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

Spring 2023 Literature Supplement IAP 2023 Fall 2022 Literature Supplement
Show Descriptions


21L.000[J] Writing About Literature: Writing About Love , Section 1
Same subject as 21W.041[J]
Rosa Martinez MW 3:30 - 5:00 35-308

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-HW

From the beginning we are already in the hands of the other, a thrilling and terrifying way to begin.

—Judith Butler

“Read for love,” Seulghee Lee suggests. And we will follow his suggestion. This course is designed around analyzing intimate bonds and the permutations of heartbreak. How is love characterized on the fictional page and screen? And what might the lover’s break-up and his/her spinning into narcissistic despair teach us about the self and how we love? Through the analysis of novels, short stories, poetry, music videos, and live theatre, we will consider the transformative states of the lover’s (un)becoming.

Traversing genres, periods and cultures, we will also reflect on the relationship between wooing-author and swooning-reader, that is, as a bond that relates you as a writer to me and your classmates as your readers. On your pages, too, there may surface a playful flirtation, (false) promises, a tantrum or two, passion, intimacy, heartache, sarcasm, even humor. Essentially, in this course, you will write for love.

BOOK LIST: Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Sandra Cisneros’ Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic


21L.000[J] Writing About Literature: The Art of the Short Story , Section 2
Same subject as 21W.041[J]
Ina Lipkowitz TR 9:30 - 11:00 4-146

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-HW

When the short-story writer Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, she expressed 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 such writers as Alice Munro, Penelope Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Junot Diaz. Of course reading stories for the sheer pleasure of reading them is one thing; thinking about what they might mean is another; expressing those thoughts in writing is a third matter. In this class, we’ll be doing all three. Our 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.001 Foundations of Western Literature: Homer to Dante Arthur Bahr MW 2:30 - 4:00 56-167

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

This class covers about three thousand years of European literature, so it’s a pretty labor-intensive way to get CI-H credit. So don’t take it for that alone. Take it for the opportunity to read some of the coolest, weirdest, and most influential texts in the western canon: adventure tales of travel and self-discovery (Homer’s Odyssey and Dante’s Inferno); courtroom dramas of vengeance and reconciliation (Aeschylus’s Oresteia and the Icelandic Njáls saga); short poems of love and transformation (Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the Lais of Marie de France); and epics of war, nation-building, and empire (Homer’s Iliad, Virgil’s Aeneid, and the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf). We are going back in time: safety not guaranteed.


21L.003 Reading Fiction: Imaginary Journeys , Section 1 James Buzard MW 1:00 - 2:30 2-103

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

Great works of fiction often take us to far-off places; they sometimes conduct us on journeys toward a deeper understanding of what’s right next door. We’ll read, discuss, and interpret a range of short and short-ish works: the reading list will be chosen from among such texts as Gilgamesh, Homer’s Odyssey (excerpts), Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (excerpts), Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Saleh’s Season of Migration to the North, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, John Cheever’s “The Swimmer,” Coetzee’s The Life and Times of Michael K, Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” Toni Morrison’s Jazz, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Beckett’s How It Is, Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Forster’s A Passage to India. As a CI-H class, this subject will involve substantial practice in argumentative writing and oral communication.


21L.003 Reading Fiction: Aspiring Minds , Section 2 MW 3:30 - 5:00 1-242

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

Believing you’re special rarely ends well in a novel. But watching protagonists aspire, rise, and fall is one of the most consistent pleasures of fiction for its readers. This class examines novels about people who are convinced they’ll do something important and extraordinary. Sometimes the dream proves impossible. Sometimes it comes true, but in disastrous, ironic ways: think of Frankenstein. Along the way, we’ll discuss novelists’ persistent engagement with the ideals and limitations of social mobility. We’ll also examine how these themes shape the form of the novel itself: what are the ambitions of novelists, and the perils of literary success? Authors might include Daniel Defoe, Mary Shelley, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Edward P. Jones, and Zadie Smith.

21L.004 Reading Poetry: Section 1 Noel Jackson MW 1:00 - 2:30 56-167

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

An introduction to poetry in English, chiefly by British and American poets. We will explore the Renaissance, Romanticism, and Modernism 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. Special course-related events (readings, lectures, film screenings) will take place on selected evenings throughout the term. Regular classroom hours will be reduced in the weeks for which special events are scheduled.


21L.004 Reading Poetry: Section 2 Alvin Kibel TR 9:30 - 11:00 14N-325

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

This subject traces the main lines of descent in English-language poetry from the Renaissance to the modern period, concentrating mostly on English examples. We will study the poetic achievements of three groups of authors: (1) poets of the renaissance and seventeenth century, including Shakespeare, Donne, Marvell and Milton, (2) poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth-century, including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Emily Dickinson, and (3) poets of the twentieth-century, including Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop and Phillip Larkin.

Poetry departs from the apparently straightforward sentences of narrative, exposition and argument—the stuff of everyday writing and conversation—by how it makes use of metaphors and other figures of speech, whose meanings are often not immediately clear. But figurative language is not the exclusive property of poetry. On the contrary, metaphor is an inevitable characteristic not only of everyday, so-called literal speech but also of human thought, and poetry differs from everyday speech not because it uses metaphors but because it energizes, alters, and re-invents the figures of speech employed by non-poetic language. A linguistic community is marked by the metaphors that it lives by, and the nature of the relation between poetic metaphor and the effortless metaphors of everyday speech will be at the focus of our discussions.


21L.009 Shakespeare: Global Shakespeares (New HEX Subject)
Section 1 Shankar Raman TR T 2:00 - 4:00 and R 3:00 - 4:00 5-231
Section 2 Peter S. Donaldson TR T 3:00 - 5:00 and R 3:00 - 4:00 16-644

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

Global Shakespeares approaches some of the playwright’s most enduring works through their vibrant and varied afterlife. We will focus on four or five plays, drawn from different genres, including Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Tempest. Close reading of the texts will accompany examining how they have been adapted and performed around the world, on film and in theatre. Students will reflect upon how adapting the plays in different ways and for different contexts changes our understanding of their cultural impact. We may also attend one or more theatrical performances, depending on what is available in the Boston area during the semester. This semester, the two sections of 21L.009 will also benefit by meeting periodically with one another as well as with Prof. Henderson’s Writing with Shakespeare (21L.010) for films, scene analysis, presentations, and more.


21L.010[J] Writing with Shakespeare
Same subject as 21W.042[J]
Diana Henderson TR T 3:00 - 5:00 and R 3:00 - 4:00 16-160

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-HW

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. We will also benefit by meeting periodically with the other Shakespeare classes and professors, for films, scene analysis, presentations, and more.

By writing “with” Shakespeare—creatively, critically, in groups and in a variety of media—you will have ample opportunity to explore the elements and occasions that shape effective, meaningful communication. In addition to famous speeches and sonnets, we will consider film versions of Hamlet and the challenges of social exchange in Othello. We will examine the specifics of stage comedy and the enduring power of Shakespeare across the globe. Nevertheless, our aim is less to appreciate Shakespeare as an end in itself than to draw on his remarkable drama (its vocabulary, variety, 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 David Thorburn T 4:00 - 5:00 and 7:00 - 8:00 3-270
Screening T 8:00 - 10:00pm 3-270
Recitation 1 R 3:00 - 4:00 4-265
Recitation 2 R 3:00 - 4:00 4-261
Recitation 3 R 4:00 - 5:00 4-265
Recitation 4 R 4:00 - 5:00 4-261
Recitation 5 R 4:00 - 5:00 56-167

Prereq: none
3-3-6 HASS-A, CI-H

This subject will examine a series of classic films by American and European directors, with emphasis on the historical evolution of the film medium and on the cultural and artistic importance of individual films. The course will be organized in three segments: 1. The Silent Era (films by Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, Murnau); 2. Hollywood Genres (Hitchcock, Ford, Kelly, Fosse, Altman); and 3. International Masters (Renoir, De Sica, Truffaut, Kurosawa). All films will be shown on Tuesday evenings and will be available on demand via computer for registered students. Two lectures, one recitation meeting per week. Lectures are held on Tuesdays, 4-5 pm and 7-8 pm. Both are required. The week’s screening follows the evening lecture.


21L.013 The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture
Mary C. Fuller, Charles Shadle MW 11:00 - 12:30 4-364

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-A/H, CI-H

In this subject, we investigate the ways that broadly held ideas about the supernatural made their way into works of literature and some key symphonic and operatic works based on them, over a period spanning 1600 to 1960. We’ll study three aspects of the topic in roughly chronological order: Witches, Learned Magic, and Spiritualism. Materials range from the depositions of accused witches to live performances of Schubert’s songs and screenings of films such as Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood and Murnau’s silent Faust. Operas will be studied primarily through the medium of filmed performances rather than musical scores, allowing students the opportunity to experience these works as dramatic performances.


21L.015 Children's Literature: Children's Classics Marah Gubar TR 11:30 - 1:00 56-167

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, a canon of “classic” texts for children began to take shape. This course invites you to (re)encounter such celebrated children’s books as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Treasure Island, and Peter Pan. 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, musicals, television shows, clothing lines, china patterns, 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 read each of these texts, we will ask ourselves: What image of the child emerges from this book, and why do we as a culture find it so appealing? Besides tackling these questions, we will also investigate the ways in which the representation of childhood in these books intersects with race, class, and gender norms.


21L.020[J] Globalization: The Good, the Bad and the In-Between
Margery Resnick TR 3:00 - 4:30 14E-310
Joaquín Terrones TR 3:00 - 4:30 4-249

Prereq: none
3-0-6 HASS-H, CI-H

This subject combines a global forum with the study of one new or familiar foreign language of your choice. Think of 21L.020 as a model United Nations focused on cultural and historical issues. 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? Through novels, essays, poetry, films, audio files and team projects, students develop sensitivity to other cultures and the ability to read broadly across national boundaries. You will also acquire the analytical frameworks to contextualize contemporary debates about globalization. Furthermore, the emphasis on the historical context gives students a foundation to continue work in literature, history and the arts from a global perspective.

Students enrolled in 21L.020 may simultaneously enroll in a language subject at any level in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, or Spanish. Students receive 9 HASS-CI units for 21L.020 and 9 HASS elective units for their language class. This combination counts for two of the 8 required Humanities, Arts and Social Science subjects. Freshmen can take three 12-unit subjects plus 21L.020 and a 9-unit global language subject and still meet the 54-unit limit. Or, they can take 21L.020 as a CI subject alone.


21L.021 Comedy Stephanie Frampton MW 3:30 - 5:00 14N-325

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-H

What’s so funny? This course will investigate the humorous, the bawdy, the brash, and the offensive in the history of drama and film. We will read especially closely from the works of the first great humorists of the Western tradition, Aristophanes and Plautus, and will track their influence through performance halls and cinemas from Shakespeare’s Globe Theater to Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Satisfies the historical requirement for Literature as well as the Area II requirement in Ancient and Medieval Studies.


21L.023[J] Folk Music of the British Isles and North America
Ruth Perry, George Ruckert TR 12:30 - 2:00 4-152

Prereq: none
3-1-8 HASS-A, CI-H

This subject will introduce students to some of the folk music of the British Isles and North America and to some of the scholarship as well as the folklore about it. We will examine the musical qualities of “folk music” and the literary qualities of “folk poetry”— particularly in the old narrative ballads—and will try to understand the historical context in which folk music was a precious part of everyday life. We will survey how, when, and why folk music began to be collected, beginning in the 18th century with broadsides, Percy’s Reliques, and Sir Walter Scott’s collections—and how it changed the course of literary history. We will compare the instrumental styles and sung ballads as they migrated from the U.K. to North America—with their attendant changes and continuities. We will examine the enormous influence of African-American musics and texts on U.S. folk music. We hope to conclude with the “folk revivals” in the USA and Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, although we often don’t manage to get that far.



21L.310 Bestsellers: Detective Stories -- cancelled David Thorburn TR 12:30 - 2:00 4-144

Prereq: none
2-0-4 Can be repeated for credit; first half of term

This course will explore our culture’s fascination with stories of crime and detection. We’ll spend a week on foundational short stories by Poe, Conan Doyle, and Dashiell Hammett, then look at some best-selling private eyes by contemporary writers. Among the questions we’ll explore: What historical and cultural forces help to explain the rise of the detective in the late nineteenth century and his (and her!) proliferation in our own time? Why are the formulas and conventions of genre so attractive to readers as well as writers? What special pleasures and insights are on offer in detective stories? Students will write a response journal and a brief essay on a text (or film or TV series) not on our primary syllabus.


21L.325 Small Wonders: Masters of the Short Story (Begins Oct. 26) David Thorburn TR 12:30 - 2:00 4-144

Prereq: none
2-0-4 Can be repeated for credit

The small wonders in this course are short stories. We’ll read a sampling of memorable stories by classic and contemporary writers, with emphasis on their treatment of the social world, individual consciousness and moral choice. The syllabus will include such writers as John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Anne Beattie, Hawthorne, Joyce, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gabriel Marquez, Alice Munro, Flannery O’Connor, Tolstoy, Updike. Students will write a response journal and a brief essay devoted to a text not on our primary syllabus.



21L.430 Popular Culture and Narrative: Use and Abuse of the Fairy Tale
William Donaldson MW 11:00 - 12:30 4-144

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit

This course takes a brief look at a big subject. Where do Fairy Tales come from? We survey the work of the most famous of the collectors: the Brothers Grimm. How did they set about their task? Who did they collect from? How did they present their findings? Can we rely on what they tell us? We move on to genuine historic fairy belief in traditional Celtic societies, before turning to the structure of Fairy Tales, and the seminal work of Vladimir Propp on their roots in oral tradition. Next we consider what Fairy Tales might mean. Are they just for children, or do they have some deeper, perhaps darker, meaning? We consider a range of Freudian and other psychological interpretations focusing on Bruno Bettelheim and his book The Uses of Enchantment. Then follow two case studies of the abuse of Fairy Tales: firstly by the Nazis in 1930s Germany; secondly, by Walt Disney in the famous series of animated movies starting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in 1937. The course is completed with detailed study of selected modern literary fairy tales beginning with Hans Christian Andersen and ending with the poem sequence “The Grimm Sisters” (1981) by Liz Lochhead and short stories by Angela Carter from The Bloody Chamber and other stories (1979).


21L.433 Film Styles and Genres: Noir, New Wave, Nihilism--Tarantino and the Coens Anne Fleche MW 2:30 - 4:00 4-257

Prereq: 21L.011 or permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit

Few contemporary directors are more closely associated with “style” and “genre” than Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. But where did they come from? And whose films were they watching? This course uses their work to investigate the art they embrace, both literary and filmic, from Screwball Comedy to New Wave and from Homer to Elmore Leonard. We’ll also look at some of the theories relevant to their work: genre, auteur, postmodernism, psychoanalysis. Films covered will include Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where art Thou? and No Country for Old Men. Hey. The Dude abides.


21L.434 Science Fiction and Fantasy: Science Fiction Before Science Fiction Marah Gubar TR 2:00 - 3:30 4-257

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H

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. The origin of the genre we call “science fiction” is more open to debate, but it arguably predates Gernsback’s term by two centuries. In this class, we will study the prehistory of science fiction in Britain and America, focusing most of our attention on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century texts such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895). We will also explore the key role that children’s writers such as Mark Twain, Edith Nesbit, and L. Frank Baum played in popularizing speculative fiction.


21L.451 Literary Theory Shankar Raman T 7:00 - 10:00pm 4-253

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H

This subject examines the ways in which we read. It introduces some of the different strategies of reading, comprehending and engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century, paying especial attention to poststructuralist theories and their legacy. The course is organised around specific theoretical paradigms. In general, we will: (1) work through the selected reading in order to see how it determines or defines the task of literary interpretation; (2) locate the limits of each particular approach; and (3) trace the emergence of subsequent theoretical paradigms as responses to the achievements and limitations of what came before. The literary texts and films accompanying the theoretical material will serve as concrete cases that allow us to see theory in action. For the most part, each week will pair a text or film with a particular interpretative approach, using the former to explore the latter. Rather than attempting a definitive or full analysis of the literary or filmic work, we will exploit it (unashamedly – and indeed sometimes reductively) to understand better the theoretical reading it accompanies.


21L.458 The Bible Ina Lipkowitz TR 11:30 - 1:00 1-277

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H

The Bible – both Hebrew Bible and New Testament – is a complex and fascinating text, written by many people, in different languages, over a vast period of time, yet still displaying an overarching unity. Our purpose in this course is to consider the Bible as both a collection of disparate books and as a unified whole. Of course it is impossible to discuss the Bible without reference to religion, but religious interpretation – whether Jewish or Christian – is not our primary concern. Rather, we will explore the Bible’s literary techniques and its enormous variety of genres – everything from myth to history, from genealogy to poetry – as well as the historical periods that produced and are reflected in it. We will also consider issues arising from the history of the translation of the Bible from its original Hebrew and Greek. We will read Genesis, Exodus, selections from Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, 1 and 2 Samuel, Isaiah, Job, Daniel, the Gospels, Acts, Pauline Epistles, and Revelation.


21L.460 Arthurian Literature: Old English and Beowulf Arthur Bahr MW 11:30 - 1:00 4-146

Prereq: One subject in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit

hƿæt ƿe gardena in geardagum þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon…

Those are the first words of the Old English epic Beowulf, and in this class you will learn to read them.

Besides being the language of Rohan in the novels of Tolkien, Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon) is a language of long, cold, and lonely winters; of haunting beauty found in unexpected places; and of unshakable resolve in the face of insurmountable odds. It is, in short, the perfect language for MIT students.

We will read greatest hits from the epic Beowulf as well as moving laments (The Wanderer, Wulf and Eadwacer, The Wife’s Lament), the personified Cross’s psychedelic and poignant account of the Crucifixion (The Dream of the Rood), and a host of riddles whose solutions range from the sacred to the obscene but are always ingenious. We will also try our hand at composing our own sentences—and maybe even poems—in Old English.


21L.471 Major Novels: Major European Novels Alvin Kibel TR 1:00 - 2:30 4-251

Prereq: One subject in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit

This subject traces the history of the European novel by studying texts that have been influential in the development of the novel as the characteristic form of fiction in the modern world. We will concern ourselves with the way in which the novel-form is particularly apt at representing the historical character of class distinctions as they play out in the everyday details of social life. This feature often carries a suggestion about literature in general: that the most significant representations of the human condition are those dealing with persons who try to compel society to accept them as its agents.

The readings begin with Cervantes’s masterpiece, Don Quixote, which pokes fun at the idea that one can elect oneself as a person of destiny. It also introduces into narrative fiction a kind of teasing inquiry into the various devices by which narratives tend to endow characters with importance. We then turn to serious representations of these ideas in nineteenth-century fiction: Balzac’s Old Goriot, Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Endowing characters with extraordinary intensity, these books constitute the main tradition of modern realistic fiction. In reading them, we will also consider the distinctions to be drawn between the realistic tradition and the tradition of naturalism, which deals with characters more subdued in their relation to the social forces that constrain their lives. Our readings will end with two works of twentieth-century fiction— Joseph Roth’s The Radetsky March and Albert Camus’s The Plague.


21L.485 Modern Fiction James Buzard MW 3:30 - 5:00 2-103

Prereq: One subject in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H

Reading and analysis of major novels written since 1880. Writers may include Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, H.G. Wells, E.M. Forster, Rudyard Kipling, and others.


21L.512 American Authors: Weird Americas Joaquín Terrones TR 7:00 - 8:30pm 2-103

Prereq: One subject in Literature, permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H; Can be repeated for credit

Christopher Columbus’s initial description of the Americas featured rivers of gold and man-eating monsters. From the moment settlers and conquistadors first encountered its endless frontiers, abundant nature, and alien cultures, the New World has often stood as otherworldly counterpart to European worldliness. This course will examine how contemporary North and Latin American authors have reflected on their national identities through horror, magical realism and science fiction.

Our first unit will consider hauntings and ghosts stories as attempts to make sense of the hemisphere’s violent past. In the second, we will explore divergent worlds, geographies and timelines that reimagine otherness and cultural plurality. The final unit will study genetic and cybernetic splicings that blur the carefully guarded lines between man, animal and machine.

Texts we will read include: Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, as well as short stories by Borges, Poe, Lovecraft and Ocampo. We will also analyze the Brazilian graphic novel Daytripper, the Canadian television series Orphan Black, the film Jupiter Ascending and the music of Janelle Monáe.


Course trailer for 21L.512 Weird Americas in Fall 2015.


International Literatures

21L.611 Latin I Randall Colaizzi MW 1:00 - 2:30 14N-112

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

Latin I offers an introduction for those who do not know the language, or a review for those who would like to refresh the Latin that they have previously learned. In this half-semester intensive course, students will learn the rudiments of Latin vocabulary and grammar, including basic vocabulary, word forms, and simple sentence structure. This is the equivalent of a full first semester of college-level Latin.

(Ends Oct. 23, 2015)


21L.612 Latin II Randall Colaizzi MW 1:00 - 2:30 14N-112

Prereq: 21L.611 or permission of instructor
3-0-3; second half of term

Latin II offers a continuation of Latin I. This class will complete the basic preparation for those who have begun the language with Latin I (330), or will give a review to those who have learned some Latin previously. In this half-semester intensive course, students will reach the level necessary to read Latin texts at an intermediate level, including the full basic Latin vocabulary, word forms, and a knowledge of more complex sentence structures. This is the equivalent of the second semester of college-level Latin.

(Begins Oct. 26)


21L.640[J] The New Spain: 1977-Present
Margery Resnick T 7:00 - 10:00pm 14E-310

Prereq: One intermediate subject in Spanish or permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H

This course examines the vast changes in Spanish life that emerged during the transition to democracy that followed Franco’s death in 1975. We will focus on the new freedom from censorship: cinema, literature—including fiction and theater—educational reforms, the reemergence of movements for regional autonomy, and changes in daily life: gender roles, work, and family that accompanied this transition. Course materials include documentaries, a telenovela, as well as DVDs produced in Spain that chronicle the Transición from dictatorship to democracy. The class uses the Spanish newspaper, El País, to discuss the way contemporary Spaniards view their own and international politics. Each student chooses a topic to research throughout the semester. The topics can include any theme of the course that is of special interest. The final project for the class will be based on that research and will be presented in class and in writing. The class is conducted in Spanish and all the readings, with the exception of Giles Tremlett’s history of the transition, are in Spanish.



21L.704 Studies in Poetry: Power, Protest, and Poetry Noel Jackson MW 3:30 - 5:00 4-144

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit

The poetry we’ll read in this seminar was written against the background of momentous social, political and economic transformation. Alternately inspired by and aghast at these transformations, Romantic writers undertook an ambitious project to expand and redefine poetry and what it means to be a poet. Beyond inventing new poetic genres, styles, and theories of poetry, these authors envisioned nothing less than a thorough-going reevaluation of the writer’s vocation in the modern world. To write (and to read) was to be part of a world-making, potentially world-changing enterprise – as potentially efficacious in changing the world as the historical and political events to which their poetry responded.

Our reading will focus on the work of two friends and collaborators, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and that of William’s sister Dorothy. Along the way we’ll encounter a colorful secondary cast of poets, radicals, philosophers, and scientists. We will also read some later poetry and prose (Lord Byron’s Don Juan, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Thomas de Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater) that revisits the poetry and ideas of the previous generation with irony, remorse, or humor.


21L.706 Studies in Film: Remakes, Replays, Remixes
Peter S. Donaldson R 7:00 - 10:00pm 16-644

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

Film adaptations of novels, plays and films. Films will include film noir adaptations of science fiction and detective novels and stories, classic fiction, autobiography; films made from plays; films based on other films, and avant-garde takes on Shakespeare. Films and texts:

Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Big Sleep, The Big Lebowski, The Hours/Mrs. Dalloway, Clueless/Emma, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, X [Malcolm X]/Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Man Who Knew Too Much, North By Northwest, The Passenger (Professione: Reporter), Prospero’s Books, King Lear (Godard).


21L.707 Problems in Cultural Interpretation: Women Reading / Women Writing Ruth Perry TR 3:30 - 5:00 14N-325

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature or permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit

In this class, we will read great classic novels by Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Sarah Orne Jewett, Gloria Naylor, and some delicious stories by Toni Cade Bambara. We will interpret these texts, themselves fun to read, in the light of some powerful feminist literary analyses written about them in the last two decades of the twentieth century—analyses which together constitute a decisive contribution to feminist thinking. This major body of cultural theory retains its vital significance, although it is rarely read today and has largely slipped from sight of the younger generation. But it has not been superseded—and rarely equaled subsequently—and its insights are as important today for thinking about society and culture as when it was first written. This class takes us into a key episode in recent cultural history as well as developing the higher skills in reading fiction and giving us a fresh slant on gender politics.


21L.709 Studies in Literary History: The Experience of Narrative: Novels and Television MW 7:00 - 8:30pm 2-103

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature or History
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit

“TV’s Lost Weekends,” trumpets a recent headline about our modern habit of binge-watching television shows. Commentators today debate the right way to watch TV; but how to read a book has been argued over for a long time. This course juxtaposes contemporary television with novels from the last 150 years in order to experiment with different ways to read and watch long-form narratives. We’ll look at historical changes: the end of serialized novels a century ago; the rise of on-demand television today. This course asks how such media formats affect our experience of a story and understanding of what it means for a narrative to have a “form.” Works will include Dickens’s Bleak House, Conrad’s Lord Jim, The Wire, True Detective, and others.


21L.715 Media in Cultural Context
Stephanie Frampton MW M 1:00 - 3:00 and W 1:00 - 2:00 66-156

Prereq: Two subjects in Literature or Comparative Media Studies; or permission of instructor
3-0-9 HASS-H, CI-M; Can be repeated for credit

A kaleidoscopic introduction to the history and theory of communications from papyrus to pixel. With weekly “lab” sessions in MIT Library’s Special Collections, where students will get to dig deep into historical books and other media through a series of special projects and case studies, this class offers a serious primer in media and media theory, with special focus on histories of the book. Will be of interest to students of literature, music, media, or history. Readings may include McLuhan, Derrida, Kittler, Gitelman, Vismann, Kirschenbaum, and Siegert. Satisfies the historical requirement for Literature.