Recent Courses

Law 7128: Crossing Borders This course will explore the legal and policy issues associated with border crossings, and also provide students with insights about how the study of narrative and storytelling can help us better understand the challenges of displacement. The course consists of three major blocks: the first sets the historic, conceptual and philosophical framework for migration. The second reviews international refugee law. The third investigates the challenges and vicissitudes of migration of undocumented peoples. For each block, material from the realm of literature and language theory will be introduced to highlight the discursive elements that are natural components of human migration. We will analyze in detail the cornerstone documents of the present refugee regime, notably the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol, the revisions and proposed revisions to the Convention for the past 65 years, and the application of international law relating to migrants in the US context. We will also look at the Common European Asylum System and its handling of urgent migrant movements, notably from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq and Afghanistan. The course is designed to develop a toolbox of skills for those interested in this realm, from a legal, advocacy and discursive perspective. Seminar discussions will help students refine their argumentative and rhetoric skills in a realm that tends to invoke severe partisan actions and reactions on both sides of the debate. The readings in realm of “law and literature”, from the Ledwon reader, will offer invaluable support to a humanistic approach to this area, and to law in general.

French 4027: Émile Zola This course will introduce students to Emile Zola’s fiction, including examples of work from the long series of novels called Les Rougon Macquart, about a family under the Second Empire. Different facets of Zola’s writings will be discussed, including his method of researching his subject matter, the style of his writing, as well as the “environmental” influences of violence, prostitution, alcoholism and what he described as “the fatal convulsions that accompany the birth of a new world”.

French 4232: Literature and Law The goal of this course is to study narratives that occur in both literature and law, with special emphasis upon confession, the construction of the subject, the reception of texts, judicial argumentation and rhetoric, and intercultural translation and interpretation. We will examine some theoretical and judicial works, and then look to see how they can be applied to literary texts that feature situations or methods of reasoning that have legal aspects to them. In order to do this, we will examine seminal works in French (and in translation, for those who don’t read at this level), representing several centuries.

ENGLISH — 272 From the Romantics to the Beat Generation This course will explore the influence that Romantic poets, notably Lord Byron, and P.B. Shelley, had upon Beat Generation poets and writers. We will begin by discussing some of the seminal works in Romantic poetry, including Keats’s and Wordsworth’s descriptions of their poetic ambitions and projects, and we’ll then turn to some of the characteristics of the literature and politics of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and a range of women writers of the Beat Generation including Diane DiPrima and Anne Waldman. We will undertake our reading under the assumption that there was something profoundly liberating in such works as the “Lyrical Ballads” and, moreover, in the comical and irreverent masterpiece by Lord Byron, Don Juan, which served as impetuses for the kinds of work we found in post-war American Beats. This course will offer students the opportunity to study but also to create their own creative work, if they so desire, as a means of exploring first hand the creative process inspired through the genius and the generosity of these writers.

French 362 — Émile Zola and Charles Dickens: Naturalism, Realism, and Social Engagement This course will introduce students to a group of seminal works by both Charles Dickens and Émile Zola, supplemented by essays and letters that discuss their respective approaches to social justice and the role that their literary work plays, or can play, to advance particular causes. Different facets of their writings will be discussed, including their respective methods of researching their subject matter, the style of their writing, as well as their concerns relating to contemporary oppression, violence, prostitution, alcoholism and social inequality. Students will also be introduced to the relationship between realism and naturalism, and will have occasion to explore the idea of the “public intellectual”, with particular reference to Zola’s “J’Accuse,” an open letter to the president denouncing the wrongful conviction of a Jewish officer of the French army for treason.

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