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Maymester Courses

HUMN 3505-001-3: The Enlightenment

Anne Schmiesing
By questioning long-standing assumptions and traditions, Enlightenment thinkers achieved a reformulation of ideals and values which has been of lasting influence on modern society. In the context of the Enlightenment emphasis on reason and humanity, this course examines eighteenth-century European arguments for (and against) freedom of religion, the abolition of slavery, and the emancipation of women, as well as eighteenth-century views on science, education, and government. Text by Leibniz, Lessing, Kant, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Graffigny, Locke, Hume, Wollstonecraft, and others.  Same as GRMN 3505.  Approved for arts and science core curriculum:ideals and values.

HUMN 3702-001-3: Dada & Surrealist Literature
Patrick Greaney

Surveys the major theoretical concepts and literary genres of the Dada and Surrealist movements. Topics include Dada performance and cabaret, the manifesto, montage, the ready made, the Surrealist novel, colonialism and the avant-garde, and literary and philosophical precursors to the avant-garde. Taught in English. Same as GRMN 3702.  This course is approved for arts and sciences core curriculum: literature and the arts.

HUMN 4010-001-3: Hitchcock and Freud
Paul Gordon

This class will apply Freud’s psychoanalytic method of interpreting works of art to the films of Alfred Hitchcock.  Although Hitchcock is often self-consciously Freudian in his art (eg. in VertigoSpellbound, etc.), the true “latent content” of the films is only to be revealed by an application of Freud’s theories of narcissism, the Oedipus-complex, the uncanny, etc. “against the grain” of the manifest content of Hitchcock’s works themselves.  For example, we will seek to explain Hitchcock’s recurrent and complicated use of “maternal super-egos” (as in Psycho), of male narcissism (as in Rear Window), of a violent “male protest” (Shadow of a Doubt) and of a female and trans-gendered violence of nature and the unconscious (MarnieThe Birds).  And above all, we will examine the persistence figure of “Mother” in Hitchcock’s films as it informs all of his leading female characters.

Requirements: Weekly viewing of the films will be accompanied by class presentations and discussions, culminating in a final research project involving the psychoanalytical interpretation of at least one of Hitchcock’s films.

PrerequisiteHUMN 2000 &/or junior/senior standing.

HUMN 4131-001-3: Greek & Roman Novel
Andrew Cain

Studies several surviving complete Greek novels from classical antiquity and three Latin novels. Two medieval romances will also be read. Readings in English translation. No required prerequisite, but a previous course in classical literature or myth is recommended. Same as CLAS 4140/5140.

Term A Courses

HUMN 3093-100-3: Topics in the Humanities: Reading comics

Benjamin Stevens
What are ‘comics’, and what does it mean to ‘read’ them?  Those seemingly simple questions lead to complex and fascinating issues, including formal definitions of the comics medium, its essential combination of image and text, its material histories and relationships to other media, and its place(s) in contemporary culture(s), whether consumer, ‘popular’, academic, international, and/or other.  Comics – or ‘comix’, comic strips’, ‘comic books’, ‘graphic novels’, ‘graphic literature’, and more, not to mention other forms like Japanese manga and Franco-Belgian bandes dessinées – thus comprise a remarkably rich art form for study.

In this course we seek to study comics as a kind of ‘literature’ and, thus, to explore some ways of doing ‘literary studies’.  Our goals are: (1) to examine how stories are told in the comics medium, both conventionally or traditionally and more experimentally, including similarities to and differences from other media like painting, film, and strictly textual literature (how do comics narrate?): (2) to sample from the art form’s ‘literary history’, focusing on authors, works, and genres considered important, ‘canonical’, or ‘classic’, as well as asking how such classifications are made (how do comics metanarrate, or tell stories about comics?); and (3) to explore some ways of doing literary studies, including close reading, narratology, semiotics, and attention to intertextuality and allusion (how are we to tell our own critical stories about comics?).


HUMN 4004-100-3: Topics in Film Theory: Genre, theory, history: The Lives of 007
Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz

“Nobody Does it Better…”
By far the most successful brand name in film history, the “James Bond 007” movies produced by Harry Saltzman, Albert R. & Barbara Broccoli, and Michael G. Wilson, can be considered an essential case-study in the reliability of formula and the adaptability of generic forms. The franchise also offers a case study in the cultural politics of Western cinemas in general and genre in particular, and the cinema’s relation to historical and social contexts. Emphasis will be given to the films’ treatment, and re-invention of issues such as the Cold War, the sexual revolution, gender politics, feminism, racism, and technological developments. Amidst changing historical and cultural contexts, the improbable hero of the 007 films remains adaptable and an example of the capability of “classic” genre forms to evolve and address shifting social anxieties, changing historical contexts, and renewed social concerns and practices. Readings will include serious, scholarly works on the history and cultural politics of the “James Bond” brand, writings on genre theory and film history, contemporary reviews, memoirs, source stories, and other materials. The purpose of this course is to explore a popular cinema phenomenon from a theoretical and political perspective and to deconstruct its conventions, significance, and re-thinking of culture, history, narrative, ideology, and genre itself.

Required textbooks:
License to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films by James Chapman (New York: Columbia University Press 2007)

The James Bond Phenomenon: A Critical Reader, Christoph Lindner, ed. (Manchester: Manchester University Press 2003)

Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories (New York: Penguin 2008)

Daily participation and attendance, a daily journal of critical commentary on the films, two short quizzes on genre and history, and a final examination on the generic, historical and cultural issues discussed in class.