The English Conference: The Lucyle Hook Guest Lectureship is a two to four-week course each semester on a special topic presented by a visiting scholar. The series was endowed by a gift from Professor Emerita of English Lucyle Hook to bring our students and faculty the perspective of scholars of literature in English working outside the College community. It can only be taken for pass/fail for 1 point. Students must attend all class sessions in order to receive credit for this course.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no longer a departmental sign-up sheet for this course. Barnard students must sign up for this course by participating in the Barnard Registrar's L course process. For descriptions of topics offered before the current academic year, go to Past English Conferences below. Questions about The English Conference may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fall 2016: ENGL BC3092: "Jews and Race in Early American Literature"
MW 4:10-6 on September 19, 21, 26, and 28.
Enrollment limited to 60. P/F for 1 point. Students must attend all four class sessions in order to receive credit for this course.
This course will explore the fascinating and rich literature by and about Jews in early America. Although never the majority of the population, Jews were disproportionately important to colonial trade and were highly literate. The earliest Jewish American texts are accounts told by “crypto” (hidden) Jews while being tortured by Spanish colonial Inquisitors. These texts were quickly followed by literature written by Jews living openly in the Protestant colonies. Both forms bear the heavy influence of Spanish literature. In this course we look at four key themes from early Jewish American literature: the Inquisition, travel, slavery, and the body politic. Where exactly Jews fit into colonial hierarchies was a subject of debate. Early American censuses reveal Jews’ ever-changing status: sometimes Jews were white, sometimes they stood alone in a quasi-racial category between blacks and whites, and sometimes they were a religious group. Through early literary texts, we will examine the shifting nature of race in early America and attempts by Jews and non-Jews to locate Jews in emergent hierarchies.
Laura Leibman is Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College, Portland, OR. She joined the faculty at Reed College in 1995. Since then she has been a Fulbright scholar at the University of Panama (Panama) and Utrecht University (Netherlands), and she will be a visiting fellow at Oxford in the spring of 2017. She is widely known for her expertise in early American studies and for her work in American literary history. She is the academic director of the multi-media public television series American Passages (2003) and the award-winning author of several scholarly books on early American literature and culture. Her most recent book Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A Reinterpretation of Early American Jewish Life won a National Jewish book award, a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award, and was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013. Her current book project is entitled The Material of Race: How Emancipation Transformed American Jews.
Spring 2016: ENGL BC3091: "Shakespeare and Cinema"
TR 4:10-6 on February 9, 11, 16, and 18.
Enrollment limited to 60. P/F for 1 point. Students must attend all four class sessions in order to receive credit for this course.
This course focuses on the history of film adaptations of William Shakespeare, the world's most screen-adapted author. Each class session examines excerpts from international films and television productions of one or more of Shakespeare’s plays, from the silent era to recent releases–often juxtaposing different screen treatments of the same scenes. In so doing, the course not only underscores the inexhaustible interpretive richness of Shakespeare’s works, but also sheds light on the role of changing historical and political contexts in influencing each onscreen representation. To take a few examples, Laurence Olivier's Oscar-winning 1948 Hamlet, with its emphasis on individual psychology, presents a striking contrast with Grigori Kozintsev's more overtly political 1964 adaptation from the USSR; Olivier's triumphal World War II-era Henry V (1944) purposefully obscures aspects of the play that are emphasized in Kenneth Branagh's version from 1989. Successive films of Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and The Tempest shed light on the ways in which evolving discourses on race and colonialism have impacted the reception of these works. Viewed together, these films not only provide valuable insights into recent history, but reflect different facets of the dramatist who remains at once history's most canonical and most mercurial author.
Course readings include scenes from Shakespearean plays including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, Henry V, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Richard III, and The Tempest. Each class will include screened excerpts from multiple film versions of one or more of these plays.
Other readings include excerpted critical perspectives by authors including James Agee, Michael Anderegg, Curtis Breight, Stanley Kauffman, and J. D. Salinger; filmmaker interviews with Kenneth Branagh, Peter Hall, Grigori Kozintsev, Baz Luhrmann, Joseph Mankiewicz, and Laurence Olivier, among others; and historical source texts by Lancelot Andrewes, Henry Garnet, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Nashe, and Edmund Spenser.
Hilan Warshaw is a filmmaker, writer, and educator. He recently produced, directed, and wrote the documentary Wagner's Jews, broadcast internationally on PBS-WNET, ARTE, WDR, Deutsche Welle and Israel's Channel 8 (upcoming). His research articles on film and the arts have been published in The Wagner Journal and in volumes from Cambridge University Press, McFarland Press, and Königshausen & Neumann. He taught the Barnard English Conference course in autumn 2011, and currently teaches film at Western Carolina University.
Fall 2015: ENGL BC3099: "Four Talks on Weather and Literature"
TR 4:10-6 on November 10th, 12th, 17th and 19th.
Enrollment limited to 60. P/F for 1 point. Students must attend all four class sessions in order to receive credit for this course.
In the context of climate fears and fantasies, these talks would examine ways in which weather has informed literary texts, directly and obliquely. Ranging from–or touching upon–Homer’s winds and Ovid’s flood to the prose poems of Francis Ponge; from the pre-Socratics to Victorian theories of the death of the sun, with reference to scientific texts but also reportage and eye-witness (Pliny the Younger on the eruption of Vesuvius, Daniel Defoe on the Great Storm of 1703).
The focus will be on Enlightenment, Romantic and Victorian weather, with particular emphasis on jottings, journals, diaries, letters: texts which report with immediacy on unstable phenomena and are themselves unstable, tenuously anchored in the "literary": the patient everyday entries of Gilbert White, the natural history writings of John Clare and Dorothy Wordsworth, the notebooks of Coleridge and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
We will consider imaginary as well as actual responses to the transitory and transitional (from Tacitus’s mariners believing they could hear the sun sink into the sea, to the "frozen sounds" reported by Mandeville on his arctic travels, to Ruskin’s apocalyptic "storm-cloud," through to J G Ballard’s sci-fi apocalypses). We will consider oral testimony as well: weather rhymes, almanacs and suchlike.
Our discussions will not add anything to our image of nature as a Suffering Solid. Instead they will attend to erratic and transient phenomena and their imaginative notation: patterns and forces, things that are invisible, ephemeral, sudden, catastrophic, seasonal–and endless: weather being the oldest conversation of all.
Paul Keegan was educated at Oxford and at the Sorbonne in Paris, and has taught at the universities of York and UC San Diego. He was Faber poetry editor and previously editor of the Penguin Classics, has edited The Penguin Book of English Verse and the Collected Poems of Ted Hughes.
Spring 2015: ENGL BC3098: "Children's Literature and the Idea of the Child"
—Elisabeth Rose Gruner, University of Richmond
MT 4:10-6pm on February 23, 24 and March 9, 10.
Enrollment limited to 60.
Children's literature not only entertains and educates children, it helps define them. In this course we will examine classics of children's literature from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to Harry Potter and beyond, analyzing the ways in which childhood is both depicted and constructed by the only serious literary genre defined by its audience. Topics will include class, race, innocence, nature, and the domestic as categories that both define and exclude children at different times. Authors may include Lewis Carroll, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Maurice Sendak, J. M. Barrie, J. K. Rowling, Mary Hoffman, Walter Dean Myers, and Kiese Laymon.
Dr. Gruner has taught at the University of Richmond since 1993. Her areas of interest are children's and young adult literature and Victorian literature, as well as Creative Nonfiction Writing. Her current research is on young adult literature and the "crisis in reading"; more broadly, she is interested in the relationships between children's and young adult literature and education. Her most recent articles are on religion and children's literature, intertextuality and young adult literature, and education and children's fantasy. She is also an associate dean of Arts & Sciences and Director of the Academic Advising Resources Center, and the former coordinator of the First-Year Seminar Program.
Fall 2014: ENGL BC 3097: "The City in American Literature"
—Nathalie Cochoy, University Toulouse
Four lectures in two weeks: WR 12:10-2pm on Oct. 29th, 30th & Nov. 5th, 6th. Enrollment limited to 60.
This course will explore the representation of the city (New York, Paris) in the American novel. A first session will be dedicated to a theoretical introduction. With references to some major critics (Barthes, Benjamin, Certeau, Derrida, Sansot...), we will focus on the transformation of the description from a panoramic, omniscient perspective to a mobile, labyrinthine, fragmentary perception. The motif of walking will be evoked as a means of rediscovering the historical, cultural or social evolution of the city, but also of rehabilitating the wonders of the ordinary. We will dwell on some of the ways in which novelists reinvent language in order to translate the ceaseless transformation or the Babel-like multiplicity of urban space. The next sessions will focus on the representation of the city in some specific novels (with a close analysis of some extracts): Stephen Crane's Maggie, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, John Dos Passos's Manhattan Transfer, Paul Auster's Moon Palace.
Nathalie Cochoy, a former student of the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Fontenay-Saint Cloud, is Professor of American Literature at the University Toulouse, in France. She is the author of Ralph Ellison, La Musique de l'Invisible (Belin, 1998), and of Passante à New York (PU Bordeaux, 2010). She co-directed The Art of the City (Anglophonia/Caliban, 2009) and directed City Instants (Erea, 2010). She also wrote numerous articles on the representation of urban and natural spaces in American literature. She is the editor of Transatlantica for literature and the arts.
Spring 2014: ENGL BC 3096: "T.S. Eliot, Poet-Critic"
—Christopher Ricks, Boston University
Mondays/Tuesdays (NOTE: CONSECUTIVE days of the week)
March 31st & April 1st and April 7th & 8th, 4:10-6 PM. Enrollment limited to 60, sign-up required, 4th floor Barnard Hall. The last day to register for the class is the day of the second class (4/1/14).
Eliot and the great tradition of the poet-critic, from Dryden to Geoffrey Hill. Eliot as critic of his own work, both explicitly and within the art of revision. Eliot as critic of others’ work, both explicitly and within the art of allusion. The course will draw upon the full-scale edition of Eliot’s poems, edited by Ricks and McCue, to be completed in the summer of 2014.
Christopher Ricks is Warren Professor of the Humanities and co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University. His books include Milton’s Grand Style; Tennyson; The Force of Poetry; T. S. Eliot and Prejudice; Beckett’s Dying Words; Allusion to the Poets; Dylan’s Visions of Sin; andTrue Friendship: Anthony Hecht, Geoffrey Hill, and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound. He is at present preparing a full critical edition of the poems of T. S. Eliot. Ricks was elected professor of poetry at Oxford University in 2004, and was knighted for services to scholarship in the Queen’s Birthday Honors in 2009.
photo by Adam Fitzgerald
Fall 2013: ENGL BC 3095: 'Speak, memory': Women & Time in Later Medieval English Literature
— Felicity Riddy, Emerita Professor, University of York
T Th 4:10-6 on October 1st, 3rd, 8th, & 10th. Enrollment limited to 60, sign-up required, 4th floor Barnard Hall. The last day to register for the class is the day of the second class (10/3/13).
This course explores some of the ways in which time was experienced and understood in late medieval England by focusing on four fifteenth-century texts in which retrospection is central and gendered.
October 1: Belatedness and nostalgia: the close of Malory’s Le Morte Darthur
We start with cultural memory in the last two books of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, which retell the end of the love affair between Guenivere and Lancelot, and Arthur’s final battle against his usurping son Mordred, in which both die. We’ll explore what place is created for women in a narrative of male nostalgia for the past.
October 3: Achronicity and no going back: The Testament of Cresseid
Around the same time, the Scottish poet Robert Henryson, wrote The Testament of Cresseid, a semi-sequel to Chaucer’s great poem Troilus and Criseyde, set in the last days of the Trojan War. This poem focuses on the woman, feminizing nostalgia and loss: Cresseid looks back in agony on what she has done and what she has become. The poem’s anxieties about female sexuality are explicitly those of the poet’s own era. What do we make of this confusion of periods? We’ll read the text in the brilliant translation of Seamus Heaney.
October 8: Contemporaneity and enigma: The Book of Margery Kempe (selections)
The other two texts are by women authors. One is the first autobiography written in English, by townswoman, international pilgrim, roarer in public places and mother of fourteen, Margery Kempe. It raises questions about memory and identity, about how the disconnected sequence of events of the lived life are given shape in autobiography, and about how the individual locates herself in time.
October 10: The end of time: Julian’s Revelation of Love (selections)
Margery’s contemporary, Julian of Norwich, an anchoress in Norwich, is the only one of our four who might be said to have a theory of time. Meditating for decades on a sequence of visions of Jesus she had in her early life, Julian develops an adventurous theology: God is a mother; Eve has no place in the story of original sin; sin is without substance; there is no need for forgiveness because God is never angry; it’s even possible that everyone will be saved.
Prof. Felicity Riddy specializes in late-medieval literature and culture. In addition to serving as Professor at University of York, was Director of the University’s interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval Studies, rose to Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and has chaired the British Arthurian Society. Riddy's extensive publications concentrate on medieval women’s writing, Arthurian romance, devotional literature and Older Scots poetry. Her interests in urban culture (stimulated by York's Centre for Medieval Studies inter-disciplinary urban Household Research Group) have produced articles on urban courtesy texts, romances, devotional reading and domestic authority.
Spring 2013: ENGL BC 3094: "Shakespeare and Music"
—Helen Wilcox, Professor of English at University of Bangor, Wales, UK
This course will explore the fascinating and rich relationship between Shakespeare and music of all kinds, from the songs and street music featured in the theatre of his own day, right through to jazz and popular music in our own time. Each of the four sessions will focus on a particular play - The Tempest, Othello, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet - as a springboard for a discussion of a variety of musical ideas and interactions. In the first class, The Tempest will offer examples of music as an ideal, a source of magic, and a vital element in masque and tragicomedy. The focus on Othello in the second meeting will open up the topic of Shakespeare-inspired opera as well as the musical metaphors and the tradition of folk music crucial to the dramatic effect of the tragedy. How could a course on Shakespeare and music not examine Twelfth Night, the play to be read for the third session, whose opening speech assumes that music is the food of love, and which proceeds to feature important songs which have inspired composers over many centuries. Finally, the tragedy of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, will lead us to consider the place of Shakespeare's work in the music of ballet and film as well as the repertoire of modern popular music. Each session will include live musical performance where possible, and the concluding class will feature jazz bassist Allan Wilcox demonstrating what Shakespeare and jazz have in common. Students taking this class are not required to have any musical proficiency - just a lively curiosity, an open mind and ear, and an enthusiasm for the poetic dramas of Shakespeare.
Helen Wilcox is Professor of English and Head of School at Bangor University, U.K. After studying at Birmingham and Oxford, she has taught at universities in three countries - England (Liverpool), the Netherlands (Groningen) and now Wales - as well as being a visiting professor in Singapore and Spain. Her research focuses on early modern literature, and among her book publications is the annotated edition of The English Poems of George Herbert (Cambridge, 2007). She has also written extensively on devotional poetry, autobiographical writing, drama, women's writing, and the early modern partnership of literature and music.
Fall 2012: ENGL BC 3093: "Feasting and Starving in English Literature"
—Rachel Trubowitz, Professor of English, Universtiy of New Hampshire.
This course will focus on the function of food, drink, and hunger in a variety of literary texts written or translated into English, from the medieval period to the present day. We will touch on such issues as vegetarianism, maternal nurture, self-starvation, and the relationship between eating and cultural memory. Readings will include, the Last Supper in the gospels and 1 Corinthians (KJV), Milton’s Paradise Lost (especially Book 5), Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Kafka’s The Hunger Artist.
Course Requirement: a final 5-7-page paper.
Professor Trubowitz graduated from Barnard in 1976 and received her PhD from Columbia in1985. She taught from at Barnard from 1984-86 and has been at the University of New Hampshire since Fall 1986. She specializes in Seventeenth-Century English Literature, especially John Milton and Margaret Cavendish. She author edof Nation and Nurture in Seventeenth-Century English Literature (Oxford University Press). Her essay, "Israel, Asia, and England in Milton's Writings" (Cambridge UP) won the James Holly Hanford Award for Best Essay on Milton in 2008. She also has essays on Margaret Cavendish and Milton forthcoming in The Oxford Handbook on Literature and the English Revolution, Milton Now, and Two Cultures?: Newton and Milton (Cambridge UP). She serves as Vice President of the Milton Society of America for 2012-2013.
Spring 2012: (ENGL BC 3092): Stendhal’s The Red and the Black, read with Freud and Lacan on Love, Passion, and Murder.
—Prof. Pierre-Gilles Guéguen
Stendhal’s The Red and the Black is a novel about love, passion, and murder. The novel, Stendhal’s second, appeared in 1830. It made him famous right away. Nietzsche said that Stendhal was a supreme psychologist, but Stendhal was above all a realist. He said: "A novel is a mirror that strolls along a highway. Now it reflects the blue of the skies, now the mud puddles underfoot." The novel, full of noise and turmoil, was inspired by an article in a local newspaper describing the murder of a bourgeois mother by her former lover, a seminarist, during a Sunday mass.
Madame de Rênal is a married housewife with children. She falls in love with a young man who serves as the children’s teacher. He happens to be an ambitious man, searching for power. He lets her down and falls in love with the daughter of his mentor, a rich and influent Parisian aristocrat. He makes the young woman pregnant. When Madame de Rênal informs against him in an act of revenge, he tries to kill her; he is condemned to death by the guillotine. Mathilde de la Mole manages to retrieve his head so as to bury it near her.
Stendhal describes the awakening of love and the destructive power of passion with great precision. Later he writes an essay entitled «On Love» that traces the birth of love and its crystallization.
Starting with a reading of this exceptional novel, I intend to examine the topics of love, passion, murder and revenge within the perspectives articulated by Freud and Lacan. At the beginning of the XXth century, it was Freud who first drew attention to the different place of love in the lives of men and women. He was the first to underline how love and desire are convergent for women and divergent for men. Later on, in 1973 (Seminar XX p. 61), Lacan came to stress the importance of love for women even while he declared at the same time, enigmatically: «There is no sexual relation». Tuesdays and Thursdays: February 21, 23, 28, and March 1st at 4:10-6 p.m.
- Stendhal, The Red and the Black, Penguin Classics.
- DVD: The Red & the Black, with Carole Bouquet, Kim Rossi Stuart, Judith Godrèche etc…
- Freud: Feminity, New introductory Lectures Lecture XXIII, Standard edition, vol XXII, p112, Hogarth Press, London
- Lacan: Encore, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XX, Norton 1975 Ch VII ( A Love Letter).
Pierre-Gilles Guéguen is a French Psychoanalyst, member of the World Association of Psychoanalysis and of the Ecole de la Cause Freudienne. He is a past President of the New Lacanian School and a former professor in the Psychoanalysis Department of the University of Paris VIII. (Dr. Guéguen also gave the Conference in spring 2005)
Fall 2011: (Please note new course number: ENGL BC 3091): "Romanticism and Film"
The literature of the Romantic period left a powerful and enduring imprint on cinema. Popular Romantic genres such as Gothic horror and science fiction have been mainstays of the film industry since its inception, bequeathing to filmmakers a highly recognizable set of motifs, themes, and conventions. The legacy of Romanticism also extends to cinema as a medium: early film pioneers including Sergei Eisenstein and D.W Griffith were inspired by the Romantics' privileging of visual and sensory responses over detached rationalism. This four-lecture course draws on excerpted texts from Romantic literature and theory--such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Anne Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, and Richard Wagner--alongside clips from various films to explore the multifaceted resonance of Romanticism within film.
About the Professor:
Hilan Warshaw is a filmmaker and writer living in New York. In addition to directing his own films through his production company, Overtone Films, LLC, his video editing and writing credits include documentaries for PBS and other networks. He is also an experienced film teacher, lecturer and author of articles on film and the arts. He has a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. For more information on Mr. Warshaw, visit his website.
Spring 2011: (ENGL BC 3191): Just Letters: Poets in Correspondence
In a letter of 1971 Elizabeth Bishop said she was preparing a series of seminars at Harvard on "Letters": ’Just letters – as an art form or something. I‘m hoping to select a nicely incongruous assortment of people – Mrs Carlyle, Chekhov, my Aunt Grace, Keats, a letter found in the street, etc. etc.‘
This series of lectures will pursue the implications of Bishop‘s notion of letters as ’an art form‘ by reflecting on the relationship between poets’ letters and the primary ’art form‘ of poetry in the modern period. Auden said ’The mere fact that a man is famous and dead does not entitle us to read, still less to publish, his private correspondence‘, but Richard Howard argued that ’a poet‘s letters constitute a crucial dimension of the poet‘. The dialogue between poems and letters takes many different forms, and many poets, including John Keats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, not only circulated poems in their letters to friends, but sketched out their poetics in letters. Starting with a reflection on ’T.S. Eliot and the Use of Letters‘, the lectures will look at a number of twentieth-century poets, including Bishop, Lowell, Marianne Moore, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Philip Larkin, and seek to develop something on the lines of an epistolary poetics. In engaging with the ways modern poets’ talk about poetry in their correspondence, the lectures will also pursue the aesthetics of letter-writing, and consider the bearing of letters on lyrics (and vice versa).
About the professor:
Hugh Haughton earned his B.A. from Cambridge University and his M.A. from Oxford University. He is the author of The Poetry of Derek Mahon (Oxford University Press) and the editor of The Chatto Book of Nonsense (Chatto and Windus) and co-editor (with Valerie Eliot) of Volume II of The Letters of T S Eliot (Faber and Faber). He teaches English at the University of York.
Fall 2010: (ENGL BC 3191): Words and Music
—Erik Ryding and Rebecca Pechefsky
The course will focus, on the one hand, on the way composers and songwriters have responded to words and, on the other, on the way authors have tried to describe music in words. We will study the creative method of musicians ranging from John Dowland and Richard Wagner to Bob Dylan and Suzanne Vega. Among the authors discussed will be Thomas Campion, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Eduard Hanslick, George Bernard Shaw, Christopher Ricks, Susan Youens, and Anthony DeCurtis. Special guests will speak and perform. No knowledge of musical notation is needed.
About the professors:
Erik Ryding and Rebecca Pechefsky coauthored the award-winning biography Bruno Walter: A World Elsewhere. Erik Ryding earned his PhD at Columbia University; a revision of his dissertation was published as In Harmony Framed. He taught English at Barnard College for seven years and was later senior editor of publications at Carnegie Hall. Rebecca Pechefsky earned her BA at Barnard and her MPhil at the CUNY Graduate Center. A freelance harpsichordist, Ms. Pechefsky has made numerous recordings and is a founding member of the trio Brooklyn Baroque. Both Ryding and Pechefsky have written program notes for various musical organizations.
Spring 2010: (ENGL BC 3191) Torture: a short course
‘Torture is a barbarity that has no place in a modern democracy.’ True or false?
Abu Ghraib dispelled the restful assumption that torture is the purview of violent sects, rogue police and distant authoritarian regimes. In fact, since human-rights monitoring began in the Seventies (along with specific bans on use of torture), and since the disappearance of many of the world’s dictatorships, the use of torture by governments has continued apace. What is the history and what are the facts? And what, furthermore, do psychologists, historians, and novelists have to tell us about those facts? What is the meaning of torture? Is it always wrong? Does torture ever work?
Over four class periods, we will consider changing attitudes and practice -- from maximally gory public spectacle to covert and unmarked interrogation -- and try to make sense of the intractable and almost inconceivable violence committed, most often, in the name of security.
Texts will include Kafka's In the Penal Colony, exerpts from Hubert Selby, Jr.'s Last Exit to Brooklyn, and George Orwell's 1984, along with readings from Human Rights Watch's collection: Torture, Does it Make Us Safer?
About Prof. Fonseca:
Isabel Fonseca was a Religion major at Barnard College (’84). She went on to study Philosophy and Politics at Oxford University and was an editor at the Times Literary Supplement in London before she left to write her study of Roma life and culture, Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journey, which became an international bestseller, published in twenty countries. In 2008, Alfred A Knopf published her novel, Attachment.
Fall 2009: (ENGL BC 3191) Dante in English
--Massimo Bacigalupo (Professor of American Literature, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy)
Dante’s poetry has been widely influential since the fifteenth century and is still much read, translated and imitated in Britain, Ireland and the U.S.A. Using two recent anthologies, Dante in English (Penguin Classics), and The Poets’ Dante: Twentieth-Century Responses (Farrar), this course will include a reading in English translation of some of the best known episodes of The Divine Comedy, a comparison of styles and interpretations, a discussion of the questions of translation and adaptation, and a survey of some of the critical and poetical responses Dante has elicited, from Chaucer and Keats to T. S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney. We will try to discover why Dante’s vision has spoken to so many writers at different times and what it can tell us today of the culture we live.
About Prof. Bacigalupo:
Massimo Bacigalupo received his M.A. from the University of Rome and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. His research has centered on American and British Romanticism and Modernism. He is Professor of American Literature and Chair of Department at the University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy. He is a Member of the Ligurian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and the former President of AISNA, the American Studies Association of Italy.
He is the author of The Forméd Trace: The Later Poetry of Ezra Pound (Columbia Univ. Press, 1980), Grotta Byron (2001), and the editor of many scholarly volumes, most recently Ezra Pound, Language and Persona (2008), Ambassadors: American Studies in a Changing World (2006), and America and the Mediterranean (2003). His essays are included in Wallace Stevens Across the Atlantic (Palgrave, 2008), T. S. Eliot and the Concept of Tradition (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), Anglo-American Modernity and the Mediterranean (2006), The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature (OUP, 2002), The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound (1999), etc. He has contributed to The Yale Review, The Modern Language Review, American Literary Scholarship, Journal of Modern Literature, Paideuma, The Paris Review, The Wallace Stevens Journal, Notes & Queries, etc. In 2003 he was awarded Italy’s National Translation Prize for his translations of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Seamus Heaney, and many others. This is the third time that he is teaching The English Conference at Barnard. In 1992 his course was called "Romantics and Modernists"; in 1995 his subject was "Love & Power in Shakespeare and Hemingway."
Spring 2009: Poets Listening to Poets
--Judith Scherer Herz, Professor of English, Concordia University (Montreal, Canada).
Donne and Milton will provide starting points for an exploration of some of the different ways in which poets listening to poets gets played out in literary history. We’ll begin with a scan of a variety of Donne texts watching him think, speak, and perform the self in his writing. Then we’ll explore some 20th and 21st century poets as they discover, appropriate, and speak with and through that voice. We’ll end with Paul Muldoon’s “Sillyhow Stride,” which literally speaks Donne insofar as a good portion of its words are Donne’s. However, that poem is at least in part a pastoral elegy and underlying it is Milton’s “Lycidas.” With “Lycidas” in hand, we’ll glance back at the origins of pastoral elegy in Theocritus and Virgil and then follow, with Orpheus as our guide, the transformations of that mode in modern and contemporary poetry from Auden to Czeslaw Milosz, all the while listening to the poets as they listen.
Judith S. Herz received her B. A. from Barnard College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Rochester. Her current research centers on the ways in which Donne enters the poetic vocabulary, the imagination, the sound system, of contemporary poets. A book chapter on time and narrative instability in Milton’s Paradise Lost is also in progress and she continues to work on Bloomsbury, especially the writing of Forster and Leonard Woolf. Although she started out as a medievalist with a dissertation on Chaucer, she has moved since then into the seventeenth century and the early twentieth. She has been President of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE) and of the John Donne Society.
Fall 2008: Criminals, Courts and Storytelling
--Dr. Nancy E. Johnson.
This English Conference will focus on the relationship between narrative and the law by examining four eighteenth-century trials and the narrative responses to the trials. Readings will include court transcripts from the Old Bailey, such as those of the infamous thief Jack Sheppard, and narrative responses such as John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera and Bertolt Brecht’s Threepenny Opera.
Nancy Johnson is an Associate Professor of English and Deputy Chair at SUNY New Paltz, where she teaches eighteenth-century British literature and literary theory. She has published a book on radical novels of the 1790s, The English Jacobin Novel on Rights, Property and the Law: Critiquing the Contract (Palgrave, 2004), and she is currently working on a scholarly edition of the court journals of Frances Burney for Oxford University Press.
Spring 2008: Science as Literature: How We See the Universe
We usually read scientific writings, if we read them at all, to find out what we know about nature. In this series of four lectures we will read excerpts from some of the most influential scientific writings in history to find out how we think about nature. By paying close attention to the literary qualities of the works, we will consider the roles that both the individual and society play in investigating nature, and how and why those roles have changed over the ages. (Bonus: The lectures will also provide a compact survey of the history of Western science.) Readings, which will be supplied, will include excerpts from Aristotle, Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Darwin, Freud, Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, Crick and Watson, and other one-name wonders.
Richard Panek is the author of two books about the history and philosophy of science, The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud, and the Search for Hidden Universes (Viking, 2004) and Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens (Viking, 1998). He is now researching a third, Let There Be Dark: At the Dawn of the Next Universe (Houghton Mifflin, c. 2010), based on an article he wrote for The New York Times Magazine on dark matter, dark energy, and the frontiers of cosmology. He has written about science and culture for various sections of The New York Times, as well as for Smithsonian, Natural History, Discover, Esquire, Outside, Astronomy, Seed, and many other magazines. He is a 2007 fellow in Nonfiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has also published short fiction, for which he received a PEN Award in 1987. He has no background in science, but he hopes that by combining the exploratory sensibility of journalism with the storytelling techniques of long-form narrative, he can illuminate and humanize science for readers who, like himself before he began writing about the subject ten years ago, would know little or nothing about it. He taught creative writing at Barnard College during the fall 2007 semester, and he is on the permanent faculty of the Goddard College MFA Writing program.
Fall 2007: Lectures on Holocaust Literature: “Forms of Autobiography”
--Dr. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt
This series of lectures will focus on the representation of the Holocaust in forms of autobiography including Holocaust testimonies, children’s diaries, journals, and selected memoirs. The course will include discussion of the following works: oral histories from Brana Gurewitsch’s Mothers, Sisters, Resisters and from the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University; selected unknown children’s diaries; journal entries from Etty Hillesum’s An Interrupted Life; and excerpts from two memoirs, Charlotte Delbo’s Auschwitz and After and Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz. Selected short stories and poems also will be distributed. Attention will be paid to forms of witnessing and to artistic techniques used by different Holocaust writers to represent their experiences. There also will be several films shown including Night and Fog, the first Holocaust documentary, and excerpts from Shoah and The Last Days.
Dr. Jan Zlotnik Schmidt is a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English at SUNY New Paltz where she teaches courses in composition, theories of writing, autobiography, creative writing, women’s literature, and Holocaust studies. An expert in the field of composition studies and writing across the curriculum, she has given presentations and workshops at the local, regional, and national level. Her poetry has been published in many journals including Kansas Quarterly, Cream City Review, Syracuse Scholar, Alaska Quarterly Review, Home Planet News, and Phoebe. She has published two volumes of poetry -- We Speak in Tongues (The Edwin Mellen Press, 1991) and She Had This Memory (The Edwin Mellin Press 2000); two collections of autobiographical essays--Women/Writing/Teaching (SUNY Press, 1998) and Wise Women: Reflections of Teachers at Midlife, co-authored with Dr. Phyllis R. Freeman (Routledge 2000); and a multicultural, global literature anthology, Legacies: Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction (co-authored with the late Dr. Carley Bogarad and Dr. Lynne Crockett), which is about to go into a fourth edition. She has been teaching both an undergraduate and graduate Holocaust literature course in the Departments of Jewish Studies and English for several years.
Spring 2007: Whitman and After: the First Person Singular
Four lectures devoted to the first person voice in literature and its special attraction for iconic American authors as well as for contemporary writers. This series of talks will cross genres, with individual sessions on poetry, fiction and forms of nonfiction including memoir and the personal essay. The first lecture will focus on Walt Whitman (with a couple of nods to Emily Dickinson). The second lecture, turning to fiction, will consider The Great Gatsby in depth but will also look at Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn. The third and fourth lectures discuss forms of nonfiction (literary journalism, the personal essay and other autobiographical forms), perhaps the signature genres of contemporary letters.
Patricia Hampl first won recognition for A Romantic Education, her memoir about her Czech heritage. This book and subsequent works, including Virgin Time (1992) and I Could Tell You Stories (finalist in General Nonfiction in the National Book Critics Circle Awards 2000) established her as an influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing in the past 25 years. Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime, a meditation on the odalisque figure in Western art, came out from Harcourt in fall 2006. It will be followed next year by another memoir, The Florist’s Daughter. Ms. Hampl is Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota where she teaches creative writing. She is also on the permanent faculty of The Prague Summer Program.
Fall 2006: "John Ruskin"
This course will examine selected writings of the great Victorian sage, John Ruskin. We will pay special attention to how Ruskin's thinking about aesthetics--in particular, why the world looks the way it does--forced him to become an unwilling social critic and the consequences of this radical reorientation for Ruskin's writing, for social-reform movements of his day, and for Ruskin personally.
Spring 2006: Stage Comedy
We will read four plays: Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest; Alan Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular; Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw; and Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing. We will have a double focus--the plays themselves and the relevant theories of comedy and how they are illustrated by the plays we’ve read.
Prof. Tony Kaufman received his Ph.D. from Yale and taught for many years at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. His courses include Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Drama, and Comedy in Theory and Practice. He has written on early playwrights, Congreve, Behn, Wycherley, John Crowne, Thomas Southerne, and such later writers as Thurber, Salinger, and Barbara Pym.
Fall 2005: (ENGL BC 3191x) Psychoanalysis and Literature: Lacan and Kleist
This course will examine some Kleistian works from a psychoanalytical point of view. Kleist described how major topics of psychoanalysis, such as unconscious, mirror stage, transference, object a, the peculiar position of femininity, Oedipe and others function. Kleist gives us an example how psychoanalysis can borrow insights, sometimes even concepts, from belletristic literature. Of course, this affinity does not exclude a questioning about limits of comparability. This course will confront four psychoanalytic fundamental concepts (mirror-stage; anxiety; transference; femininity) with some Kleistian works, such as Amphitryon, Schroffenstein Family, About The Gradual Formation of Thoughts in Speaking,The Foundling, The Earthquake of Chili, Käthchen von Heilbronn, and Penthesilea.
Peter Widmer is a practicing psychoanalyst in Zurich as well as the founder and publisher of RISS. He has taught at the University of Kyoto and at the University of Zurich.
Spring 2005: Psychoanalysis and Film
--Prof. Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, France
The artist always precedes the psycholanalyst according to the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. This sentence holds true for great film makers and for the characters they invent and insert in the narrative plot. Many pictures teach us about the subject of speech and language, and also about the symptom as a special mode of jouissance which inscribes the subject in a social link, as exemplified through the characters in the texture and the style of the film. We will draw from texts from Lacan to comment some extracts of the following pictures: “A Woman Under the Influence,” “El Habla Con Ella,” “The Hours,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Taxi Driver,” “When Harry Met Sally,” “Catch Me If You Can,” and “In the Bedroom.”
Prof. Pierre-Gilles Guéguen, Ph.D., is President of the W.A.P. (World Association of Psychoanalysis), member and former Director of L’École de la Cause Freudienne (E.C.F.), manager and faculty member of the Clinical Section, in France, faculty member of the Department of Psychoanalysts, Paris VIII University, and author of numerous articles on Lacan.
March 21: An inquiry into passion and madness. Films: Fatal Attraction and Bunuel’s El.
March 23: How bad obsession can be: the narcistic cage. Film: As Good As It Gets.
March 28: Hysteria and unsatisfaction. Film: Reflections in a Golden Eye.
March 30: The war between the sexes. Film: Adam’s Rib.
Freud's Dora and The Ratman
Readings in Lacan’s Seminar III: Psychosis (To Be Announced)
Books will be available at Labyrinth Bookstore
Fall 2004: Writing Madness Psychoanalysis
-- Prof. Russell Grigg, Australia
The conference will provide the framework for exploring the function of writing for psychotics and the relationship of psychotics to writing. Authors discussed will include Schreber and Joyce, Plath and Frame. Aspects of Aimée, treated by Lacan, and the Papin sisters, discussed by Genet, will be examined if time permits.
Pror. Russell Grigg is a member of the École de la Cause Freudienne and the Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis. He has translated Lacan's Seminar III: The Psychoses (Routledge, 1993) and Seminar XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2005) and is the author of numerous articles on Lacan and philosophy.
Spring 2004: Boccaccio’s Decameron and Renaissance Fiction
--Dr. Lorenzo Bartoli of the Autonomous University of Madrid
The Decameron, assembled and probably written by Boccaccio around 1349-1351, but famously set in Florence at the time of the Black Death which swept across Europe from 1347 and savagely hit the city of the florin in 1348, is the narrative work of the widest range in all of Italian Literature. In fact, for the entire western tradition, the Decameron stands as a landmark, as it signals the advent of a new form and a new view of literature, based upon contemporaneity and the bourgeois world, depicted in its multiform reality of characters, geographies, existential horizons, epistemological uncertainties.
Fall 2003: Girls and Balls: Staking Our Claim
--Professor Jane Leavy
For generations, men regarded America’s games, and the written accounts of them, as an entitlement, an inheritance to be passed from father to son. Female interest in competitive athletics either ended at puberty or was viewed as a mechanism for attracting the opposite sex. The passage of Title IX legislation in 1972, requiring equal funding for men’s and women’s collegiate sports, promoted women’s competition as well as their entrance into the competitive world of sports journalism. This course will compare the fictional treatment of America’s pastime by male and female novelists and examine how female reporters, outsiders to the game, bring needed perspective to daily sports journalism.
Jane Leavy (Barnard ’74) is an award winning former sports writer and feature writer for the Washington Post and the author of Sandy Koufax: a Lefty’s Legacy, and Squeeze Play.
Jimmy Breslin, Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? Excerpts to be handed out in class.
Steve Kluger, Last Days of Summer. Excerpts to be handed out in class.
Jane Leavy, Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Lagacy.
Jane Leavy, Squeeze Play.
Spring 2003: Section 1. How We Got to Where We Are: Christians, Jews, & Israel in Early Modern England & America
--Professor Achsah Guibbory
This course is a brief introduction to several aspects of the complex topic of Christian/Jewish relations, and of the history of the Christian relation to Israel. By reading excerpts of writings from the period, we will examine the habit of a number of seventeenth-century English people to think of England as a “chosen nation,” as the new Israel; and the parallel tendency among American puritans to think of themselves as Israel and America as the promised land, Canaan. (We see traces of this in the names of many towns in Connecticut.) What were the causes and implications of this kind of thinking? If the English or Americans were Israel, what were the Jews? In the middle of the seventeenth century, at the height of the English identification with Israel, England considered the question of whether to “readmit” the Jews, who had been expelled from England since the end of the thirteenth century. We will look at excerpts of some of the writings surrounding the debate over Jewish readmission.
The readings for this course will be available in a course packet (since most of them are not available in modern editions). Many of the texts are odd, interesting, different. I want to give a wide sampling, though the selections themselves will be short. Readings may include: some brief selections from the Bible, a few poems by George Herbert and Andrew Marvell, excerpts from John Winthrop and another early American writer, from a funeral sermon on James I (as Solomon), from Milton’s Areopagitica, the Amsterdam rabbi Menasseh ben Israel’s account of Jews among the American “Indians” and his petition for Jewish readmission, protests against and defenses of readmission (including Roger Williams), and a pamphlet by the Quaker leader Margaret Fell (wife of George Fox) written to convert the Jews to Christianity.
Learning something about earlier ways in which Christians thought about Israel and Jews might shed light on issues of intense concern today.
The readings, though short, may seem difficult at first, since they are from an earlier period, but you will get used to them. You are expected to have read the selections before class, and to come to class prepared to discuss and engage them, to ask questions.
Prof. Guibbory is now a member of the Barnard English faculty.
Spring 2003: Section 2. Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell: Friendship and Poetic Influence
--Professor Francesco Rognoni
Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell’s thirty-year-long friendship is possibly the most interesting and rewarding American literary connection of the second half of the twentieth century. Though these two great poets developed very different and original poetics, their dialogue was unbroken and their extraordinary outputs can be seen as complimentary. The course will focus both on biographical and critical issues. Poems and prose writings by Lowell and Bishop will be read in the context of their mutual influence and in the larger scenario of their times: questions of genre, gender, cultural history, canon formation, and interpretation will be raised.
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems, 1927-79 (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1983). Required.
Robert Lowell, Selected Poems (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1977). Required.
Elizabeth Bishop, One Art: Selected Letters (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1994). Optional.
David Kalstone, Becoming a Poet (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1989). Optional
FallL 2002: English Abroad: The Journey of Language
--Professor Iain Chambers
English--as a language, literature, culture and identity--today travels in the world without an obvious home or owner. The historical, cultural and poetical consequences of this journey will be examined.
Spring 2002: Section 1. 911: When Narratives Conflict
Readings include many articles from the aftermath of 9/11, using Robert Stone’s "911: When Narratives Collide" as a starting point. Students should read Yeats’ "The Second Coming" and be familiar with the film A Beautiful Mind and the controversy involving its historical "accuracy." They should be prepared to discuss the questions: "Does historical accuracy matter in a film" and "What is historical accuracy?" They should also be familiar with the recent controversy over charges of plagiarism level Joseph Ellis "invented" a more dramatic past for himself. They should be prepared to talk about the question: "When is plagiarism not plagiarism?"
Mr. Kopit is a playwright, author of "Wings" and "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung you in the Closet and I'm Feeling so Sad."
Spring 2002: Section 2. England Gone: Warning & Regret in the Poetry of Edward Thomas, W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice, & Philip Larkin.
Mr. Maxwell is Poetry Editor of The New Republic and poet. He is the author of The Tale of the Major’s Son, Out of the Rain, and Rest for the Wicked.
W. H. Auden, Collected Poems, ed. Edward Mendelson (Vintage International). Required.
Philip Larkin, Collected Poems, ed. Anthony Thwaite (Farrar, Straus, Giroux). Required.
Edward Thomas, Penguin Book of First World War Poetry, ed. Jon Silkin (Penguin). Required.
Louis MacNeice (poems will be distributed as handouts). Required.
Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford University Press). Highly Recommended.
Fall 2001: Postcolonial London.
London has become an important crucible where new forms of national and transnational identity are being created by British-based writers who may trace a connection with coutries with a history of colonialism. The legacy and experience of specifically post-war migrations to London, and the hybrid and diverse communities created in their wake, have created new forms of social and cultural activity. The classes will briefly trace the emergence of a variable and exciting body of cultural texts created by these ’new’ Londoners from the 1950s to the present. Though engaging with a variety of literary examples, classes will focus on three in particular: George Lamming, The Emigrants (1954), Hanif Kureishi, The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) and Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000).
Spring 2001: Caribbean Women's Writing.
Prof. O'Callaghan is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Barbados, West Indies. She is Jamaican and Irish by birth, studied at the University in Jamaica, won a scholarship to Oxford, and then, after her graduate studies, returned to the Caribbean. Her specialty is Caribbean Women’s writing, particularly the early colonial phase at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.
Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
Erna Brodber, Jane and Louisa Will Soon come Home
Fall 2000: Four Major New Voices in Contemporary American Literature: Cormac McCarthy, Patricia Eakins, Mark Richard, Richard Powers.
--Beatrice Trotingnon of the University of Tours, France.
Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, 1985.
Patricia Eakins, The Marvelous Adventures of Pierre Baptiste, Father & Mother, First & Last, 1999.
(New York University Prize for Fiction)
Mark Richard, Fishboy, 1993.
Richard Stone, The Gold Bug Variations, 1991.
Spring 2000: Women Writers, Postcolonial Identities.
Michelle Cliff, Abeng
Mariama Ba, Such a Long Letter (Heinemann African Writers)
Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Thing
Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meat
1995: Love & Power in Shakespeare and Hemingway
--Massimo Bacigalupo ( see above)
1992: Romantics and Modernists
--Massimo Bacigalupo ( see above)
Fall 1985: History and Stories, Myths and Anti-Myths in Contemporary British Drama.
--Riccardo Duranti, of the University of Rome
John Arden, Serjeant Musgrave's Dance (1959). (In Plays: One. Grove Press, 1978.)
Caryl Churchill, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (1976). Pluto Press, 1982.
or Plays: One. Methuen, '85.
Edward Bond, Early Morning (1968). (In Edward Bond, Plays: One. Methuen, 1977.)
Dr. Lucyle Hook, a Texan, was a specialist in 17th-century English drama and held fellowships at the Henry E. Huntington Library in California and at the Folger Library in Washington. In 1954 she was visiting professor at the Univeristy of Melbourne, and from 1956 to 1958 she was Dean of the American College for Girls in Istanbul, lecturing there and at universities throughout Asia. In addition to many articles in her field, Miss Hook co-authored The Research Manual. She retired from the Barnard English Department as Professor Emerita in 1967.
An endowed chair was named for Dr. Hook and is currently filled by Prof. Kim Hall, a member of the English and Africana Studies faculty. For more information on Dr. Hook and her collected papers, visit Barnard's Archive webpage.
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