Comparative Literature 350.52/Anthropology 325.75

Hunter College, Spring 1998

Instructor: David A. Goldfarb

TF 12:45-2:00, Hunter West 411

3 Feb.—Introduction: The Discourse of the Primitive.


6 Feb.—Hobbes, Leviathan 1-105.

10 Feb.—Hunter classes follow a Thursday schedule. NO CLASS.

13 Feb.—Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.

17 Feb.—Hobbes and Rousseau.

20 Feb.—Freud, Totem and Taboo.

24 Feb.—Hobbes, Rousseau and Freud.


27 Feb.—In place of class please attend the conference, “Picasso and Modernism,” at the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, 33 W. 42nd St., 3rd Floor Studio, from 2:00-6:00 pm. The conference chair is Prof. Mary Ann Caws, and the speakers will be Profs. Yves-Alain Bois, Benjamin Buchloh, Jack Flam, and Rosalind Krauss. We will be discussing material from the conference and looking at slides in class over the next few weeks.

3 Mar.—The Ethnographic Museum: Robert Goldwater, Primitivism in Modern Art 3-50, 302-14; Leo Frobenius, The Voice of Africa (selections on reserve). SHORT PAPER DUE.

6 Mar.—Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven: Goldwater 63-85, 250-71.

10 Mar.—Fauvism and Matisse: Goldwater 86-103.

13 Mar.—Primitivist Modernism: Goldwater 143-191.

17 Mar.—The Art Museum: William Rubin, “Modernist Primitivism: An Introduction” in Primitivism in 20th Century Art. Marianna Torgovnick, “William Rubin and the Dynamics of Primitivism” in Gone Primitive.


20 Mar.—Baudelaire, “Jeanne Duval” poems from The Flowers of Evil and related works (on reserve).

24 Mar.—Baudelaire, Cezanne, Picasso.

27 Mar.—Baudelaire; Mary Ann Caws, “Gestures Toward the Self: Representing the Body in Modernism: Cloaking, Re-Membering, and the Elliptical Effect” in Modernism: Challenges and Perspectives.

31 Mar.—Baudelaire.


3 Apr.—T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland” and “The Hollow Men” in Selected Poems.

7 Apr.—Eliot; J. G. Frazer, “Adonis, Attis, Osiris” chapters from The Golden Bough.

Wed. 8 Apr.—Eliot; Ronald Bush, “The Presence of the Past: Ethnographic Thinking/Literary Politics.” (Hunter classes follow Friday schedule).

10-19 Apr.—Spring recess. NO CLASSES.

21 Apr.—Ezra Pound, “A Retrospect,” Canto XXXVIII.

24 Apr.—Pound; Leo Frobenius (selections on reserve).

28 Apr.—Pound; Russell A. Berman, “Modernism, Fascism, and the Institution of Literature” in Modernism: Challenges and Perspectives.


1 May—Malinowski, Sex and Repression in Savage Society.

5 May—Malinowski; James Clifford, “Ethnographic Allegory.” Vincent Crapanzano, “Hermes’ Dilemma” in Hermes’ Dilemma and Hamlet’s Desire.

8 May—Malinowski; Torgovnik, “Defining the Primitive/Reimagining Modernity,” in Gone Primitive.

12 May—Lévi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques (selections on reserve). Clifford Geertz, Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author 1-48, 73-101.

15 May—Kwame Anthony Appiah, “Is the post- in postmodernism the post- in postcolonial?” Crapanzano, “Dialogue” in Hermes’ Dilemma and Hamlet’s Desire.

19 May—Roundtable discussion of Final Papers


Grades will be weighted as follows:

 Participation 20%
 Short Paper   25%
 Final Paper   55%


All papers are optional for auditors.

READING—The readings above are listed as they will be discussed in class and should be read in advance of the day they we will cover them. You are advised to begin assembling the reserve readings early in the term, to avoid the rush as they come up for discussion. The reading list may change during the semester to reflect the specific interests of the class.

SHORT PAPER—In about 5 pages defend or refute one of Freud’s major claims in Totem and Taboo. Your argument should take account of our readings in Hobbes and Rousseau. The short paper is due 3 March 1998.

FINAL PAPER—In about 10 pages interpret a work of fiction, poetry, visual art, music, drama, or dance in light of the anthropological and theoretical readings in the class. The creative work may be of your own choosing and need not have been discussed in class. Your paper should situate the work in the context of the broader discourse of the primitive from the latter half of the nineteenth century to today. The final paper is due 26 May 1998.


This portion of your grade includes your productive oral participation in class, attendance, any ungraded in-class assignments, the extent to which your written assignments reflect that you are listening actively in class, and the improvement in your work over the course of the semester. Students enroll in the class with varying degrees of preparation. Even if you enter the class with a strong background in the subject, you must demonstrate that you are learning something from this class in order to do well in it. If you are studying the subject for the first time, do not fear that you will forever be lagging behind the more advanced students. Hard work will be rewarded!

You are strongly encouraged to discuss your papers, as well as all of the assignments, with me at my office hour, Tuesdays after class or in e-mail. There will be no opportunities for extra credit, but if you would like to improve your performance on the written assignments, I will always accept drafts in advance, to be returned ungraded with comments and suggestions. Most students who turn in drafts and take the suggestions seriously learn a good deal about writing and improve their assignments by one-half to a full grade. If you would like feedback on your final paper before handing in the final draft, I will accept drafts for comment up to 15 May 1998. The final paper is due in my office before the end of classtime 26 May 1998. If you would like to receive your paper back by mail, please provide a self-addressed stamped envelope with sufficient postage.


25 September 2005