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Cultural diplomacy, organizing events, author appearances and tours, conferences, panel discussions, and exhibitions to foster intellectual and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Poland. Connecting Polish writers with translators, publishers, and residency opportunities. House editor for all English language materials.
What is death? This question, which is the historical root of many current questions in philosophy and the humanities in general, can only be answered by first asking what is life. What are consciousness, the relation between mind and body, and the nature of Being, and how do we define personal and cultural identity? In this course we consider ways of answering these questions in philosophical works by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Daniel Dennett, and Jane Gallop, literary texts including The Epic of Gilgamesh, works by Baudelaire, Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, Carlos Fuentes, and Samuel R. Delany, as well as the autobiographical photographs of Jo Spence, and a film by Derek Jarman.
This course will consider narrative strategies for coping with the East European condition--if such a single condition may be said to exist--from World War II through the period of Soviet hegemony to the present. While Soviet oppression and influence, and state censorship raise obvious issues in this literature, we will also try to view the cultures of Eastern Europe as distinct entities with particular histories, cultural identities, and intellectual traditions. As such, we will compare the effects of the double marginalization of Eastern Europe--being neither fully Soviet nor fully "European"--in several of its states in this century. Other issues to be discussed include: the residue of the Second World War, feminism in the context of Eastern Europe, ethnic identity, and intellectualism. Works by authors such as Tadeusz Borowski, Czeslaw Milosz, Tadeusz Konwicki, Christa Wolf, Gyorgy Konrad, Miklos Haraszti, Danilo Kis, Milorad Pavic, Milan Kundera, Josef Skvorecky, Tereza Bouckova, and others.
A survey of works by Pushkin, Lermontov, Gogol, Goncharov, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and others.
A survey of prose works by Bely, Babel, Kataev, Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Sinyavski, Baranskaya, Voinovich, and others.
War And Peace, at least one longer work of Dostoevsky, and several shorter works by the two great Russian novelists.
Before the names of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch became synonyms for sexual psychopathology, their works functioned as part of a discourse of political freedom and slavery in which philosophy and sexually explicit narrative frequently overlapped. This course will attempt to recover the pre-psychoanalytic context of these works, in light of that reconstruction to reassess the major currents in the psychological theory of sado-masochism, and to consider literary works written in the tradition of Sade and Sacher-Masoch in the wake of psychoanalytic theory. The texts will raise questions of gender and power, psychology and politics, the theory of the Sublime, narration and staging, nationalism, race, sexual identity, and socio-economic class.
Primary readings will include novels by Sade, Sacher-Masoch, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, and Samuel R. Delany. Frameworks for interpretation will be developed from works by Immanuel Kant, Robert Darnton, Wanda von Sacher-Masoch, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud, Gilles Deleuze, Roy Baumeister, John Money, Robert Stolerow, Paula J. Caplan, and Lynda Hart.
Survey of literary theory and criticism from the classical period to the present day.
Senior thesis workshop
Required for all candidates for the M.A. degree in Russian, Czech, and Polish literature. Introduction to the theory and practice of literary criticism.
In Negative Dialectics, Theodor Adorno declares paradoxically that philosophy is untranslatable. If the philosopher’s task is, as Plato says, “to grasp what is the same in all respects,” or to discern essences, it would seem that the philosopher would be the best translator there could be. What is untranslatable for Adorno, however, is not the content of philosophy but its “texture,” composition, or the enactment of what was for Plato a dialectical search for truth or essence. In this course we will consider ways that critics might attempt to address the untranslatable, indescribable, and the unspeakable. Possible solutions range from the theories of the sublime, to critical performance or process, to psychoanalysis and phenomenologies of reading. Readings are likely to include works by Adorno, Longinus, Philostratus the Elder, Kant, Walter Pater, Roman Jakobson, Mikhail Bakhtin, Roman Ingarden, Emmanuel Levinas, and Maurice Blanchot.
Is there an inherent relation between the material conditions of social life and the historical prevalence of specific aesthetic forms? If so, what are the mechanisms of mediation between political economy and art or literature? The course will consider how marxist critics have attempted to answer these central questions in works by Marx, Engels, Gyorgy Lukacs, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Frederic Jameson and Jacques Derrida, Christopher Caudwell, Raymond Williams and Terry Eagleton, Nikolai Chernyshevsky, Georgii Plekhanov, Leon Trotsky, and V. N. Voloshinov, as well as Lenin's statements on literature and some documents from the rise of Soviet Socialist Realism. Of particular interest will be the ways in which different strands of marxist theory have reflected other intellectual tendencies, such as positivism, nineteenth-century Russian radicalism, modernism, and postmodernism.
An attempt to recover the pre-psychoanalytic context of the works of the Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, to reassess major currents in the psychological theory of sado-masochism, and to consider works written in the tradition of Sade and Sacher-Masoch in the wake of psychoanalytic theory. Knowledge of French and/or German recommended.
Eastern Europe is largely unexplored territory for renaissance scholars outside the region, and the Latin literature of Poland is often neglected by Polonists who do not specialize in the literature of the 15th-17th Centuries. During this age, however, Poland, which maintained strong cultural and political ties with Italy and could boast of several close correspondants with Erasmus, was as fertile a place for the emergence of humanism as any other country in Europe. Though Copernicus may be the only widely known Polish renaissance figure outside Poland, he could not likely have revolutionized the sciences of astronomy and cosmology had he not been surrounded by comparable developments in politics, philosophy, historiography, literature, music, architechture, and the visual arts. In this course we will focus specifically on poetry and the development of modern Polish literary language, style and culture from its Latin and neo-Latin influences. Authors likely to be included are Ioannes Visliciensis (Jan z Wislicy), Hussovianus (Hussowczyk), Dantiscus (Dantyszek), Andrzej Krzycki (Cricius), Sarbevius (Sarbiewski), Biernat of Lublin, Jan Kochanowski (Cochanovius), Mikolaj Rej, Sep-Szarzynski, and others. Prerequisite: Working knowledge of Latin or Polish.
A consideration of the evolution of the novel form in Polish literature from the Baroque memoir through the Enlightenment, Positivism, modernism, and the avantgardists of the Twentieth Century. Students should read in the original if possible, but all works will be available in translation. Papers will be written in English.
Polish Drama has been a rich field of experimentation from the early twentieth century through the present day, and this spirit of radicalism has made the Polish theatre an attractive area of study for theatre specialists who are not primarily Slavists. At the same time, this innovative culture of performance has roots that reach to the Renaissance in Poland. This course will establish those foundations and will explore the new traditions and currents of experimentalism in Polish theatre. The content of the course will be oriented to take advantage of current performances of Polish drama or by Polish ensembles in New York City. The reading list is subject to change, based on the linguistic abilities, experience, and needs of the students enrolled in the course, and as opportunities to view live performances arise.
A survey of the major literary works of Polish Romantics with some attention to music, philosophy, and the visual arts in the context of Romanticism more broadly and the general European obsession with “The Polish Question,” or the political status of Poland under the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian Partitions. Students should read in the original if possible, but all works will be available in translation. Papers will be written in English. Undergraduates should have at least one other course in literature.
A survey of works by Poland's great Romantic poet.
This course will investigate avant-garde movements in literature and the arts in Poland from the end of the Nineteenth Century to the Second World War. To the greatest extent possible given local resources, we will attempt to work with texts as they originally appeared in journals and first editions, with the goal of developing a feel for the vibrant interdisciplinary modernist culture of pre-Communist Poland. Members of the seminar will participate in a bibliographic research project to evaluate the contents of libraries and collections in the city, will present the results of this research in oral and written form, and will write a critical paper using materials derived from the research of the group.
A course in close reading of the literary and graphic works of Bruno Schulz.
A practical workshop in translation of Polish literary texts.
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