Courses (Winter 2017)
Comparative Literature 200B: Methodology of Comparative LiteratureInstructor: Gil Z. Hochberg
Study of methodology of comparative literature, with emphasis on its history.
Class Title: “Thinking with Theory”
Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 1): Religion, Philosophy, and PoliticsInstructor: Eleanor Kaufman
Exploration of religion in conjunction with key moments and thinkers in history of western philosophy, from classical to modern period. Study generally takes form of textual pairings in which given theme is traced over large historical arc. Themes may include time and eternity, confession, heresy, apostasy, Gnosis, and possibly mysticism. Thinkers considered may include Aristotle, Augustine, Ibn ‘Arabi, Aquinas, Spinoza, Kant, Corbin, Weil, Derrida, Kristeva, and Agamben.
Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 2): Islam and Modernity: Philosophy, Politics, and CultureInstructor: Aamir R. Mufti
Students become familiar with contemporary discussions about Islamic thought of modern era. Readings include philosophical and theological literature on modernity in number of Muslim societies–India-Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, and Europe–from late 19th century to present. In aftermath of widely announced exhaustion of secularization thesis in recent years–by such figures as Jürgen Habermas, Charles Taylor, and Talal Asad–what possibilities remain for secular-critical approaches to varieties of religious experience in contemporary world? Study concerned with understanding paths from colonial neo-orthodoxy to forms of Islamic practice and thought in present. Literary works viewed in tension with theological tradition. Elucidation of structure of relations between literary discourse and legal-scriptural in contemporary Muslim societies. Readings by al-Afghani, Qutb, Maududi, M. Asad, T. Asad, al-Azmeh, Rahman, Rushdie, and others.
Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 3): Introduction to Peter SloterdijkInstructor: Efrain Kristal
Exploration of Peter Sloterdijk’s central concerns. These include meditations on cynicism, post-humanism, war, and circulation of peoples, goods, and information around globe; ideas about noxious impact of resentment in human and historical affairs; and views about generosity as human right. Study situates Sloterdijk as thinker who broke away from German critical theory associated with Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, and Habermas) in which he was originally steeped, to shift his focus of philosophical attention from political and social critique to exhortation for coexistence and cooperation predicated on original anthropological vision about cultural and technological mechanisms human beings have developed–for better or worse–to protect themselves from dangers and predicaments of life. Exploration of notion of spheres, coined by Sloterdijk, to investigate spaces and environments humans inhabit.
Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 5): BioCities: Urban Ecology and the Cultural ImaginationInstructor: Ursula Heise, Jon Christensen
This seminar introduces students to the study of nature in the modern city with the help of materials from environmental history, environmental literature, ecocriticism, cultural geography, urban studies (including urban planning), design, and architecture. From the early 20th to the early 21st century, the experience of the metropolis has been one of the most powerful catalysts for distinctively modernist idioms in literature, film, painting, and architecture, and it has also provided one of the matrices for distinctively postmodern literature and design idioms in the period after 1960. In 2008, humanity crossed a historical boundary: more than 50% of the global population now lives in cities, and future population growth will occur or end up in urban areas, with important ecological as well as social, cultural, and aesthetic consequences. Even though urban ecology is only beginning to emerge as a major new research area in the natural sciences and urban planning, the city has had a biological identity since long before modernity, and is beginning to develop an ecological profile again in the contemporary globalized metropolis. The BioCities seminar will explore the realities and cultural imaginations of the city as novel ecosystem over time and around the globe through stories, maps, and images. It will provide students with a global horizon in terms of how the city is imagined and represented in literature, film, and other media over the course of last hundred years, and it will also develop a particular focus on Los Angeles. Readings will include literary works; nonfictional text; planning, architectural, and geographical document; and works across media such as photography, films, maps, websites, and databases.