Fall 2016 Courses

RSCP. 72100 – Introduction to Renaissance Studies:  Scandalous Hybrids: Tragicomic Illegitimacy in Classical and Early Modern Writing GC:  R, 4:15-6:15 p.m., Rm. TBA, 3/4 credits, Prof. Pollard, [32011] Cross listed with ENGL 81100

This course will explore the perils and pleasures of merging tragic and comic modes, through reading both theory and practice of tragicomedy in early modern texts and their classical models. We will explore the scandal associated with generic hybridity, the ambivalence linked with satisfying perceived audience desire, and the running association between tragicomic illegitimacy and bastard offspring, in texts including Plato’s Symposium, Aristotle’s Poetics, Euripides’ Alcestis and Helen, Plautus’ Amphitryo, Sidney’s Apology for Poetry, Fletcher’s Faithful Shepherdess, and Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale.
ART 87100 – Mellon at Hispanic Society: Cross-Cultural Connections in Hispanic World, 1520-1810, Prof. Sund [32028] GC, R, 9:30-11:30am, Rm. TBA, 3 credits

C L. 80100The Faust Legend – GC: R, 6:30 – 8:30pm, Rm. TBA, 2/4 Credits, Prof. Paul Oppenheimer [32045]

Few figures in Western literature have attracted as much continuous interest from as many important writers, artists, composers and film-makers as that of Doctor Faustus, the mysterious sixteenth-century physician and necromancer whose legendary pact with the devil granted him superhuman powers. Starting with the earliest published version of the story, the famous Faust Book dating from 1587 in Frankfurt (also available in translation), the course will explore strikingly different treatments of Faust’s career by Christopher Marlowe, Goethe, and Thomas Mann, and the conflicting views of humanity’s relations to nature and the divine implied by their masterpieces. Also investigated will be the influence of the Faust story on writers as diverse as Byron, Carlyle, Dostoyevski, Pushkin, Hawthorne, Paul Valéry, and Lawrence Durrell. Films such as Mephisto, Hanusen, and Bedazzled, which approach the story and its motif of the devil pact in modern ways, will be considered and, where possible, shown; operatic and other musical treatments will be considered, along with the Faust legend’s impact on painting. One brief in-class presentation and One research paper.

C L. 80700Cross-Cultural Encounters in Medieval Italian Literature (XIV and XV Centuries) – GC: M, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Rm. TBA, 2/4 Credits, Prof. Karina Attar [32046]

This course focuses on the representation of cross-cultural encounters in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian novellas and romance epics. More specifically, we will read novellas by Boccaccio, Sercambi, Salernitano, and Cornazano, and selections from La Spagna in rima, Andrea da Barberino’s prose Guerrin Meschino, Pulci’s Morgante, and Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato that dramatize Christian-Muslim diplomatic, military, mercantile, and amorous encounters. We will consider the philological, generic, socio-cultural, and historical contexts that contributed to producing a variety of cross-cultural encounters across both traditions and address questions such as: How do the contexts of travel, slavery, piracy, and war inflect portrayals of Christian-Muslim encounters in each text? How did authors writing at different times, and in different genres, engage social anxieties about real and imagined contacts with Muslims circulating in their day? What kinds of rhetorical strategies and cultural fantasies did novellas and romance epics exploit in fashioning Muslim protagonists who share ideas, values, blows, and intimacy with their Christian counterparts? We will conclude the semester with a brief review of Christian-Muslim encounters in sixteenth-century novellas and romance epics. Throughout the course, students will also have opportunities to reflect on the present-day relevance of images, ideologies, contexts, and terminologies embedded in earlier eras and works. The course approaches these themes and works from an interdisciplinary perspective and is open to students in any specialization. Coursework will include a “conference” abstract and presentation, an annotated bibliography, and a final research paper.

C L. 80900 – Cervantes’s Don Quixote – GC: Th, 4:15 – 6:15pm, Rm. TBA, 2/4 Credits, Prof. Lía Schwartz [32047] Cross listed with SPAN 82100

This course will focus on the study of Cervantes’s Don Quijote (1605-1615) as a text that recreates early modern literary forms, while questioning the writing of fiction, from the perspective of Aristotle’s Poetics and related Italian theories of the novel. Cervantes’s work will be also analyzed in relation to its literary models – romances of chivalry, pastoral, picaresque and Moorish novels, Boccaccio’s Decameron and other stories of adventures – and their philosophical contexts. The function of madness as a fictional device will be also examined in connection with Erasmus’s The Praise of Folly. Other aspects of this complex narrative to be considered include its rhetorical and ethical background, as well as the treatment of popular discourses and of classical adages. Among the works to be read, in addition to Don Quijote\pard fs20 , are Sannazaro’s Arcadia, Lazarillo de Tormes, The Praise of Folly, and some novelle of the Decameron.

C L. 85500Travel Literature from the Medieval and Early Modern Islamic World – GC: W, 4:15 – 6:15pm, 2/4 Credits, Prof. Anna Akasoy [32049]

This course introduces students to prominent examples of travel writing from the medieval and early modern Islamic world and to the historical, religious, political, literary and intellectual contexts of these texts. We will explore issues of geography (imaginary geography, mathematical and human geography, geographical views of ancient Greece and Persia which informed geographical literature in the Islamic world), the history of travelling and networks (including aspects such as long-distance trade, pilgrimages and travelling for the purpose of education), diversity within the medieval and early modern Islamic world, and imperial views of the world. We will also be taking into consideration visual, including cartographic, representations of the world and its distant parts and discuss the relationship between texts and images. Texts discussed in the class include the tenth-century Ibn Fadlan who wrote an account of his visit to the Volga Bulgars (which inspired Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead and the film The 13th Warrior); the twelfth-century Andalusi Ibn Jubayr who travelled during a pilgrimage to Mecca and his contemporary, the Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela who visited some of the same Middle Eastern regions; the fourteenth-century Ibn Battuta (often compared to Marco Polo on account of the extent of their travels); and the Ottoman Evliya Celebi.

ENGL 81100 – Space and the Material Culture of Privacy in Early Modern Literary Genres, GC, M, 6:30PM-8:30pm, Rm TBA, 2/4 credits, Prof Elsky [32059], Cross listed with WSCP 81000

This course starts with a consideration of the “spatial turn” in literary criticism and adapts it to the cultural mapping of the house as a spatial artifact. Our point of departure is “studiolo culture,” or the spaces of privacy in the new domestic architecture of the Renaissance and its incorporation in Early Modern literature. We will look at the new concept of the house as a template for literary space: its arrangements for redirecting social circulation in a layout that divided common, public spaces from a series of increasingly private, intimate spaces. We look at the literary representation of these new architectural arrangements as accommodations of social, political, gender, and religious developments. Themes will include: rooms as performance spaces of social and sexual identity; room décor and expression of affect through things; gendered division of household space and interaction of masculine and feminine spaces; spaces of women’s property; the disparity between domestic private space as marker of cultivated status and fear of privacy as place of anti-social, aberrant, violent behavior. Reading from several genres: lyric (Petrarch, Philip Sidney); prose romance (Philip Sidney, Mary Wroth); life writing (Anne Clifford, Thomas Whythorne ); drama (Thomas Middleton, Thomas Heywood). Readings and visual materials also from architectural history and art history. The course will end with thoughts about the end of studiolo culture in contemporary houses. Assignments: oral presentation and semester paper.

ENGL 82100 – Early Modern Race and Globalization. William Fisher. R, 2:00-4:00pm, 2/4 credits, Prof. Fisher [32060]

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are often referred to as the period when modern forms of globalization – including global capitalism and imperialism – began. This course will explore how English literature and culture from the period was shaped by the engagement with “new” territories and trade routes, mercantile relationships, colonial energies, and various types of exchange. It will include a strong emphasis on early modern thinking about race. We will proceed, in part, by considering England’s relationship with some of the different regions/peoples of the world – especially the Ottomans (and Islam more generally), Africa, The “New” World and the Caribbean, and the Far East. In each instance, we will address how English writers imagine and engage with these diverse places and cultures. READINGS: Literary texts will include canonical works such as Shakespare’s Othello and The Tempest, Jonson’s The Masque of Blackness and Behn’s Oroonoko, as well as lesser known works such as Fletcher’s The Island Princess and Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar. We will also be examining a range of non-literary sources: we will spend a day focusing on maps and globes from ethe period; another on travel narratives; another on representations of colonial commodities like sugar, cotton, and tobacco; and finally, one on visual depictions of people from across the globe. Theoretical texts by Dipesh Chakrabarty, Edward Said, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Immanuel Wallerstein will be read along with the work of early modern scholars like Ania Loomba, Jyotsna Singh, Kim Hall, Barbara Fuchs, and Dan Vitkus.

ENGL 87400 – Text and Archive, GC, M, 11:45am-1:45pm, Rm TBA, 2/4 credits, Prof. Sargent [32072]

This course will consider textual production, transmission, and storage in its manifold historical and contemporary variants, with a particular eye towards both critical and methodological approaches. Using theoretical perspectives drawn from, e.g., M.T. Clanchy, Ivan Illich, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Wlad Godzich, Gilles Deleuze, Jerome McGann, David Greetham, and Matthew Gold, we will explore questions of production, reproduction, writing, printing, encoding, preservation, de-accession, and destruction in relationship to textuality, from traditional as well as digital contexts. Beginning with parietal art (cave painting and petroglyphs), we will navigate the rise and history of various writing systems and media, the development of textual criticism, the “Print Revolution,” and questions of access and recovery in contemporary archives. Guest speakers will address specific topics including fifteenth and sixteenth century bibles, the work of the Sofer SeTaM (Torah scribe), recitation of the Quran, issues of scholarly access to the Dead Sea Scrolls and other recent textual discoveries, and the implications of digital humanities research in textual and archival research. This course will also offer an opportunity for students to research, contextualize, and consider participating in textual and archival initiatives at the Graduate Center, such as the GC Digital Initiatives and Lost and Found.

FREN 82000 – Rabelais, GC, T, 4:15-6:15pm, Rm TBA, 3 credits, Prof Renner [32102]

HIST 78500- Medicine in Early Modern Europe, GC, R, 6:30-8:30pm, Rm TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Kavey [32167]

Early modern Europe saw important changes in approaches to medicine (both in theory and practice) and ideas about the body that reflected broader cultural shifts and the influence of a broadening world of geography and experience. This course will examine the important medical systems in early modern Europe and the changes that occurred between 1500 and the late 17th century as a means of better understanding prevailing ideas about medicine, the body, and the vexed relationship between humans and the natural world. Readings will include primary sources and historiographic material.

Course Offering Archives

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar