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Indiana University Bloomington

Course Offerings

Fall 2014 courses


C110 "Get Me Out of Here! Various times/instructors

Which would be harder to escape: a prison set in a frozen wasteland, the endless expanse of uncharted prairies, an ambitious father determined to kill his daughter, a barbarian nation following you as their chief priestess, or a mysterious island run by an unpredictable wizard? Decide for yourself by joining us in a semester of fascinating and diverse literature that will take you from the work-camps of Siberia to the high plains of the American Midwest, from a blood-soaked altar in ancient Greece to a magical island in the middle of nowhere. All sections of CMLT-C 110 will read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Campbell McGrath’s Shannon, Euripides’ play Iphigenia at Aulis and the sequel Iphigenia among the Taurians, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Each section will read additional works unique to that section that may include short stories, poetry, novels, and drama. Individual sections may also include television, art, music, and film. 
This course emphasizes critical thinking, clear communication, and effective argumentation. Assignments include 3 analytical essays, short papers to help develop the 3 essays, 3 short quizzes, and an introduction to basic academic research skills.

CMLT-C 111 READING THE WORLD 02:30P-03:45P MW BH 148 Granata C

This course focuses on a particular vision of the world-that of women. Either they be wives, children or daughters, women in literature provide us with a specific interpretation of their environment. During the semester, we will read about the life of different feminine personalities in a series of narratives from different time periods and cultures. The variety of genres we will focus on (novels, memoirs, plays, fairy tales, short stories) offers a new vision of women who can be either feminine
or masculine, weak or strong, and modern or traditional. This course offers a possibility to see how literature encapsulates a plurality of feminine figures who are all the reflection of various geographical places and ages. The course includes the following texts: Jamaica Kincaid’s
The Autobiography of my mother, M.H. Kingston’s memoirs The Woman Warrior, Euripides’s plays Medea and Helen, A. Carter’s tales The Bloody Chamber, J. Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry, and J. Frame’s The Lagoon.

CMLT-C 151 INTRO TO POPULAR CULTURE: Information Overload 05:45P-07:00P TR WH 121 Lang A

In this course we will think about the concept of information. We will "read" the smartphone through Borges, think about Wikipedia through the Talmud, and consider the idea of globalization through the lens of the Middle Ages. This course asks you to make connections between ideas, history, media and contemporary culture. It asks you to think carefully about your own relationship to information and consider the butterfly effect of world events. You will deal with a variety of media including film, short stories, and journalistic writing; you will be required to present and analyze a "piece of information" through as many angles as you can find. Assessment will be based on your participation in class discussions, your presentation, and a final paper. 


C 151 Introduction to Popular Culture: Narco-Culture in the Americas TTR 2:30-3:45 BH233 Cruz Rios

Why is Miley Cyrus singing about molly? Why do we find ourselves rooting for Walter’s success in the meth business? Why do many contemporary Latin American telenovelas revolve around the topic of drug trafficking? Why are drug lords portrayed in music and films as modern-day Robin Hoods? In this course, we will examine the concept of popular culture through the exploration of narco-culture in the Americas. The aim of this class is to study how the world of drugs has become a way of life in this part of the globe. We will explore how drug consumption, drug production, drug trade, and drug trafficking have influenced our culture, to the point that people have created a particular language, dress code, music, saints, and architecture (among other cultural manifestations) around these. The focus of this course will be 20th and 21st century popular culture of—but not limited to—the U.S., México, and Colombia: we will travel, back and forth (and back again), to Las Vegas, Medellín, New York, Ciudad Juárez, California, the U.S.-Mexico border, etc. Students will be encouraged to think critically about the representation of drugs in popular culture, and to analyze the relationship between narco-culture and ideas of imperialism (and anti-imperialism), class and social mobility, heroism, genre (de)construction, patriotism, the decline of the American dream, among other themes. It is important to note that some of the material will have strong content. Discussion, both in-class and online, will be a key component of this course.  

C155 04:00P-05:15P TR BH 139 Wu T

This course explores fantasy as a genre across ages and cultures, and occasionally its twin genre science fiction. Both create new worlds unlike that of our own, and aim to create excitements of wonder. Both fantasy and SF are predominant genres in today’s consumerist culture, as the very spirit of consumerism is to enchant and amaze us. In hopes of understanding the spirit of postmodern culture, this course takes fantasy and sci-fi as its objects of study. This course explores the twin genres’ historical influences (Romanticism, capitalism, as well as the modern faith in rationality they reacts to), as well as its creative principles (imaginative and sensational). We will also analyze components of the twin genres, including their repertoire (myths, medieval romances, children’s literature), their setting (a fairyland, a futuristic world), and their logic of operation (scientific, magical, puzzle-like complexity). Highlighted authors are Isaac Asimov, Steven Spielberg, and J.K. Rowling.    

CMLT-C 251 Lyrics and Popular Song 4:00 to 5:15 TTR HertzD

 The course will explore all sorts of popular songs, from the nineteenth century to now. We will mostly concentrate on the great American songwriters, including such as figures as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen.  We will periodically move abroad to study French,Italian, Argentine, Brazilian and Mexican songs. Our target in all cases is the same: the varied phenomena of how words and music come together in the hybrid art form we call the popular song.  At times we will concentrate on the culture that produced the song, and its means of production and distribution. Most of the time, we will focus close attention on the work of the lyricist or the composer.  Sometimes we will discover that they are the same person.  The great Cole Porter is a case in point, and Irving Berlin is another fine example. At other times, we will focus on a great performer, such as Piaf or Sinatra. Or we will discover that the performer and creator are sometimes the same person, as in the case of Jacques Brel, the Beatles, or Springsteen. Lyrics will be analyzed in relation to the musical structures and as poetry too.  Most important will be to study the popular song as a complete art form, using both words and music.  Emphasis will be on the 30s through the 50s, but there will be some discussion of the 60s and after and some very recent song material as well.

CMLT-C 255 MODERN LIT & OTHER ARTS: INTRO 11:15A-12:30P TR BH 317 Holler R

What is it exactly that motivates the creative personality to turn forms, colors, sounds, silences and words into art? How and why styles in the art change over time? Why painting vivid, sublime scenery gave way to dripping paint on a canvas and why would anybody pay to hear a 4 minute concert of silent symphony? C255 takes us into the creative mind of the modern artist, composer and poet as we analyze various works of art (painting, music and literature) of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, see how these works interrelate and discover how they are unique. We will hear and comprehend art in new, exciting and discriminating ways. For example, we discover how a musician paints a landscape, how a painter composes motion and how a poet creates musical and visual effects in verbal expression. The syllabus travels through the centuries, touches the divine sublime and falls into the pits of existential despair. Among the many figures we will study are Blake, Mozart, Beethoven, Mary and Percy Shelley, Keats, Friedrich, Turner, Schumann, Delacroix, Wagner, Poe, Monet, Manet, Joyce, Kafka, Kandinsky, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Pollock, Beckett and Brecht. Requirements, Assignments and Course Activities: Visits to the IU Art Museum. Attend Jacobs School of Music events. One response paper, a 4 page essay and one 8-10 page comparative paper. 2 Exams and weekly quizzes. No prerequisites and no previous experience in literature, painting or music is required or expected

C301 Bill Johnston 11:15A-12:30P TR EO B01

What do photographs mean? Though they are usually made in a split second, and taken in almost as quickly, photographs are deceptively complex. Each one has both an aesthetic and a sociohistorical dimension; each picture is taken by a particular person, at a particular time and place, and captures a particular facet of the world from a particular angle. The notion that photographs show us “reality,” because they incorporate an imprint of the real world, conceals their richness, their contextuality, and their partiality.

This course is about how to write about photographs,  and more broadly, about the relationsihp between photography and the written word. We’ll analyze photographs, read what others have written about them, and look at texts in which literary language and photographic images are deployed in tandem. By the end of the class, you’ll look at photographs with different eyes, and talk about them with different words.

CMLT-C 301 TR 4:00-5:15PM, BH 016, Jeff Johnson.

The Department of Comparative Literature is pleased to offer a course devoted to the study of gay literature from around the world. We will be reading Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask, Tennessee Williams’ Suddenly Last Summer, Peter Shaffer’s Equus, Annie Proulx’ “Brokeback Mountain,” Plato’s Symposium, and the lyric poetry of C. P. Cavafy. These texts represent cultures as far apart as Japan and Egypt, ancient Greece and 20th century U.S. We will begin with the ancient Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh to investigate to what degree we can describe a narrative as “gay” in the first place. Our chief goal will be to examine how writers transform same-sex experience into literature. Throughout the semester we will be focusing on themes of social repression and class consciousness, gendered assumptions and stereotypes, definitions of beauty, the operations of desire, and their expression through literary creativity. In addition to reading novels, drama, and poetry, we will watch the film adaptation of the Proulx short story. Semester workload will include three analytical essays, short papers, and readings on historical contexts and the status of gay people in different cultures. This course is open to all interested persons, but it is recommended that you have completed your undergraduate composition requirement.

C 301 VT: MAGICAL REALISM 13827 11:15A-12:30P TR BH 141 Adesokan A

“The publication of Ben Okri’s The Famished Road in 1991 marked an important moment in the re-direction of modern African literature from strictly realist modes, forcing comparison with the South American tradition of magical realism. Yet, next to this shift also stood an earlier form of “animist realism”, one strongly based on African folklore and oral storytelling. Tracing the points of contact between the so-called “Latin boom” and contemporary traditions of animist realism in parts of Africa, this course examines the transformative impact of folklore, oral narrative, and other forms on this influential literary tendency, especially in their relationships to issues of morality (religious and otherwise), power, censorship, and social attitudes to technological changes.”

CMLT-C 310 LITERATURE AND FILM 02:30P-03:45P TR BH 141 Peretz E

What exactly are we doing when we watch, be it a painting, a film, passerby people on a crowded street, a deer in the forest, a profile on Facebook, or an item through the window of a shop? In distinction from our activity of SEEING, which seems to imply a capacity for recognizing or identifying something - for example when we say we see a cat we mean that we recognize a cat in our field of vision, that we know that a cat is right there - when we are busy watching it seems that we are LOOKING FOR, that we are on a search after, something we do not yet know or recognize, something that we possibly cannot yet even give a name to. What is it that we are looking for when we watch? What is it that, at a certain moment in our experience, seems to transform our vision from everyday seeing into exploratory watching? This course will examine these questions through films, paintings, photographs, and youtube clips, as well as though literary, philosophical, and psychoanalytic texts.  We will be following a double thesis: First, it is in the work of art that the question of watching finds its most elaborate and profound articulation, and second, a historical thesis, that one of the main phenomena of the age that we have come to understand as modern is the fact that the question of watching has been increasingly implicated in it with the development of new technologies of watching, technologies that not only make us watch differently (through binoculars, microscopes, cameras etc) but that turns us into those who are increasingly BEING WATCHED, through surveillance cameras, GPS devices, etc. 

C333  Romanticism H. Marks TR 5:30-6:45, BH 241

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive” (Wordsworth, The Prelude). The years following the French Revolution witnessed a radical transformation--beginning in France, Germany, and England, but soon spreading to the entire Western world--in the way people understood their relationship to nature, to one another, and most fundamentally to themselves. Part of the change was economic, but revolutionary developments in philosophy, theology, aesthetics, and political theory, which collectively go under the label “Romanticism,” created the basic system of values and beliefs with which we still live today. Among writers in particular, there was a new emphasis on subjectivity and self-consciousness, on inwardness and intuition, and a preference for such genres as lyric, autobiography, and modes tales of the fantastic, which privileged self-expression over imitation, sentiment over satire, and imagination over reason. Even when the optimism and energy unleashed by the Revolution withered before a resurgence of political conservatism, writers continued to draw inspiration from the memory of that dawn, which this course will try to recapture.

Readings will include Rousseau’s Confessions, Goethe’s Faust, and texts by August and Friedrich Schlegel, Kleist, Hoffmann, Kant, Hegel, and the English poets. About half the course will be devoted to close reading of major poets (above all Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley). Written work: two medium-length papers and a final exam.

C370 11:15A-12:05P MWF BH 105 Losensky P

Sindbad, Sheherazade, Ali Baba, and Aladdin—these characters and their stories, originating centuries ago in the Middle East, have been translated and retold so often that they have become part of our global literary imagination. This course will examine how The Thousand and One Nights, also known as The Arabian Nights, took shape in the world of medieval Islam and, like Sindbad, voyaged around the world. We will begin by looking at the origins and structure of the work itself, its use of narrative devices like the frame story, its typical character types, and the social values and aspirations they embody. We will then map the journey of the Nights around the world by considering the history of its translations into western languages and comparing some of its many English versions. Finally, we will follow the stories of the Nights into the mediums of visual art and film and discuss a few of its many rewritings in Western and modern literature by authors such as William Beckford, Edgar Allen Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, John Barth, and Naguib Mahfuz. In the course of our studies, we will also deal with issues from narratology, Orientalist and feminist criticism, and translation studies. Grades will be based on class participation, two quizzes, informal response papers, and three formal paper


The premise of this seminar is that structured verse deserves a central spot in today’s poetry.  Students in the seminar will thus read and write structured verse of many forms, including novel forms that they themselves dream up.  We will also study and critique verse — some structured and some nonstructured — by a wide variety of authors and lyricists, including Dante Alighieri, Alexander Pushkin, Clément Marot, Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein, Kellie Gutman, Vikram Seth, Dylan Thomas, John Updike, Richard Wilbur, Vladimir Nabokov, William Carlos Williams, Seamus Heaney, Jay Curlin, Marilyn Stone, Douglas Hofstadter, and many others, some well known, some little known.
     Students’ grades will of course be based primarily on a portfolio of their own works written over the semester, but also on their day-to-day contributions to the in-class discussions of poetry, its aims, and its degrees of success and failure.


Courses from previous semesters

  • Spring 2014
  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2013
  • Fall 2012
  • Spring 2012
  • Fall 2011
  • Spring 2011
  • Fall 2010
  • Spring 2010
  • Fall 2009
  • Spring 2009
  • Fall 2008