Undergraduate Courses

The UCLA Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies offers a variety of undergraduate courses. For more information, please see the Schedule of Classes on the Registrar’s Website for language courses. They are not listed here. If you have any questions, please contact Professor Thomas Harrison harrison@humnet.ucla.edu

For a complete listing and description of department courses visit the UCLA General Catalog.

Fall 2023

ELTS 151: Valkyries and Dragonslayers. Study of medieval Norse and German traditions of Völsung and Nibelung families.

Instructor: Kimberly Ball

The epic and legendary traditions of the Völsung family (descended from Odin) and their dealings with the Nibelung family (keepers of the Rhine Gold) constitute “the Great Story of the North,” as William Morris once called it. The exact origins of this story are unknown, but it is thought to have circulated in the oral tradition long before it was first referenced in writing, in Beowulf, composed as early as 700 CE. It has been told in many forms across the Germanic-language speaking world, across genres and media, and across the centuries – featuring shapeshifting dragons, dragon-slaying heroes, vengeful Valkyries, manipulative gods, cursed treasures, doomed romance, blood feud, and so much more. We will explore this story in some of its myriad variations ranging from Old Norse Eddic poetry and sagas, to the Middle High German Nibelungenlied, to Wagner’s 19th-century Ring Cycle of operas, to Fritz Lang’s silent Nibelungen films. We will consider the appeal and import of this enduringly popular story in terms of its various historical and cultural contexts, its artistic and political uses, as well as the influence it has had on the modern fantasy tradition – most notably inspiring J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  All instruction/readings/viewings in English.

French 100: Written Expression: Description and Narration

Instructor: Laurence Denié-Higney

The objective of this course is to practice and improve your written expression in French. We are going to carefully read and study four short stories to understand the techniques of storytelling and description. We will also review important grammatical structures in order to develop and improve your style in written French. Throughout the quarter, you will imagine and develop your own short story. You will use the techniques studied in class and seek to develop your own style in French. Taught in French. 

French 115: L’âge des cathédrales (en français)

Instructor: Jean-Claude Carron

Ce cours portera sur ce que l’on appelle la Renaissance du XIIe siècle, siècle de profonds changements politiques, sociaux, économiques, scientifiques, religieux, philosophiques, culturels et artistiques (musique, littérature). Nous nous intéresserons au renouveau architectural que représentent l’art gothique, et, à travers la littérature, à la conception du monde féodal, à l’invention de l’amour dit courtois (« courtly love ») et à son évolution dans les romans de la légende arthurienne. Les lectures incluront La Chanson de Roland, la production poétique dont celle des troubadours et trobaritz, des textes Chrétien de Troyes et de Marie de France, Tristan et Yseut, etc. Textes en français moderne, pas de connaissance de l’ancien français nécessaire.

The Age of Cathedrals (In French)

This course will focus on what is called the Renaissance of the 12th century, a time of profound political, social, economic, scientific, religious, philosophical, cultural and artistic (music, literature) changes. We will deal with the architectural renewal represented by gothic art, and, through literature, with the conception of the feudal world, the invention of so-called “courtly love” and its evolution in the novels of the Arthurian legend. Readings will include The Song de Roland, the poetic production of the time, including the works of the troubadours and trobaritz, Marie de France, Yvain by Chrétien de Troyes, Tristan and Ysolde, etc. Texts in modern French, no knowledge of old French necessary.

French 118: Rousseau and Diderot in the Enlightenment and Today

Instructor: Malina Stefanovska

Certain questions asked by 18th century thinkers still sound as pertinent today: what is natural versus      societally formed in a human? How did society and the state take shape? What is the right education to create an Enlightened individual? How do we manage our relationships to the society around us? How do we explore and express our selfhood? All these questions have constituted the constant preoccupation of two major Eighteenth century authors, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot, who have provided serious, playful and controversial answers to each of them.  We will take their writings as a guide for our own explorations.

French 121: Introduction to Francophone Sub-Saharan African fictions

Instructor: Alain Mabanckou

This course explores historical thematic developments in Francophone sub-Saharan African novels from the colonial and postcolonial eras. In 1954, Camara Laye’s novel L’Enfant noir described childhood in late colonial Africa, and distinguished himself from other African writers who adhered to explicitly militant literature. Later, in his novel Les Soleils des Indépendances, Ivorian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma revealed the disillusionment of Africans after political independence and the official end of European colonization. Senegalese writer Mariama Bâ, in Une si longue lettre, advocated for African women, and explored the tension between pre-colonial traditions and practices (such as polygamy) and the new emerging postcolonial society.  Taught in French

German 104: German Film in Cultural Context, 1945 to Present

Instructor: Cara Tovey

In recent years, the film industry has seen an increase of transnational co-productions and multilingual films, including a rise in minority languages featured in these productions. While this may seem like a phenomenon of our globally-connected, digital age, film has, in fact, from its beginning transcended national boundaries in its production, content, reception, appealing to audiences around the world. Despite the historically fluid nature of film, the myth of “national cinemas” remains strong in the psyche of many national cultures. In line with the transcultural focus of the department to European Languages and Transcultural studies, this course will investigate how German filmmakers from the post war era to the present grapple with German identity and culture through the lens transnational and transcultural exchange. Examples covered in the course will include Turkish-German cinema, refugees on- and off-screen, streaming platforms, the film festival, and films not featuring a particular nation or national identity. In so doing, we will question the designation of “national cinema” and discover how a shift towards a transnational understanding of film opens up a space for a more globally connected and inclusive cinema and world. This course is taught in English and all films will be provided with English subtitles.


Germans 152: Conversation and Composition on Contemporary German Culture and Society I

Instructor: Christopher Stevens

This is an advanced course that expands and refines the skills and knowledge acquired during the first two years of college German. It includes: (1) advanced writing training in German; (2) intensive vocabulary building and review of selected grammar points; and (3) discussion of themes relevant to contemporary German culture and society.

We will be reading selections from some well-known authors, including: Yoko Tawada, Herbert Rosendorfer, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Karl Valentin, Georg Diez, Wladimir Kaminer, Thomas Bernhard, and Judith Hermann, and some Columns from Bastian Sick, from his Zwiebelfisch column in Der Spiegel dealing with the German language. We will work through a grammar that I’ll make available to you. Taught in German.

Italian 102B: Renaissance discovery of human genius; crucial period between Medieval and Renaissance

Instructor: Elissa Tognozzi

This course looks at the stunning artistic, literary, musical and scientific achievements between the Medieval and Renaissance periods.  The content will cover many factors that contributed to this phenomenon from the period between Boccaccio and Galileo. Themes of discussion will include the Renaissance manuals of behavior, relationships between social classes, religion and politics, as well as gender norms and humor. Additional focus will be on connections to today’s world.  Taught in English.

Italian 150: Modern Fiction in Translation

Instructor: Thomas Harrison

Lecture, three hours. Select issues in 20th-century thought traced in writers of international fame, with focus on concerns and styles of several prose works such as Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose,” Pasolini’s “The Ragazzi,” Pirandello’s “The Late Mattia Pascal,” and Calvino’s “The Cosmicomics.” P/NP or letter grading.

Italian 42C: Food and Literature in Italy

Instructor: Elissa Tognozzi

This course, taught in English, will look at Italian food culture through essays, literature, films and other works that highlight the role and significance of food and eating. Course content will span the origins of Italian cuisine through the present slow food movement in Italy. Themes of discussion will include the relationship between eating and religion, politics, social class, health and gender differences. Ultimately, the course will examine these influences on Italian American cuisine and culture.

Italian 46: Italian Cinema and Culture in English

Instructor: Thomas Harrison

Special topics in Italian culture as reflected and reinforced by the nation’s prime artform, stressing, aesthetics and ideology of films, contemporary Italian history, and politics. Rotating topics include sex        and politics, comedy, integration, family networks, and neorealism. P/NP or letter grading. 

Scandinavian 11: Elementary Norwegian

Instructor: Patrick Wen

(NEW for 23-24!)

Scandinavian 11 introduces students to beginner-level Norwegian language.  Our primary objectives are to develop our conversational and written abilities in Norwegian and to develop our listening and reading comprehension in Norwegian. Our secondary objectives are to broaden our knowledge of Norwegian culture by looking at contemporary and past Norway, and to learn about how Norwegian culture is interconnected with the rest of Scandinavia and Europe, as well as Norway’s significance in the global arena.

Scandinavian 134: Scandinavian Mythology

Instructor: Kimberly Ball

Study of gods and goddesses, realms and beings, narratives and information that make up lore collectively referred to as Scandinavian (or Norse) mythology.  Reading and examination of this lore that is chiefly preserved in two medieval collections traditionally called the Poetic (or Elder) Edda and the Prose (or Younger) Edda, with supplementary readings in sagas and secondary sources.  Taught in English.

Scandinavian 40: Heroic Journey in Northern Myth, Legend and Epic

Instructor: Kimberly Ball

This course explores representations of “the hero” and “the heroic journey” in Nordic narrative traditions.  We will consider stories from myth, epic, and folktale/legend within their historic, geographic, and cultural contexts.  Questions we may ponder include: What makes a hero heroic?  When was the heroic age (was it always in the past)?  In what ways is a heroine like a hero, and in what ways different?  What is the hero/heroine’s relationship to the community?  To the divine?  To death?  What differentiates a hero from a leader?  From a trickster?  From a monster?  Is there a common pattern for the hero’s journey, and if so, why?  What is the point of hero stories?  Why were they originally told, and why do they continue to fascinate us?  Are they similar to each other in message, meaning, or purpose, or are they quite different?  In addition to teaching a body of texts and the development of a concept, this course builds students’ critical thinking and close textual analysis skills.  All readings in English.  Not open for credit to students with credit for course 40W. 

Scandinavian 50: Introduction to Scandinavian Literature and Culture

Instructor: Patrick Wen

Scandinavian 50 provides undergraduates with a broad overview of literary and cultural traditions of the Nordic countries. In this course, “literature” will be loosely defined in order to include several types of narratives, including film and folklore in addition to traditional written narrative forms, which include sagas, drama and fiction. (Taught in English)

Scandinavian C145A/245A: Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, and Late 19th-Century Scandinavian Drama

Instructor: Arne Lunde

This literature course focuses on gender, sexuality, class, and crisis in the dramatic works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, and Hedda Gabler, et al.) and his key rival, Sweden’s August Strindberg (The Father, Miss Julie, and A Dream Play, among others). The two most important European playwrights of their epoch in the 1880s and 1890s, both created their greatest plays in self-imposed exile on the Continent (Germany, Italy, France, and Switzerland). Lectures, secondary readings, discussions, short writings, and team presentations will all further investigate Ibsen and Strindberg’s pathbreaking artistry and influence within the transnational European cultural, political, and social contexts of their era and beyond. Course taught in English.

Scandinavian C166A/266A: Ingmar Bergman: The Early Years

Instructor: Arne Lunde

This cinema class focuses on the early period (1944-1960) of the career of iconic Swedish auteur filmmaker Ingmar Bergman during his first decade and a half as a writer-director working within the Swedish studio system. During these years of ambitious experimentation and artistic growth, he developed from making genre pictures for the Swedish domestic market toward his international breakthrough triumphs of the mid-to-late 1950s. Lectures, discussions, short writings, and team presentations will further explore transnational influences on early Bergman (Hollywood, Germany, France, Italy, and England). Readings will also engage with postwar Swedish society and politics, film style and aesthetics, genres and the star system, cinematography, music, editing, et al. Course taught in English.