Courses - Fall 2019

COML 1104 FWS: Reading Films

We live in an image-saturated world. How do we make sense of the moving image and its powerful roles in shaping culture and mediating our relationship with the world? This course will equip students with the tools to understand and decipher film language. It introduces and interrogates the basic notions, technologies, terminologies, and theories of film analysis. We will study visual and compositional elements, like mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. Films we discuss will include different geographies, genres, major directors, schools, and film movements. Through writing, students will learn to analyze films with accurate, medium-specific vocabulary, develop informed and nuanced arguments, and critically reflect on the position of the viewer.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Monroe (jbm3)
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COML 1105 FWS: Books with Big Ideas

What do Frankenstein and Things Fall Apart have in common? What lies behind the fantastical stories of Aladdin? Do we have to like Garcia Márquez and Shakespeare? These texts and authors re-imagine the human experience at its most intriguing level. In this course, we will discuss human rights, intimacy, joy, isolation, and other controversies at the heart of these books. Throughout the semester, students will learn how to articulate an informed and nuanced position on these issues via formal practices in analytical readings, drafting, peer review, and self-editing. Actual selection of readings may vary depending on the instructor's focus.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: John Un (jmu33)
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COML 1106 FWS: Robots

In 2015, Japan's SoftBank Robotics Corporation announced the world's first robot with feelings. Many people were excited, many more disturbed. If robots are simply, as the dictionary suggests, machines "designed to function in the place of a living agent," then what is so disturbing about them? Since robots are designed to replace human labor (first economic, and now also emotional), do they represent a threat as much as they do an aid? What happens when robots exceed their purpose, and become more humanlike? How do robots read, write, and feel? How do the activities of coding and writing, or decoding and reading differ? Students will be equipped with the vocabulary and writing strategies to rigorously analyze, compare, and debate the meaning of robots in the human imagination from different epochs, countries, languages, and media. In doing so, they will write in a variety of registers about works such as the play R.U.R. by Karel Čapek, who invented the term "robot". Other materials may include philosophical texts, fiction, videogames, films, graphic novels, and hip-hop concept albums.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Marie Lambert (mhl97)
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COML 1119 FWS: A Taste of Russian Literature

Explore the culinary tradition and culture of Russia in broad historical, geopolitical and socioeconomic context through the lens of Russian folklore, short stories of Gogol, Chekhov, and Bulgakov, works of contemporary Russian-American writers, visual art, and international film. The literary journey will take you from the lavish tables of the XVIII century aristocracy, to the hardship and austerity of GULAG prison, to the colorful and savory regional fare of the former Russian Empire and Soviet Union, to the fridge and pantry staples in the everyday life of Russian family. Your writing assignments will help you develop critical thinking and argumentative skills, precision and clarity of expression, ability to write with discipline, creativity, and sense of style.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Raissa Krivitsky (rvk3)
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COML 1125 FWS: Stories of Empires

What is an empire? Could we compare the Romans to the Incas, or the French to the Chinese? How have the ways in which we have represented empires affect our understanding of it? Furthermore, is it possible to connect our current global refugee crisis, or the popularity of the film Avatar (2009) to any previous and contemporary imperial formations? To answer these questions, one must not only address what makes these political entities similar or different, but also consider whether any theoretical proposition predicated solely on military and economic might would be adequate. In this FWS, the question of empire will be addressed through historical, theoretical, and representational perspectives by looking at films, music, and literary texts. Throughout the semester, students will learn how to articulate and craft nuanced positions on the topic via formal practices in class discussion, close readings, drafting, peer review, and self-editing.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Vinh Pham (vpp25)
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COML 1127 FWS: Cannibal Cultures

The cannibal is always the other. Eating human flesh as a practice or a ritual always happens in the remote past or in far-away places. And yet, the cannibal lives among us. In spite of real cases of cannibalism, most of these cannibals inhabit our reality only in books, films, songs, or artworks. Nevertheless, they form an important part of our cultural imaginary. This course investigates figures of the cannibal in contemporary aesthetic texts (and some of their influential predecessors) with a focus on different cultural contexts. Issues that will be at the center of our attention are cannibalism's deployment to mark cultural differences, as well as for political and ideological purposes, its relation to sensationalism and (spectatorial) pleasure, and its varying configurations in different cultural contexts and media. As we engage with a wide range of texts, from novels to television series, from films to video clips, from art to philosophical reflections, we will use them as models and inspirations for different writing exercises.          This course deals with cannibalism—explicitly violent content will be part of the class.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Andrea Bachner (asb76)
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COML 1134 FWS: Reading Poetry

Poems are puzzles, and in this class you'll figure them out by writing about them.  You'll learn how to answer the key question "What is this poem about?" and how to explain your conclusions to other readers. The language of poetry may be distinguished from everyday language, but the skills needed for understanding and writing about poetry are broadly useful, for academic and for more practical purposes.  Readings include poems by Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, A. E. Housman, Robert Frost, Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, and others (all reading is in English).

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nancy Pollak (np27)
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COML 2030 Introduction to Comparative Literature

Take your love for literature into uncharted waters. "Introduction to Comparative Literature" journeys beyond national and disciplinary borders to explore the far-reaching implications of our increasingly globalized world. In this fast-paced survey of the field, you'll be exposed to the cutting-edge of the discipline as we survey debates in world literature, literary theory and philosophy. Exploring a range of literatures from across the globe, we'll read authors including Ovid, Aimé Césaire, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, and Kazuo Ishiguro. Punctuated by special guest lectures by innovative scholars in the field, this course will expose you to a wide array of topics: postcolonial literature, literary theory, animal studies, ecocriticism, and media studies.  Students will emerge from this course with new awareness of the global literary scene and with the ability to read critically and write with clarity.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Debra Castillo (dac9)
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COML 2035 Science Fiction

Science fiction is not merely a literary genre but a whole way of being, thinking, and acting in the modern world. This course explores classic and contemporary science fiction from Frankenstein to The Hunger Games alongside a rich array of fiction and films from Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Our discussions will position these works vis-à-vis seminal thinkers, ranging from Plato to Descartes and Donna Haraway to Paul Crutzen, who ask the same questions as science fiction does about our selves, our world, and our future.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Anindita Banerjee (ab425)
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COML 2050 Introduction to Poetry

Could a meter have a meaning?  Could there be a reason for a rhyme?  And what is lost and gained in translation?  We'll think about these and other questions in this introduction to poetry.  We'll see how poems are put together and we'll learn how to figure them out.  Poets may include Herbert, Hardy, Hopkins, Housman, Dickinson, Frost, W. C. Williams, Gw. Brooks, Heine, Pushkin, Lermontov, Akhmatova.  All reading is in English; we'll make use of non-English originals when possible.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nancy Pollak (np27)
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COML 2235 New Visions in African Cinema

This undergraduate course introduces the formal and topical innovations that African cinema has experienced since its inception in the 1960s. Sections will explore, among others, Nollywood, sci-fi, and ideological cinema. Films include: Abderrahmane Sissako's Bamako, Mohamed Camara's Dakan, Djibril Diop Mambéty's Touki-Bouki, Cheikh Oumar Sissoko's Finzan, Anne-Laure Folly's Women with Open Eyes, Ousmane Sembène's Camp de Thiaroye, Jean-Pierre Bekolo's Quartier Mozart.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Naminata Diabate (nd326)
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COML 2251 Poetry's Image

Where do we get our images of poets, and of poetry? Along with the images we find in poems themselves, how do poetry and poets figure in fiction and film, in music and popular culture? How do such figures inform both the images we find in poems and poetry's own image? What is poetry's relation to other genres and discourses, to self and language, history and politics? Exploring such issues in verse and prose, in fiction, film, and other media, including among others Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Dickinson, Poe, Baudelaire, Pound, Williams, Neruda, Parra, Bolaño, and Dylan, the course will arc toward impactful recent interventions by such contemporary intermedial artists as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Beyoncé, and Kendrick Lamar.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jonathan Monroe (jbm3)
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COML 2523 Islamophobia and Judeophobia

Islamophobia and Judeophobia are ideas and like all ideas they have a history of their own. Although today many might think of Islamophobia or Judeophobia as unchangeable---fear of and hatred for Islam and Muslims or Judaism and Jews---these ideas and the social and political practices informed by them have varied greatly over time and place. They even intersected during the Middle Age and in Ottoman times when "the Jew" was frequently represented as allied with "The Muslim". The first part of this course traces the history, trajectory, and political agency of Judeophobia and Islamophobia in texts and other forms of culture from late antiquity through the present. The second part of the course is devoted to modernity and the present especially in Europe and the United States focusing on representational practices---how Muslims/Islam and Jews/Judaism are portrayed in various discourses including the media, film and on the internet. We will investigate how these figures (the Muslim, the Jew) serve as a prism through which we can understand various social, political and cultural processes and the interests of those who produce and consume them.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Ross Brann (rb23)
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COML 2700 Forbidden Sex: Arabian Nights

What does the representation of sexual encounter in the Arabian Nights ('Alf layla-wa layla) have to do with a politics of race and gender? This course explores the millenia-long history of mediations and translations of this ancient Perso-Arabic text across literature, film, and popular culture, in the Middle East and in Europe. We will pay attention to the transmission of phobic tropes about female sexuality and miscegenation, or "interracial" sex as they manifest in various versions of 1001 Nights across time and space.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Parisa Vaziri (pv248)
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COML 2750 Introduction to Humanities

This seminar offers an introduction to the humanities by exploring the historical, cultural, social and political stakes of the Society for the Humanities annual focal theme. Students will consider novels, films, short stories and historical texts as they explore the theme in dialogue with literature, cinema, art, media, and philosophy. Guest speakers, including Cornell faculty and Society Fellows, will present from different disciplines and points of view. Students will make field trips to local sites relevant to the theme, and visit Cornell special collections and archives. Students enrolled in this seminar will have the opportunity to participate in additional programming related to the Society's theme and the Humanities Scholars Program for undergraduate humanities research. For more information visit the Society for the Humanities webpage.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karen Pinkus (kep44)
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COML 3261 Global Cinema I

Global Cinema I and II together offer an overview of international film history from the late nineteenth century to today. Through a focus on key films and significant epochs, the course traces the evolution of form, style and genre, the medium's changing technologies and business models, as well as film's relation to broader cultural, social and political contexts. Screenings of narrative, documentary and experimental films will be accompanied by readings in film theory and history. Global Cinema I covers the period from 1895 to 1960. Precise topics will vary from year to year, but may include: early silent cinema; the emergence of Hollywood as industry and a "classical" narrative form; Soviet, German, French and Chinese film cultures; the coming of sound; interwar documentary and avant-garde movements; American cinema in the age of the studio system; Italian Neorealism; the post-war avant-garde.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Veronica Fitzpatrick (vaf35)
Amy Villarejo (av45)
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COML 3310 Afro-Asia: Futurism and Feminisms

This course explores cultural representations of Afro-Asian intimacies and coalition in novels, songs, films, paintings, and poems. What affinities, loves and thefts, and tensions are present in cultural forms such as anime, jazz, kung fu, and K-pop? Students will consider the intersections and overlap between African and Asian diasporic cultures in global cities such as New York, Chicago, Havana, Lahore, Kingston, and Hong Kong to ask the question: when did Africa and Asia first encounter each other? This will be contextualized through a political and historical lens of the formation of a proto-Global South in the early twentieth, Afro-futurism, women of color feminisms, and Third World solidarity and internationalism. Tackling issues of race, gender, sexuality, and resistance, this seminar also reckons with the intertwined legacies of the institutions of African enslavement and Asian indenture by reading the novels of Patricia Powell and the paintings of Kehinde Wiley, for instance. Students will work in groups to produce Afro-Asia DJ visual soundtracks as part of the final project.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tao Goffe (tlg92)
Full details for COML 3310 : Afro-Asia: Futurism and Feminisms
COML 3485 Cinematic Cities

Beginning in the early days of silent cinema, a rich tradition of what are called "city films," combines technological innovation with the exploration of specific urban spaces.  Students in this class will learn how to think about the possibilities of limits of cinema as a way of "knowing" a city and its cultures, including linguistic cultures.  This course will be offered in English and is open to all students.  The focus will be on the relationship between the cinema and the development of urban centers, including Madrid, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Venice.  Films will be shown outside of regular class meeting times, in the original languages with English subtitles.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Patricia Keller (pmk73)
Cecelia Lawless (cbl6)
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COML 3541 Introduction to Critical Theory

Shortly after the last election, The New Yorker published an article entitled "The Frankfurt School Knew Trump was Coming." This course examines what the Frankfurt School knew by introducing students to Critical Theory, beginning with its roots in the 19th century (i.e., Kant, Hegel, and Marx) and then focusing on its most prominent manifestation in the 20th century, the Frankfurt School (e.g., Kracauer, Adorno, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Marcuse), particularly in its engagement with politics, society, culture, and literature (e.g. Brecht, Kafka, and Beckett).  Established in 1920s at the Institute for Social Research, the assorted circle of scholars comprising the Frankfurt School played a pivotal role in the intellectual developments of post-war American and European social, political, and aesthetic theory: from analyses of authoritarianism and democracy to commentaries on the entertainment industry, high art, commodity fetishism, and mass society. This introduction to Critical Theory explores both the prescience of these diverse thinkers for today's world ("what they knew") as well as what they perhaps could not anticipate in the 21st century (e.g., developments in technology, economy, political orders), and thus how to critically address these changes today.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Paul Fleming (pf239)
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COML 3780 What is a People? The Social Contract and its Discontents

When Jean-Jacques Rousseau introduced the concept of the "general will" in his classic text The Social Contract, he made what was then an unprecedented and scandalous claim: that the people as a whole, and not an individual agent, could be the subject of political will and self-determination.  This claim was all the more revolutionary in that historically "the people" [ie peuple] named those poor masses who had no political representation, and who were subjects of the state only to the extent that they were subject to the will of a sovereign monarch.  What then is "the people," and how is it constituted as a collective subject?  How does a people speak, or make its will known?  Can that will be represented or institutionalized?  Do all people belong to the people?  How inclusive is the social contract?  This course will examine crucial moments in the constitution of the people from the French Revolution to the present day, considering the crisis of political representation they have alternately exposed or engendered and the forms of the social contract to which they have given rise.  Our discussions will range from major political events (the French and Haitian Revolutions, the Paris Commune, colonialism and decolonization, May '68) to contemporary debates around universalism, secularism, immigration, and "marriage for all."  Readings by Rousseau, Robespierre, L'Ouverture, Michelet, Marx, Freud, Arendt, Balibar, and Rancière.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tracy McNulty (tkm9)
Full details for COML 3780 : What is a People? The Social Contract and its Discontents
COML 3815 Reading Nabokov

This course offers an exciting trip to the intricate world of Nabokov's fiction. After establishing himself in Europe as a distinguished Russian writer, Nabokov, at the outbreak of World War II, came to the United States where he reestablished himself, this time as an American writer of world renown. In our analysis of Nabokov's fictional universe, we shall focus on his Russian corpus of works, from Mary (1926) to The Enchanter (writ. 1939), all in English translation, and then shall examine the two widely read novels which he wrote in English in Ithaca while teaching literature at Cornell: Lolita (1955) and Pnin (1957).

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gavriel Shapiro (gs33)
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COML 4190 Independent Study

COML 4190 and COML 4200 may be taken independently of each other. Undergraduate student and faculty advisor to determine course of study and credit hours.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tracy McNulty (tkm9)
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COML 4211 Beyond the Limits of the Human: Explorations in German Literature

This course focuses on literature as a model and harbinger of posthumanism. The German tradition in particular is rich in literary texts that offer posthuman constellations and experiences avant la lettre. Other texts, which often show a significant German literary or philosophical influence, will also be included. In addition to analyzing specific historical contexts and developments that encouraged literary sorties beyond the limits of the human, we will closely examine literature as a privileged medium of such transgression.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Peter Gilgen (pg33)
Full details for COML 4211 : Beyond the Limits of the Human: Explorations in German Literature
COML 4221 Modern Primitives

What is "modern"? What is "primitive"? Through the lens of contemporary debates, this course will examine the complex conjuncture of art, literature, anthropology and colonial racism in the early decades of the twentieth century, from Cubist painting to surrealism. Of central concern will be the figure of the "fetish" in its artifactual, economic and psychic dimensions and also the richly paradoxical position of artists and thinkers of color caught in the nexus of "primitivism" and "modernism."  Authors may include Pablo Picasso, Josephine Baker, Lydia Cabrera, Claude McKay, Lucien Levy-Bruhl, James Clifford, Sigmund Freud, Joseph Conrad, Langston Hughes, Karl Marx, André Breton, Pierre Mabille, Wifredo Lam, Leopold Sédar Senghor.

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Natalie Melas (nam5)
Full details for COML 4221 : Modern Primitives
COML 4229 Culture, Cognition, Humanities

Seminar on the essential features and qualities of culture and how it impacts human endeavors.  Because understanding culture necessarily requires interaction across multiple areas of study, this interdisciplinary seminar will be based on discussions of recent research at the interface of cognitive sicence and the humanities.  Topics may include: animal cultures, the evolution of language, the symbolic revolution, knowledge acquisitions, play, rituals and the arts. 

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Morten Christiansen (mhc27)
Laurent Dubreuil (ld79)
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COML 4250 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

This is an introduction to the three 'master thinkers' who have helped determine the discourses of modernity and post-modernity. We consider basic aspects of their work: (a) specific critical and historical analyses; (b) theoretical and methodological writings; (c) programs and manifestos; and (d) styles of argumentation, documentation, and persuasion. This also entails an introduction, for non-specialists, to essential problems of political economy, continental philosophy, psychology, and literary and cultural criticism. Second, we compare the underlying assumptions and the interpretive yields of the various disciplines and practices founded by Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud: historical materialism and communism, existentialism and power-knowledge analysis, and psychoanalysis, respectively. We also consider how these three writers have been fused into a single constellation, 'Marx-Nietzsche-Freud,' and how they have been interpreted by others, including L. Althusser, A. Badiou, A. Camus, H. Cixous, G. Deleuze, J. Derrida, M. Foucault, H.-G. Gadamer, M. Heidegger, L. Irigaray, K. Karatani, J. Lacan, P. Ricoeur, L. Strauss, S. Zizek.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Geoffrey Waite (gcw1)
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COML 4471 Premodern/Postmodern

The premodern world played a crucial role in the formation of postmodern theory. 'Biblical exegesis', 'negative theology', 'inner experience', and other premodern concepts and practices were taken up by modern and postmodern authors including Ingeborg Bachmann, Georges Bataille, Italo Calvino, Michel de Certeau, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Jean-François Lyotard, and Robert Musil. Each week we will read one modern or postmodern author in dialogue with one premodern author, such as Origen, Pseudo-Dionysius, Meister Eckhart, Angelus Silesius, Hildegard of Bingen, and Mechthild of Magdeburg, among many others. The aim of our comparisons will be to interrogate the legacy of what Bruce Holsinger calls the "premodern condition."

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Erik Born (ecb234)
Full details for COML 4471 : Premodern/Postmodern
COML 4575 Migration in the Americas: Engaged Research Methods and Practice

This course will introduce students to basic concepts and developments related to migrants and migration in Central America, Mexico, and the United States via engaged learning and research. The course will be organized around core themes such as the challenges and ethics of working with vulnerable populations, workplaces and working conditions, oral histories/testimonios, and immigration policy and enforcement practices. Students will learn qualitative methodologies for field research. All students will practice their skills through collaboration with the Cornell Farmworker Program on priority projects identified by immigrant farmworkers. 

Distribution: (SBA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Debra Castillo (dac9)
Full details for COML 4575 : Migration in the Americas: Engaged Research Methods and Practice
COML 4640 Racial Ecologies of Transpacific Nuclearism

This course examines contemporary literary and cultural memory work that mediates the emergence of nuclear energy in Asia and the Pacific after World War Two as a transpacific settler colonial and racial institution and discourse.  Building on current environmental humanities scholarship on the nuclear Pacific, this course foregrounds racial ecologies as well as women of color and queer of color critique as key methods to analyses of geo-cultural politics of transpacific nuclear modernity. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Yu-Fang Cho (yc2587)
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COML 4642 Energetic Expression, Manic Defense, Psychotic Foreclosure: Psychoanalytic and Literary Portraits

This course addresses psychoanalytic understandings of psychic energy, its sources and functions, and its manifestations as mania or psychosis. Students will be introduced to foundational psychoanalysts: Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Frantz Fanon, Wilfred Bion, Jacques Lacan, Hortense Spillers, Christopher Bollas. We will also study literary portraits of madness, considering how these portraits correspond or diverge from psychoanalytic frameworks. We will discuss how to apply psychoanalytic theory to literature, but also how to challenge the theory with a literary lens. Through collective dialogue and private reading, we will think about the energy of own minds, our constitutions and possibilities and breaking points. These investigations will be both intellectual and intimate, both troubling and reparative. For longer description and instructor bio, visit societyhumanities.as.cornell.edu/courses

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Erin Soros (es992)
Full details for COML 4642 : Energetic Expression, Manic Defense, Psychotic Foreclosure: Psychoanalytic and Literary Portraits
COML 4709 Thinking Sameness

Recent theory has tended to focused on difference. What if we looked at its complementary or supplementary others instead? This course will analyze a range of theoretical concepts that hinge on sameness in a range of different discourses and disciplines (literature, theory, economy, art, biology, computing etc.), such as mimesis, mimicry, equivalence, passing, fake, shanzhai, clone, twin, similarity, commensurability, simulacrum, copy, analog/y and more. Readings include texts by Foucault, Benjamin, Derrida, Deleuze, Didi-Huberman, Caillois, Baudrillard, Han, Irigaray, Butler and others.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Andrea Bachner (asb76)
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COML 4902 Environmental Humanities: Theories and Methods

The environmental humanities pose a radically different set of questions to texts, materials, and contexts that were previously approached in terms of human intentions and actions alone. This seminar explores the theoretical and methodological potentials of this rapidly emerging and constantly evolving field from the interdisciplinary, comparative perspective that it also axiomatically demands. Together we will discuss seminal works that tackle four foundational concepts imperative for reframing the traditional concerns of the humanities under the sign of anthropogenic planetary change -- scale, form, matter/ energy, and distribution. The seminar will develop ways to configure these focal points to the theoretical and practical concerns of various disciplinary approaches and, especially, to participants' individual interests and research projects.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Anindita Banerjee (ab425)
Full details for COML 4902 : Environmental Humanities: Theories and Methods
COML 4930 Senior Essay

Times TBA individually in consultation with director of Senior Essay Colloquium. Approximately 50 pages to be written over the course of two semesters in the student's senior year under the direction of the student's advisor. An R grade is assigned on the basis of research and a preliminary draft completed in the first semester. A letter grade is awarded on completion of the second semester, COML 4940.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tracy McNulty (tkm9)
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COML 4940 Senior Essay

Times TBA individually in consultation with director of Senior Essay Colloquium. Approximately 50 pages to be written over the course of two semesters in the student's senior year under the direction of the student's advisor. An R grade is assigned on the basis of research and a preliminary draft completed in the first semester.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tracy McNulty (tkm9)
Full details for COML 4940 : Senior Essay
COML 4944 Biopolitics: New Directions

This course explores the philosophical concept of biopolitics and its diverse translations and/or adaptations across multiple disciplines and across the globe (Africa, Far East, South East Asia, and the Americas). We will trace the concept of biopolitics and its attendant notions-Biopower, Sovereignty, Governmentality-as they emerge in the work of Michel Foucault and analyze the multiple disciplinary and geographical directions in which they have travelled. Throughout the semester, we shall examine 1. the innovative thinking around biopolitics in the works of Arendt, Esposito, Agamben, Hardt and Negri, 2. the connections and entanglements of the concept with postcolonial theory in Mbembe, Samaddar, Sakai, Mezzadra, 3. the extension and complication of biopolitical logistics over to non-human bodies in Uexküll, Sloterdijk, Wolfe, Shukin. Additionally, we will examine theorizations of new stylistics of power as well as emerging forms of agency and political organizing in the biopolitical sphere. Key terms include race, postcoloniality, animality, capture, embodiment, agency, technology.

Distribution: (CA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Naminata Diabate (nd326)
Full details for COML 4944 : Biopolitics: New Directions
COML 6190 Independent Study

This course gives students the opportunity to work with a selected instructor to pursue special interests or research not treated in regularly scheduled courses. After getting permission of the instructor, students should enroll online in the instructor's section. Enrolled students are required to provide the department with a course description and/or syllabus along with the instructor's approval by the end of the first week of classes.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Anindita Banerjee (ab425)
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COML 6285 Early Modern Translations

Translation is a cultural, conceptual, and political problem. It lies at the heart of the literary itself. Methodological discussions of "world" literature hinge on it, and Renaissance culture is unthinkable apart from it. The Renaissance—defined in terms of transmission and reception of ancient texts—is itself, in a way, translation. Tied to philosophical and theo-political problems of origin and copy, Truth and falsehood, fidelity, heresy and betrayal (as the Italian maxim traduttore, traditore attests), translation raises questions of sameness and identity, originality, authority, property, sacredness and evil. The seminar explores these questions in texts from Luther, Cervantes and Montaigne, through Benjamin, Derrida and Agamben. Particular focus is on the early modern as template and groundwork for the complexity and centrality of translation to life.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Philip Lorenz (pal37)
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COML 6369 Expanded Practice Seminar

Expanded Practice Seminars bring students and faculty in the humanities and the design disciplines together around a common and pressing urban issue such as the cultural and material practices induced by national or ethnic divisions; the increasingly leaky taxonomy of the terra firma in areas where land/water boundaries are rapidly changing; and the inadequacy of static zoning models that fail to capture dynamic, urban economics and performance. The intent of the Expanded Practice Seminar is to study complex urban conditions using theoretical and analytic tools derived in equal part from the design disciplines and humanist studies. The Expanded Practice Seminar includes a site visit to experience the conditions under study and meet with local experts, designers, and authorities.  Expanded Practice Seminars are offered under the auspices of Cornell University's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant. For current special topic seminar description and application instructions, visit: urbanismeseminars.cornell.edu/courses/.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Natalie Melas (nam5)
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COML 6375 Migration in the Americas: Engaged Research Methods and Practice

This course will introduce students to basic concepts and developments related to migrants and migration in Central America, Mexico, and the United States via engaged learning and research. The course will be organized around core themes such as the challenges and ethics of working with vulnerable populations, workplaces and working conditions, oral histories/testimonios, and immigration policy and enforcement practices. Students will learn qualitative methodologies for field research. All students will practice their skills through collaboration with the Cornell Farmworker Program on priority projects identified by immigrant farmworkers. 

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Debra Castillo (dac9)
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COML 6481 Literature, Media, Form

This seminar investigates the productive relationship that ties literary criticism to media studies in the North-American and European humanities—for the latter we will especially focus on the German-language context. We will trace the exchange that in recent decades has drawn on literature as a heuristic point of reference for appraising the rhetorical performativity and ideological effects of communication in both analog and digital media. In so doing we will develop a cross-disciplinary framework for examining the evolving relation between literary practices, technological developments, and conceptions of media within significant historical junctures and by drawing on influential methodological paradigms. Topics include reading and writing as cultural techniques and as spatialized processing of text/image dynamics; literary practice, materiality, and embodiment; Critical Theory and the digital humanities.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Patrizia McBride (pcm29)
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COML 6600 Visual Ideology

Some of the most powerful approaches to visual practices have come from outside or from the peripheries of the institution of art history and criticism. This seminar will analyze the interactions between academically sanctioned disciplines (such as iconography and connoisseurship) and innovations coming from philosophy, psychoanalysis, historiography, sociology, literary theory, mass media criticism, feminism, and Marxism. We will try especially to develop: (1) a general theory of "visual ideology" (the gender, social, racial, and class determinations on the production, consumption, and appropriation of visual artifacts under modern and postmodern conditions); and (2) contemporary theoretical practices that articulate these determinations. Examples will be drawn from the history of oil painting, architecture, city planning, photography, film, and other mass media.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Geoffrey Waite (gcw1)
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COML 6709 Thinking Sameness

Recent theory has tended to focused on difference. What if we looked at its complementary or supplementary others instead? This course will analyze a range of theoretical concepts that hinge on sameness in a range of different discourses and disciplines (literature, theory, economy, art, biology, computing etc.), such as mimesis, mimicry, equivalence, passing, fake, shanzhai, clone, twin, similarity, commensurability, simulacrum, copy, analog/y and more. Readings include texts by Foucault, Benjamin, Derrida, Deleuze, Didi-Huberman, Caillois, Baudrillard, Han, Irigaray, Butler and others.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Andrea Bachner (asb76)
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COML 6793 Theory and Analysis of Narrative

Study of short stories and a novel that self-consciously foreground questions of narrative form and technique and the process of reading. Authors to be read include Balzac, Borges, Calvino, Coover, Cortazar, Kafka, Kincaid, and others selected by the students. We will also read theoretical essays on the analysis of narrative by Barthes, Bakhtin, Genette, Fludernik, Pratt, Altman, Lanser, and others, focusing on questions about relations between plot and narrative discourse, the discrimination of narrators, the role of gender, and interpretive frameworks for thinking about narrative. Short exercises, an oral report and a longer paper.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jonathan Culler (jdc9)
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COML 6902 Environmental Humanities: Theories and Methods

The environmental humanities pose a radically different set of questions to texts, materials, and contexts that were previously approached in terms of human intentions and actions alone. This seminar explores the theoretical and methodological potentials of this rapidly emerging and constantly evolving field from the interdisciplinary, comparative perspective that it also axiomatically demands. Together we will discuss seminal works that tackle four foundational concepts imperative for reframing the traditional concerns of the humanities under the sign of anthropogenic planetary change -- scale, form, matter/ energy, and distribution. The seminar will develop ways to configure these focal points to the theoretical and practical concerns of various disciplinary approaches and, especially, to participants' individual interests and research projects.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Anindita Banerjee (ab425)
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COML 6944 Biopolitics: New Directions

This course explores the philosophical concept of biopolitics and its diverse translations and/or adaptations across multiple disciplines and across the globe (Africa, Far East, South East Asia, and the Americas). We will trace the concept of biopolitics and its attendant notions—Sovereignty, Governmentality—as they emerge in the work of Michel Foucault and analyze the multiple disciplinary and geographical directions in which they have travelled. Throughout the semester, we shall examine 1) the innovative thinking around biopolitics in the works of Arendt, Esposito, Agamben, Hardt and Negri, Wolfe, 2) the connections and entanglements of the concept with postcolonial theory/black studies in Mbembe, Weheliye, Comaroff, Mezzadra, 3) the extension and complication of biopolitics in gender, feministand sexuality studies, and new media studies.  Ultimately, we will examine theorizations of new stylistics of power as well as emerging forms of agency and political organizing in the biopolitical sphere. Key terms include race, postcoloniality, feminism, agency, and new media.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Naminata Diabate (nd326)
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COML 6970 Cosmopolitanism and Post-Enlightenment

This course will examine cosmopolitanism as a cultural, moral, and political concept both historically, with reference primarily to the eighteenth century, and theoretically, in contemporary debates. The aim will be to elaborate critically the universalist and egalitarian premises of the Enlightenment notion of cosmopolitical subjects and to evaluate what progressive or ideological functions this notion continues to play in discourses on sovereignty, human rights, religious tolerance, and cultural dissemination and aesthetic community. Works by Cicero, Hobbes, Adam Smith, Rousseau, Kant, and Marx will be read with those by Arendt, Balibar, Derrida, Habermas, Honig, and other contemporary theorists.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Neil Saccamano (ncs5)
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RUSSL 2157 Tolstoy: History and Counter-Culture

Tolstoy is impossible. An aristocrat who renounced his wealth. A man of titanic appetites who repeatedly swore off meat, alcohol and sex. A Christian who didn't believe in God. An anarchist who ruled his own estate like an ancient patriarch. A writer of genius who thought literature was evil and a waste of time and referred to his greatest book as "garbage." An inexhaustible skeptic who wanted nothing but mere faith. In Tolstoy's imaginative universe, we may find the origin of many modern contradictions and anxieties, about money, about sec and about power. But Tolstoy's modern consciousness was not created in Paris or New York. Tolstoy was made in late imperial Russia - notoriously, the least modern country in nineteenth-century Europe. How, then, did Tolstoy happen? How can we account historically for his epic project of self-fashioning? In this seminar, we will see Tolstoy at work in the creation of an heroic counter-cultural persona, writing against the social and political currents of his own time.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Olga Litvak (ol76)
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RUSSL 3385 Reading Nabokov

This course offers an exciting trip to the intricate world of Nabokov's fiction. After establishing himself in Europe as a distinguished Russian writer, Nabokov, at the outbreak of World War II, came to the United States where he reestablished himself, this time as an American writer of world renown. In our analysis of Nabokov's fictional universe, we shall focus on his Russian corpus of works, from Mary (1926) to The Enchanter (writ. 1939), all in English translation, and then shall examine the two widely read novels which he wrote in English in Ithaca while teaching literature at Cornell: Lolita (1955) and Pnin (1957).

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gavriel Shapiro (gs33)
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RUSSL 3386 Life, Love, and Death in Twentieth-Century Russian Prose

For over a century now, the Soviet/Russian regime has been one of the foremost adversaries of the American democracy. In order to interact with the country successfully, it is imperative to become familiar with it as a sociopolitical and cultural entity. To this end, this course provides a vital lens through which one may look at Russia's modern history and comprehend its contemporary mentality. We shall discuss the works by classics of twentieth-century Russian prose, such as Chekhov, Bunin, Bulgakov, Nabokov, Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov, and Voinovich. In translation.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Gavriel Shapiro (gs33)
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RUSSL 4492 Supervised Reading in Russian Literature

Independent reading course in topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses. Students select a topic in consultation with the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the course work.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Viktoria Tsimberov (vt13)
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RUSSL 6611 Supervised Reading and Research

Independent study.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Gavriel Shapiro (gs33)
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UKRAN 1121 Elementary Ukrainian I

The purpose of this course is for the students to develop elementary proficiency in speaking, reading, listening, and writing in Ukrainian, while acquiring some basic knowledge of Ukrainian culture, history, geography, and way of life.

Academic Career: UG Full details for UKRAN 1121 : Elementary Ukrainian I
UKRAN 1133 Intermediate Ukrainian I

The course starts with a review and subsequent reinforcement of grammar fundamentals and core vocabulary pertaining to the most common aspects of daily life. Principal emphasis is placed on further development of students' communicative skills (oral and written) on such topics as the self, family, studies and leisure, travel, meals and others. A number of Ukrainian language idiosyncrasies like numeral + noun phrases, verbal aspect, impersonal verbal forms, verbs of motion and others receive special attention. Course materials are selected with the aim of introducing students to some functional and stylistic differences in modern Ukrainian as well as distinctions between the Kyiv and Lviv literary variant.

Academic Career: UG Full details for UKRAN 1133 : Intermediate Ukrainian I