Monday, February 21, 2022

"Thomas Mann, Ezra Pound, Riffaterre, and 501": Jean Alter, the courses I took in the Spring Semester 1989, and why I took them

Walking across the University of Pennsylvania campus at the beginning of the spring semester of 1989 (my second semester of graduate school in Comparative Literature), I ran into Jean Alter, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, who asked me what courses I was taking. I told him: "Thomas Mann, Ezra Pound, Riffaterre, and 501." He exclaimed that my choice of how to refer to the classes exemplified how the way we name things depends on our interest in them: I was taking the Thomas Mann and Ezra Pound seminars for the subject; the seminar with Michel Riffaterre for the professor; and "Comparative Literature 501: Introduction to Literary Theory" as a requirement. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 February 2022)

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