International Literary and Visual Studies Courses

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Course Descriptions

N.B. Any literature, film, media, or visual arts course would count towards the ILVS major. In fact, there are no required courses for the major. However, we have designated some courses as ILVS for they are exemplarily multi-cultural, comparative, and theoretical.


ILVS 51 Art of the Moving Image. Cross-listed as FMS 20. Exploration of cinema's basic aesthetic characteristics: its stylistic features, such as editing, cinematography, and sound, as well as its major narrative and non-narrative forms. Screenings include a variety of films from the US and abroad that exemplify cinema's myriad forms and styles: mainstream and avant-garde, fiction and non-fiction, narrative and non-narrative, black-and-white and color, silent and sound. Discussion of the extent to which cinema's aesthetic features are shared by television and interactive media such as video games, as well as what is artistically distinctive about these newer moving image media. (Category IV-b: Film/Media Theory)

ILVS 52 Global History of Cinema. Cross-listed as FMS 21. History of cinema beginning with the emergence of the technologies for making and exhibiting films around 1894 and the major genres of early cinema (1895-1904); the development of "classical" narrative film in the US in the 1900s and 1910s; the creation of alternatives to classical cinematic storytelling in the 1920s in France, Germany, the Soviet Union and elsewhere; the rise of documentary and experimental film; and the coming of synchronized sound in the late 1920s. European responses to the increasing political turmoil in the lead-up to WWII in the 1930s; Japanese  popular traditions of filmmaking, the impact of WWII on film history; the emergence of Italian Neo-Realism and "modernist" art cinema in the late 1940s and 1950s; the New Waves of the late 1950s; and political modernist, post-colonial, feminist and other radical forms of filmmaking that arose in response to the political crises of the 1960s. Survey of world cinema since the 1970s, focusing on the changes that have occurred in mainstream Hollywood filmmaking and the work of filmmakers in Hong Kong and other non-western countries. (Category III-c: Cross-Cultural Film)

ILVS 55 Cultural History of the Modern Middle East. Cross-listed as ARB 55. A lecture-based introductory survey course on trends and developments in cultural activities (for example, music, cinema, literature, and the fine arts) across diverse Middle Eastern cultures, with emphasis on the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran, from the nineteenth century to the present day. Following these fields of artistic expression, the course traces a broad trajectory engaging with the formulation of the concepts of the "modern" and the "traditional" in these arts, with a focus on themes such as: innovation and reform, political resistance, revolutionary ideologies, the rural-urban divide, transformations of gender roles, the rise of youth cultures, new religious movements, and reactions to consumerism and globalization. (Category III-a, b, or c: Cross-Cultural literature/visual arts/film)

ILVS 57 Hitchcock Cinema, Gender, Ideology. Cross-listed as FMS 81, WGSS 50, ENG 80. Studies in the major films of Hitchcock with specific attention to the relations among popular culture, narrative cinema, and the social constructions of gender, sexuality, and cultural authority. Emphasis on various theories of cinema and spectatorial relations (feminist, psychoanalytic, queer) and close examination of the representational practices that "naturalize" heterosexual romance in relation to the narrative of "suspense." Recommendations: ENG 1, 2 REQUIRED or Fulfillment of College Writing Requirement. (Category II-b: Single Cultural film; III-c: Gender-oriented film, IV-b: Film theory)

ILVS 60 Introduction to Literary and Cultural Studies. An introduction to the major critical and theoretical approaches for the study of literatures and cultures, especially of foreign cultures. Issues studied include: How do we analyze cultural productions, whether our own or those of other societies? What do we learn in comparing texts from different cultures with each other? What is the value of literature, and how do we define it? How do cultural productions allow us to understand social issues, and to what extent does it contribute to social change? How can we be critical yet ethical producers and consumers of literature and other cultural productions in a world that is increasingly global? (Category IV-a: Literary theory; IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 63 Arabian Nights. Cross-listed as ARB 63. A survey of the composition, structure, history, and importance of the Arabian Nights, the famous tales narrated by Shahrazad during 1001 nights, with selected reading of the most important tales. The dissemination of the tales and their transmission to other regions of the world including their impact on other cultures as reflected in writing, art, and film. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 64 Introduction to Yiddish Culture. Cross-listed as REL 65 and JS 65. An examination of the roots of East European Jewish culture, beginning with a 6000-year survey of the religions of Abraham; a brief examination of the origins of Judaism, the evolution of Christianity and Islam; the historic migration of the Jewish people from Asia to Western Europe and eventually to Czarist Russia; the rise and fall of Yiddish literature; the end of the Shtetl world; and the American experience. Readings include Sholom Aleichem, Sholem Asch, I. B. Singer, Bernard Malamud, and Phillip Roth. Stress on universal cultural patterns and similarities of ethnic experience.

ILVS 65 Travel Literature: The Arab and Muslim World. Cross-listed as ARB 65. An overview of travel writing as a literary form of expression. Within Arab and Muslim cultural contexts, analysis of how travel literature expresses inquisitiveness at the encounter with a different culture. Examines how the traveler-writer endeavors to decipher this different culture in the light of her or his own experience and knowledge. Comparison of travel writing from these regions to the genre in other cultural contexts. Issues such as tolerance/intolerance, transience/permanence, and universal/particular as they relate to the literary genres of travel writing in primary and secondary readings. In English. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 70 Introduction to Visual Studies. Critical introduction to complexities of images in contemporary cultural life. Examination of how visual experience has been conceptualized. Interpretations from psychology, philosophy, art history, and literary studies. The goal is to become familiar with fundamental concepts of this capacious interdisciplinary field, and also to develop a precise and flexible vocabulary of one's own with which to address the visual. (Category IV-c: Visual theory)

ILVS 71 Love & Sexuality in World Literature. Cross-listed as CIV 71, RUS 71, JPN 71. Representations of love and sexuality in Japanese and Russian literature. Specific issues to be addressed across a diverse body of literature, film and art include 1) the fusion of sexuality and romance, 2) love as a problem versus love as an ideal, 3) societal conventions as to so-called proper or normative behavior (the various ways hetero-and homosexuality, celibacy, and hedonism have been understood and commented upon in artistic media). All discussions in English. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 72 Television in the Age of Change. Cross-listed as FMS 165. Examines how new technologies and shifting viewing habits are transforming television; how storytelling is changing in light of TV’s industrial and technological evolution and our global, networked, media environment; and how contemporary viewing habits are reshaping our theories of audiences, styles, and viewing pleasures. Focuses on story creation, changing genres, programming conventions and global trends, shifting technologies, social media, TV fans, and streaming content—and how all these influence television narratives and our media culture. (Category III-c: Cross-cultural Film/Media)

ILVS 79 Fascism: Then and Now. Cross-listed as GER 79. Comparative study of the various strains and manifestations of fascism, its history and foundations in social, political, and religious developments and ideologies; philosophical and historical concepts through literature, art, myth, and film. The structure of fascism and fascist iconography. Begins with fascist tendencies in twentieth-century Europe and Japan and culminates in the present age. In English. (Category III-a, b, c: Cross-cultural literature / visual arts / film)

ILVS 80 Walter Benjamin and the Crisis of Experience. Cross-listed as JS 80 and GER 80. Advanced survey of key works by the German literary theorist and cultural critic, focusing on his theories of experience. Includes the afterlife of the past; violence, destruction, fate, and law; language, literature, and translation; reception of Kant, Marx, and Husserl; childhood and memory; and the uses of theology. Ancillary readings from Goethe, Proust, Baudelaire, Freud, Brecht, Kafka. May be taken at the 100 level. (Category IV-a, b, c, d: Literary / media / visual / cultural theory)

ILVS 82 Imagining the Environment: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. Cross-Listed as GER 82 and ENV 82. Compares and contrasts representations of the environment in German culture — commonly understood to be particularly "Green"— with other European and Non-European cultures. Focuses on how themes such as sustainability, the toxic discourse, wilderness, biodiversity, nationalism, postcolonial heritage, and the global risk society are negotiated in literature, film, and music. May be taken at the 100 level. In English. (Category IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 83 War Stories. Cross-listed as RUS 75 and PJS 75. Examination of how war has been represented in fiction, non-fiction, memoir, film, and documentary. Priority given to Russian and East European materials, supplemented by other European, Asian, and American texts of the 19th and (mainly) 20th and 21st centuries. Focus on strategies employed by writers, journalists, historians, and film makers in depicting war in different cultures and from differing points of view. Operative questions include: challenges of representing war in a text or onscreen; commonalities and differences in how war is rendered; and how these questions impact the understanding of conflicts. The course goal is to develop sophisticated skills for understanding, deciphering, critiquing and dissecting the ways in which war and conflict are presented, and to recognize the ideological and aesthetic strategies behind these representations. All texts and discussion in English. (Category IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 84 Black Comedy. Cross-listed as ENG 84. Introductory course on relations between comedy and cruelty, laughter and shame, pleasure and fear, escapism and insult.  Examples drawn mainly from film, but also from fiction, theater, and television.  Primary focus not on race, but some attention to black comedy as comedy by African Americans. Recommendations:  ENG 1, 2 REQUIRED or Fulfillment of College Writing Requirement. Recommended that the student already have taken either ENG 20,21,22, or 23. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 85 From Beijing to Bollywood: Cinema of China and India. Cross-listed as ENG 48, FMS 68, and CHNS 83. Comparative perspective on China and India via their cinematic traditions, related historical contexts, modern cultural production, and social transformations using selected films and critical essays. Nationalism, revolution, globalization as film expression. (Category III-c: Cross-cultural film)

ILVS 86 Film and Nation: Russia and Central Asia. Cross-listed as RUS 85, CIV 85, and FMS 85. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia and several former Central Asian republics, now the independent countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan embarked on a nation-building project through cinema; topics considered: how ethnic and national identities were subsumed into a "Soviet" identity and then split apart in the post-Soviet period; constructions of new national identities, national spaces, heroes and myths in films ranging from the Russian mega-hits Brother and Company 9 to the international festival favorites, The Adopted Son (Kyrgyzstan) and The Hunter (Kazakhstan); influence of Hollywood and multi-national productions in historical action films such as Nomad and Mongol; changes in film styles and genres, as well as in the structure and economics of the film industry. No prerequisites. All films with English subtitles. (Category III-c: Cross-cultural film)

ILVS 87 Arab and Middle Eastern Cinemas. Cross-listed as ARB 57. An overview of the social role of cinema in the Arab world and the broader Middle East focusing on a historical perspective on the development and expansion of cinema in these parts of the world, as well as several thematic windows through which the relationship of cinema to these societies is examined. In English. (Category III-c: Cross cultural film)

ILVS 88 Warrior Nations: Russia & U.S. Cross-listed as RUS 78. Comparative study of how war is central to each nation's identity and to the narratives in popular culture that help shape it. Focus is thematic, not chronological, with the course structured around topics, including shared myths of exceptionalism, points of triumph (how WWII is memorialized in both) and catastrophic defeat, when the myth of exceptionalism is shattered (Vietnam, Afghanistan). Other topics include civil war and the cold war. Attention is also directed to how post-1991 changes impact the connection between exceptionalism and militarism regarding wars today and the renewed tension between the two in the dynamics of competing hegemonies. Texts include film, fiction, and popular history. Course taught in English; no prerequisites. (Category IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 91/92 Special Topics. Special Topics

ILVS 100 Classics of World Cinema. Cross-listed as WL 101 and FMS 86. Worldwide survey of major films from the silent era to the present. Trends in filmmaking styles and genres; the impact of modern history on cinematic art; cultural, theoretical, and philosophical issues related to the study of film. Filmmakers covered may include Eisenstein, Chaplin, Renoir, Welles, DeSica, Ray, Ozu, Bergman, Fassbinder, Sembene, and Zhang Yimou. (Category III-c: Cross-cultural film)

ILVS 101 Visualizing Colonialism. Cross-listed as ARB 155, FMS 175, and CST 10. An overview of the intersection between visual culture and the conditions of colonialism and post-coloniality. Readings and viewings on representations of the non-Western world in colonial-era painting and photography, leading to an examination of the history of colonial cinema, and to later postcolonial visualizations of the colonial period. The development of cinemas of anti-colonial resistance, and persisting effects of colonialism and empire in contemporary global visual cultures, including contemporary arts and new media. Materials drawn from a variety of regional contexts, with special emphasis on the Arab world. Secondary readings drawn from anti-colonial theorists and postcolonial studies. In English. (Category III-b, c: Cross cultural visual arts / film; IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 114 Politics & Literature in Russia & Eastern Europe. Cross-listed as RUS 114. Comparative investigation of the dynamic literary-cultural response to dominant political forces and ideologies in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, primarily Nazism, Communism and Nationalism. Focus on the writer as political voice and public conscience. Material from, but not limited to, Russian, Polish, Czech and Bosnian contexts, primarily in genres of satire and absurdism. Seminar format. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 118 Haruki Murakami and World Literature. Cross-listed as JPN 118. Comparative study of Haruki Murakami's literature in the context of World Literature. How some Western writers' works have shaped Murakami's work. How literature travels the globe, breaking national boundaries. The writers to be examined may include, besides Murakami, Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler, Raymond Carver, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franz Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Dostoevsky. Freud, Girard, Karatani, Nietzsche, Damrosch, and others, provide theoretical insights. Taught in English. No prerequisites. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 122 South African Writers. Cross-listed as WL 122. Survey of modern South African writers, with emphasis on the effects of Apartheid and the anti-Apartheid struggle on the life of the imagination, including literary, film, and theatre evocations of South African life. Writers may include Alan Paton, Lewis Nkosi, J. M. Coetzee, Agnes Sam, Zoë Wicomb, Athol Fugard, Njabulo Ndebele, Miriam Tlali, Breyten Breytenbach, Mongane Serote, Ruth First, Nadine Gordimer, and Besse Head. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 132 Book of Genesis and Its Interpreters. Cross-listed as REL 132, WL 132 and JS 132. A detailed study of the biblical Book of Genesis and related biblical texts, in their historical setting, with special attention to the role that Genesis played in postbiblical religious traditions and in art and literature from early modern times onward.  All texts read in English. (Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 133 Roots of the Jewish Imagination. Cross-listed as REL 126, WL 126 and JS 126. Jewish myths, legends, mystical teachings, and other subjects that influenced the formation of Jewish imaginative literature.  Topics include: the journey of the soul; the Book of Job and why bad things happen to good people; Jewish heresy; Jewish dream lore; the Messiah and the End of Days; legends of the Golem (android, or artificial man); the dybbuk (spirit possession) and exorcism; tales and parables of Kafka; metamorphosis; hunger, food, and eating; the comic book and graphic novel; the Holocaust and modern trauma; Kabbalah, mysticism, and religious search; Ju-Bus (Jewish Buddhists); Israelis and Palestinians; women’s experience in Jewish life.  All texts read in English.(Category III-a: Cross-cultural literature)

ILVS 142 Jewish Experience on Film. Cross-listed as REL 142, FMS 84, WL 142, and JS 142. Selected classic and contemporary films dealing with aspects of Jewish experience in America, Europe, and Israel, combined with reading on the cultural, historical, and philosophical problems illuminated by each film. One weekly session will be devoted to screenings, the other to discussion of the films and readings. In English. (Category III-c: Cross-cultural film)

ILVS 144 Popular Cultures of the Middle East. Cross-listed as ANTH 144. Examines the contemporary Middle East through its popular cultures and introduces anthropological methods for studying media. Considers multiple meanings of the "popular" in the course title. Topics include: (1) non-electronic expressive practices, (2) media such as television, cinema, music, or websites that may consolidate or contest state power, (3) cultural forms such as Arab hip-hop that are the product of global processes, some of which reframe traditional forms, and (4) religious popular cultures. Recommendations: One course in either Anthropology or the Middle East, or consent. (Category III-c: Cross-cultural media; IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 157 War and Cultural Memory in Literature and Cinema of the Middle East. Cross-listed as ARB 157 and FMS 178. Formation of cultural memory and/or memorialization of socially traumatic experiences such as war, viewed through literature and cinema. May include focus on: the Algerian war of independence, the Lebanese civil war, the Iran-Iraq war, the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among others. Primary texts from these conflicts along with secondary texts on theories of social trauma and cultural memory. In English. (Category III-a, c: Cross-cultural literature / film)

ILVS 162 The End of the World, Plan B. A comparative study of end-of-the-world narratives considered from the perspectives of Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Science. How and why our present notions about a final catastrophic moment are actually a misunderstanding of a paradigm that is common to these various traditions. Why justice is problematic as a cultural mode and as a societal goal. (Category IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 173 Literary Theory. Cross-listed as ENG 173. Introduction to literary theory with special emphasis on questions of language, representation, and ideology. Readings may include primary texts by Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Lacan, Derrida, de Man, Jameson, Sedgwick, Butler, Spivak, Gates, Badiou, Agamben, Miller, Gallop, and Iek. Recommendations: ENG 1, 2 REQUIRED or Fulfillment of College Writing Requirement. Recommended that the student already have taken either ENG 20,21,22, or 23. (Category IV-a: Literary theory)

ILVS 180 Psychoanalysis and Cultural Criticism. Cross-listed as ENG 180. Advanced seminar in the relation between Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and contemporary literary and cultural analysis. Focus on various essays from Lacan's Écrits and several of his seminars, with additional readings in literary theory selected from the works of authors including Jane Gallop, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, Alenka Zupancic, Diana Fuss, Leo Bersani, and Joan Copjec. Recommendations: ENG 1, 2 REQUIRED or Fulfillment of College Writing Requirement. Recommended that the student already have taken either ENG 20,21,22, or 23. (Category IV-a, b, c, d: Literary / film/media / visual / cultural theory)

ILVS 185 China and the West. Cross-listed as CHNS 185. How Chinese and Western cultures perceive and represent one another in film, fiction, TV shows, scholarly writings, and other media. Cultural, political, and historical reasons and implications involved. Prerequisite: junior standing. In English. Fulfills Chinese seminar requirement. (Category IV-d: Cultural theory)

ILVS 186 How Films Think. Cross-listed as ENG 186 and FMS 186. Advanced seminar exploring the languages of cinematic representation. Attention to visual logic and the relation between techniques of cinematic rhetoric (montage, the long take, shot/reverse shot) and the effect of cinematic thought. Close study of films by directors such as Welles, Scorsese, Coppola, Tarantino, and Lynch; additional attention to recent work in film studies and cinema theory. (Category IV-b: Film theory)

ILVS 191 / ILVS 192 Special Topics. No description at this time.

ILVS 193 / ILVS 194 Directed Study. Directed Study.

ILVS 198 / ILVS 199 Senior Honors Thesis. Senior Honors Thesis.