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Courses

Course Descriptions

ILVS 50: Introduction to Film Studies
Cross-listed as DR 50.
Introduction to fundamental methodologies for reading film. Overview of film studies with emphasis on film as a complex art form. Narrative as a formal system, film genres, style and its related techniques, critical approaches to film analysis, film history. Weekly screening of relevant films selected from both Hollywood and world cinemas.

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.

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 an world that is increasingly global?

ILVS 62: Jewish Women
Cross-listed as JS 78 and REL 78.
Images, experiences, and accomplishments of Jewish women in life, literature, and tradition from Biblical times to the present. Focus on individual women from various times and cultures; discussion of basic issues, present conditions, and prospects.

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.

ILVS 66: Jews and Germans: An Intercultural History
Cross-listed as GER 66 and JS 66.
Examines complex interrelationship between German and Jewish cultures from 1750 to 1933. Themes include the Enlightenment and universalism, relation of Jewish emancipation to the construction of German identity, Zionism and nationalism, assimilation, integration, exile. Readings in literary, political, theological, and philosophical texts, along with films, plays, and music produced up to the eve of World War II.

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.

ILVS 72: Vienna: A Biography
Cross-listed as GER 76 & HIST 161.
A biography of Vienna through the texts the city has produced/inspired; the changing (multi)cultural role Vienna has played and continues to play in the heart of Europe. The emphasis is on literary texts, but in conjunction with art, architecture, and music, as well as their modes of consumption. In English. (May be taken at 100-level.)

ILVS 74: Gender and Politics in Russian Culture
Cross-listed as RUS 70.
Examination of how the social, economic, and political institutions in Russia have shaped the perception of women and gender over the scope of Russian history; how both women and men have tried to transcend prescribed gender norms; and how women fulfill their literary, artistic, and spiritual aspirations. Works to be considered will be drawn from folklore, poetry, fiction, painting, and film; authors will include both male and female writers (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Akhmatova, Tsvetaeva, Tolstaya, Petrushevskaya), women painters (Goncharova, Serebriakova) and filmmakers (Shepitko, Muratova). In English. May be taken at 100- level, as RUS 0170 with added hour in Russian.

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.

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.

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.

ILVS 84: East-West Perspective of Fascism: Germany & Japan
Cross-listed as GER 84, JPN 84, and CIV 22.
Comparative study of fascism, its history and foundations in social and political developments and ideologies; philosophical and historical concepts through literature, art, myth. The structure of fascism and fascist iconography. Fascist tendencies in modern Japan and Germany. In English. Satisfies the humanities distribution and world civilizations requirement. Taught in English.

ILVS 86: Film and Nation: Russia and Central Asia
Cross-listed as RUS 85 and CIV 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.

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.

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.

ILVS 91/92: Special Topics
Special Topics. Please see departmental website for specific details.

ILVS 100: Classics of World Cinema
Cross-listed as WL 101.
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.

ILVS 101: Postcolonial Cinemas
Cross-listed as ARB 155.
An overview of the intersection between world cinema and the conditions of colonialism and postcoloniality. Readings and viewings on representations of the non-Western world in early cinema, and an examination of the development of cinemas of resistance and in particular the articulation of Third Cinema in the context of the Cold War. Films will be drawn from African, American (North and South), European, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cinemas, with special emphasis on Arab cinemas. The emergence of postcolonial themes in cinema, examining the treatment of questions such as gender and identity, social subalterns, engaging with orientalism, diaspora identity, and a range of other issues. Central to the course is the question: what aesthetic innovations in cinema may be related to the engagement with postcolonial issues? In English.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

ILVS 191/192: Special Topics
Please see departmental website for detailed course information.

ILVS 193/194: Directed Study
Directed Study. Please see departmental website for specific details.

ILVS 198/199: Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis. Please see departmental website for specific details.