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


21L.003 Reading Fiction: Short Story Masterpieces David Thorburn MW 2:00 - 3:30 14N-325

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

We’ll read about thirty remarkable stories — roughly two or three each week – by a roster of great and very good writers, chosen to represent something of the formal diversity and moral and artistic complexity of the short story as a literary form. Among our authors: Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Joyce, Gabriel Marquez, Doris Lessing, Flannery O’Connor,  Alice Munro, Lydia Davis.

I aim for lively discussion from everyone. In addition to reading our week’s stories, I expect students to have searched online for basic general information about our authors’ lives and major writings. We’ll begin each class with a brief overview of our writer, and then work toward a close reading of the required story. Students must bring texts to class; we’ll be reading many passages together during our discussions. In most classes we’ll discuss two complex stories, so you must be truly prepared, familiar with the texts, ready to talk about them seriously.

21L.004 Reading Poetry: Section 1 Stephen Tapscott MW 7:00 - 8:30 2-103

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

An introduction to poems and the traditions and forms of  poetry in English. We’ll read chiefly British and American poets and will concentrate on Renaissance, eighteenth-century, Romantic, and Modernist poems. 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, Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, Frost, Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Claudia Rankine. Readings: mostly poems, but also one Shakespeare play, several films, and a novel by Mary Shelley.  Several evening events including readings by visiting writers.

21L.004 Reading Poetry: Section 2 Arthur Bahr MW 3:30 - 5:00 2-103

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

In this class we will read and discuss a lot of poems. We will also consider why so many people, going all the way back to Plato, have distrusted poets and despised their work. Among other activities, students will translate poetry into prose to see if there is something distinctive about poetic language; explore the many meanings that common words have gained and lost over the centuries, and think about how that matters; read all 154 Shakespeare sonnets to see if they’re really as good as most people seem to think (don’t worry, we’ll read many authors besides Shakespeare!); and find a poem they love (or hate, or otherwise feel inspired to share), assign it to the class, and lead a discussion of it. Opportunities for writing will be many and varied.

21L.005 Introduction to Drama Anne Fleche TR 9:30 - 11:00 5-234

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

In this course, we’ll encounter dramatic texts from the Greeks to the present, exploring their cultural and period differences, as well as the “theatricality” of an art form experienced in three dimensions and in real time. Class members will discuss readings, write papers, review dramatic performances and have the option to perform scenes themselves. In addition to modern and contemporary plays, readings will range from Ancient Greece to Medieval England, Golden Age Spain and Classical Japan.

21L.006 American Literature: American Gothic Wyn Kelley MW 1:00 - 2:30 56-191

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

At the dark heart of American literature lies a fascination with all that is wild, alien, and deeply disturbing. From nightmarish Puritan sermons and Indian-captivity narratives, to the fever dreams of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, to profound meditations on national sin (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Emily Dickinson, Octavia Butler) to fixations on the precarious self in a world of horrors (Mark Twain, Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison), American authors have found creative inspiration in Gothic imaginings. In this CI-H class, with close attention to writing and communication skills, students will explore a range of forms—stories, poems, memoir, novels, film—through class discussion, essays, oral presentations, and a final project.

21L.009 Shakespeare Shankar Raman TR 9:30 - 11:00 4-253

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

We will focus on four or five plays by Shakespeare, drawn from different genres. While close readings of his plays will be our focus, we will also explore how they have been adapted and performed around the world, on film and in theatre. We may also attend one or more theatrical performances, depending on what is available in the Boston area. Plays selected will include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet.

21L.010[J] Writing with Shakespeare
Same subject as 21W.042[J]
Diana Henderson TR 3:30 - 5:00 66-156

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.

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 analyze film versions of King Lear and the comedy of Twelfth Night. We will perform scenes from what is now a “problem play,” The Merchant of Venice, and attend a professional production of Julius Caesar. In all these cases, we will examine the reasons for Shakespeare’s enduring power and performance around 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 Eugenie Brinkema T 3:30 - 5:00 3-270
Screening M 7:00 - 10:00 3-270
Recitation 1 R 3:00 - 4:00 1-273
Recitation 2 R 3:00 - 4:00 1-277
Recitation 3 R 4:00 - 5:00 1-273
Recitation 4 R 4:00 - 5:00 1-277

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

Films are familiar to you; this course should make them strange again.

The Film Experience serves as an introduction to film studies, concentrating on close analysis and criticism. Students will learn the technical vocabulary for analyzing the cinematic narrative, frame, and editing; develop the critical means for turning close analysis into interpretations and comparative readings of films; and explore theoretical issues. We will look beyond the surface pleasures of cinema to ask how films are put together; what choices are made formally, narratively, and politically in the constructions of different types of films; and how films have changed historically and in different production and national contexts.

We will study a wide range of works made between 1895 and 2010, including films from the early silent period, documentary and avant-garde films, European art cinema, and contemporary Hollywood fare. Directors will include Coppola, Dreyer, Eisenstein, Fellini, Godard, Griffith, Haneke, Hawks, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Kurosawa, Lang, Resnais, Spielberg, Tarantino, Vertov, Welles, and Zhang. Readings will include work from film theorists including Bazin, Bellour, Bordwell, Doane, Gunning, Metz, Mulvey, Williams, and Wollen.

Format: one 90-minute lecture, one evening screening, and one discussion hour per week.

21L.013 The Supernatural in Music, Literature and Culture
Mary C. Fuller 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: Imagining Alternative Worlds Marah Gubar TR 11:00 - 12:30 56-167

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

In this course, we will study fantasy narratives that invite readers to immerse themselves in enchanted alternative realms or magical worlds enmeshed within the realm of everyday life. Revisiting familiar environs such as Never Land, Narnia, Middle-Earth, and Hogwarts and concluding with a trip through more contemporary and diverse fantasylands, we will investigate how authors employ the tools of fiction to craft such convincing alternative worlds. Are these fantasies an escapist solution to the problem of modern disenchantment, or can we tell some more complicated story about their emergence and function? Since creative writers are themselves astute critics of fantasy, we will take inspiration from Ursula K. Le Guin, Lev Grossman, and other writers for whom criticism itself constitutes a creative act.

21L.020[J] Globalization: The Good, the Bad and the In-Between
Margery Resnick, Joaquín Terrones TR 3:00 - 4:30 4-249, 36-153

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

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.

21L.021 Comedy Peter S. Donaldson TR 3:30 - 5:00 16-628

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

Comedy as genre, mode, and tradition in drama, narrative, prose, film and stand-up comic performance. Examples from the ancient world include Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and The Menaechmi  by Plautus (Shakespeare’s source for Comedy of Errors).  We will also study one additional Shakespeare comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest  (Oscar Wilde, play and film), a Jane Austen novel and film adaptation, City Lights with Charlie Chaplin, Bringing Up Baby, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, and Dr. Strangelove.  Theories of comedy will include works by Henri Bergson, Northrop Frye, Sigmund Freud.

21L.023[J] Folk Music of the British Isles and North America
Ruth Perry, William Donaldson TR 3:30 - 5:00 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 the old narrative Scottish and English ballads. We 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 usually don’t manage to get that far.

21L.024 Literature & Existentialism Eugenie Brinkema MW 1:00 - 2:30 56-169

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

Introduction to literary works associated with existentialism, a nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophical movement known for its exploration of fundamental questions about the individual in modernity. Existentialist writers, artists, and philosophers focused on what it means that human beings exist finitely, oriented towards their own death; to what extent free will and reason are or are not governing principles of existence and action; how an individual might live a meaningful life in a society that itself is sick, illogical, absurd or without meaning; how catastrophes and the devastations of war upend understandings of ethics; and what forms of sensation adequately describe the contemporary human experience—waiting, disgust, nausea, anguish, anxiety, estrangement and alienation, confusion or boredom, or perhaps radical doubt? This course explores the aesthetic languages that existentialist writers and artists deployed to think through these fundamental questions, ones with which twenty-first-century thinkers are still grappling.

Works include Sartre, Nausea and No Exit; Camus, The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus; Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Kafka, The Trial and Metamorphosis; Hesse, Steppenwolf; Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; short stories by Kate Chopin; aphorisms by Nietzsche; and selected contemporary novels and films.


21L.320 Big Books: The Prelude Noel Jackson MW 1:00 - 2:30 2-103

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

With The Prelude, William Wordsworth invented a new genre, the autobiographical epic in verse. It was the poet’s masterpiece, but also a deeply personal work by a private man, and withheld from publication until his death in 1850. Wordsworth’s poem was to be the introductory portion of a tripartite epic project that was never completed in the poet’s lifetime. The poem presents a narrative of college life in the “other” Cambridge, and the record of a young man’s experience being caught up in the momentous political events of his day, especially the cataclysm of the French Revolution. Above all, Wordsworth’s poem is a psychologically astute and wholly modern account of “the growth of a poet’s mind.” We will read the poem in its earliest version of 1799, and in the full-length, 13-book version that Wordsworth completed in 1805. We will in addition read short works by predecessors and contemporaries (John Milton, Dorothy Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge) to understand better the literary contexts of this powerful and enigmatic work.

Ends Oct. 20

21L.350 Science and Literature: The Frankenstein Project Noel Jackson MW 1:00 - 2:30 2-103

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

Mary Shelley’s classic tale Frankenstein is often called the first science fiction novel. “The Frankenstein Project” will examine in depth one of English literature’s most famous pieces of fiction, the tale of a brilliant scientist with overweening ambition and his misbegotten creation.  The daughter of famous literary parents, both renowned philosophers and novelists, Mary Shelley was highly conversant with the intellectual debates of the day. This subject will explore some of the familial, literary, scientific and political contexts of Shelley’s novel. We will read Frankenstein in its editions of 1818 and 1831, and will examine some of the afterlives, adaptations, and remixes of the novel in fiction and film, including H. G. Wells’s The Island of Doctor Moreau, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl.

Begins Oct. 23


21L.433 Film Styles and Genres: Suspense Anne Fleche MW 11:00 - 12:30 5-234

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

Suspense makes us wait for something.  Many films elide or reshape time to help us anticipate what happens, but the suspense film focuses even more on when it happens.  The film is structured around a future event that depends upon an interval.  This unsettled, suspended time points toward time itself, and to our own time as we, necessarily, wait for it to end.  In this course we will study a range of films that seem to use this form of unsettled time.  These works might include thrillers, mysteries and horror films, but also films about dancing, dreaming, and waiting by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Pedro Almodóvar, Luis Buñuel, Agnès Varda, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Kent, Mary Harron, Henri-Georges Clouzot, and Jean-Pierre Melville.

21L.434 Science Fiction and Fantasy: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Phillip Pullman: Otherworld-Building and the Problem of Belief Arthur Bahr MW 1:00 - 2:30 1-135

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H

“A Catholic, a Protestant, and an atheist start a fantasy series…” It sounds like the set-up for a joke, but it also describes the world-building endeavors of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Phillip Pullman, respectively. Their fantasies are serious business, for they take part in a vibrant and longstanding set of debates about art and belief. What should be the relation between made-up worlds and the one we inhabit? Is there a connection between creative principle expressed by humans and the existence, or not, of a divine Creator? Can art seek to persuade and remain art, or does it thereby become argument or propaganda? In addition to major works of Tolkien, Lewis, and Pullman, we will read excerpts from religious and literary texts on which they draw: Hebrew and Christian Scripture, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

21L.451 Literary Theory Shankar Raman TR 12:30 - 2:00 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.473[J] Jane Austen
Ruth Perry TR 11:00 - 12:30 2-103

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

This is your chance to read every word that Jane Austen wrote– not just her novels, but her earlier hilarious juvenilia, several unfinished fragments of novels, and the wonderful letters she wrote over her lifetime to her sister Cassandra. This great writer’s work will be examined in relation to both her biography and the historical period in which she lived and wrote. We will analyze Austen’s characteristic style and techniques, in order to gain an enhanced appreciation of her writing—its intelligence, its wit, and its themes. Because she was a serious satirist, we will also discuss her moral values, and in the process, become more familiar with the culture of eighteenth-century England and the place of women–and art–in it.

21L.480[J] Identities and Intersections: Queer Literatures
Joaquín Terrones MW 7:00 - 8:30 4-146

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-H

This course will focus on LGBT literature from the late nineteenth century to the present with an emphasis on fiction and poetry. In particular, we will analyze how LGBT identities and their literary representations have changed over time. Our discussion will give special attention to the ways in which race, class, and disability intersect with sexuality and gender. Some of the authors we will read include James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Delany, Tony Kushner, Audre Lorde, Alison Bechdel, and Leslie Feinberg.

21L.489[J] Interactive Narrative
21W.765[J], CMS.845
Nick Montfort W 2:00 - 5:00 66-160

Prereq: none
3-0-9 HASS-A

The course consists of three units:

NARRATIVE THEORY. After an introductory look at multi-sequential novels and electronic literature, we study narratology (narrative theory) to gain a better understanding of the form and function of narratives and the elements and aspects of interactive narrative.

FORKING PATHS. We study non-linear print pieces of different sorts – not only the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure series but other juvenile fiction books of similarly unusual structure; parodies of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books; literary works by Saporta, Queneau, Mathews, Pavić, Coover, and others; and comics by Jason Shiga and others. Students write their own creative multisequential print piece.

ELECTRONIC LITERATURE. We focus on digital work that has narrative as an important component. Often, the “user” or “reader” is the one who gets to produce the narratives by interacting. A narrative electronic literature work can be a structured document that the interactor can traverse in many ways or a more complex computer program that simulates a world, accepts English input, and perhaps does other interesting things. This includes many computer and video games, including interactive fiction, along with classic and more recent hypertext fictions, visual novels, and many other examples of creative computing. The main project for the term is to create a work of electronic literature of some sort, which can be done through programming or by structuring language as hypertext.

International Literatures

21L.607 Greek I Randall Colaizzi MW 7:00 - 8:30 14N-112

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

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.

21L.608 Greek II Randall Colaizzi MW 7:00 - 8:30 14N-112

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

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.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.

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 (611), 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.

21L.638[J] Literature and Social Conflict: Perspectives on the Hispanic World
Joaquín Terrones TR 7:00 - 8:30 2-103

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

This course studies some of the most important social conflicts in the Spanish-speaking world through fiction, poetry, essays, film and popular culture.   We will examine the Mexican and Cuban Revolutions; the Spanish Civil War; the military dictatorships in Argentina and Chile; the drug wars in Mexico and Colombia; indigenous rights in Guatemala and Peru; women’s and LGBT movements across the region.  Offered in Spanish.


21L.701 Literary Methods: Hacking the American Renaissance Wyn Kelley MW 9:30 - 11:00 2-103

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

We think of the digital age as a time of tremendous innovation in literary technology, producing new authors on a mass scale, as well as preserving and curating older books. This explosion in the technologies of reading is not, however, unprecedented. Because of disadvantageous copyright laws, nineteenth-century American writers had to find creative devices for producing, protecting, and disseminating their work: whether through private presses or self-printing (Walt Whitman and eventually Herman Melville), manuscript self-publication (Emily Dickinson), the networks of popular magazines (Harriet Beecher Stowe and Fanny Fern) or uses of public lectures, journalism, and photography for self-marketing (Frederick Douglass and Mark Twain). This class will examine the “literary methods” of American authors looking for readers. In order to understand these nineteenth-century innovations, we will also investigate 21st-century critical methods that have created sophisticated digital tools for reading the past. Students will assess different textual forms—manuscript, print, maps, photographs, illustrations, circulars—using the hands-on affordances of both old-fashioned libraries and state-of-the art digital databases. No technical expertise required.

21L.702 Studies in Fiction: Joyce, Woolf and the Legacy of Modernism David Thorburn MW 11:00 - 12:30 4-146

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

The first half of this course will center on two classics of high modernism, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and James Joyce’s Ulysses.  In the second half of the course we’ll read a sampling of later fiction that draws on the experimental legacy of modernist literature.  We’ll spend about a month on Ulysses; each member of the class will be responsible for a single chapter, on which she or he will report to the class.  Later texts include: Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things; Garcia Gabriel Marquez, “The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship”; Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker.

21L.703 Studies in Drama: American Blockbusters from Uncle Tom’s Cabin to Hamilton Marah Gubar TR 2:00 - 3:30 4-253

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

What makes a play or a musical a smash hit? In this course, we will dive deep into the history of four American blockbusters: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Little Lord Fauntleroy, Annie, and Hamilton. Comparing source material to scripts, scripts to accounts of performances, and performances to film adaptations, we will explore how popular narratives shift over time and across genres. Using time-honored and cutting-edge strategies for doing research in the humanities, we will investigate these shows’ ties to prior popular forms, such as minstrel shows and comic strips. Since all four of these dramas are focused around figures who oscillate in some way between categories such as child and adult, male and female, rich and poor, or black and white, we will think together about what it means to conceive of identity categories themselves as fluid and performative.

21L.704 Studies in Poetry: British Romanticism: Power, Protest, and Poetry Noel Jackson MW 3:30 - 5:00 4-251

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 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 thoroughgoing 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.

We will read the work of two friends and collaborators, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, alongside a colorful secondary cast of radicals, philosophers, and scientists. We will also read some later poetry and prose — by Lord Byron, Percy and Mary Shelley, and others — 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 T 7:00 - 10:00 16-628

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 novels and plays (including Shakespeare) and films based on other films.  Films and texts include: Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Big Sleep, The Big Lebowski, The Hours/Mrs. Dalloway, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, X [Malcolm X]/Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Man Who Knew Too Much and others.

21L.715 Media in Cultural Context: Social Issues in American Films, Then and Now
Martin Marks TR 3:30 - 5:00 26-168

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

This seminar will explore the ways American films past and present have confronted fundamental social problems. Three topical areas will be the focus: urban life (in particular, the problems of congestion, poverty and crime); advocacy for and opposition to women’s rights (with alternate consideration of issues of race and gay rights); and conflicts revolving around immigration and citizenship. From its beginnings in the earliest years of the twentieth century until the present, a huge number of films both fictional and documentary in nature have addressed these issues. In each unit we begin by studying examples of such films that were made during the silent period. These will include fictional narratives (long, short, tragic, comic), educational films, animation, and/or newsreels. One principal “text” for this early material will be the DVD anthology Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 (2007), but we will also study various “mainstream” narrative film landmarks (e.g., Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and Vidor’s The Crowd.). In counterpoint to this material, we will examine various films (and one or two recent television series) from both the early sound eras and the present—films that continue to address the same issues. Readings will provide background for each group of films, including the aims and methods of the people who made them, as well as aspects of critical reception and media theory.