Courses: Winter 2012
Comp Lit 497, Russian Jewish Film
Comp Lit 507 - History of Literary Criticism and Theory, I
Comp Lit 509 - History of Literary Criticism and Theory, III
Comp Lit 510 - History of Literary Criticism and Theory, IV
Comp Lit 596 A - Cinephilia, Cinematic Experience in Historical Context
Dance 420 - Dance Aesthetics
Drama 572 - Spectacles of Power
Drama 582 - Marxism
English 546/Comp Lit 516, Reading Affect
English 559A/Comp Lit 549A, Traditions of the Avant-Garde
HSTAS 590B, Art, Islam and Politics in Indonesian History
Humanities 595A/GWSS 590, Women Who Rock Digital Scholarship
Japan 561, No and Kyogen
Comp Lit 497, MWF, 11:30-1:20
The course will examine early Jewish films (in Yiddish or Russian) produced in tsarist Russia, Soviet Russia, and Poland in the span of 25 years, from the very beginnings of silent film to the early years of sound film, from the twilight years of Russian monarchy (and the notorious Pale of Settlement) through Bolshevik Revolution and up to the spread of Hitlerism in Europe.
Comp Lit 507, M/W, 1:30-3:20, 5 credits
A general introduction to the major issues in the history of criticism followed by the study of the classical theorists, including Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, and the major medieval critics.
Comp Lit 509, T/Th, 3:30-5:30, 5 credits
Psychoanalysis Then and Now This course provides a limited introduction to psychoanalysis and its impact on twentieth and twenty-first century literary and cultural studies.
A study of the major issues in literary criticism and theory since about 1965. The rise of the individual may be dated from the publication of Jacob Burckhardt’s influential study of the Italian Renaissance in 1860. A close reading of Burckhardt’s individual, who would later evolve into the modern “subject,” provides the opening gamut in our own review of contemporary literary theory as an enterprise with distinctly ethical implications. Ethics without subjectivity is, in the modern context, unthinkable. But so is subjectivity without ethics. A brief encounter with Machiavelli is convincing on this point. The moral depravity of Machiavelli’s prince is only recognizable because we reasonably expect something more from our leaders, a sentiment that Burckhardt clearly shared. In a purely literary context, the questions are modified somewhat, but the underlying issues are largely the same. Taking as our point of departure the Aristotelian emphasis on “action,” we will explore our interest in knowing “what happens next” in any literary text as a symptom of our engagement with that text as an ethical act. The question of what happens next, by definition, imputes to the actor motivations, desires, feelings, in effect, an imagined subjectivity, whether that actor is a character in a novel, an on-stage personality, or our next-door neighbor. The fluid movement between reality and the imagination in this respect highlights the representational nature of the subject, the fact that a representation of the subject is finally all there is. To theorize the subject—which, as we shall see, is the essential goal of much of contemporary literary theory—is necessarily to create a paradigm for understanding the limits of the subject’s ability to act. From psychoanalytical theories, to Marxism, Structuralism, and finally post-Structuralism, “theory” has had a powerful influence on our understanding of subjective self-determination, or to put it perhaps more crudely, on our concept of freedom. Freedom is a precondition of ethical action. Thus, in the same way that theory constrains the subject’s freedom, it also inevitably complicates the idea of ethical action. There is, in this sense, no one ethical subject, but rather a variety of ethical consequences that may be said to arise out of the modern discovery—or invention—of subjectivity. To explore the range of these ethical predicaments will be the main focus of this class.
Comp Lit 596 A, T/Th, 3:30-5:30, 5 credits
How is our sensorial experience at the movies predicated on historically determined factors? How does the expression of that experience to others change with time? To answer these questions we must investigate the transformation of production and screening technology, the various venues available for opinion sharing and film criticism, and the changing meaning of the public sphere itself. The course focuses on cinephilia as a specific form of experience and criticism and on its different facets through history. The assigned readings emphasize recent scholarship.
Philosophical frameworks will support our consideration of a number of issues central to performing arts in general, and dance in particular, such as: What makes an action an artistic performance? How should we identify two performances of the same art work, for example Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring? What would make a dance representational or non-representational? Do dance and other performance arts have a more constitutive connection to the body than do other art forms? What does it matter that a performance is “live”? Is something lost when we sit home with a cd or dvd? Examples from contemporary dance, performance art, music, and theater will be used throughout the course.
Drama 572, T/Th, 2:30-4:50, 5 credits
For more than two centuries, the courts of Europe deployed lavishly staged events to perform, promote, celebrate and maintain their status. These displays employed the finest artists of many mediums–architects, poets, musicians, choreographers, painters, machinists–and played across Europe until aristocracy itself came to its violent closure at the end of the 18th century. No site has left richer and more abundant records of their performances than the baroque, yet since the fall of the ancien regime, and the subsequent tradition of marxist historiography that celebrated the demise of Aristocracy, the baroque has not faired well throughout the 20th century. As the most overly remembered neglected period, the baroque may provide the perfect concentrated site for a return to visibility, for new critical investigation, for reading and troubling the production of power. This inter-disciplinary course invites treatments of the period through a host of multiple art forms, as, indeed, was practiced in the period itself.
Drama 582, W/F, 1:30-3:20, 5 credits
This course studies Marxism and related contemporary socio-political theories in historical context and in relation to theater and film. Following generally chronological order, we will examine classical Marxism, neo-Marxism, and related theories, with the latter including discourse theory, materialist feminism, and post-colonialist theory. We will study the major definitions of and debates around ideology; the political subject; art as social and economic practice; historical consciousness, context, agency, and change; mass culture and high culture--as they relate to theater and film. Certain historical moments will be orientation points for the writers and artists we will study: the French Revolution, colonialism, the communist revolutions in Russia and Germany, fascism and the World Wars, the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, and the postcolonial era of global capitalism. Sample syllabus. (PDF)
English 546/Comp Lit 516, T/Th, 1:30-3:20
After years of scholarship in twentieth-century studies featuring the "waning of affect" (in Jameson's famous phrase about postmodernism), study of affect, emotion, trauma, and "feelings" in modern and contemporary literary and cultural texts is now, again, a topic of theoretical and critical attention, with a growing number of conferences, fellowships, books, and journal articles devoted to it. This course will read essays from (mostly) contemporary writers in our discipline with an eye toward seeing what the current debates and contexts are. We’ll ask such questions as: What are the stakes in differentiating “affect,” from “emotion? How are emotion and affect studies related to recent work in representation and theories of mind?
English 559A/Comp Lit 549A, MW 3:30-5:20; THO 217
Traditions of the Avant-Garde
There was a messianic strain in the avant-garde that thought it would build the future upon “the ruins of time.” The paradox of the seminar title suggests that time remains the spoiler by some indelible habit of keeping track of itself and calling that history, while the avant-garde, in defiance of tradition, eventually became part of it, with traditions of its own. We shall be studying these traditions as a form of consciousness, along with the major strategies of the avant-garde, as they emerged in early modernism and still appear, not only in our most experimental forms, but in the trickle-down economy of the aesthetic, as conventions in poetry, fiction, drama, as well as the visual arts, the media, fashion, and popular culture.
Meanwhile, it’s been rather amusing, and chastening too, to see ideas, highly theorized or absorbed into cultural studies, which are attributable to what is now the classical avant-garde: Futurism, Dada, Surrealism, Constructivism —or to later variants, like Situationism, now being canonized too. And while it would seem to be oxymoronic to speak of traditions of the avant-garde, what was all the more amusing, if not disheartening academically, was the degree to which scholars, with all the talk of historicization, were largely unaware of the major figures of the avant-garde, and the incursion of its traditions upon the course of cultural critique, itself indebted to art and literature of the most radical kind. From Derrida or Foucault to Žižek or Butler, there has always been a discourse with these traditions, if not destroying art to redeem art, with stressed-out or equivocal feelings about the aesthetic, as in Alain Badiou’s relatively recent Handbook of Inaesthetics.
The seminar will, then, be reflecting upon certain habits of mind that came out of the manifestos and practices of the avant-garde, which has always been faced with the prospect that once it becomes a habit, it is no longer very avant, but ideologically predictable, inflected as it may be today by race, class, gender, ethnicity. We will in the process be reading some of the originary documents and studying the disruptive or scandalous forms that are, with modulations, still very much with us, though real disruption or subversion (once jargonish terms of the curriculum) is harder to come by, not only in the arts but also in theory, after the abatement of deconstruction. Some of the readings may nevertheless take us with residual provocation or unpurged energy from the traditions, including the conceptualism of Duchamp (ground zero of “non-art”), into the more fractious genres of modernism—as in Gertrude Stein or BLAST, or poets making it NEW—into visual/sound poetry, John Cage, the now-mythic earthworks (and theory) of Robert Smithson, and deviant kinds of performance, including body art.
HSTAS 590 B, T/Th, 3:30-5:20, 5 credits
This course will explore themes in the inscription of Indonesian histories and stories. We will also explore some of the theoretical work on oral traditions and literary and performance traditions as they relate to Indonesian nationalism and Islamic culture.
Angelica Macklin, Mon, 3:30-5:20pm
This project-based course is designed to prepare graduate and advanced undergraduate students to film digital stories and oral histories with people who have made significant contributions toward cultural practice through music scenes, public scholarship, and social justice work. Participants will utilize a feminist studies framework to explore the politics of representation critically and creatively and have the opportunity to participate and document the Women Who Rock Conference, March 2-3, 2012.
Part I in this two-part series of short courses focuses on hands-on audio and visual technical skills building, production techniques, and ethical methods of producing oral histories and short-form digital media genres. Participants will learn compositional methods, technical competencies, and situated, ethical approaches. Open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students with permission from the instructor. Please contact Angelica Macklin email@example.com prior to enrolling in this course.
Angelica Macklin is a filmmaker, a recent graduate of the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies program at the University of Washington, Bothell, and affiliate faculty in their Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program. Her research interests focus on the role media production can play in shaping social movements.
Close reading and analysis of No texts in Japanese, with some attention to Kyogen. Discussion of categorization, structure, imagery, style, mode, theme, authorship, source material, theory, and problems of translation. Prerequisite: JAPAN 472 or equivalent and permission of instructor.