COMP 344
Love and Revolution Fall 2021
Division I
Cross-listed ENGL 347 / COMP 344

Class Details

“Love” is here a kind of shorthand for questions of sexuality and gender: why do novels, plays, and films about contemporaneous political revolutions so often get caught up in seemingly superfluous and unrelated disturbances in the field of sexuality and gender relations? In this course we will study such works, which are especially responsive to social currents whose logic they cannot fully articulate. In these texts a state of political revolution almost irresistibly touches off sexual subversiveness as well, inviting the reader or spectator to interpret just what sexual upheaval has to do with political revolution. We will take up this problem in the setting of several historical revolutions and some literary and cinematic works that represent them: for example, the French Revolution (Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro and the Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom); the Irish Revolution (plays by Synge, O’Casey, and Yeats); the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 (Bely’s Petersburg, Babel’s Red Cavalry); the revolution constituted by Nazism (Hitler’s Mein Kampf, the films Triumph of the Will and The Damned); the Prague Spring (Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being); and the Algerian Revolution (Pontecorvo’s film The Battle of Algiers). We will confront such questions as why an author might suggest that revolution can only be sustained through incest and libertinism; why passionate nationalist revolutionaries should be scandalized by the idea of oedipal violence and take refuge in myths of female purity; how to interpret revolution and gender relations in the context of disparate cultures. We will examine historical and social texts as well as artistic ones, learning how literature and history might be read together and inversely: that is, learning to read literature or film as a kind of political event, and to read history literarily, with an eye to its rhetoric and figuration.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 18
Class#: 1924
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active participation in class discussions, several short written exercises, two 8-page papers
Prerequisites: a 100-level English course, or a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in English literature or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate
Enrollment Preferences: English majors, Comparative Literature majors
Distributions: Division I
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 347 Division I COMP 344 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C

Class Grid

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