2017-2018 Catalog

GERM 320 Metamorphic Bodies: Fluid Forms from Ovid to Kafka

"To speak of forms changed into new bodies [...] from the very beginning of the world up to my own times." Thus begins Ovid's Metamorphoses, whose programmatic opening stanza links the the birth of the world from formlessness and chaos to a narrative principle of transformation and change over time. This course will explore the shifting conceptions of metamorphosis - the transformation of "forms [...] into "new bodies," and vice versa - from its mythic origins in Ovid, to its modern manifestations and modulations in the works of Goethe, Darwin, and Kafka. Throughout the course, we will examine the ambiguous relationship between "forms" and "bodies" in Western thought, and how the permutations of this nexus come to bear on a wide variety of different topics in the Humanities, including: myths and theories of changing forms in nature (plants, clouds, animals); dynamic representations of gender, sexuality, and erotics; as well as figures of hybridity and the grotesque (human-animal hybrids, beasts, and monstrosities). More broadly, the course will explore the porous interfaces between ancient and modern poetics, myth and modernity, as well as the arts and sciences. This course will meet three times a week, twice with CSLC 120, and a third weekly meeting in which all readings and discussion will be conducted in German.


5 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Global Connections
  • Pre-1800