Touched up a tad 3, July 2022

Comparative Literature 594  | The Imperial Bedroom: Literature & the Arts | Spring 2006 | Storm Hall 342  | 3:30 to 6:10pm  | William A. Nericcio

Picture these handsome textual couples caught, as it were, en flagrante: Greek poet Homer's epic lyric The Odyssey in a salacious tryste with Irishman James Joyce's landmark novel Ulysses; Japanese writer Sei Shonagon's curious 10th-century memoir*, The Pillow Book, between the sheets with Welsh & English director Peter Greenaways classic film, The Pillow Book

What do we see here? Couple-texts, the imperial bedroom serving as a grandiose stage of sorts, and, curiously enough, coupled texts: Joyce, reshaping the contours of English fiction forever, turns to a Greek classic to order his sinewy fiction; Greenaway, a gifted director and artist, turns to a centuries-old memoir to guide his very twentieth century eye. Literature,  Cinema, and Art, sister arts or lover arts co-mingled in a lurid and lyric ménage-a-trois? 

Our Comparative Literature course will spend hours upon hours in the imperial bedrooms of novels, cinema and painting.  The "bedroom" is imperial, in that it rules the domestic space of the house--a site of power, without question, which architecturally mirrors in strange ways the psyche of that space's inhabitants.

Not for nothing will Odysseus do war with Sirens and Cyclops on his wearying journey back to his beloved Penelope;  similarly, Leopold Bloom braves the streets of Dublin on his quest for the affections of his connubial satyr, the inimitable Molly Bloom. 

The name of our course derives from the ironic stylings of British composer, Elvis Costello--his album, too, Imperial Bedroom, will be one of the required works of this utterly experimental, purposely eclectic class. So Music too, along with Literature, Cinema and Art, will have something to teach us this term. 

While this course is designed for English and Comparative Literature majors and film aficionados, any student interested in books, film, and bedrooms won't be bored during the semester. Other coupled works for the semester include Aura, by Carlos Fuentes, with Sunset Boulevard, by Billy Wilder; and, time permitting, Adaptation, by Susan Orleans, with Adaptation, written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. 

Mondays from 3:30 to 6:10 in Storm Hall 342

*a correction from my old friend, ace-cultural critic Earl Jackson--less a memoir and more a "a mix of zuihitsu ("wandering brush") and monozukushi -(exhaustive lists).


January 23 Monday

Class introduction; BEYOND BELIEF listening session; kvetching about small classroom; lots of crashers kindly accomodated!

January 30 Monday


February 6, Monday

Read the first chapter of ULYSSES by James Joyce and the first book of the Odyssey by Homer; you are welcome to complete your readings without benefit of a reading guide--that said, a first-rate dictionary and concise encyclopedia will be of great use to you.  You may do your readings in any order: homer first, then joyce, or the reverse.  do beware that the road taken and not taken, to steal from r. frost, are different roads.  This week I will be reading homer and then joyce.  cheers!

February 13, Monday

thank you all for your work this past monday--these are challenging and delicious works of literature; it would be enough to read the odyssey or joyce to perplex and drive a normal undergraduate class. 

but we are doing both simultaneously!  at least we were! 

for this coming week, let's switch things up a tad:  this week, to give you time to begin your readings in earnest, we will take a time-out and screen billy wilder's SUNSET BOULEVARD.
this will allow us to guage the communication between this filmed text and AURA--but it will also, in an odd way, help us to fathom the figuration of the female/mother/other archetype that so engaged the class discussion this past monday.  gloria swanson's portrayal of norma desmond is remarkable in many respects, but perhaps most of all owing to her embodiment of a  Salome-like succubus (shades of Señora Llorente). 

eagerbeavers truly interested in this figuration and its psychoanalytic consequences should read a little of LUCE IRIGARAY's __speculum of the other woman__ essays, cornell university press. i will put a copy of one of her essays on your site later today....

February 20, MondayHIATUS--read ahead!

February 27, Mondayyour reading for Monday February 27, is to read up to page 177, the end of book 11 of the Odyssey. 

March 6, 2006

for the next week, March 6, 2006, see if you can read in joyce's ulysses to the end of page 291, the end of the SIRENS chapter 11. 

TONS of readings! 

do not hesitate to use the guide found here to assist

the moving map they have here to help you with chapter 10 is amazing!!! 

one other site to see if you want to begin to understand just how much joyce nested in this text is here:

a simple map from that page is here:

but  do know! YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED to use these guides at all--the pleasures of ULYSSES are bound up in giving yourself over to joyce's singular literary vision. 

One other succinct and useful guide is here

Can't go to Dublin?  Peek here for a walking tour!

March 13, 2006

Spring Break

March 20, 2006

Enter the classroom having read all the way to page 609, the end of section II of ULYSSES--429 to 609 are in the form of a play, so don't let the monstrous page-count fool you!  Today, you will receive your final project assignment sheet that outlines your writing/art/etc project for the class--it is due May 8, 2006 at our final class seminar/colloquia/all-night-video-dance party.

New! Semester Project Assignment: plain; noir and printablePDF flavors!

March 27, 2006

Read to page in THE ODYSSEY to page 335, the end of book 21 of Homer's epic.  Also, read to the end of page 665 in Joyce's ULYSSES, the end of ch. 16, Eumaeus.  today's class features a cool guest lecture by Stephanie Wells!

Stephanie Wells is assistant professor of English at Orange Coast College.
She has a BA in English and Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley, an MA in
literature from University of Virginia, and a PhD in English from UC Davis.
She also attended the University of London and has taught at UC Davis,
the University of San Francisco, and as a visiting Fulbright lecturer at
Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.  She specializes in
American and British modernism, poetry, and gender studies, and her
undergraduate thesis at Berkeley was on Ulysses.

Don't forget your decorated with key images from the reading three dollar envelope thingie!

April 3, 2006

Read to page 737, the end of the 17nth ITHACA chapter in ULYSSES.

 April 10, 2006

Finish ULYSSES and THE ODYSSEY--this is the week as well to CAREFULLY LISTEN TO and READ THE LYRICS to Elvis Costello's IMPERIAL BEDROOM; consider the dissonance and harmonies implicit in and explicit to these three grand operas of love and more.

updated april 8, 2006

April 17, 2006

Screen THE PILLOWBOOK by Peter Greenaway!

in preparation for the pillowbook screening for next monday--begin your reading of sei sonagon, at least 100 pages, so that the following week won't seem onerous.  in addition read this interview with greenaway; this one won't hurt either; and, lastly, read this ghoulish story: 

yours in books, skins, beds, and more,

ps: the relationship between body of translator and body of work in Aura shares much with the same in the PILLOWBOOK--watch for it!

April 24

Walk into class having read THE PILLOW BOOK by SEI SHONAGON.

May 1, 2006

In-class imagination festival challenge, aka APRIL SCARY EXAM; prepare for the exam by reviewing your reading notes from ULYSSES and THE ODYSSEY--you may come into class with one page of typed quotations from ULYSSES, THE ODYSSEY, AURA, and SUNSET BOULEVARD that you want to play with during your SCARY EXAM

May 8, 2006

Class Party | Cafe Literati Terrace | South Patio Adams Humanities | BYODOFYWLTS*

*bring your own drink or food you would like to share

Imperial Bedroom Required Texts
Imperial Bedroom Responsibilities and Pleasures


15% prepared class attendance and participation 
15% in-class writing/quizzes/pop-essays/drawing exercises 
30% april scary exam: cumulative to the date of the exam 
40% final "paper" project : 8 to 15 pages 
20% deducted from any student who moans or complains about the amount of reading, outside film screenings, museum visits, expense of the books, etc; you are forewarned that this class will be expensive, possibly boring, time-consuming and experimental.

My office hours are from 1pm to 3-ishpm on MONDAYS in Adams Humanities 4117. Please do drop by during the semester, as I hate working with a room full of strangers! Only if the idea of meeting a professor has you breaking out in hives, then email me at with your questions or comments. Call me at 594.1524 if you want to schedule a special appointment or just want to chat. Note: I do keep my office hours--if I am not there, send flowers, because I am either dead or dying.
You must come to class having completed the reading and writing assignments noted in the day to day menu printed below--no late papers will be accepted. The class will be run as a seminar, and you should be prepared to share your ideas and ask tough questions on a regular basis. As the class meets once a week you are perfectly entitled to miss two of our class meetings without punitive assaults on your grade. Miss more than two classes and I will drop your final grade a whole letter value, i.e. a "B" becomes a "C," etc. Call me at 594.1524 if you think you are going to have a problem.
A final message to the class from:
Dr. William A. Nericcio

Date: Sat, 06 May 2006 07:36:26 -0700  33 of 38 
Subject: last class/colloquia

just a reminder to prepare a 2 to 3 minute VERSION of your paper to share with your colleagues monday at our last class meeting this monday at 3:30 on the south patio of adams humanities.....

you can WRITE and READ and DELIVER this brief version, or, for the brave and hardy, you can chat it with us.

ALL forms of presentation are encouraged including: dull monotone presentation with index cards; pantomime, sock-puppets, guitar-accompanied rantings, serial haikus, ventriloquist doll, costumes (dress as Poldy?), etc.

no, i am not kidding....

i am calling our lit and film festival

The Spring 2006 Comparative Literature Colloquium
Wilder | Fuentes | Homer | Joyce | Sei Sonagon | Greenaway

see you and your sock puppets at 3:30!

bill nericcio
complit 594

ps: this fall i am teaching a crazy experimental introduction to literature class, an e220, called SEDUCTIVE HALLUCINATION; it will have 500 seats and be filled with freshman and sophomores; however, i think it's important for the class be filled with "plants," energized, lit/film/art lovers who appreciate the vibe I am trying to foster here at sdsu.  if you are interested in taking e220 and receive upper-division e499 or complit499 special study credit, come to the first class this fall.  the class will be called THE SEDUCTIVE HALLUCINATION, be filled with cool books, literatue and film, and meets on mondays and wednesdays from 9 to 10 in the new CAL ARTS AND LETTERS auditorium behind Storm Hall.  click here, and i will add your name to the fall e499 list.

the fall 2006 e220 class website will be

pps: still some slots available for juniors and seniors seeking to take my summer class, e301 for e499 Special Study units, write me about this SOON! 

get some sleep

eat well

buy odd books

drop bon mots or cruel, twisted libelous bombs!


Professor William A. Nericcio
Associate Professor
English & Comparative Literature
SDSU, 5500 Campanile
SD, CA 92182-8140
619.595.1524 619.594.4998 fax
click here for your fixed INFO sheet!


cover actually designed by Barney Bubbles (aka Colin Fulcher) b1942-d1983, suicide.


ulysses text map