New York - Course Info


Alumni College Fall Semester 2013 Course Offerings



“The European Literary Tradition: Tragic Drama”
Location: New York
Professor Gordon Trunbull

From classical times to the present, the literature of tragedy has posed searching ethical and emotional questions about us as beings capable both of great nobility and great error, of grandeur and grotesquery, of immense charity and of immense cruelty, and critics and spectators have long wondered about what so compels us to attend spectacles of suffering. This course will explore these questions through discussion of selected works by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Eurpides, Shakespeare, Racine, Ibsen, Chekhov and Beckett.


“In the American Grain”
Location: New York
Professor Alan Trachtenberg

The class will examine ideas and images regarding “America” among selected nineteenth and twentieth century writers. Readings will start with Emerson, who argued that poets have a  central role in creating a national culture derived from the particulars of American life, then move to Whitman’s attempt in “Song of Myself” and other poems to play that formative role. Next, the class will take up responses to the Emerson-Whitman program among three twentieth century “modernist” poets, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, and photographer Walker Evans in his “American Photographs.” Readings and discussion will focus on no more than one or two key works by each figure.


“Great Russian Short Stories”
Location: New York
Professor Michael Holquist

Most Americans think of Russian literature as dominated by the novel.  Yet many of the greatest novelists also explored the very different genre of the short story.  In this course we will read examples from six nineteenth century masters of the form, including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Chekhov.   After a brief introduction covering the biographical and historical context of the stories, we will discuss the works themselves.