To find subjects taught in previous semesters, you may also look at the archived Literature Supplements.

Fall 2020 Course Supplement / Posters IAP 2020 Spring 2020 Course Supplement
Show Descriptions

Introductory

21L.000[J] Writing About Literature: The Art of the Short Story
21W.041[J]
Ina Lipkowitz TR 11:30-1:00p Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-HW
Topics: Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

The short-story writer Alice Munro accepted the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature expressing her “hope  [that] this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.” In this class, we’ll take Munro at her word and read a variety of short stories by writers including Amy Tan, Raymond Carver, John Updike, Tim O’Brien, Jamaica Kincaid, Sandra Cisneros, and Alice Munro herself. Of course reading stories for the sheer pleasure of it is one thing; thinking about what they might mean is another; expressing those thoughts in writing is still another. In this class, we’ll be doing all three. The goal will be to increase enjoyment in reading and in understanding, as well as to feel more confident in the ability to express oneself effectively, efficiently, and gracefully.

21L.004 Reading Poetry: Section 1 Noel Jackson TR 1:00-2:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Renaissance and Restoration, Eighteenth Century and Enlightenment, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century

An introduction to poetry in English, chiefly by British and American poets. We will explore Renaissance, eighteenth-century, Romantic, and Modernist poetry in particular detail. Though the organization of the subject is chronological, our focus will be less on names and dates than on cultivating skills in careful reading and effective writing. Poets to be read may include Shakespeare, Sidney, Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, Frost, Eliot, and Elizabeth Bishop.

21L.004 Reading Poetry: Section 2 Stephen Tapscott MW 7:00-8:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

An introduction to poetry in English. We will explore poems written during several periods and in several genres (nature-poems, narratives, the epic, sonnets, odes, experimental forms).  Focus will be less on names and dates than on tactics of analytic reading. Poets whose work we’ll read include William Shakespeare, John Keats, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Liyoung Lee, and many others. Special course- related events (readings, lectures, film screenings) will take place on selected evenings throughout the term.

21L.005 Introduction to Drama Sandy Alexandre TR 11:00-12:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-A, CI-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode

In her autobiographical play, To Be Young Gifted and Black (1969), the playwright Lorraine Hansberry wrote: “I think that virtually every human being is dramatically interesting.” In our own lives—through our own verbal and body language—we alternate between deprecating and eagerly embracing what it means to be dramatic: “Oh gosh, he is so dramatic,” we accuse! “Yes, honey! I’m absolutely a drama queen,” we might hear someone proudly profess. “D-rahmuh!” we drawl to diagnose a scandalous story. Drama is everywhere around us asserting itself: provoking us, amusing us, challenging us, prompting us, inspiring us, catching the conscience of Kings even—effectively acting on us in some way or another. By reading plays and watching video recordings of some of them, we will attempt to understand what drama does best and uniquely as a literary genre. Toward the end of the semester, we will also consider the various forms drama can take. Where, for example, do we situate a historical reenactment, a staged protest, a walk down the runway of an underground ballroom, or a flash mob in an Introduction to Drama course? Our encounters may include, but are not limited to, plays by Tennessee Williams, Lorraine Hansberry, August Wilson, Young Jean Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tarell Alvin McCraney.

21L.010[J] Writing with Shakespeare
21W.042[J]
Diana Henderson TR 3:30-5:00pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-HW
Topics: Author Study, Historical Period, Ancient and Medieval, Renaissance and Restoration

William Shakespeare didn’t go to college. If he could time-travel like Dr. Who, he would be stunned to find his words on a university syllabus. But he would not be surprised at the way we will be using those words in this class, because the study of rhetoric was essential to all education in his day. We too will focus on communication using words, with Shakespeare as a capacious model and inspiration for dialogue, self-presentation, and writing. By writing ‘with’ Shakespeare—critically, creatively, in groups, and in a variety of media—you will have ample opportunity to explore the elements and occasions that shape effective, meaningful communication. We will consider how his plays have in turn been reinterpreted across the globe: in addition to reciting famous speeches, we will analyze both text and film versions of the comedy Much Ado About Nothing and the tragedy Othello, and you will explore an online MITx module as preparation to perform dramatic scenes from what is now a ‘problem play’, The Merchant of Venice. Finally, we will look at how Shakespeare revises his stories and style in the late ‘romance’ A Winter’s Tale. In the process, you will get to ‘play’ a Shakespeare scholar, and debate the reasons for the playwright’s enduring power. Nevertheless, our aim is less to appreciate his works as an end in themselves than to draw on his remarkable drama (including its vocabulary, variety, verve, and verbal command) in order to help you improve your own writing, speaking, analytic thinking, use of resources, and understanding of media today.

21L.011 Introduction to Film Studies Alexander Svensson
Lecture T 3:30-5:00pm Virtual
Screening M 7:00-10:00pm Virtual
Recitation 1 R 3:00-4:00pm Virtual
Recitation 2 R 4:00-5:00pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-3-6 HASS-A, CI-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Genre and Mode

Concentrates on close analysis and criticism of a wide range of films, including works from the early silent period, documentary and avant-garde films, European art cinema, and contemporary Hollywood fare. Through comparative reading of films from different eras and countries, students develop the skills to turn their in-depth analyses into interpretations and explore theoretical issues related to spectatorship. Syllabus varies from term to term, but usually includes such directors as Eisenstein, Fellini, Godard, Griffith, Hawks, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Tarantino, Welles, and Wiseman.

21L.014 Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Studies
21H.007[J]
Stephanie Frampton, Eric Goldberg MW 9:30-11:00am Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Gender and Ethnic Studies, Historical Period, Ancient and Medieval

Explores the fascinating history, culture, and society of Europe and the Mediterranean in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Investigates essential themes, structures, and developments in the ancient and medieval worlds and the diverse methodologies scholars use to interpret them. Wrestles with big questions about the diversity of life and thought in pre-modern societies, the best ways to study the distant past, and the nature (and limitations) of knowledge about the long-passed eras. Considers a wide range of scholarly subjects such as the rise and fall of the Roman empire, the triumph of Christianity and Islam, the Vikings and Crusades, courts and castles, philosophy and religion, and the diversity of art, literature, and government. Ponders different types of evidence, reads across a variety of disciplines, and develops skills to identify continuities and changes in ancient and medieval societies. Serves as an excellent introductory subject as well as a springboard for future work in MIT’s Ancient and Medieval Studies curriculum.

21L.015 Children's Literature Shankar Raman TR 2:00-3:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

Through the second half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, a canon of “classic” texts for children took shape. This course will invite you to (re)encounter a variety of celebrated children’s books drawn from England and Europe. You will absorb yourselves again in such classics as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, or Treasure Island, or The Little Prince  — as well as perhaps meet for the first time Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll family, or see what else Astrid Lidgren has written beyond Pippi Longstocking, or where Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story leads.  Many of these books have not only been read by millions of children and adults, they have also been adapted, parodied, and recycled—transformed into movies, musical works, television shows, and so on. Why do we keep telling these particular stories over and over again? What does their popularity tell us about the history of childhood and its representation? As we study these and other influential works of art starring children, we will ask: What images of the child emerge out of these texts? What makes such images culturally appealing?

21L.019 Introduction to European and Latin American Fiction: Liars, Cheaters and Thieves Joaquín Terrones MW 3:30-5:00pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode, Historical Period

Fiction writers are masters of the art of deception.  They lie all the time. It should come as no surprise, then, that some of their most enduring (and sometimes endearing) characters are themselves liars, swindlers, adulterers, rogues and criminals.  This course will introduce you to European and Latin American fiction through a selection of its most memorable lowlifes. We will examine how novels, short stories, graphic novels and films use these outsiders and their transgressions to comment on societal norms and problems.  Some of the works we will analyze and discuss are the Lazarillo de Tormes, Voltaire’s Candide, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Machado de Assis’s Epitaph of a Small Winner, Jorge Luis Borges’s A Universal History of Infamy, Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of the Star.  Class projects will include the opportunity for students to create—using various media—their own lowlife characters.

21L.020[J] Globalization: The Good, the Bad and the In-Between
21G.076[J]
Margery Resnick TR 3:00-4:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-6 HASS-H, CI-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode, Historical Period

This subject examines the cultural, artistic, social, and political impact of globalization across international borders in an historical context. Novels and short stories as well as case studies on global health, human trafficking, and labor migration illuminate the shaping influence of contemporary globalization on gender, race, ethnicity, and class. Guest lecturers visit class as we examine the impact of globalization on cultural identity, the arts, the politics of language, and the media. How has migration changed notions of cultural and racial hybridity? What can we learn from specific examples of global media and expressive culture including popular music and film? In what ways has globalization affected human rights? Students develop sensitivity to other cultures and the ability to read broadly across national boundaries. Furthermore, the emphasis on the historical context gives students a foundation to continue work in literature, history, and the arts from a global perspective.

Samplings

21L.310 Bestsellers: American Icons Stephen Tapscott T 7:00-10:00pm Virtual

Prereq: none
2-0-4 Can be repeated for credit; first half of term
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

(Ends October 16th.) In this 6-week Samplings subject, we read texts – chiefly poems and photographs — that have come to seem “iconic” in American culture. We consider what that designation means [what is a icon for? what work does a “canon” do? what does it permit? what does it inhibit or prevent?], and we look at how certain texts become iconic or formative. Often, we recognize historical moments or movements, and a journalist or writer documents the moment; eventually the documentation seems so completely to represent [or to embody] the moment that we interpret the text formally in order to understand the historical or Ideological or psychological nuances of the moment. Some texts directly aspire to that representative status [and sometimes in the moment some technicians manipulate the reality they portray]; some artists create texts that overtly offer themselves as useful models to be made iconic; some deliberately alter or play on the received dominant narrative or on a text/image that is already recognizable.

Poems [and some prose] by Walt Whitman, Emma Lazarus, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Robert Frost, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Edgar Allan Poe, AI [Florence Anthony], Marilyn Chin, James Weldon Johnson, others.

Pictures and images by Eadward Muybridge, Lewis Hine, Alfred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus,* Margaret Bourke-White, Gordon Parks, Joe Rosenthal, Sally Mann, Carrie Mae Weems, Edward S. Curtis, and others. Film by Charlie Chaplin.

*Here’s a useful fact: The character and appearance of Bart Simpson were based on Diane Arbus’ picture “Boy with toy hand grenade in Central Park, NYC, 1962” also used on the course poster.

21L.315 Prizewinners: After the Modern Stephen Tapscott T 7:00-10:00pm Virtual

Prereq: none
2-0-4 Can be repeated for credit; first half of term
Topics: Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

(Begins October 19th.) When we read “modernist” works we tend to focus on Anglo-American models,for various reasons: the English-speaking work was the epicenter–of the experimental poetic work of the early 20th century. For various reasons, other cultures experienced the Modernist dynamic differently. In this subject we read major work by artists in cultures that –because of different linguistic, political, historical, and psychological reasons–processed this expansive, reformative experimental energy in different ways. We read Russian models [Anna Akhmatova], German and Austrian [Bertold Brecht, Georg Trakl], Afro-Caribbean, [Aime Cesaire], Japanese [Yukio Mishima], Spanish and Latin American [Federico Garcia Lorca, Gabriela Mistral, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, J. L. Borges, Pablo Neruda]. We also visit some of the “alternative” modes of Modernism that thrived in the US and Britain in parallel to the “canonical” version propounded by Eliot, Pound, and Williams: works by poets including Langston Hughes, HD, Jean Toomer, and Stevie Smith]

21L.325 Small Wonders: Citizen(s): American poets from the last decade Mary C. Fuller M 2:00-3:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
2-0-4 Can be repeated for credit; second half of term
Topics: Gender and Ethnic Studies, Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

In this class we’ll read work by a series of distinguished African-American poets whose work has won major awards since 2010:  authors will include Claudia Rankine, Terrance Hayes, Gregory Pardlo, Tyehimba Jess, and Ross Gay. A major focus of the class will be the uses and effects of poetic form, from the rhythms of natural language to intricate experiments with constrained forms like the sonnet and the double shovel.  We’ll work at both the scale of single poems and, at times, of the whole book. No significant prior experience with poetry expected or required, but be prepared to read out loud, circulate first thoughts in writing, and take occasional responsibility for leading a class.

Intermediate

21L.434 Science Fiction and Fantasy: Science Fiction Before Science Fiction Marah Gubar MW 11:00-12:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century

The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, who coined the term “science fiction” in 1926 while publishing Amazing Stories, the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Yet long before that, nineteenth-century writers such as Mary Shelley, Grant Allen, H. G. Wells, and Edith Nesbit were penning their own Strange Stories (Allen, 1884), testing out many of the sci-fi and fantasy tropes that contemporary authors continue to retool to this day. Mad scientists and the monsters they create! “Last man on earth” dystopias! Stories about robots, time machines, and mummies who come back to life and rampage around museums…not to mention a park filled with dinosaurs living next door to modern humans! In all of these cases, the Victorians got there before us, in fictions that were heavily influenced by the earth-shaking hypotheses being advanced by nineteenth-century scientists such as Charles Darwin, Caroline Herschel, and Richard Owen.

In this course, we will explore not only how nineteenth-century science influenced art, but also how art influenced science. We will also investigate the integral (and often forgotten) role that children’s authors, women, and people of color played in pioneering and popularizing speculative fiction. By the end of our time together, we will have deepened our collective knowledge of the history of science as well as the genres of science fiction and fantasy.

21L.456 The Bible: Old Testament Ina Lipkowitz TR 9:30-11:00am Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 H
Topics: Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Ancient and Medieval

Whether you regard it as the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament, there’s no denying that it’s a complex and fascinating text, written by many people over a vast period of time, yet still displaying an overarching unity. Our purpose in this course is to consider it as both a collection of disparate books and as a unified whole. We will study its three major divisions—the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings—and draw upon a range of methodologies, including source criticism, literary criticism, and the exegetical practices of different religious traditions. We will pay attention to the Bible’s historical and cultural settings and consider issues resulting from translation. In the final weeks of the course, we will consider the differences between the “Hebrew Bible” and the “Old Testament.” Students will come away from this class with a greater understanding of the many ways these ancient writings have been both understood and misunderstood.

21L.471 Major Novels: George Eliot and Thomas Hardy James Buzard TR 3:30-5:00pm Virtual

Prereq: One subject in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Author Study, Historical Period, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century

A handful of major novels by two leading figures in the history of fiction.  We’ll read the first two novels of George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans): Adam Bede (1859) and The Mill on the Floss (1860).  We’ll also read three major works by Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the D’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).  These beautiful works tell moving, often tragic stories of desire and ambition confronting obstacles typical of their age (in particular, the Victorian period’s rules on class and gender) but also universal.  We’ll consider such issues as: what do we owe to other people?  How can we balance personal aspiration and duty or responsibility?  What makes for a free society, and what hinders it?  What causes societies to stagnate or to progress, and at what cost?

21L.481[J] HIV/AIDS in American Culture: Black Lives and Queer Bodies
WGS.250
Joaquín Terrones TR 1:00-2:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies, Historical Period, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

During the first years of the HIV/AIDS crisis, in the eighties and early nineties, activists protested across major cities demanding government action, some of them still hooked up to IV drips and oxygen tanks; alongside them, writers, visual artists, and filmmakers continued creating, many up until their last breath.  This course examines the relationship between different forms of cultural expression—from art to activism—during those first fifteen years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, prior to the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy. In particular, we will analyze the way in which mainstream narratives about the disease associated it with Blackness and queerness.  With a focus on the work of Black queer and trans creators and activists, we will also study how literature, film, and visual art were mobilized against these mainstream narratives in order to effect changes in public consciousness and even policy.  Finally, we will discuss the legacy of these cultural responses, particularly as it pertains to communities of color. We will do so by learning to close read across a variety of genres and media: fiction, poetry, film, theater, television, journalism, popular music, painting, sculpture, performance, and installation art. Some of the works we will analyze include: Samuel Delany’s The Tale of Plagues and Carnival; Octavia Butler’s Fledgling; Jamaica Kincaid’s My Brother; Sapphire’s Push and its screen adaptation Precious; the films of Marlon Riggs; and the latest season of the television series Pose.

21L.489[J] Interactive Narrative
21W.765[J], CMS.845
James Paradis W 2:00-5:00pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-A
Topics: Genre and Mode

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.

International Literatures

21L.607 Greek I Alexander Forte MW 7:00 - 8:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
3-0-3; first half of term

(Ends October 16) Introduces rudiments of ancient Greek – the language of Plato, Sophocles, Thucydides, and Euclid, and the basis for that of the New Testament – to students with little or no prior knowledge of the subject. Aimed at laying a foundation to begin reading ancient and/or medieval texts. Greek I and Greek II may be combined (after completion of both) to count as a single HASS-H. Meets with 21L.608. 

21L.608 Greek II Alexander Forte MW 7:00-8:30pm Virtual

Prereq: 21L.607 or permission of instructor
3-0-3; second half of term

(Begins  October 19) 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.

21L.613 Latin Readings Stephanie Frampton MW 1:00-2:30p Virtual

Prereq: none
2-0-4 HASS-H
Topics: Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Ancient and Medieval

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. Meets with 21L.613.

21L.614 Advanced Latin Readings Stephanie Frampton MW 1:00-2:30pm Virtual

Prereq: none
2-0-4 HASS-H
Topics: Historical Period, Ancient and Medieval

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. Meets with 21L.613.

21L.639[J] Globalization and its Discontents: Spanish-speaking Nations: Consuming Latin America
21G.739[J]
Joaquín Terrones MW 1:00-2:30pm Virtual

Prereq: One intermediate subject in Spanish or permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Genre and Mode, Historical Period

What do we actually mean by “Latin America”? Is it possible to talk meaningfully about a common identity in a region with such enormous racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity? We will tackle these questions by studying contemporary film, literature, popular music, television, and visual art. In particular, we will focus on cultural exchanges between Latin America and the rest of the world. How do Latin Americans consume (or resist) foreign goods, ideas, and influences? How do Latin American writers, directors, and artists create work that speaks to both local and international audiences? Course materials include readings by Roberto Bolaño, Valeria Luiselli, Eduardo Galeano, Rita Indiana, and Yuri Herrera; films such as The Motorcycle Diaries, Miss Bala, 7 Boxes, and Wild Tales; and the work of visual and musical artists including Frida Kahlo, Fernando Botero, Rubén Blades, Celia Cruz, and Calle 13. Taught in Spanish.

Seminars

21L.702 Studies in Fiction: James Joyce James Buzard TR 1:00-2:30pm Virtual

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Author Study, Historical Period, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

This seminar will examine three major works by the great modernist writer James Joyce (1882-1941): the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), and the colossal modern (mock-) epic Ulysses (1922).  Time permitting, we may also consider a brief sample of Finnegans Wake (1939).  Through oral reports and other means students will learn about the historical context in which Joyce lived and created his work, though our main focus will be the increasingly complex and marvelous texts themselves.  Student work will include oral reports, frequent short informal response papers, a midterm reflection paper, and a final creative or critical project on some aspect of Ulysses.

21L.703 Studies in Drama: How We Got To Hamilton Marah Gubar MW 2:00-3:30pm Virtual

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture, Gender and Ethnic Studies

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as eleven Tony Awards, Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical (2015) is a critical and commercial smash hit. Justly praised for its innovative rap battles and nontraditional casting, this musical also builds in brilliant ways on the work of past creators of musical theater whose work has too often been undervalued and overlooked. To enrich our understanding of Hamilton, we will begin by studying forms of drama that routinely go untaught, including burlesque, minstrelsy, all-black revues, and the classic American book musical. In the process, we will celebrate the groundbreaking yet often forgotten (or appropriated) achievements of artists of color, including Master Juba, the Black Swan, Buck and Bubbles, Gladys Bentley, and many others. By the time we get to Hamilton, our deep understanding of how popular songs and musicals are structured will enable us to tackle critical questions about how artistically innovative and politically progressive Hamilton is or isn’t from a new perspective.

21L.704 Studies in Poetry: Poetic Life Writing: Apologia, Confession, Concealment Noel Jackson TR 3:30-5:00pm Virtual

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Genre and Mode, Historical Period, Eighteenth Century and Enlightenment, Romanticism and Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century and Contemporary Culture

What motivates a poet to set down his or her life story in verse, and how does one do so? To what extent does the aim to tell the authentic truth about an individual life come into conflict with the time-honored aims of poetry, upending traditional expectations of formal regularity and decorum? The poets we will read wrote frankly about a range of personal topics not typically regarded as the stuff of poetry in their time. More broadly, they wrote with a sense that one of poetry’s highest attainments is the accurate recording of subjective experience and inward states of mind.

The course subtitle (“Apologia, Confession, Concealment”) names three possible, by no means comprehensive or mutually exclusive, modalities of self-representation in poetic life writing. Our reading will be organized around the study of two literary-historical periods each known for their innovative turn to the autobiographical mode and the precise delineation of inner life: British Romanticism (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron) and the second half of the twentieth century, with the American poets typically labeled “confessional” foremost (Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, John Berryman), as well as others (Elizabeth Bishop, Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg).

21L.705 Major Authors: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales Arthur Bahr TR 9:30-11:00am Virtual

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Author Study, Historical Period, Ancient and Medieval

In this course we will read the entirety of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a narrative and poetic collection that is variously bawdy, pious, moving, disturbing, and hilarious. We will read about drunken millers, man-hungry serial monogamists, glad-handing social climbers, bitter provincial bureaucrats, hypocritical members of the ecclesiastical vice squad, and cooks with disturbingly lax standards of personal hygiene (among others). These pilgrims will in turn tell stories of star-crossed love in ancient Athens; why crows are black and can no longer speak; the best way for nerdy students to find love and sex; what one thing all mortal women most desire; and whether you can kill Death without dying yourself (among others). No background in medieval literature or Middle English is expected; enthusiasm for challenging but rewarding material is, and will be repaid with interest.

21L.706 Studies in Film: Lost and Found Footage
CMS.830
Alexander Svensson Virtual
Lecture W 7:00-10:00pm Virtual
Screening T 7:00-10:00pm Virtual

Prereq: 21L.011, one subject in Literature or Comparative Media Studies; or permission of instructor
3-3-6 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit
Topics: Film, Media, and Popular Culture

Currently, the term “found footage” is perhaps most commonly understood as a sub-genre of the horror film – one that relies on supposedly “true” lost-and-found footage of hauntings, possessions, and other monstrosities to structure their nightmarish narratives (The Blair Witch Project; Paranormal Activity; Unfriended). By playing with audience expectations of authenticity and illusion, found footage horror encourages us to believe that the recovered and reassembled documentary, news, and/or home video footage we are seeing is “real” – making it all the more terrifying. While this seminar is indeed interested in examining the found footage horror genre formally and historically, it also uses it as a jumping off point to explore “found footage” for all its other linked and divergent possibilities. Missing, incomplete, damaged, destroyed, salvaged, remixed, recycled, and re-contextualized film and video structure and inform our moving image world; it is in these gaps, bits, pieces, collages, archives, and ephemera that this seminar takes interest. Over the course of the semester, this class will engage with the aesthetic, ideological, political, and historical implications of the following “lost and found footage”: documentaries and newsreels; early silent and Hollywood cinema; experimental and avant-garde films that make use of found footage; unreleased films; home movies; industrial and educational films; fictional found footage and “mockumentary;” underground and censored footage; and surveillance, webcam, and body-cam footage. In doing so, this seminar will address issues of film theory; cinematic heritage and preservation; film circulation and curation; physical and digital archives; re-appropriation; ownership and privacy; and of course realism and authenticity.