Nostalgia stems from the Greek terms nostos, meaning “a return home”, and algos, meaning “suffering”. In common usage, it denotes a sentimental state in which one covets the past in favor of the present through a romanticization of past events or objects. The term also entered medical discourse in the late-seventeenth century describing a condition unique to mercenaries and soldiers serving away from home. The medical usage of nostalgia continues into the twentieth century specifically with the occurrence of the Great War. This course will focus on twentieth century European literature in which nostalgia is a driving force of the narrative. Furthermore, the texts we will be reading are either from or reflect upon junctures of European history that are marked by devastating conflict such as the Great War, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, as well as the Soviet acquisition and control of Central and Eastern Europe. The primary reading for this course includes a selection of poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia, Italo Calvino’s Into the War, and Milan Kundera’s Ignorance. We will follow two main threads of inquiry in respect to these texts: one which deals with the precise etymological meaning of “nostalgia” that is further complicated because the notion of home itself is associated with suffering, thus, suffering for a return to suffering; and another that traces characters’ nostalgic tendencies as a clinical matter while serving in the trenches. The goal of C Lit 240 is to hone your individual writing skills in addition to giving you the tools to grow as a critical reader. To this end, there will be two short papers (2-3 pages) and two longer papers (5-7 pages). Each paper will address a framing prompt regarding the course reading.
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.