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Course Descriptions - Autumn 2012

For the most up-to-date information, please consult the UW Time Schedule. Keep in mind that future course listings are tentative and subject to change.

Autumn 2012

MTWTh 11:30am - 12:20pm
MGH 241 - SLN: 11647
Instructor: Guntis I. Smidchens
Course Website
Department Requirements Met: Elective for both Literature and Cinema
GE Requirements Met: I&S, VLPA

Comprehensive overview of the field of folkloristics, focusing on verbal genres, customs, belief, and material culture. Particular attention to the issues of community, identity, and ethnicity. Folklore (traditional stories, beliefs, songs, and customs) is a rich source for understanding people and their worldviews. This course will survey several genres of folklore and study the people who maintain those folklore traditions. A variety of theories and methods applied in folklore studies during the past two centuries will be introduced in readings and lectures.

MTWThF 9:30am - 10:20am
ART 004 - SLN: 11649
Instructor: Amal Eqeiq
GE Requirements Met: C, W

In this class we will read, write, watch and think together about narratives that deal with the theme of placement and "dis-placement" in literature from different sites in the Global South in the late 20th century. Since this is a writing class, our emphasis will be on working together to find avenue for expressing yourselves in writing about these topics. Situating the question of placement and "'dis-placement" within multiple historical and cultural contexts in different sites in the Southern hemisphere, location of much of the "developing world," including the Middle East and North-Africa, Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, the African-Diaspora and the US-Mexico borderland, we will try to shed light on the distance between Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish and, say, French Caribbean poet Aimé Césaire. This will lead us to ask further questions, such as: What distinguishes exiles from Diaspora? What constitutes ―dis-placement‖? How do the experiences of up-rootedness and forced migration among Palestinian refugees and Mexican migrant workers (within Mexico and the US; with or without documents) inform our notion of home and belonging? How do the legacy of French colonialism in North Africa and the rise of globalization in Latin America, for example, shed light on the ongoing massive immigration of subjects from the Global South to the North? Closely reading works of drama, poetry, and prose—as well as anthropology and film—you will thus be asked to critically interrogate these questions with a serious reflection on notions of indigeneity, home, migration and return, difference, resistance, borders, hybridity, internal colonialism, margins, and contact periods.

MTWThF 10:30am - 11:20am
SAV 137 - SLN: 11650
Instructor: Norma Kaminsky
Course Website
GE Requirements Met: C, W

In this class we will read, discuss, and write about selected 20th century narrative works from South Africa and South America. Authors may include Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Nadine Gordimer, and J. M. Coetzee. We will inquire about the specific historical and geographical contexts that inform these works, and about the sense of place implicit or explicit in them. Through class discussion, student presentations, frequent short response papers, and collaborative editing, students will gradually build essay-writing skills that will enable them to communicate arguments and analyses of literary works in a clear, effective, and creative manner.

MTWThF 11:30am - 12:20pm
MLR 302A - SLN: 11651
Instructor: Yasaman Naraghi
GE Requirements Met: C, W

How do the power of human desires leads us to delude ourselves and those around us? The goal of C Lit 240 is to hone your individual writing skills while also giving you the opportunity to grow as a critical reader. To this end, the course will examine an international selection of novellas using the themes of reality and fantasy, as a point of comparison for texts and as a starting point for composition. The novellas are Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Honore de Balzac's The Unknown Masterpiece, Thomas Mann's Death in Venice, and Arthur Schnitzler's Dream Story. We will explore how characters' desires--whether they revolve around aesthetic, sexual or identity issues--propel them toward fantastic events or ideologies. Also, we will pay close attention to how these authors depict society and how their characters are defined or deformed by its conventions and demands.

MGH - SLN: 11652
Instructor: Katherine Morrow
GE Requirements Met: C, W

1930s Hollywood Cinema and International Alternatives This course will focus on film analysis and writing skills, through an examination of 1930s Golden Era of the Hollywood studio system as well as international works from the same decade. Students will be required to attend a screening each week and respond critically to the films. American films may include Shanghai Express (1932), Top Hat (1935), My Man Godfrey (1936), Stagecoach (1939), and The River (1938). Foreign films may include I Was Born, But… (1932), Queen of Sports (1934), Grand Illusion (1937), and Pepe Le Moko (1937). We will think about cinema as a formal system, make comparisons between different films, and consider how the films relate to their historical period. Assignments will include weekly in-class writing, a series of  papers, and peer review editing. Grades will also depend on attentive, lively class participation. Students will improve their writing skills and learn how to organize clear and persuasive arguments about film meaning.

MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
BHQ B102 - SLN: 21892
Instructor: Xiqing Zheng
GE Requirements Met: C, W

In this class we will mainly read fiction written after the end of the 19th Century till recent, from the English speaking world, China, and Japan, based on the theme of the imagination of the ―Others‖ in the process of globalization and modernization. In addition, several films will be screened. The Chinese and Japanese texts will be in translation, but you are welcomed to find the original texts and read if you have the language ability. We will examine relevant issues including the dilemma between ―modernization‖ and ―Westernization‖ for East Asian countries. We will also introduce some basic theoretical readings of Said‘s Orientalism. The readings will include from Lao She‘s Mr. Ma and Son, Tanizaki Junichirô‘s Naomi, to the cyberpunk sci-fi of Geoff Ryman‘s Air, etc. Film titles will include David Cronenberg‘s M. Butterfly and Dai Sijie‘s Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, etc. In the process of class discussion, student presentations, short response papers, and collaborative editing, students will learn to convey an argument or analysis of literary works in a clear, effective, and creative manner.

MWF 1:30pm - 3:20pm
SAV 139 - SLN: 21893
Instructor: Anagha Hastings
GE Requirements Met: C, W

This course is an introduction to film analysis and critical writing about film genres. ‖Genre‖ is a term used to categorize and organize films. Terms like ―comedy‖ and ―thriller‖ function as marketing tools and construct audience expectations. But how do these categories function historically? What role does genre play in shaping our perception of a film? What representational techniques, characters, narrative structures, and aesthetic patterns repeat in these film cycles? Are there similar traits shared by those films designed to make us laugh (comedy) and those that generate uncertainty and suspense (thrillers?) Do genre films reinforce dominant social and cultural beliefs, or do they ―play‖ with common perceptions of masculinity and femininity, or cultural order and disorder, and so on? In order to engage these questions in a historical context we will focus on the classical Hollywood era, a period that spans the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the advent of the Cold War. Course screenings will include screwball comedies such as The Philadelphia Story (1940) and The Awful Truth (1937), mystery thrillers such as Alfred Hitchcock‘s Notorious (1946) and Psycho (1960), and noir classics such as Double Indemnity (1944) and Sunset Boulevard (1950) These genre films are important cultural texts and this course is designed to help you think about them critically, to develop arguments that respond to the questions posed above, and to execute those arguments effectively through writing. To achieve this goal you will learn the terms of formal film analysis in class using clips as well as through some basic readings, and you will develop skills for close analysis in order to support and illuminate your written arguments.

There will be a series of short and long writing assignments. The shorter exercises will ask you to focus on one particular scene or element of a respective a film; longer essays will enable you to develop your thoughts on a broader cultural or conceptual issue, or to compare various films. The point is to learn to make a viable and strong argument either way. We will discuss your short writing assignments (usually 1 page) in class so that we can learn from each other and your peers can challenge and counter your arguments. This collective learning process is designed to further enhance your writing skills.

TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
PCAR 492 - SLN: 21900
Instructor: Artur Rosman
GE Requirements Met: C, W

We will cover a large chunk of the Western intellectual history through the insights of Leroy Searle whose definition of modernism is not confined to a historical and literary period in the early 20th century. According to this definition a modernism happens whenever any given widely-held worldview collapses and calls for new frames of reference. Naturally, the notions of progress and crisis will frequently accompany our discussions as well.

We can see this at work in the first few chapters of Genesis where we see two different stories of creation. These ancient narratives will serve as our baseline as we explore the following texts: Other parts of Genesis, the Gospel of John, Augustine's Confessions (Oxford, tr. Chadwick), Hamlet (Signet Classic paperback), Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground (Vintage, tr. Pevear), and finally Konwicki's The Polish Complex (either one of the two available editions).

MGH - SLN: 22008
Instructor: Amy C. Lanning
GE Requirements Met: C, W

In this writing-centered course we will investigate the dialectic between the natural and the social aspects of being as represented in fictional works that thematize the concept of the split-self, in particular Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Francois Truffaut's The Wild Child. We will also explore the historical context of this topic by discussing the philosophical undercurrents related to the period of each text. From a technical standpoint, students will learn to think and write critically in order to produce essays that engage the current academic debates related to these texts and to our course theme.

MTWThF 3:30pm - 4:20pm
PCAR 297 - SLN: 22239
Instructor: Sima Daad
GE Requirements Met: C, W

In this writing course we compare and contrast various representations of the foreign or alien in a cross-cultural selection of literary texts and films. Clearly, the foreign does not imply otherness or exclusion just at a legal/territorial level, so we will be interested in exploring this theme in other domains as well. The selected texts will provide rich examples for re-thinking this status from various perspectives. In particular, we will push the concept farther by examining this theme in the context of moral, philosophical, cultural and socio-political conflicts. Among other questions we will ask what it means to be a foreigner. In what ways and to what effect(s) is the foreigner identified/presented? What are the challenges and the contexts? How does the experience shape the self- other relationship?

TTh 3:30pm - 5:20pm
SIG 134 - SLN: 11653
Instructor: Leroy Searle
Course Website
Department Requirements Met: Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: I&S, VLPA, W

This course offers an introduction to the study of literature and its relation to culture. The principal focus is on reading great books, all of historical importance and continuing interest.

The main texts-- Shakespeare's King Lear, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and Leo Tolstoi's Anna Karenina. These books will be supplemented by shorter texts, including poetry and prose.

The course has no prerequisites, and carries both VLPA distribution credit and "W" course credit. The selected texts will be read in English.

KNE - SLN: 11658
Instructor: Eric Ames
Department Requirements Met: Pre-req to Declare Cinema Major
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

"How many bodies do you think we‘ll find?" Acts of violence and mysterious motives have fascinated cinema audiences for more than a century. This introduction-to-film course gives you a set of tools for investigating and writing about the cinema. Directors to be discussed include such notables as Fritz Lang, Carl Dreyer, Errol Morris, Billy Wilder, and Aki Kaurismäki; films include M, Vampyr, Double Indemnity, The Thin Blue Line, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In English. VLPA.

MTWTh 9:30am - 11:20am
BHQ 124 - SLN: 11669
Instructor: Tamara Cooper
Department Requirements Met: Cinema Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: VLPA, W

Like any other medium, cinema is not neutral. In Theories of Cinema Analysis we are going to demystify the 4 main categories of cinema analysis – mis-en-scene, cinematography, sound, and editing as natural elements of visual story telling by looking at their early theoretical developments. What questions were early filmmakers/theorists asking which allowed them to arrive at these 4 central ways of assembling moving pictures? How were they used as political tools in a social context? What difference have they made in the ways we currently understand cinema, tv and new media? Are contemporary filmmakers continuing to change the way we see?

MTWTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
BHQ 124 - SLN: 11670
Instructor: Jennifer M. Bean
Department Requirements Met: Cinema Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

This course will provide a comprehensive survey of cinema's silent era, a period delineated by the advent of 'moving-picture' technologies such as the cinematographe, chronophotograph and kinetoscope on the one hand and by the advent of the 'talkies' on the other. In order to examine how innovations in technology and technique—parallel editing, the close shot, framing devices, mobile cameras, etc—allow for increasingly longer and more complex narrative forms, you will be required to learn and employ close reading skills. We will, however, view these aesthetic changes in terms that not only acknowledge film's cultural function, but recognize the crucial role that cinema‘s emergence played in shaping a modern culture‘s fantasies and anxieties attending the social upheavals of a mass cultural modern age. Special foci include the American film industry‘s growth and transformation in the 1910s (the migration of companies from the Northeast to the Southwest that created a place now called ―Hollywood‖), and a survey of the diverse array of international film styles, genres, and theories that flourish in the 1920s.

BHQ - SLN: 11672
Instructor: Claudio Mazzola
Department Requirements Met: Cinema Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

This course focuses on the effects on Italian cinema of the spread of commercial television in Italy in the mid-seventies. Since the beginning (1954), Italian television had been primarily an educational tool in the hands of the State. Programming was primarily focused on elevating the masses from a level of ignorance and disinformation, almost unknown in other parts of Europe (in post war Italy, illiteracy was still a huge problem, especially in large areas of the South).

Daily television shows included TV news, documentaries, drama and classical concerts. The only forms of entertainment were the weekly feature movie and quiz show. There were no commercial interruptions during the shows and commercials were actually grouped altogether in a ten minute special evening interruption. Obviously this kind of television was not in competition with cinema. Everything changed in 1975 when a number of privately owned channels were allowed to broadcast at a local level. These channels were proposing programs that focused only on entertainment (sports, movies, soap operas, quiz shows, etc.) and consequently both RAI, the state owned television, and cinema had to start facing the aggressive competition of these new channels.

In this course, we will first pay attention to the way in which cinema reacted to the invasion of commercial television and then we will analyze the work of two film-makers (Gianni Amelio and Fernan Ozpetek) who grew up in the new cultural environment of the ‗70‘s and analyze whether their movies have been influenced by the new kind of narration that commercial television imposed on audiences through soap operas, TV movies and TV series.

The concurrent NICE film festival in November at SIFF will allow us to screen some very recent (2010-2011) movies by first-time directors and continue the discussion on the influence of television on the youngest generation. Attendance to the festival is mandatory.

TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
DEN 209 - SLN: 11674
Instructor: Jane Brown
Department Requirements Met: Literature Core
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

This course investigates how pacts with the devil appear in our culture and the special connections of this tradition with music. We will look in detail at Marlowe's tragedy Dr. Faustus at Goethe's Faust, Parts I and II (1808 and 1832), at some Faust operas and films of the 19th and 20th centuries, and Bulgakov's comic novel The Master and Margarita. We will explore how the legend of the pact with the devil came to represent the West's view of itself and of the dangers inherent in our advancing scientific knowledge. Several short exercises and a take-home final.

MW 3:30pm - 5:20pm
MGH 234 - SLN: 11675
Instructor: Will Mitchell
Department Requirements Met: Literature Core
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

Novels and short stories, from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Discusses relationship of Western literary genres to an oral literary tradition, as well as issues like colonialism, gender relations, narrative technique, native and non-native languages.

MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
THO 119 - SLN: 11678
Instructor: Jennifer E. Dubrow
Department Requirements Met: Literature Elective
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

"What is found here is to be found elsewhere too… but what is not found here is to be found nowhere."
        --Adi Parva, The Mahabharata

This course covers masterpieces of story literature from India and surrounding regions, with focus on The Mahabharata, The Adventures of Amir Hamza, and The Arabian Nights. Each of these texts has had wide influence on Eastern and Western literatures and continues to inspire rich performance and literary traditions today. Class sessions will cover historical and cultural context, and discussion of major themes such as curiosity and fate. No prior knowledge is assumed, and all works will be read in English translation.

MW 11:30am - 1:20pm
MGH 254 - SLN: 11679
Instructor: Marshall Brown
Department Requirements Met: Literature Elective
GE Requirements Met: VLPA

The short story was invented in the middle of the nineteenth century. (Surprised? Look it up in the OED.) Many kinds of short fiction preceded it, including anecdote, parable, jest, fable, novella, fairy tale, and others, but the short story, focusing on atmosphere rather than plot or moral, was a novelty. In the decades before and after 1900 there was a tremendous output of short stories in most of the Western countries, with a prominence rarely equaled since. In this course we will survey the output of major figures of the era, considering the special qualities, the aims, the themes, and the local and national significance of these small forms. With a few stories from Boccaccio and the Arabian Nights as background, we will read a selection of these authors: Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Maupassant, Conan Doyle, Verga, Alas, Chekhov.

MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
SMI 211 - SLN: 21287
Instructor: Richard Block
Department Requirements Met: Literature Elective
GE Requirements Met: I&S, VLPA

Offered by visitors or resident faculty. Content varies.

TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
THO 101 - SLN: 11681
Instructor: Gordana Crnkovic
Department Requirements Met: Cinema Studies Elective
GE Requirements Met: I&S, VLPA

From the early experimental films of the 1950s that are still being studied in film schools all over the world, such as a famous Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958)--which Roman Polanski directed as a second-year-student--to the 2002 The Pianist, a winner of the Academy Award for the Best Director, and his newest The Ghost Writer (2010) and Carnage (2011), the films of Roman Polanski have attracted a world-wide audience and made Polanski himself one of the most well known and best regarded contemporary directors. This course will explore Polanski‘s remarkable and cosmopolitan oevre which by now spans more than five decades. We will focus on Polanski‘s most successful films, starting with his experimental Polish shorts, proceeding onto his highly acclaimed English productions such as Repulsion, his Hollywood classics like Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown, his post-Hollywood multi-national productions which include films such as The Tenant and Frantic, his 1990s Bitter Moon and Death and the Maiden, his acclaimed The Pianist, and his most recent films. The course will look into how Polanski‘s movies adopt a number of different genres and different aesthetic approaches to deal with some of Polanski‘s recurrent themes, such as solitude, victimization, the separation from the society, and the idiosyncratic worldview of an isolated individual.

MGH - SLN: 11690
Instructor: Jennifer M. Bean

This course is designed to give graduate students a basic grounding in the theory, history and criticism of cinema and media studies, and introduce them to central debates, topics, and methods in the field. The central objectives of the course include familiarizing class participants with the:

  • theories most germane to film and media critics since the early 20th century
  • methods and problems of textual analysis and interpretation of films
  • representative cannon of films and related media texts from an array of national industries, avant-garde movements, and historical periods
  • historical and cultural paradigms as they relate to film and media studies (mass culture/modernity/postmodernity/postcoloniality, etc.)

In order to achieve these goals, this seminar meets twice a week. One session each week will be devoted primarily to discussion of theoretical, methodological and historical readings. The second session will be devoted primarily to screening the "feature" film(s) of the week, although the screening session will often begin with a series of clips or excerpts from an array of films or a series of short films, and these presentations will foster techniques for assessing and teaching film‘s many formal and stylistic registers: editing, cinematography, sound, mise-en-scene, etc, in a historical context.

TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
CHL 025 - SLN: 11692
Instructor: Alys E. Weinbaum

This course has two aims and will be broken into two (unequal) units. The first unit will treat several key works by Marx and Engels, examining concepts such as history and class, capital and labor, and fetishism and ideology. The second unit will explore the parts of Marx and Engels corpus that are of particular relevance to study of race, colonialism, and imperialism. This unit, the longer of the two, will also take up a range of works by more contemporary Marxist theorists who have attempted to synthesize Marxist and anti-imperialist critique. Throughout the quarter emphasis will be placed on close reading of texts and on elaboration and analysis of the dialogues that are emergent amongst them. Previous course work in philosophy or critical theory will be helpful, but is not required as a prerequisite.