Professors

Kevin Newmark (Boston College)

Schedule

Monday
From 09:15
to 10:45
Wednesday
From 09:15
to 10:45

 

Course description

Venice occupies a unique place in the artistic imagination of the rest of the world. Rising out of the lagoon in a riot of color, form, and texture, its shimmering reflections incarnate the essence of beauty. This course will study some of the most important ways modern writers have discovered in Venice an unmatched opportunity to explore and unsettle the traditional meaning that beauty holds for thought, art, and life.

The course will be organized into four successive sections, each corresponding to a unit composed of interconnecting strands, canals, or mosaic tesserae, which join literature, cinema, philosophy, art history, and on-site exploring. The four main topics will feature literary texts by Joseph Brodsky, Thomas Mann, Henry James, and Marcel Proust. They are: Liquid Beauty, Paradoxes of Beauty, Inversions of Beauty, and Resurrections of Beauty.

Alongside its central focus on literary masterworks from the modern European tradition, the course will also develop three complementary areas of instruction:  a philosophical context stretching from Plato to Nietzsche and beyond; a cinematic dimension composed of “Summertime,” “Morte a Venezia,” (Death in Venice) “Don't Look Now,” “The Comfort of Strangers,” and “Pane e Tulipani” (Bread and Tulips); and a regular supplement of on-site visits to Venice itself—the marvel of its churches, palazzi, museums, calli, and waterways.  

Students will learn how the beauty that is everywhere visible in Venice also possesses a hidden side of risk and peril. The course will study the specific ways that Venice has become an imaginary site of powerful tensions, traversed by the competing forces of growth and decay, desire and knowledge, truth and illusion. The course will also offer students the means for experiencing their own stay in Venice as a valuable occasion of self-reflection, an intellectual voyage into unfamiliar territory and waters. A thoughtful encounter with the beauty of Venice can open new perspectives on what it means to live, to love, and to understand wherever we find ourselves.

Syllabus

1. Unit One: Liquid Beauty: “Finding your Feet on Water”

Class 1: Monday 9/11

Introduction to course:

-- Judith Martin (1938--) No Vulgar Hotel, 2008: Getting Around (55-63), Tiresome Remarks (88-93), What if: Inventions (55-63), (88-93), (120-127)

-- John Berendt (1939--) City of Falling Angels, 2005: The Venice Effect (1-3), Dust and Ashes (43- 47), Slow Burn (99-105)

Class 2: Wednesday 9/13

-- Judith Martin (1938--) No Vulgar Hotel, 2008: Getting Around (55-63), Tiresome Remarks (88-93), What if: Inventions (55-63), (88-93), (120-127)

-- John Berendt (1939--) City of Falling Angels, 2005: The Venice Effect (1-3), Dust and Ashes (43- 47), Slow Burn (99-105)

--Introductory Remarks: Joseph Brodsky, Watermark

Class 3: Monday 9/18

Joseph Brodsky, Watermark      

Translations: Fondamenta degli Incurabili (Italian), Acqua Alta (French)

Presentation: Acqua Alta –TBD

Class 4: Wednesday 9/20

Joseph Brodsky, Watermark

Class 5: Monday 9/25

Henry James, The Grand Canal, 70-89. “The essential present character of the most melancholy of cities resides simply in its being the most beautiful of tombs.”

Class 6: Wednesday 9/27

Henry James, The Grand Canal, 70-89. “The essential present character of the most melancholy of cities resides simply in its being the most beautiful of tombs.”

Class 7: Monday 10/2

David Lean, “Summertime” (1955, 100 minutes)

Presentation -- “Summertime” –  TBD

2. Unit Two: Paradoxes of Beauty: “Getting lost is the only place worth going to.” Venice Is A Fish, (Tiziano Scarpa, p. 10)

Class 8: Wednesday 10/4

Plato, Phaedrus

Plato’s concept of Beauty --  Presentation -- TBD

Class 9: Monday 10/9

Plato, Phaedrus

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Class 10: Wednesday 10/11

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Presentation -- TBD

Class 11: Monday 10/16

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Friedrich Nietzsche, Dionysus and Apollo (The Birth of Tragedy) and John Berendt, The City of Falling Angels (99-105 “La Fenice: Apollo/Dionysus”)

Nietzsche Presentation -- TBD

Class 12: Wednesday 10/18

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Friedrich Nietzsche, Dionysus and Apollo (The Birth of Tragedy) and John Berendt, The City of Falling Angels (99-105 "La Fenice: Apollo/Dionysus”)

Class 13: Monday 10/23

Nicolas Roeg, “Don't Look Now” (1973, 110 minutes)

Presentation --  TBD

3. Unit Three: Inversions of Beauty: How Do You Lay Solid Foundations on Slime? …Upside-down trees, hammered in with a kind of anvil hoisted on pulleys… Underneath the Basilica della Salute there are at least a hundred thousand…You’re walking on a vast upside-down forest, strolling above an incredible inverted wood. (Tiziano Scarpa, Venice Is A Fish, pp. 3, 4)

Class 14: Wednesday 10/25

Henry James, The Aspern Papers

Tiziano Scarpa, Face, Venice is a Fish (47-52)

30 October -3 November: Mid-Term Break

Class 15: Monday 11/6

Henry James, The Aspern Papers

Presentation --  TBD

Class 16: Wednesday 11/8

Henry James, The Aspern Papers

Mary McCarthy, Venice Observed, “The Loot” (19-35)

Class 17: Monday 11/13

Henry James, The Aspern Papers

Mary McCarthy, Venice Observed, “The Loot” (19-35)

Class 18: Wednesday 11/15:

Paul Schrader, “The Comfort of Strangers” (1990, 105 minutes)

John Berendt, Glass Warfare

Presentation – TBD

4. Unit Four: Resurrections of Beauty

Monday 11/20: No class – to be rescheduled

Class 19: Wednesday 11/22

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Selections) “Combray” and “Place-Names: The Name”

“When I went to Venice I found that my dream had become – incredibly, but quite simply – my address!”  Marcel Proust, Letter to Mme Strauss

Class 20: Monday 11/27

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Selections) “Combray” and “Place-Names: The Name”

Class 21: Wednesday 11/29

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Selections)

“Combray,” “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower​ - Place Names: The Place,” and “The Prisoner”

John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice (Selections) and Henry James, “Venice: An Early Impression,” (51-54),

Mary McCarthy, The Sands of Time (81-100)

Class 22: Monday 12/4

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Selections)

“Combray” and “The Fugitive - Staying in Venice”

John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice (Selections) and Henry James, “Venice: An Early Impression,” (51-54),

Mary McCarthy, The Sands of Time (81-100)

Class 23: Wednesday 12/6

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Selections)

“Sojourn in Venice” and “Finding Time Again”

Peter Collier, Fortuny II: Carpaccio’s Material

Class 24: Monday 12/11 Make-up Class

Silvio Soldini, “Pane e Tulipani” (2000, 116 minutes)     

Presentation --   TBD

Exam: Wednesday 12/13

 

Evaluation

Class attendance is mandatory. Students will be evaluated on the basis of regular participation as well as on both short and medium length writing assignments.

Students will be graded according class participation (25%), seminar presentation (20%) mid-term essay (25%), and final paper (30%).

 

Reading

John Berendt, The City of Falling Angels

Joseph Brodsky, Watermark

Henry James, “The Grand Canal,” in Italian Hours

Henry James, The Aspern Papers

Thomas Mann, Death in Venice

Judith Martin, No Vulgar Hotel

Mary McCarthy, Venice Observed

Friedrich Nietzsche, “Dionysus and Apollo” (The Birth of Tragedy)

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (Selections)

John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice (Selections)

Plato, Phaedrus

Films to be studied include:

David Lean, Summertime (1955, 100 minutes)

Nicolas Roeg, Don't Look Now (1973, 110 minutes)

Paul Schrader, The Comfort of Strangers (1990, 105 minutes)

Silvio Soldini, Pane e Tulipani (2000, 116 minutes)

 

Venice
International
Universiy

Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,
Italy

-
phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510
email: viu@univiu.org

VAT: 02928970272