The Body Politics of the Avant-garde
Syllabus – SPAN/IT_597C
In the spring of 2013 we taught a one-credit, Spanish/Italian cross-listed undergraduate/graduate seminar titled The Body Politics of the Avant-garde. This graduate course was designed through SIMSF’s structure to complement and enhance the semester-long lecture series Embodying the Avant-garde: Corporeal Visions in Spain and Italy. Our course provided graduate students with a set of theoretical tools with which to engage Avant-garde culture as it developed in Spain and Italy. As a complement to the lecture series, it gave students the chance to interact with some of the most innovative and influential scholars in the field. Students were provided the opportunity to study seminal Spanish and Italian texts from the early twentieth century, with attention to contemporary philosophical, scientific, political and social changes.
—“The duality of the teaching was a new and enjoyable experience and the intensive class discussion was most effective and rewarding.”
Avant-garde and Literary Theory
We created intersections between our graduate courses on the Spanish Avant-garde and Literary Theory in the spring of 2014 at key junctures to expose graduate students to a broader range of materials and interests that combine text and theory. With this in mind, we invited scholars to campus to present their work and engage our students on relevant topics in our courses. Dr. John Champagne from Penn State Erie, visited in late February. Dr. Champagne presented as part of the Comparative Literature Luncheon Series on the twentieth-century Italian poet Sandro Penna. He also led a joint session of our two courses in which he discussed his queer reading of Giorgio Bassani’s novel The Garden of the Finzi Contini and spoke more broadly on the history of Gay and Lesbian Studies and on the contemporary variety of queer theory approaches.
In the fall of 2014, we invited Dr. Gayle Rogers from the University of Pittsburgh to give a presentation through the Comparative Luncheon Series titled “Calcutta-London-Madrid: The Politics of Translation in Global Modernisms.” After the formal university-wide presentation, we scheduled a seminar session for our graduate students. Dr. Rogers spoke on Juan Ramón Jiménez’s aesthetics and discussed the Modernist poetic tradition in Spain in relation to other Modernist poetic traditions (England and France).
Stylistic and Literary Criticism
SPAN 587 syllabus (2014)
This course, taught in the Spring of 2014, had several points of intersection with the concurrent graduate course The Body Politics of the Avant-garde. Along with the talks by invited speakers John Champagne and Gayle Rogers (in the fall) both classes went on a field trip to the Guggenheim in New York to visit a new exhibit on Italian Futurism. These visits acquainted students with the work of important scholars in the field, and also presented the opportunity to discuss their work (and students’) in a comfortable setting.
SPAN 587 syllabus (2015)
The most recent iteration of this course, in the Fall of 2015, similarly intersected with the graduate course Decadentism, Eroticism and the Diseased Imagination. These classes hosted two guest speakers, each of whom has undertaken innovative research on modernism: Dr. Elena Coda and Dr. Leslie Harkema. Following each of these presentations, students had the opportunity to participate in “salon” style discussions to further discuss the speakers’ research and share their own.
Click here to view Leslie Harkema’s talk
Decadentism, Eroticism, and the Diseased Imagination
SPAN 597C syllabus
This course examined various cultural expressions of the body, sexuality, science, and technology put forward during the Modernist period. Furthermore, it analyzed their key social and aesthetic implications and inquired into how they deepen our understanding of the complex, multi-layered relationship between the corporeal and the spiritual, the sensuous and the intelligible, and the self and the other. Of particular importance was defining the so-called “decadent mentality” and the notions of social and moral degeneration that pervaded the fin de siècle and the first few decades of the twentieth-century.
Participants in the course included (from left to right): Nicolás Fernández-Medina, Shannon Cantor, Ivana Ancic, Alejandra Gutiérrez, Anna Torres-Cacoullos, Stacey Mitchell, Veronica Charbonnet, Chris Andrejcik, and Kirsten Dejarlais.