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Comparative Literature


7. First-Year Seminars

Consult special listings

10. What is Comparative Literature?

08F: 2 09W: 10A 09S: 11 09F, 10W, 10S: 10A

Particular offerings of this course seek to introduce the student to the aims, assumptions and methodologies of reading and the study of literature. This course is designed as an introductory course to the Comparative Literature major and other literature and humanities majors. It is recommended that students complete English/Writing 5 before enrolling in Comparative Literature 10.

In 08F and 09S, Love Stories. Love stories attract two clichéd assessments: “they’re all the same;” “no two are alike.” They thus afford an ideal opportunity to explore fundamental issues in comparative study: how do culture, history, and genre affect representation? Do “universals” exist? How does rhetoric (metaphors and other comparative figures) create feeling? What roles does desire play in reading? Readings include treatises, novels, drama, and poetry; Ovid, Chrétien de Troyes, Shakespeare, Duras, Freud, and others. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Warren.

In 09W and 10W, Male Friendship from Aristotle to Almodovar. This course examines representations of male relationships in literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and film. Ranging from classical texts such as the Bible and Cicero’s “De Amicitia,” to the cinema of Almodovar and Truffaut, we will study the rhetorical and social construction of male friendship and its relationship to gender, class and cultural politics. Texts will be drawn from the following literary and critical works: Aristotle, Martial, Montaigne, Balzac, Twain, Whitman, Nietzche, Freud, D.H. Lawrence, Waugh, Ben Jalloun, Alan Bennett, and Derrida. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Kritzman.

In 09F, Beyond Fidelity and Betrayal: The Mysteries of Adaptation. Stories undergo many metamorphoses when they are adapted from books and other media to the screen. Of particular interest are cases of migration across varying historical milieus, languages, or genres. Questions for investigation include: how does each artist shape the narrative, cultural and material givens of a story? In what ways does a story convey not only its content but also the context from which it springs? Dist: LIT. Higgins.

In 10S, Narratives of Theft and Theft of Narratives. Both as gifts, as memories, and as things stolen, objects anchor not only people’s lives but also national imaginaries. In this course we will study the work objects do in constituting identities through collections both personal and national. We will analyze how objects drive narratives and in particular, why so many narratives revolve around diverse forms of theft. Texts will include chronicles of the New World, accounts by 18th and 19th century naturalists, the legend of Prometheus, Borges’ stories, Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida, and biographies of some of the US’s main “robber barons.” Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Spitta.

18. Literature and Other Media

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

19. Translation: Theory and Practice

09W: 12

Translation is at once the most basic and the most complicated aspect of what we call “comparative literature.” Whether we are engaged in translation ourselves or studying literature already translated from other languages, we often take it for granted; yet the idea of meanings “lost in translation” is also a commonplace. This course examines both some practical aspects of translation and the theoretical questions to which it gives rise.

In 09W, This course has a theoretical and a practical component. We will analyze translations of literary works and sample the diverse field of translation theory. At the same time, each student will work on a translation project and participate in workshops on student translations. Reading knowledge of a foreign language is required: at least intermediate competence is recommended. Interested students who are unsure of their language preparation should contact the instructor. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Williamson.


20. The Middle Ages

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

An introduction to the literary cultures of the Middle Ages based on detailed examination of selected works. The texts will vary from year to year, but will normally include classics of drama and poetry, epic and romance. The course will explore medieval dependence on earlier authority while stressing the development of themes, attitudes, and modes of expression that were characteristic of the period.

21. Topics in Medieval Literatures

09W: 11

This course will focus on a specific topic, theme, or literary genre in the medieval period.

In 09W, Tristan and Isolt. One of the most famous and most provocative love stories of medieval Europe, the romance of Tristan and Isolt raises questions about love, passion and the social order; the relations between men and women; loyalty and self-interest; truth, lies, wit and improvisation; and, ultimately, the nature of art and fiction. We will consider different versions of the Tristan story, medieval and modern, as well as related Arthurian and Celtic tales and Tristan-related art and music. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Otter.

22. The Renaissance

09F: 11

This period in European history, from the 15th to the 17th centuries, is often considered the founding moment of the modern university, with its emphasis on the liberal arts, modern science and Humanism. It also marks the early phases of European national consolidation and expansion to Africa and the Americas, and thus sets the stage for many modern geopolitical struggles. This course will study the texts and contexts—literary, artistic, historical — of the period from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives.

In 09F, Love, Desire, Faith, and Individual Identity in Renaissance Literature. This class will examine one of the major focal points of the Renaissance in diverse cultural contexts. What constitutes one’s idea of self? To what extent is it a function of religious, political, social, and generic institutions and conventions? How do new philosophical and literary ideas about love, desire, faith, marriage, and power influence the development of public and private perceptions of identity, as well as their representations to others? Texts by Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Rabelais, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Navarre, Castiglione, Machiavelli, Ariosto, Ficino, Valois, Thévet, and others. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. LaGuardia.

23. Topics in Early Modern Literatures

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course will focus on a specific topic, theme, or literary genre in the period from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries in Western Europe (primarily Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, and the Netherlands).

25. The Enlightenment

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

The Enlightenment, which stretches from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the French Revolution of 1789, was a truly international movement. A time of great intellectual and artistic ferment, it produced the political, philosophic and literary models that shaped our contemporary ideas of individual freedom and civic responsibility, scientific and economic progress, religious tolerance, gender roles, the life of the body and the mysteries of the soul. This course will be offered periodically with varying content.

26. Romanticism

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Romanticism came into being in Germany, England and France in response to the political and emotional upheaval that culminated in the French Revolution. Many works of literature, music and art reflect the period’s uncertainty and complexity, treating the conflicting issues of utopia and dystopia, excess and economy, nationalist tradition and universalist ethics, the appeal to reason and the eruption of the unconscious. The course will explore these divergent tendencies.

27. Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literatures

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course will concentrate on major nineteenth-century movements and genres in the context of the period’s historical upheavals. Topics covered might be realism, naturalism, symbolism, the fantastic, the notion of Bildung, and the influence of such figures as Marx, Nietzsche or Darwin on literary developments.

28. Modernism

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Modernism is the term given to the extraordinary renewal and experimentation in all the arts occurring from roughly the turn of the twentieth century to the end of World War II. Concurrent with the writings of psychoanalysis and existentialism, modernism, as it reaches its culmination during the social upheavals of the interwar years, continues to assert, even while questioning, humanity’s artistic and moral potential. Offered periodically with varying content.

29. Postmodernism

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Reacting to the horrors of World War II and the period of decolonization, postmodernism has been questioning the humanistic assumptions of modernism while extending and sometimes transforming the earlier period’s avant-garde techniques through such currents as the new novel, absurdism, minimalism, magic realism, etc. Each offering of this course will study postmodern literature and culture from a specific perspective.


31. Topics in Poetry

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Poetry was the first form of literary expression and is the most enduring. This course will explore the power of poetic expression through such topics as poetry and song, love and nature as poetic themes, theories of poetry, women poets from Sappho to Plath, poetry and graphic art, and political poetry.

33. Modern Drama

08F: 2A 09F: Arrange

In 08F, identical to Theater 18. The international classics of modern drama. The course begins with the revolutionary playwrights who defined the realistic drama and theatre of modern times—Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov. It then considers the developments out of and reactions against this conventional twentieth-century theatre—Pirandello’s staging of life as theatre, the theatrical and philosophical explorations of O’Neill, Eliot’s effort to recreate poetic drama, the minimalist theatre of Beckett, Brecht’s expansive dialectical drama, and the total theatre of Peter Weiss. Lectures augmented by viewings of productions via videotape and film; optional sessions for discussion and readings of scenes. Dist: ART or INT; WCult: W. Winograd.

34. Topics in Drama

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course will study a particular theme, sub-genre or period of dramatic literature.

35. History of Narrative

09S: 2

Individual offerings of this course might concentrate on the historical development of narrative, oral and written traditions, medieval epic, romance, and the early novel. In each case the relation between narrative forms and history will be foregrounded.

In 09S, The Arabian Nights East and West (Identical to Arabic 62). An introduction to Arabo-Islamic culture through its most accessible and popular exponent, The Thousand and One Nights. The course will take this masterpiece of world literature as the focal point for a multidisciplinary literary study. It will cover the genesis of the text from Indian and Mediterranean antecedents, its Arabic recensions, its reception in the West, and its influence on European literature. The course will be taught in English in its entirety. No prerequisites. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: NW. Kadhim.

36. The Novel I: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course will examine the rise of the novel as genre and its evolution in the context of bourgeois individualism. Some of the great social and psychological novels of the 18th and 19th centuries will be studied in relation to conventions such as the picaresque, the confessional, the epistolary, the Bildungsroman, realism and naturalism.

37. The Novel II: The Modern Novel

10W: 10A

Prose writers in the twentieth century set out to create a new kind of novel. Exploding traditional fictional conventions, they created avant-garde forms that drastically challenged our reading habits and expectations. Transformation and experimentation continue to inform the development of the modern novel. Each offering of this course will study the fiction of the twentieth century in a specific manner.

In 10W, Literary Responses to Oppression. The tension between individual desires and inescapable constraints or oppression informs the novels we will read in this course. The authors are not primarily “political writers,” nor are their texts polemical. We will study the way that narrative strategies and the fictional structures employed by the novelists dramatize the effects of war, politics, racism, or sexism on the individual and society. Readings will include authors such as Toni Morrison, Solzhenitysn, Duras, and Primo Levi. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Kogan.

38. Forms of Short Fiction

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Through the ages, from The Arabian Nights and the Old Testament to Thomas Mann and Alice Walker, short fiction in its many different shapes has been one of the most enduring and most adaptable genres of literary art. This course will be a study of various forms of short fiction such as novella, tale and short story. Offered periodically with varying historical content, the course will correlate literary texts with their social and cultural contexts.

39. Topics in Narrative

10S: 3A

This course will approach the study of narrative from the perspective of a specific technique or theme; it might explore narrative genres such as autobiography, memoir, letters, epistolary fiction, oral narrative traditions.

In 10S, Inescapable Romance: From Late Antiquity through Early Modernity. Although often regarded with disdain, romances have been written by some of the most gifted and important writers from late antiquity through the present. In this course, we will begin with two brilliant books written in Greek, namely Heliodorus’s Aethiopika and Longus’s Daphnis and Chloe. These prototypical “romances” were actively revived during the 16th and 17th centuries, notably in works by Tasso, Cervantes, Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and Shakespeare. We will sample these texts, either in English or in English translation. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Crewe.

40. Special Topics: Genres

10W: 2A

This course will study texts from a generic perspective, concentrating on a particular genre or subgenre that stands outside the broad categories of poetry, drama and narrative.

In 10W, Travelers in the Mind: European Travel Writing from Antiquity to the 21st Century. Travel writing has recently become a focus for formal analysis and theorization in several disciplines. It is a rich resource for studying representations of identity and difference, gender, race and power. In this course we study travel writing from antiquity to the present, including topics such as pilgrimage; travel writing and ethnography; the Grand Tour; travel and empire; women travelers; tourism. Secondary readings may include: Todorov, Said, Porter, Clifford, Pratt, Gikandi, Hulme, Youngs, de Certeau. WCult: CI. Williamson.

41. The Comic Tradition

09S: 2A

This course will study aspects of the comic: satire, parody, comic theater or shorter forms, such as the anecdote, the joke or the caricature. Examples may be literary or pictorial.

In 09S, Rabbis, Rogues and Schlemiels: Jewish Humor and its Roots (Identical to Hebrew 63 and Jewish Studies 24.2). What is Jewish humor, what are its roots, and what can it begin to tell us about Jewish society, its values and its self-image? Using Freudian and other humor theory, we examine 2000 years of Hebrew comedy and satire, from the Bible to contemporary Israel, in such genres as short stories, jokes, and strip cartoons, and its relationship to American Jewish humor. Taught in English translation. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Glinert.

42. Topics in Popular Culture

09W: 10A 10W: 11

Applying critical literary theories to the study of popular culture, this course will examine how popular culture is produced, disseminated, and consumed.

In 09W, Exhibiting Culture: The World Fairs, 1850-2008. This course examines the intersection of politics, literature, and popular culture in the phenomenon of the “world fair.” Fairs exhibit for millions of visitors ideas that also circulate in more rarified quarters. How are ideas of race, gender, nation, and history rendered in the design of exhibits? Materials for the course include: historical records of the fairs in Britain, the United States, and France; literature, films and music that reference the fairs; readings in cultural, visual, and architectural theory. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Warren.

In 10W, The Cultures of Surveillance. A number of popular film trilogies highlight cultures of surveillance within the context of globalization. We will consider film as genre, global surveillance techniques, intertwined plotlines, geo-political borders, the role of the hero, and the role of viewers. Primary texts: The Matrix trilogy; the Bourne trilogy; and the so-called Iñárritu trilogy (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel). Critical/theoretical texts: David Lyon’s Globalizing Surveillance; Julia Thomas’s Reading Images; Benjamin, Sartre, DeLauretis, Barthes, Foucault, Lacan, Zizek, Butler. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Biron.


45. The Quest for Utopia

09F: 10

In 09F, Oscar Wilde said it: “A map of the world that did not show the land of Utopia would be leaving out the one country at which we are always landing.” In this course we will try to answer questions like: What is Utopia? What is the relationship between utopia and fantasy, utopia and history, utopia and revolution? What are the utopias of our time and how do they shape our perceptions, our political options, our work, and our daily lives? Materials for discussion will include fiction, travel accounts, maps, city plans, letters, political manifestoes, journalistic articles, and films. Dist: LIT or INT. WCult: W. Pastor.

46. Psychology, Society and Literature: The Family

08F: 2A

This course will explore the intersections of literary and familial structures in social and psychological contexts. It will study ideologies which both support and contest the family’s cultural hegemony. Individual offerings might concentrate on mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, family romances, marriage, family and society. Readings will range from myth and fairy tale to some of the great family novels or dramas. Dist: Varies.

In 08F, The Jewish Family (Identical to Jewish Studies 27). This course will explore the various narrative forms-novel, short story, essay, self-portraiture, drama-in which the Jewish family is represented. We will examine how the rhetorical configurations of texts describe the varieties of Jewishness and the significance of Jewish cultural identity in a cross-cultural context. Authors to be studied include Aleichem, Bellow, Finkelkraut, Freud, Ginzburg, Kafka, Kushner, Paley, Perec, Roth, and Singer. Dist: LIT. Kritzman.

47. Myths and Transformations

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Myth has inspired literature from ancient times to the present. This course examines original mythic material and how that material has been transformed in later versions. Possible topics include: the legend of Troy, Odysseus through the ages, the Faust theme, the trickster figure, Antigone and Medea, the legend of Don Juan. Dist: Varies.

49. Special Topics: Themes

09W: 12 09S: 11 10W: 2A

In 09W, Godzilla’s Revenge: Anime, Manga, J-Pop and Cultural Identities in Modern Japan (Identical to Japanese 61). A vague suspicion that Japan’s ultimately disastrous war effort had been fueled by both the culture of the elite meant that popular culture took on a new significance after WW II.This course will explore the evolution of this popular culture through the changing technologies of representation, from the manga (comic books), film, pulp fiction and popular music of the early postwar years through the animation, TV programming, and video games of present times. Topics to be addressed include the dynamics between high- and low-brow genres; the delineation of race, gender, and national identity in popular culture; the nature of culture in post-industrial consumer capitalism. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Dorsey.

In 09S at 11, National Allegory: Readings in Postcolonial Literature and Culture (Identical to English 63). This course explores current theories of nationalism and postnationalism and how these theories could be productively utilized in making sense of literary texts from the postcolonial world. Authors include Lu Xun from China; Raja Rao from India; Sembene Ousmane from Senegal; Ngugi wa Thiong’o from Kenya; and Chinua Achebe from Nigeria. Cultural theorists whose work will be discussed include Ernest Renan, Benedict Anderson, Homi Bhabha, Partha Chatterjee, Franz Fanon, and Frederic Jameson, among others. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Giri.

In 10W, Law and/as Literature. Ever since the exclusion of poets from Plato’s Republic, literature has often been accused of being dangerous. Law, on the other hand, is considered to work at the behest of the status quo. Although sharing the same medium (the written text), law and literature seem to be worlds apart. This class will probe this relationship, both the representation of the law in literature and how law itself is a kind of literature: law as literature. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Mladek.


50. Europe and its Cultural Others

08F: 11

Literatures of the world cannot be compared without regard for the relations of domination that exist among the cultures that produced them. Colonialism and imperialism constitute important aspects of European history and self-perception from the Middle Ages through the 20th century. This course will focus on the cultural impact of domination on colonizer and colonized. Offered periodically with varying content.

In 08F, Another European Identity: The Memory of Dissidence. This course explores the memory and experiences of those voices suppressed by the European nations-states in the construction of their homogeneous political and cultural identities. We will explore three sites of resistance: Jewish and Muslim marginality; the political identity of the citizen; and the sexual identity of those who confront the state’s regulatory practices of the body. Texts by Sebald, The Emigrants; Pamuk, Snow; Jelinek, Lust; Semprun, Literature or Life; among others. Dist: LIT: WCult: CI. Aguado.

51. African Literatures

09S: 10A 10S: 2A

This course will survey the texts and contexts of literatures, theories and criticisms from the distinctive cultures of East, Central, North, South and West Africa as well as the Caribbean. It will examine the evolution of literary forms as well as shifts of emphasis in issues and consciousness. Offered periodically, it will focus on genres, periods, authors, or geolinguistic categories such as anglophone, francophone, hispanophone, or lusophone.

In 09S and 10S, Masterpieces of Literatures from Africa (Identical to African and African American Studies 51). This course is designed to provide students with a specific and global view of the diversity of literatures from the African continent. We will read texts written in English or translated from French, Portuguese, Arabic and African languages. Through novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, we will explore such topics as the colonial encounter, the conflict between tradition and modernity, the negotiation of African identities, post-independence disillusion, gender issues, apartheid and post-apartheid. In discussing this variety of literatures from a comparative context, we will assess the similarities and the differences apparent in the cultures and historical contexts from which they emerge. Readings include Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Naguib Mahfouz’s Midaq Alley, Calixthe Beyala’s The Sun Hath Looked Upon Me, Camara Laye’s The African Child, and Luandino Vieira’s Luanda. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: NW. Coly.

52. Latin American Literatures

0F: 2 09S: 10A

Some of the most fascinating literary works of this century have been written by Latin American authors such as Neruda, García Márquez, Fuentes, Allende, etc. This course will analyze modern Latin American literature, its connection to or rejection of European traditions, the ways in which individual works illuminate third world realities and challenge accepted Western views of the world. Offered periodically with varying content.

In 08F, The Creative Dimension of the Jewish Diaspora in Latin America (Identical to Jewish Studies 73 and Latin American and Caribbean Studies 54). A historical introduction to the course will locate the Jewish reality in Latin America over the centuries with its different exiles and migratory movements. The course will study the literary production of key Jewish Latin American writers and the representation of Jewish identity through films, short stories, poetry and other materials. Major themes include Anti-Semitism, identity and cultural expression, ideology and religion. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: CI. Merino.

In 09S, The Borderlands: Latina/o Writers in the United States (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 47.2). In this course we will focus on the writings of US Latina/o writers. We will analyze how writers (Anzaldúa, Alvarez, Cisneros, Castillo and others) negotiate a path between the two cultures (the US and Latin America) and the two languages that inform their literary production and shape their identity. This in-between status translates into an experimentation with genres and a questioning of traditional gender divisions as well as the construction of transcultural icons and objects. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Spitta.

53. Middle Eastern Literature

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course, offered periodically, will examine texts from the cultures of the Middle East originally in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hebrew. The issue of comparative focus will vary.

54. Jewish Literatures

09W: 10A

From Biblical times to the present, Jewish literary production has ranged over numerous countries and languages and thus needs to be studied from a comparative perspective. This course will explore Jewish literature from generic, thematic or cultural perspectives.

In 09W, Middle Eastern Memoirs/Autobiographies and the Construction of Collective Memory: Arabs and Jews Narrate Life-Stories (Identical to Jewish Studies 81). This course will examine memoirs and autobiographies from the Middle East, with emphasis on Palestinian and Israeli memoirs. We will examine the different modalities of autobiographical writing while analyzing the relationships and tensions between “the individual and the collective.” We will look at the ways that particular experiences and positionalities are viewed as delineating a collective and how they shape narration and representation in autobiographical forms. Authors include Oz, Said, Appelfeld, Be’er, Matalaon, Shehedeh, Aciman, Kashua and Sakakini. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: CI. Bardenstein.

55. Asian Literatures

09W, 10W: 10A

The literatures of Asia are so rich and diverse that they defy the simplistic categorization implied by the notion of national traditions. The forms and conventions of literary works in India, China, or Japan have been shaped over a long period of time by a shared sense that literary culture is continuous and by an awareness of difference inherent to particular cultural epochs. This course will examine Asian literatures within their specific historical contexts in order to illuminate the cultural ground of literary practices and to provide a basis for comparison with the literary traditions of the West.

In 09W and 10W, Introduction to Modern Korean Literature (Identical to Korean 61). The course will focus on providing an introductory overview of twentieth and twenty-first century Korean literature, aiming to approach Korean texts through the use of broadly applicable critical concepts and in opening up comparisons with other Asian literatures.Topics addressed will include: national literatures, genre, historical trauma and reconciliation, diaspora, and autobiography. No Korean language ability is required; no background knowledge in Korean history or culture is assumed. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Hanscom.

56. Eastern European Literatures

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Courses taught under this rubric offer regional or thematic approaches to the literature of Eastern Europe, its many diverse cultures, traditions, and prospects—from the Baltic to the Balkans, from Islam to Russian Orthodoxy, from the Ottoman Empire to Communism and beyond, from Mikhail Bulgakov to Eugene Ionesco and Vaclav Havel.

57. Special Topics: Regions

10W: 10

In 10W, Memories from the Dark Side: Political and Historical Repression in Europe. Is it still feasible to resist and survive war, exile, extermination, and political and cultural repression in the time frame from World War II to the present in Europe? If it is, a new European identity will have to account for the unforgettable memories of shared atrocities from the past. We will study the Holocaust and the criminal fantasy of European racial identity, the political repression across the Berlin wall, both in the East and the West, and look across the Atlantic Ocean for the model implemented by the American friend. Authors include Semprún, Levi, Améry, Kis, Jelloun, Saramago and films by Resnais, Wajda, von Trotta, and Costa-Gavras. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Aguado.


60. Literature and Music

09S: 2A

The affinities between literature and music have always held a special fascination for poets, writers, musicians, and critics. By studying the two arts as comparable media of expression, this course will test the legitimacy of interart parallels.

In 09S, an introduction to the major aspects, aesthetic implications, and interpretive methods comparing the two arts. Topics for lectures and discussion will include: musical structures as literary form; verbal music, word music, and program music; word-tone synthesis in the Lied; music and drama in opera; music in fiction; and the writer as music critic. Music-related poetry and prose examples, complemented by musical illustrations and ranging from the German and English Romantics through the French symbolists and the Dadaists to contemporary writing, will be selected from texts by Goethe, Brentano, Hoffmann, DeQuincey, Poe, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Proust, Thomas Mann, Joyce, Eliot, Huxley, Shaw, and Pound. No particular musical background or technical knowledge of music required. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Kopper.

61. Literature and the Visual Arts

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

Cultural history and criticism has returned repeatedly to the affinities, dissimilarities, and tensions between words and images. This course addresses the fundamental dialogue between these forms of communication and notation.

62. Literature and Film

10S: 10A

A study of selected major film traditions from a literary perspective. By examining themes, structures, montage, and other literary and filmic elements, students will become familiar with important concepts in film analysis. Individual offerings of the course may focus on filmmakers, movements, periods, or themes. The goal will be to appreciate the aesthetic and social significance of film as a twentieth-century medium and to explore various intersections of film and literature.

In 10S, Shades of Noir: Film, Fiction, Politics (Identical to Film Studies 41). ‘Film Noir’ evokes memories of stylish, cynical, black-and-white movies from the 1940s and 1950s—melodramas about private eyes, femmes fatales, criminal gangs, and lovers on the run. Noir narratives revolve around questions of racial and national identity; the postwar crisis of masculinity and gender relations; and the experience of alienation and dislocation. The course will also trace the pervasive presence of noir and its continuing appeal for artists and audiences throughout the world. Dist: ART or INT; WCult: W. Gemünden.

63. Literature and Politics

09S: 2A 10S: 10

This course will be offered periodically and with varying content. It will explore the rich relations that exist between literature and politics, focusing on literature both as an instrument of political interest and as a product of political contexts.

In 09S, From Dagos to Sopranos: Italian American Culture (Identical to French and Italian in Translation 35). Yo! (from the Sicilian “Guagliò”) What does it mean to be an Italian American? This course looks at the history of Italian migration to the United States, and at novels written by Italian Americans (Pietro di Donato, John Fante, Helen Barolini, Louise De Salvo, Marianna de Marco Torgovnick). A number of films by Coppola, Scorsese, Turturro, Savoca, and Tarantino will be shown. Of course we will also work on the portrayal of Italian Americanness in “The Sopranos.” The last week of the course is devoted to the music by Italian Americans such as Sinatra and Madonna. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Parati.

In 10S, The Good Fight: The Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was a complex sociopolitical moment that profoundly marked the international intellectual community of the twentieth century. We will focus on the revolutionary politics in pre-Civil War Spain (the Second Republic) and the tragic outcome of the Fascist victory of Franco, paying attention to the politics of national-catholicism in the context of European fascism, the consequences of the war on culture, education, regional identities, and civil liberties for men and women, and comprehend the persistence of this topic today. Wide-array of texts, genres, and mediums. Authors include Hernández, Hellman, Hughes, Hemingway, Koestler, Malraux, Gaite, Semprún. Painting and/or photography by Capa, Motherwell, and Singer Sargent. Films by Patino, Saura, Miró, and Loach. Dist: LIT. Martín.

64. Literature and History

08F: 10A 09X: 2A

The course will explore the relationship between literature and history, focusing both upon the interplay of historiographical and fictional discourses and upon conceptualization and representation of history in some major literary texts. Dist. Varies.

In 08F, The Arab-Israeli Conflict in Middle Eastern Literature and Film (Identical to Jewish Studies 56 and Arabic 61). This course will examine the Arab-Israeli conflict as portrayed in both Arabic and Hebrew/Israeli literary traditions – poetry, short story, novellas, literary essays, personal accounts, and also film, looking at how adversaries portray each other, how mutual stereotypes are created and reinforced, and how the conflict has shaped the development of these respective literary and cinematic traditions in substantially different ways. Dist: INT; WCult: CI. Bardenstein.

In 09X, Fascist Italy: Fascism in Literature and Film. This course focuses on the history of the rise and fall of fascism and on the cultural forces that validated its power. Special attention will be given to literature and film in propaganda. Students will watch films such as Cabiria, Black Shirt, The White Squadron, and A Very Special Day and read novels and short stories by Alberto Moravia, Fausta Cailente, F.T. Marinetti, and Elsa Morante and critical texts by Spackman, Pickering-Iazzi, de Grazia, and Ben-Ghiat. Dist: LIT, WCult: W. Parati.

65. Literature and Science

09W: 10

This course will consider the intertwining of literature, science, and technology. We shall investigate the literary representation of scientific activity and the variety of ways in which literary and scientific modes of thought have diverged or come together.

In 09W, A Matter of Time (Identical to Mathematics 5). Everybody knows about time. Our everyday language bears witness to the centrality of time with scores of words and expressions that refer to it as a measure, a frame of reference, or an ordering factor for our lives, feelings, dreams, and histories. Playing with time has been a favorite game in works of high culture—from the Greek sophists to cubism—and in popular culture—from H.G. Wells to Monty Python. And time is at the center of one of the most revolutionary scientific theories of all time: Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. In this course we will use mathematics, literature, and the arts to travel through history, to explore and understand Time as a key concept and reality in the development of Western culture and in our own twentieth -century view of ourselves and the world. Dist: QDS. Lahr, Pastor.

66. Literature and Psychoanalysis

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course aims to explore the relationship between literature and the theoretical and clinical writings of psychoanalysis. Through readings representing a range of psychoanalytic and literary traditions, we will examine the connections that can be made between psychic structures and literary structures, between the language of the mind and the emotions and the language of the literary, cultural or cinematic text.

67. Literature and Women’s/Gender Studies

09S: 2A

This course will focus on the cultural construction of gender as it is manifested in various texts and traditions. Topics may include one or more aspects of gendered literary study: writing (male/female authorship), reading, literary form, masculine and feminine subjectivity, representation, or feminist literary and cultural criticism.

In 09S, Colonial and Postcolonial Masculinities (Identical to African and African American Studies 67 and Women’s and Gender Studies 52.1). In this course, we will develop an understanding of masculinity as a construct which varies in time and space, and is constantly (re)shaped by such factors as race, class, and sexuality. The contexts of the colonial encounter and its postcolonial aftermath will set the stage for our examination of the ways in which social, political, economic, and cultural factors foster the production of specific masculinities. Texts include Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Lafferiere’s How to Make Love to a Negro, and additional writings by Irish, Indian, and Australian authors. Our study will be organized around the questions of the production of hegemonic and subaltern masculinities, the representation of the colonial and postcolonial male body, the militarization of masculinity, and the relation between masculinity and nationalism. Theoretical material on masculinities will frame our readings. Dist: LIT. Coly.

70. Special Topics: Literature and Other Disciplines

09S: M 3-6 09F, 10S: 2A

In 09S, Cultural Studies: Resisting Theory? This course introduces students to debates on culture and its different theorizations and addresses the institutionalization of Cultural Studies as a field of inquiry. By exploring the concepts of “culture” and “theory” and their linkage to the contestation of institutions of power, this course examines how Cultural Studies is both a practice and a theorization of what to “do” with high, and popular culture. What kinds of rethinking happens when disciplines lose their “text” to Cultural Studies? Why has Cultural Studies become the theoretical forerunner in the age of globalization? Texts will be architectural, filmic, musical, literary, and theoretical. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Martín, Milich.

In 09F, European Jewish Intellectuals (Identical to Jewish Studies 60). The course will examine the role of the Jewish intellectual in twentieth central Europe. We shall focus on several paradigmatic figures (Arendt, Benjamin, Adorno, Levinas, Derrida) who confront the redefinition of politics and civil society in modern times. Some attempt to deal with these changes through a critical reflection on the concepts of democracy and ethics and on how justice can be practiced either within or outside of the geographical and spiritual boundaries of the modern nation state. We shall examine how Jewish self-consciousness and a deep attachment to biblical tradition enables these intellectuals to reconcile ethical imperative with political realities. Particular attention will be paid to topics such as the challenges of Eurocentric Christian humanism and universalism to Jewish assimilation; the promises of totalitarianism, Marxism and messianism; the politics of biblical exegesis; history and Jewish mysticism; Zionism, antiZionism and the ArabIsraeli conflict. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Kritzman.

In 10S, Midrash: How the Rabbis Interpreted the Bible (Identical to Hebrew 62 and Jewish Studies 24.3). Midrash is the ancient Jewish term for Biblical interpre-tation. We examine how the Bible was interpreted by the Rabbis 1500 to 2000 years ago, at the crucial juncture in history when the Bible was being canonized in the form it now has. We focus on powerful motifs such as the Creation, the Flood, Jacob and Esau, the Sacrifice of Isaac, and the Exodus, and view them through two prisms: through a wide range of ancient Midrashic texts themselves; and through one influential modern Jewish literary reading of the Midrashic themes of Genesis. No Hebrew required. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Glinert.

Refer also to Philosophy 20.


71. History of Literary Criticism: The Western Tradition to 1900

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

This course will focus on three periods in particular—antiquity, the Renaissance and the Romantic period—and on topics and issues which link these periods, such as theories of representation, the functions of poetry, the relationship of poetry to truth, the privileging of particular genres at different times, the sublime, theories of the self. We will pay particular attention to texts that are still generating debate and critique today, including some from a feminist perspective, and will end with a brief consideration of some of the nineteenth-century thinkers whose work has been influential in this century. Readings may include the following authors: Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Lucian, Horace, Longinus, Jonson, Sidney, Burke, Kant, Wordsworth, J.S. Mill, Coleridge, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud.

For a related course, see English 63.

72. Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory

08F: 12 09F: 2A

Covering some of the major theoretical movements of the second half of the twentieth century, this course focuses on the issues and questions motivating theoretical debate in literary and cultural studies. Movements studied may include New Criticism, structuralism, semiotics, poststructuralism and deconstruction, Marxist criticism, psychoanalysis, narratology, reader-response theory, feminist criticism, African American criticism, film criticism, and the new historicism.

In 08F, What is Theory? Since the beginnings of the 20th Century, critical theory has slowly transformed the study of literature. Although most scholars who study literary texts now use theory in one way or another, few would be able to define the discipline. This course will examine some of the major texts in the field, including the roots of contemporary critical practices in philosophy, linguistics, and semiotics, as well as some of the latest, “cutting edge” applications of theory to all kinds of cultural “objects”: texts, films, clothes, bodies, genders, identities, buildings, cities, nations, etc. Works by Saussure, Jakobson, Foucault, Lacan, Benjamin, Derrida, Hegel, Butler, Venturi, Kohlhaas and others. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. LaGuardia.

In 09F, Author, Reader, Text. An introduction to literary and critical theory through explorations of the author function, the nature of texts, and the role of readers. Schools of literary theory will be reviewed, but structure the class. Critics to be read include Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Wolfgang Iser, Gayatri Spivak, and Susan Winnett.Creators of literature include: Italo Calvino, Henry James, Jeanette Winterson. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Kacandes.

73. Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory

09W: 2A 10W: 3A

This course will focus on a specific preoccupation of contemporary theory or on a particular theoretical movement.

In 09W, Modernity and Postmodernity in a Transatlantic Perspective. Why did postmodernity become a cultural dominant in the US but not in Europe, and why did poststructuralism become more prominent in the American academy than in the French? Exploring the meanings of modernity, postmodernity, or the avant-garde in the works of Arnold, Huxley, Adorno, Marcuse, Trilling, Howe, Sontag, Fiedler, Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, Lyotard, Jameson and others, we shall discuss how these and other ostensibly universal terms inflect concepts of culture on both sides of the Atlantic, and accrue specific meanings in the society in which they appear. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Milich.

In 10W, A User’s Guide to Narrative Theory. This course introduces narratology, the theoretical study of narrative, by exploring the trajectory of narrative theory from the 1960s to the present for the study of literary prose and concluding with uses of narrative theory in the realms of the disciplines. Literary and non-literary texts will be read in tandem with the theory. Students should read or reread the first and final chapters of Joyce’s novel Ulysses (“Telemachus” and “Penelope”) before the term begins. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Kacandes.

79. Independent Study

08F, 09W, 09S: Arrange

A tutorial course designed by the student with the assistance of a member of the Comparative Literature faculty who is willing to supervise it. Offers the student an opportunity to pursue a subject of special interest through a distinctive program of readings and reports. During the term prior to the course, applicants must submit a course outline to the Chair for written approval.

80. Advanced Seminar: Special Topics

Not offered in the period from 08F through 10S

85. Senior Seminar in Research and Methodology

09W: Arrange. Spitta.

87. Thesis Tutorial

09S: Arrange.

Permission of the Chair is required.

100. Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory

08F: 12 (subject to change)

In 08F, What is Theory? Since the beginnings of the 20th Century, critical theory has slowly transformed the study of literature. This course examines some of the major texts in the field, including the roots of contemporary critical practices in philosophy, linguis-tics, and semiotics, as well as some of the latest, “cutting edge” applications of theory to all kinds of cultural “objects”: texts, films, clothes, bodies, genders, identities, buildings, cities, nations, etc. Works by Saussure, Jakobson, Foucault, Lacan, Benjamin, Derrida, Hegel, Butler, and others. Open to MA candidates only. Warren.

101. Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory

09W: 2A

See description under Comparative Literature 73. Milich.

102. Tutorial

Arrange with advisor. This course is open to M.A. candidates only.

103. Workshop in Critical Writing

09S: Arrange

Critical thinking and concise, persuasive writing are prerequisites for any professional career. In fact, both go hand in hand. The Workshop in Critical Writing introduces graduate students to advanced research techniques, to the conventions of scholarly discourse, and to the various kinds of writing practiced in literary studies. We will analyze scholarly articles as examples of research methods, argument development, rhetorical technique, and stylistic presentation; we will test a variety of practical approaches to the interpretation of literary texts; and we will explore how we might use theory in critical argument. Students will be asked to prepare and submit a scholarly article using previous written work of their own (senior thesis, independent study project) as a basis. The workshop format of the course will permit students to read and critique each other’s work and to sharpen their editorial skills. Washburn. This course is open to M.A. candidates only. Higgins.

105. Graduate Seminar

09W: Arrange. Warren.

This course is open to M.A. candidates only.

106. Graduate Research

08F, 09W, 09S: Arrange