing gender roles, and the Spanish Civil War. Authors include Perez Galdos, Pardo Bazan, Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset, Salinas, Lorca, La Pasionaria, and Falcon. Taught in Spanish.
Studies new paradigms of cultural exchange that have shaped Latin America in the 20th and 21st centuries. Examines how globalization is rapidly changing the identity of peoples and cultures in Spanish-speaking nations. Spotlights debates about human rights. Materials studied include film, fiction, essay, architectural archives, music and art. Students complete a research project about a specific aspect of Hispanic culture that has been shaped by contemporary forces in the global economy. Taught in Spanish with required readings and writing in Spanish.
Deals with the vast changes in Spanish social, political and cultural life that have taken place since the death of Franco. Topics include new freedom from censorship, the re-emergence of strong movements for regional autonomy (the Basque region and Catalonia), the new cinema including Almodovar and Saura, educational reforms instituted by the socialist government, and the fiction of Carme Riera and Terenci Moix. Special emphasis on the emergence of mass media as a vehicle for expression in Spain. Considers the changes wrought by Spain's acceptance into the European Community. Materials include magazines, newspapers, films, fiction, and Amando de Miguel's Los Españoles
. Taught in Spanish.
Examination of the formal structural and textual variety in poetry. Extensive practice in the making of poems and the analysis of both students' manuscripts and texts from 16th- through 20th-century literature. Attempts to make relevant the traditional elements of poetry and their contemporary alternatives. Weekly writing assignments, including some exercises in prosody.