Spring 2018

Visual Culture Theory and History (VSTUD 501)

Prof. Sabine Doran, Mondays, 6-9 pm

"Visual Culture Theory and History” provides a broad exploration of theories describing the aesthetic, psychological, political and social significance of visual images, as well as the media processes inherent in creating visual experiences. The seminar will define Visual Studies as an academic field within the humanities. Topics will include media theories of images, visuality and post-colonial theory, semiotic analysis of images, the cinematic image, gender and visuality, consumer culture’s use of images, spectatorship and social identity, images and the construction of space, the relationship between word and image, experimental manipulation of visual images in art, the history of photography, technologies of image production, intermediality and the role of the senses. Class discussions will elucidate the interdisciplinary effects of image production, reception, and circulation in modern media environments. Theorists studied include Benjamin, Nancy, Mitchell, Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida, Barthes, Cixous, Azoulay, Mirzoeff, Min Ha, Bal, Murray. Visual artists, directors, and architects studied include: Eisenstein, Lang, Lynch, Eisenman, Liebeskind, Bacon, Kurosawa, Wong Kar Wai, Jarman, Denis, Haneke, Marker, Landau, Hirschhorn, among others.

German Realism and Its Other (GER 561)

Prof. Sam Frederick, T 11:15am-2:15pm

This seminar considers key texts from the German nineteenth century that make different claims to realist representation. Central to our discussion will be the ways in which these claims require, as Fredric Jameson puts it, a “negotiation with the shock and scandal of the Other.” The main task of the seminar will be to understand the German realist project in terms of that Other, which appears in a variety of forms (e.g., social, sexual, racial, theological, even aesthetic). In what ways does the supposedly proper or successful representation of the world in fact demand the exclusion or perhaps assimilation of the Other? What do these alternatives mean for the resulting work (both ideologically and formally) and for the ways in which realism has been theorized? How useful is “realism” (an epistemological category) as a conceptual tool for talking about aesthetics, anyway?

These and related questions will guide our engagement with the texts. The seminar, however, is also designed to provide a survey of nineteenth-century German literature after Romanticism.  As such its aim is to introduce students to a constellation of canonical works from roughly 1815 to the turn of the twentieth century that continue to be important touchstones for scholars, theorists, and teachers.  We will read primary texts (all in German) alongside theoretical works (both contemporary to these texts and more recent theory) and exemplary interpretations (from a wide range of methodologies). Discussion will be in English.

Authors may include: Gotthelf, Droste-Hülshoff, Mörike, Büchner, Heine, Stifter, Grillparzer, Keller, Storm, Sacher-Masoch, Fontane, Hauptmann, Hofmannsthal, among others. Theorists may include: Kristeva, Jameson, Lukács, Adorno, Barthes, Auerbach, Jakobson, Riffaterre, Taussig, Nietzsche, among others.

Theory and Practice of Translation (CMLIT 510)

Prof. Adrian Wanner, Tuesdays 2:30-5:30 pm

This seminar will explore literary translation both from a theoretical and practical angle. We will study a few seminal texts of translation theory from the 17th century to the present and analyze concrete examples of translations taken from a variety of languages and time periods. We will ask ourselves what the ultimate aims are served by ideologies that promote theories of translatability or untranslatability, or conceptualize translation in terms of “loss” or “gain.” Special attention will be paid to poetry as a prime example of a type of discourse that is generally deemed difficult, if not impossible, to reproduce in a different linguistic medium. In addition to critiquing existing texts, we will also experiment with creating translations of our own. We will ponder such issues as the rendering of rhymed and metered verse, foreignization vs. domestication, literalism, imitation, homophonic translation, collaborative translation, and self-translation, which poses a challenge to the customary dichotomies of author vs. translator and original vs. “copy.” The course will also include encounters with prominent literary translators, including the poet Alexander Cigale (New York), whose latest book is an English edition of the writings of Russian absurdist Daniil Kharms.