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Course Offerings



FALL 2018

CMLT-C 110: Writing the World (9 sections, Johnson/staff)
Fall 2018 topic: Villains & Anti-Heroes
Carries GenEd Foundations in Writing: EC and CASE EC credits.
Cruel parents, mad scientists, assassins, tyrannical kings—the world of literature is filled with villains who seize our attention through their willful abuse of other characters. Between these villains and the heroes of a tale are the anti-heroes—indecisive, perhaps well-intentioned, sometimes failures, who never reach hero-status. How do we react to these in-between characters who are neither entirely innocent nor entirely to blame? We will explore these figures through a diverse series of stories from different countries and time periods: from Renaissance England to rural Spain to South Africa and the South Pacific.
All sections will read H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, Shakespeare’s King John, J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, and Federico Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba. Each section will read additional literature unique to that section. Individual sections may include selections of television, art, music, and film.
Assignments: 3 analytical essays, short papers, essay proposals, 3 quizzes, introduction to research skills, one annotated bibliography.

CMLT-C 111: Reading the World (Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Fall 2018 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Diverse literary genres and cultures from around the world explored through a comparative analysis of characters and themes in canonical and non-canonical texts, both ancient and modern.

CMLT-C 147: Images of the Self: East and West (Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, GenEd WC, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Fall 2018 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Topics such as the individual in society, the outcast as hero, and artistic sensibility, examined in selected works of Western and Eastern literature from ancient to modern times.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (4 sections, Potapowicz/staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
This course defines the field of popular culture as central to how modern societies transmit and discuss key ideas. Across a range of media, genres, and styles, including film and television, music and song, theater, literature, and comics, students will become conversant with recent and contemporary forms of popular culture, and learn how to be active, critical, engaged, and media-literate readers. For individual Fall 2018 section topics, see descriptions below.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture: Good Hair, Bad Hair (Potapowicz)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
From the mythical stories of Samson and Delilah or the tale of Rapunzel, to our contemporary concerns such as covering or uncovering, shaving or not shaving one's locks and fuzz, hair has consistently been used as a personal art form, a sign of belonging - always befalling social regulation and judgment. Why is hair so important? And what does its importance reveal to us about our own cultures?
Starting from historical and contemporary literary texts, films, art history, commercials, and news articles, we will question the significance of hair through the lenses provided by various cultural and theoretical approaches, engaging notions belonging to the fields of Sociology, Cultural Studies, Feminism, Occidentalism, African-American Studies, Religious Studies, etc.
Our readings will include stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Giovanni Verga, a novel from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and theoretical texts by Ingrid Banks, Karín Lesnik-Oberstein, etc.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture: The Queer Imagination (Papineschi)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
By definition, science-fiction is in the business of imagining the future. As a genre, it opens the door towards infinite possibilities, and in doing so challenges normative cultural standards in regards to social class, race, sex and gender, while reaffirming and celebrating humanity’s endless potential for change and diversity.
In this class, we will explore the many ways in which speculative fiction deals with gender and sexual orientation, with a focus on intersectionality. We will read stories by Joanna Russ, Ursula K Le Guin, James Tiptree Jr, Octavia Butler, and Samuel R Delany—all giants of gender-bending and queer sci-fi—among others.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture: Cults, Cryptids, and Conspiracies (Sidky)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
“The truth is out there,” the X-Files assures us -- but where? Our understanding of the world is constantly being challenged by people who claim to have witnessed or experienced things that defy scientific explanation. Aliens, monsters, government experimentation, the line between the natural and supernatural is never really clear. This course will delve into the stranger side of pop and folk culture, from Bigfoot and UFOs, to doomsday prophecies and psychic experiments. How do people come to believe in these things? What does this knowledge do for them? How do they use it? How do competing claims to truth interact? What makes something “real”? And what, finally, would it mean for us to believe them? Texts for this course may include, but are not limited to: The Men Who Stare At Goats, The Mothman Prophecies novels, film, essays, podcasts, and journalism.

CMLT-C 155: Culture and the Modern Experience (Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Fall 2018 Topic TBA! From the Bulletin: This course, which is interdisciplinary in method and international in scope, aims at introducing students to an inclusive study of major cultural parallels, contrasts and developments across the arts and beyond national and continental divides.

CMLT-C 205: Comparative Literary Analysis: Stop Making Sense (Johnston)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE IW credits.
This course introduces students to methods of textual analysis and literary interpretation. We’ll examine texts in different genres—poems, short stories, novels, plays and films—from a wide range of periods and places. We’ll consider how writers use language, imagery, plot, character, and setting to create literary works. Our particular focus in this class is what happens when stories and plays don’t seem at first to make sense—when texts veer into the uncanny, the dreamlike, the irrational, the mad. When basic notions of rationality, causality, and indeed reality itself, are undermined, how are readers and viewers supposed to respond? These questions will lead us to an exploration of what we “normally” expect as readers in terms of plot, character, and language, and ways in which literary texts, while seeming initially to sabotage such expectations, in fact expand our understandings of our own world and all that is in it.

CMLT-C 216: Science Fiction, Fantasy, & The Western Tradition: Aliens & Androids (Potapowicz)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
The word "alien" is an adjective that derives from the Latin word "alius" - meaning "other". This course will consider what it means to re-think the human and the world around us through the category of the alien other. Science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction (SF/F)'s tales of encounters with fantastical beings, discoveries and explorations of other worlds, and narratives of alien contact and invasion have long been understood as metaphors for racial, gender, and bodily difference, as commentaries on colonialism, imperialism, and immigration, and as defamiliarizing frameworks for viewing anew the ever-alienating world of things. Across a variety of literary and cultural genres and media (novels, short stories, films, comics and animation, popular music) this course will explore political meanings of the alien, critical and theoretical concepts of the other, alienation, and difference, and such topics as the nation state, autonomy, personhood, and the legal category of "alien."

CMLT-C 216: Science Fiction, Fantasy, & The Western Tradition: Detective Stories Meet Science Fiction (Crown-Weber)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
Predictive technology is becoming the stuff of science fact. In 2012, New Orleans began a secret partnership with tech firm Palantir to calculate the likelihood certain crimes would happen. This course explores the intersection of two literary genres (detective fiction and science fiction) where authors like Philip K. Dick have studied what would happen if this technology developed further. This fall, we commit ourselves not only to studying this subgenre of detective stories taking place later in the twenty-first century, but also to casting a wider net, studying films as well as the works of authors like Pierre Boulle and the Strugatsky brothers to ask: what is at stake when someone tries to predict the future? This question, as we will see, is not only central to this particular corner of sci-fi, but also to grasping what makes sci-fi sci-fi in the first place.

CMLT-C 251: Lyrics & Popular Song (Hertz)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
This course explores a wide range of popular songs. We will mostly concentrate on the great American songwriters, including such as figures as Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. We will also study European and South American popular songs. Our target in all cases is the same: the varied phenomena to be discovered while examining how words and music come together in the hybrid art form we call the popular song. Most of the time, we will focus close attention on the work of the lyricist or the composer. At other times, we will focus on a great performer, such as Piaf or Sinatra. Changing media will also be examined. Lyrics will be analyzed in relation to the musical structures and as poetry too. Emphasis will be on the 20s through the 50s, but there will be some discussion of the 60s and after and some very recent song material as well.

CMLT-C 256: Modern Literature and the Other Arts: 1870-1950 (Johnson)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
How do different art-forms interact with each other? How do creative individuals working in different media inspire and learn from each other? How does a poem in print evolve into music, dance, and photography? How does our understanding of art-works change when they change form? Between 1870 and 1950, creatives across Europe and the U.S. carried out bold experiments in diverse genres and media, exploring intersections among the arts. We will study major trends in literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, and dance of this time period (Impressionism, Decadence, Symbolism, Modernism, etc.), to gain a deeper understanding of cross-fertilization within the arts. Reading list: Joris-Karl Huysmans’ Against Nature, Oscar Wilde’s Salome, Kakuzo Okakura’s The Book of Tea, Rainer Maria Rilke’s profile of the sculptor Auguste Rodin, T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Workload: 3 analytical essays, short papers, one in-class presentation. For more information, contact the instructor: jwjohnso@indiana.edu

CMLT-C 310: Literature and Film: African Cinema (Adesokan)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
At a time when a Marvel comics-based film successfully creates a utopian African society, what is the global status of African filmmaking? This course examines two issues: the socio-political contexts in which in contemporary African cinemas emerged and have continued to thrive; and literary adaptation as a source for creative practices in African screen media in an era of great mobility. Working through the assumption that new generation African filmmakers prefer to deal with formal and aesthetic issues at the expense of the kind of political filmmaking that preoccupied their precursors, the course looks at films that give equal weight to politics and aesthetics. Secondly, the course focuses on adaptation as an unappreciated but important area of growth in African cinematic history, relating this practice to changes in the production and circulation of artistic works. Readings, screenings and class discussions will focus on a number of issues, including the politics of literary adaptation, the impact of immigration and professional mobility on contemporary cinema, and the economics of filmmaking.

CMLT-C 311: Drama: Theory of Tragedy (Marks)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Theater and theory derive from the same Greek root, and their kinship is nowhere more evident than in studies of tragedy as a literary genre. We’ll begin with the two classic approaches, those of Aristotle and Hegel, along with the plays of Sophocles on which they’re based. We’ll then consider Japanese drama, which has no concept of “tragedy” per se, reading selections from Zeami, the fourteenth-century theoretician of Noh, and tracing the adaptation of the concept of yugen (“mystery”) in traditional puppet theater. The center of the course will be a study of Shakespearean tragedy (Hamlet to Macbeth in the footsteps of Bradley), followed by the subversion of tragedy in the theater of Beckett and an IU performance of Edward Albee’s The Goat. . . (Notes toward a definition of tragedy). Theoretical writings by Hölderlin, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, among others. Undergraduates: two papers. Graduates: term paper plus additional reading.

CMLT-C 317: Epic: Heroes, Gods, & Rebels (Van der Laan)
Carries CASE A&H credit and CASE GCC credits.
Epic has lain at the heart of the Western literary tradition for twenty-seven hundred years. Through stories of human heroism, epic explores human nature, promotes and questions political and social principles, examines heroic ideals, and finds meaning in human mortality. Epic endures because it offers its readers tools for living in the real world. We will read four European epics that have shaped Western literature: Homer’s Odyssey, the story of the Greek hero Odysseus’s ten-year struggle to return home from the Trojan War; Virgil’s Aeneid, which retells the founding of the Roman Empire to celebrate and question imperial values; Dante’s Inferno, an allegorical journey through Hell that marries epic values to Christian ethics; and Milton’s Paradise Lost, an epic retelling of the biblical story of the Fall that finds heroism in the human condition. Assignments will include papers and regular participation in seminar discussion.

CMLT-C 325: The Renaissance (Van der Laan)
Carries CASE A&H and GCC credits.
Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, writers, artists, philosophers, and rulers claimed to rediscover and revive the glories of classical Greece and Rome after a thousand years of darkness and decline. We will trace this cultural movement from its origins in fourteenth-century Italy, through France and northern Europe, to its final flowering in seventeenth-century England. As we progress, we will chart the development of new ideas about humanity’s place in the universe. Statesmen and philosophers defend the value of the active life, celebrate the material world, and invent new uses for history and a new science of politics. Poets and essayists create new ways of exploring the self and the drama of individual human experience. Artists celebrate the human body in new and newly realistic paintings and sculpture. Scholars and theologians apply these developments to religion to spark the Protestant Reformation. Explorers press outward into new seas, and their encounters with unfamiliar peoples and customs inspire a re-examination of European cultural norms. And philosophers turn experimenters to launch modern science.

CMLT-C 340: Women in World Literature (Staff)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Fall 2018 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Study creative women writers from around the world who deal with unconventional themes.

CMLT-C 345: Literature & Religion: Job from the Bible to Kafta and the Holocaust (Marks)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
A course on the relation between “justice” and its imperfect embodiments, morality and law, as presented in the biblical book of Job--“the greatest poem of ancient and modern times” (Tennyson)--and subsequent texts in the Job tradition. Topics may include alternative models of justice (e.g., retributive versus distributive), suffering as a criterion of righteousness, and the competing claims of ethics and aesthetics. The first six weeks will be devoted to the biblical text, to its cultural and literary context, and to the rich tradition of commentary, ancient and modern. We shall then turn to a set of modern works--King Lear, Kant’s essay against theodicy, the drawings of Blake, Kierkegaard’s Repetition, Kafka’s The Trial, and essays by Primo Levi and Emmanuel Levinas, among others--which effectively reconfigure the biblical questions and paradoxes. Students will submit a brief commentary on a biblical passage and a final paper.

CMLT-C 347: Literature & Ideas: Art & Life: Or, Experiments in Living (Peretz)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
What is the place of art in human life? This is the question that this interdisciplinary course - moving between literature, philosophy, film, painting, theater, reality t.v. and online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram - will be dedicated to. Over the last few centuries a fundamental shift has been transforming the way humanity understands itself, and the question of art occupies a fundamental place within this shift. This class will examine various projects that pose the problem of the transformation of life in relation to a new thinking of the task of art: From experiments in self-portraiture in Rembrandt and Rousseau to contemporary experiments in self-display of the Kardashian’s; from experiments in urban life planning in Le Corbusier, to the contemporary urban project of Theaster Gates; from early explorations of the relations between life and the environment in Thoreau to the land art of Robert Smithson, and from dramatist Bertolt Brecht factory plays, to Andy Warhol’s The Factory.

CMLT-C 377: Topics in Yiddish Literature: Yiddish Life: on the Page, on the Stage, on the Screen (Kerler)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Meets 2nd 8 weeks.
From the Bulletin: Selected topics focusing on Yiddish fiction and drama (1810-1914) or twentieth-century Yiddish fiction, drama, and poetry. Taught in English. No prior knowledge of Yiddish required. Topics vary.

By individual arrangement between student, faculty supervisor, and DUS, and with the permission of the department:
CMLT-X490: Individual Readings in Comparative Literature
CMLT-X491: Individual Studies in Film and Literature
CMLT-C499 Studies for Honors

Courses from previous semesters

  • Spring 2017
  • Fall 2016
  • Spring 2016
  • Fall 2015
  • Spring 2015
  • Fall 2014
  • Spring 2014
  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2013
  • Fall 2012
  • Spring 2012
  • Fall 2011
  • Spring 2011
  • Fall 2010
  • Spring 2010
  • Fall 2009
  • Spring 2009
  • Fall 2008