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Spring 2023 Courses

COMPLIT 122.101: Pop Culture Writing

Instructor: Aram Mrjoian

Class Instruction Mode: Remote

Manyof us spend hours of our free time consumed by popular culture: binging the newest season of Love is Blind, finding book recommendations on TikTok, watching blockbusters and indie films in dark theaters, or catching up on celebrity news. In what ways does pop culture create a nexus of information, entertainment, and communication? How can we write passionately about the media we enjoy? In this course, we’ll read about everything from TikTok mansions to Lizzo to reality television, and write about pop culture through both a critical and argumentative lens. Texts might include work by Ta-nehisi Coates, Hanif Abdurraqib, Jia Tolentino, and Michelle Zauner.

This course fulfills the first-year writing requirement of LSA and is accessible to all undergraduate students, but is particularly well suited for students with interests in cultural criticism, longform journalism, representations in film and television, and the influence of social media. In this course, students will regularly attend online lectures, discuss readings, and—through a variety of short writing exercises, low-stakes assignments, and even a couple attempts at writing criticism—develop critical thinking around patterns in popular culture and mass communication. You’ll be expected to complete reading and writing assignments in a timely manner, participate in peer writing workshops, and be challenged to play the roles of an academic, a critic, and a media consumer. All readings will be made available online through links and PDFs.

COMPLIT 322.101: Transversal Asymmetries: Language and Translation

Instructor: Mari Stanev

Class Instruction Mode: Remote

This upper level writing class explores the act of translating, which invokes a simultaneous vulnerability and resilience in the study of societies, cultures, literatures, and their languages. We will explore how reading and rewriting texts using different languages allows us to analyze how meaning is created. The critical texts we will read explore how our differences to one another, both inside and outside our communities, can be philosophically examined through a reflection on the act of translating itself. The readings will also guide us through an exploration of the “asymmetries” or differences that places, peoples, and languages have from one another. These differences can give us pause in the capacity to “relate” to texts outside of our contexts if we have not had similar experiences to the author or artist. When original and translated texts become enmeshed in this act of rewriting, we can observe how these differences can become intersections or “transversalities.” The writing assignments in this class will invite you to engage the limits and possibilities of “relating” to the cultural contexts of texts as you translate them and find these intersecting asymmetries in the act of rewriting texts in translation. The final project will be a critical engagement with the paradigm of authenticity and relatability in translating the arts, literature, and culture across global and regional contexts. That critical piece will preface your short original translation piece which you will develop through the class’s translation workshop component.

Summer 2023 Courses

COMPLIT 122.201: Auspicious Animals in the Middle Ages

Instructor: Katherine Tapia

Class Instruction Mode: Remote

This course provides a sampling of literature from different regions of the world during the medieval period to analyze the role of animals in these stories through social, cultural, and literary lenses. We will think of how animals function throughout frame stories and pictorial representations and their significance in the transmission and reimagination of these stories through space and time. My goal is that we will review these ideas by reading short excerpts and focusing on deeply analyzing them through close reading and paying attention to hypertextual references to produce careful and analytical writing.

We will be reading excerpts of the Panchatantra, Kalila and Dimna, Disciplina Clericalis, The Book of Good Love, Tales of Count Lucanor, and the Aberdeen Bestiary.

COMPLIT 382.201: Film Adaptation

Instructor: Daniel Herwitz

Class Instruction Mode: In Person

Literature tends to be studied as a thing apart from other media. But the truth is that literature has been in constant dialogue with film, painting and music. In modernist times Malcolm Lowry wrote fiction with deeply cinematic texture, Jean Renoir made films adapting the short fiction of De Maupassant in homage to the painting of impressionism; the greatest of James Joyce’s stories carry a vocal tonality (and he was a fine tenor). To study modern and contemporary fiction is to situate it in relation to these other arts. This course will study literature in exactly that way, ranging across literature, painting, film and music in order to explore these mechanisms of influence and transposition. The question for the class is: What is at stake when an art is transposed into a new medium? The class will be about adaptation: what happens when a novel becomes transposed into film, how does the change in medium put new demands on the material while also inviting new possibilities. How do we measure success or failure? Suppose the adaptation has little to do with its source but is a good film in and of itself? We will encounter fascinating and diverse, kinds of adaptation, from short stories to graphic novels, neurological books, memoirs and even adaptations of paintings to films.