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Amherst College European Studies for 2009-10

14 Napoleon's Legends

Napoleon Bonaparte’s legacy in French domestic and international politics and military strategy profoundly influenced nineteenth-century Europe. But so did the legends surrounding him, created before his great defeat and exile, and nurtured after his death in 1821. In painting, caricature, and sculpture, literature, music, and film, the legends-positive and negative-of Napoleon have served many ends. The cultural complexity of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe becomes clearer when one understands the motives behind and results of these representations of Napoleon.

In this course, we will study painting (e.g., David and Goya), narrative fiction (e.g., Balzac, Stendhal, and Tolstoy), poetry (e.g., Wordsworth and Hugo), music (e.g., Beethoven), urban history and architecture (e.g., of Paris), and the silent and sound films of our century (e.g., Gance). We will examine how different generations and a variety of cultures appropriated the real and imagined images of Napoleon for social, political, and artistic ends, and thereby influenced the creation of modern Europe. Three class hours per week.

Omitted 2009-10. Professor Rosbottom.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Spring 2015

21 Readings in the European Tradition I

Topics in the past have included readings and discussion of a series of related texts from Homer and Genesis to Dante: Homer’s Iliad, selected Greek tragedies, Virgil’s Aeneid, selections from the Bible, and from medieval texts. Three class hours per week.

Open not only to European Studies majors but also to any student interested in the intellectual and literary development of the West, from antiquity through the Middle Ages.  Required of European Studies majors. 

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor G. Katsaros.

2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

22 Readings in the European Tradition II

Reading and discussion of writings and art that have contributed in important ways to the definition of the European imagination. Previous readings have included Cervantes’Don Quixote, plays of Shakespeare, Montaigne’s Essays, Racine’s Phaedra, Molière’s Tartuffe, Descartes’Discourse on Method, Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Voltaire’s Candide, selected poems of Wordsworth, Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, and others. Open not only to European Studies majors but also to any student interested in the intellectual and literary development of Europe from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century. Two class meetings per week.

Suggested requisite: European Studies 21. Required of European Studies majors.  Spring semester. Professor Rosbottom.

2018-19: Offered in Spring 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

24 Poetic Translation

This is a workshop in translating poetry into English from another European language, preferably but not necessarily a Germanic, Slavic, or Romance language (including Latin, of course), whose aim is to produce good poems in English. Students will present first and subsequent drafts to the entire class for regular analysis, which will be fed by reference to readings in translation theory and contemporary translations from European languages. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 12 students. Fall semester: Professor Maraniss. Spring semester: Professor Ciepiela.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

26 Medea: Metamorphoses of a Myth

(Offered as European Studies 26 and Women and Gender Studies 14.) Beginning with Euripides’ tragedy, Medea has continued to occupy the European mind mainly in dramatic treatments by male authors (Seneca, Corneille, Grillparzer, Anouilh, and Heiner Müller). As multiple “outsider”-- woman, foreigner, sorceress, demi-goddess, abandoned wife--Medea embodies “otherness” in manifold ways: she is the representative of the conflict between barbarism and civilization, between the supernatural and the natural, the magical and the commonsensical, madness and reason. Recently, women authors like Christa Wolf have entered the debate, aiming to reclaim Medea as one of the repressed voices of femininity. Our approach will be interdisciplinary in nature: in addition to reading dramatic texts and background material, we will explore the transformations of the Medea myth in the European tradition in the fine arts (Vanloo, Delacroix, Anselm Feuerbach), in dance (Martha Graham, the Bolshoi Ballet), sample the operas of Cherubini and Charpentier, and view the films by Pasolini, Ula Stöckl, and Lars von Trier, as well as priceless B-movie masterpiece, Don Chaffey’s Jason and the Argonauts.  Readings will be in English. Students who know any of the foreign languages represented are encouraged to read the material in the original.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Rogowski.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009

33 Love

(Offered as Spanish 84 and European Studies 33.) This panoramic, interdisciplinary course will explore the concept of love as it changes epoch to epoch and culture to culture. Poetry, novels, paintings, sculptures, movies, TV, and music will be featured. Starting with the Song of Songs, it will include discussions of Plato, Aristotle, Catullus, and other Greek classics, move on to Dante and Petrarch, contemplate Chinese, Arabic, African, and Mesoamerican literatures, devote a central unit to Shakespeare, continue with the Metaphysical poets, and move on to American literature. Special attention will be paid to the difference between love, eroticism, and pornography. Multilingual students will be encouraged to delve into various linguistic traditions, in tongues like French, Russian, German, Yiddish, and Spanish. Conducted in English.

Omitted 2009-10. Professor Stavans.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2014, Spring 2017

34 Birth of the Avant-Garde: Modern Poetry and Culture in France and Russia, 1870-1930

(Offered as European Studies 34 and Russian 34.) Between the mid-nineteenth century and the mid-twentieth century, poetry was revolutionized both in France and in Russia; nowhere else did the avant-garde proliferate more extravagantly. This class will focus on the key period in the emergence of literary modernity that began with Symbolism and culminated with Surrealism and Constructivism.With the advent of modernism, the poem became a “global phenomenon” that circulated among different languages and different cultures, part of a process of cross-fertilization. An increasingly hybrid genre, avant-garde poetry went beyond its own boundaries by drawing into itself prose literature, philosophy, music, and the visual and performing arts. The relation between the artistic and the literary avant-garde will be an essential concern.We will be reading Rimbaud; the French Symbolists (Mallarmé, Laforgue, Valéry); the Russian Symbolists (Blok, Bely); Apollinaire, Dada, and the Surrealists (Breton, Eluard, Desnos, Char, Michaux); and the Russian avant-garde poets (Mayakovsky, Pasternak, Khlebnikov, Tsvetaeva).Our study of the arts will include Symbolism (Moreau, Redon); Fauvism (Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck); Cubism, Dada, and early Surrealism (Duchamp, Ernst, Dali, Artaud); the “World of Art” movement; Primitivism and Constructivism (Goncharova, Malevich, Rodchenko, Eisenstein). Course will be taught in English. Students who read fluently in French and/or Russian will be encouraged to read the material in the original language. Spring semester.  Professors Ciepiela and L. Katsaros.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Spring 2014

35 Culture and Politics in 20th-Century Europe

(Offered as Political Science 72 [CP, IR] and European Studies 35.) This seminar discusses political ideas, ideologies and political culture in 20th-century Europe. Some themes are Nationalism; Marxism, Socialism and Communism; Fascism; anti-Semitism; Existentialism; the “Century of Total War”; the year 1968; Pope John Paul II; Soccer Hooliganism; “The Idea of Europe,” and the question of whether there is a “European identity.” Throughout the course, ideas are connected to historical context. The syllabus is a mix of books and films. This course can be taken as a regular course or it can fulfill the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Preference to Political Science and European Studies majors, and juniors and seniors.  Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Tiersky.


2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014

36 Dangerous Reading: The 18th-Century Novel in England and France

(Offered as European Studies 36, English 48, and French 62.) Why was reading novels considered dangerous in the eighteenth century, especially for young girls?

This course will examine the development, during this period, of the genre of the novel in England and France, in relation to the social and moral dangers it posed and portrayed. Along with the troublesome question of reading fiction itself, we will explore such issues as social class and bastardy, sexuality and self-awareness, the competing values of genealogy and character, and the important role of women-as novelists, readers, and characters-in negotiating these questions. We will examine why the novel was itself considered a bastard genre, and engage formal questions by studying various kinds of novels: picaresque, epistolary, gothic, as well as the novel of ideas. Our approach will combine close textual analysis with historical readings about these two intertwined, yet rival, cultures, and we will pair novels in order to foreground how these cultures may have taken on similar social or representational problems in different ways. Possible pairings might include Prévost and Defoe, Laclos and Richardson, Voltaire and Fielding, Sade and Ann Radcliffe. French novels will be read in translation. Two class meetings per week.

Omitted 2009-10. Professors Frank and Rosbottom.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

37 Music and Culture I

(Offered as Music 21 and European Studies 37.) One of three courses in which music is studied in relation to issues of history, theory, culture, and performance, with the focus of the course changing from year to year. This course is an introduction to European music in the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras. We will begin by singing Gregorian chant and will go on to cover such topics as the music of the Troubadours, the polyphonic style associated with Notre Dame, the development of musical notation, Renaissance sacred polyphony, madrigals, court dances, and the birth of opera. Throughout the course we will seek to bring the music we study alive by singing and/or playing. We will also host several professional performers of “early music” who will help us understand how this music is likely to have sounded at the time of its creation.

Requisite: Music 12 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Schneider.

2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017

38 Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800

(Offered as Art 35 and European Studies 38.) This course is an introduction to painting, sculpture, and architecture of the early modern period. The goal of the course is to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, and to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation. In addition to tracing stylistic change within the oeuvre of individual artists and understanding its meaning, we will investigate the varied character of art, its interpretation, and its context in different regions, including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

Limited to 30 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Courtright.

2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

47 God

This interdisciplinary course will reflect on shifting representations of the divine in theology, philosophy, literature and the arts. Students will reflect on the tension between polytheism and monotheism in ancient times, read portions of medieval and Renaissance texts, and treatises and novels from the Enlightenment to the contemporary period. Foundational sources like the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas, the Popol Vuh, and various others will be featured, along with material by such authors as St. Augustine, Aquinas, al-Ghazali, and Maimonides. Spinoza's geometrical system, the emergence of secularism as a refutation of God's omnipotence, and agnosticism and atheism as modern responses to religious faith will all be covered. The course will include readings from Newton, Berkeley, Dostoevsky, Freud, Unamuno, Einstein, Jung, Kafka, Pirandello, Borges, and Wittgenstein, as well as explorations of music from such composers Johann Sebastian Bach and John Cage to Negro Spirituals. Finally, we will analyze such films as Ingmar Bergman's cinematic meditations, Woody Allen's comedies, and The Matrix

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Stavans.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2013

50 Cityscapes: Imagining the European City

Cities, the largest human artifact, have been at the center of Europeans’ relationships with nature, gods, and their own kind since their first appearance. With the advent of capitalist energy, the European city went through radical change. The resultant invention, re-invention and growth of major metropolises will be the subject of this course.

We will discuss histories and theories of the city and of the urban imagination in Europe since the 18th century. We will consider Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, and St. Petersburg among others, and the counter-example of New York City. We will study examples of city planning and mapping, urban architecture, film and photography, painting, poetry, fiction, and urban theory. And, we may study Atget, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Calvino, Dickens, Joyce, Rilke, Truffaut, Zola, and others.

Questions addressed will include: To what extent do those who would “improve” a city take into account the intangible qualities of that city? How do the economics of capital compromise with the economics of living? How does the body-healthy and unhealthy-interact with the built environment? How and why does the imagination create an “invisible city” that rivals the “real” geo-political site? Two classes per week.

Spring semester. Professor Rosbottom.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017

52 Designing Architecture Across Borders and Time

(Offered as European Studies 52 and Art 16.) In this intermediate architectural design studio we will explore the intellectual and creative process of making and representing architectural space. The focus will be to explore the boundaries of architecture--physically and theoretically, historically and presently--through digital media. Our process will prompt us to dissect 20th-century European architectures and urban spaces and to explore their relationships to contemporary, global issues. The capstone of the course will be a significant design project (TBD) requiring rigorous studio practices, resulting in plans, sections, elevations and digital models. This course will introduce students to various digital diagramming, drawing, and modeling software, while challenging students to question the theoretical and practical implications of these interdisciplinary media processes. This course will combine lectures, reading, discussion, and extensive studio design.

Requisite: Basic Drawing. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Spring semester. Professor Long.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

56 Baroque Art in Italy, France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands

(Offered as Art 56 and European Studies 56.) After the canonization of the notion of artistic genius in the Italian Renaissance and the subsequent imaginative license of artists known as Mannerists, phenomena sponsored throughout Europe by the largesse of merchants, courtiers, aristocrats, princes, and Churchmen alike, a crisis occurred in European society--and art--in the second half of the sixteenth century. Overturned dogmas of faith, accompanied by scientific discoveries and brutal political changes, brought about the reconsideration of fundamental values that had undergirded many facets of life and society in Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the starting point of this course. Unexpectedly, these upheavals led to a renewed proliferation of innovative art. In this century of remarkably varied artistic production, paradoxes abounded. Some artists sought the illusion of reality by imitating unimproved, even base nature through close observation of the human body, of landscape, and of ordinary, humble objects of daily use, as others continued to quest for perfection in a return to the lofty principles implicit in ancient artistic canons of ideality. More than ever before, artists explored the expression of passion through dramatic narratives and sharply revealing portraiture, but, famously, artists also imbued art meant to inspire religious devotion with unbounded eroticism or with the gory details of painful suffering and hideous death. They depicted dominating political leaders as flawed mortals--even satirized them through the new art of caricature--at the same time that they developed a potent and persuasive vocabulary for the expression of the rulers’ absolutist political power. This class, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will examine in depth selected works of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced by artists in the countries which remained Catholic after the religious discords of this period-e.g., Caravaggio, Bernini, Poussin, Velázquez, and Rubens in Italy, France, Spain, and the Spanish Netherlands--as well as engaging the cultural, social, and intellectual framework for their accomplishments. Upper level.

Requisite: One other course in art history or consent of the instructor. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Courtright.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

60 Performance

(Offered as German 60 and European Studies 60.) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European--primarily German--culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will be also screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Fall semester. Professor Gilpin.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2017

63 Traumatic Events

(Offered as German 63 and European Studies 63.) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, television reportage, newspaper documentation, performance, on the Internet, and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11 and other recent international events. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2009-10.  Professor Gilpin.

2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014

64 Architectures of Disappearance

(Offered as German 64 and European Studies 64.) This course will address a number of developments and transformations in contemporary urban architecture and performance from an international perspective. We will explore issues including, but not limited to, trauma, memory, absence, perception, corporeality, representation, and the senses in our examination of recent work in Germany and elsewhere, and read a number of texts from the fields of philosophy, critical theory, performance studies, and visual and architectural studies, in an attempt to understand how architecture is beginning to develop compositional systems in which to envision dynamic and responsive spaces in specific cultural contexts. We will focus our research on the work of a number of German and international architects, performance, and new media artists, including Jochen Gerz, Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock, Horst Hoheisel, Micha Ullman, Shimon Attie, Daniel Libeskind, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Greg Lynn, Mark Goulthorpe, R & Sie(n), Axel Kilian, Paul Privitera, Hani Rashid and Lise-Ann Couture, Herzog and de Meuron, Archigram, William Forsythe, Jan Fabre, Rachel Whiteread, Rebecca Horn, Sasha Waltz, Richard Siegal, Michael Schumacher, Robert Wilson, the Blix Brothers of Berlin, Pina Bausch, Granular Synthesis, Sponge, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Toni Dove, and many others. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.

2018-19: Offered in Spring 2019
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Spring 2016

65 Making Memorials

(Offered as German 65 and European Studies 65.) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Omitted 2009-10. Professor Gilpin.

2018-19: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2016

77, 77D, 78D, 78 Senior Departmental Honors

A full  course.

Fall semester.

2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017

97, 98 Special Topics

Fall semester.

2018-19: Offered in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018