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Comparative Literature



7. First-Year Seminars

Consult special listings

10. What is Comparative Literature?

11W: 10A 11S: 10 11F: 2A 12W: 10 12S: 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 11W, 12S Border Crossings: Exile, Expatriation and Immigration. This course will examine the experiences of exile and immigration through the art, literature and films of men and women who have left their homelands or who were born in exile and immigration. In addition to such authors as Homer, Joyce and Eva Hoffman, we will read Caribbean, Asian-American, Arab-American, Turkish-German, Black British and Afro-French writers. We will address questions of identity and alterity (belonging vs. ‘unbelonging,’ home vs. exile, assimilation vs. hybridization), and we will explore such concepts as diaspora, migrancy, transmigration, displacement, nomadism and home. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Coly.

In 11S, Lying and Truth Telling in Literature. This course will consider stories about lies, oaths, promises, the duty to speak up, the duty to remain silent, as well as the question what sort of “truthfulness” literature may have, or do without. Readings may include selections from the Bible, a variety of folk tales, and works by Plato, Lucian of Samosate, Gottfried von Strassburg, Montaigne, Sidney, Shakespeare, Twain, Wilde, Sartre, Atwood, and others. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Otter.

In 11F, 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 12W, The Odyssey and Odyssean Spin-Offs. This course is organized around the subject of traveling and homecoming. We will read the epic attributed to “Homer” in its entirety; a series of poems by Tennyson, Cavafy, Pound, and Seferis; James Joyce’s Ulysses; excerpts from Kazantzakis’s Odyssey: A Modern Sequel; Christa Wolf’s Cassandra; Derek Walcott’s Omeros; and Botho Strauss’s drama Ithaka. Is there such a thing as a universal theme? How might genre, author’s gender, culture, or historical period inflect a similar theme? What criteria have been used in specific periods to label a literary work a “classic”? What criteria are used by our culture and by us individually to evaluate the worth of a piece of literature? Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Kacandes.

18. Literature and Other Media

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

19. Translation: Theory and Practice (Identical to Classical Studies 40)

11W: 10 12W: 11

Translation is both a basic and highly complicated aspect of our engagement with literature. We often take it for granted; yet the idea of meanings “lost in translation” is commonplace. In this course we work intensively on the craft of translation while exploring its practical, cultural and philosophical implications through readings in theoretical and literary texts. All students will complete a variety of translation exercises, and a substantial final project, in their chosen language. Prerequisite: Good reading knowledge of a foreign language (usually equivalent to fulfilling the Dartmouth language requirement). Students unsure of their linguistic preparation should consult the instructor. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Otter (11W),Williamson (12W).


20. The Middle Ages

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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

11W: 2A

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

In 11W, Debate and Dialogue in Emerging Europe. Discussion – whether adversarial or pleasurable – plays an important role in pre-Renaissance literature. What is the highest expression of love? What human qualities are most important? Is it style or substance that best sways a listener? These questions re examined in debates staged in literature or pursued in political arenas, learned circles and court settings. Readings may include Jean de Meun, Guillaume de Machaut, Boccaccio, John Gower, Chaucer, Christine de Pizan, and Alain Chartier. Tarnowski.

22. The Renaissance

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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, mod-ern 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.

23. Topics in Early Modern Literatures

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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 10F through 12S

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 10F through 12S

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

27. Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literatures

10F: 12

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.

In 10F, Dr. Frankenstein to Mr. Hyde. The course centers on popular European monster narratives. These fictions feature frightening supernatural beings that invade the human realm: demons, ghosts, and vampires. We concentrate on the figure of the “mad scientist” as a monster-maker as we examine a particular characteristic of these monster fictions: they both shape social norms and feature spectacular transgressions of conventional morality. Authors may include Shelley, Stevenson, E.T.A. Hoffman, Alessandro Manzoni, and Emilia Pardo-Bazan. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Jewell.

28. Modernism

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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 periodi-cally with varying content.

29. Postmodernism

11X: 10A

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.

In 11X, Theories of Postmodernism. Fredric Jameson once described postmodernism as “the effort to take the temperature of the age without instruments and in a situation in which we are not even sure there is so coherent a thing as an ‘age,’ or ‘zeitgeist’ any longer.” By way of elucidating the key texts and concepts of modern and postmodern theory (enhanced with some literary and cinematic examples), this seminar aims at understanding the characteristics of the two eras and movements. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Milich.


31. Topics in Poetry

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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 (Identical to, and described under, Theater 18)

10F, 11F: 2A

Dist: ART or INT; WCult: W. Winograd.

34. Topics in Drama (Identical to, and described under Theater 10)

10F: 10

In 10 F, Human Rights and Performance. This course will study a particular theme, subgenre or period of dramatic literature. Dist: INT or ART. Edmondson.

35. History of Narrative

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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.

36. The Novel I: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

Examining 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 confes-sional, the epistolary, the Bildungsroman, realism and naturalism.

37. The Novel II: The Modern Novel

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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.

38. Forms of Short Fiction

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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

11W: 2A 12W: 12

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

In 11W, The Global Detective. Since the 1970s, police literature has become one of the world’s most popular and flexible literary genres. While the form’s basic narrative structure is recognizable from America to Africa, each literary and cultural tradition localizes the genre in its own particular way. In this course, we will explore how the international detective novel has changed. Authors include Hamdouchi (Morocco), Khadra (Algeria), Gur (Israel), Miyabe (Japan), Xialong (China), Padura (Cuba), Diez (Mexico), Mankell (Sweden), Camilleri (Italy) and Pelletier (France). Dist: LIT. Smolin.

In 12W, The Literary Fairy Tale. This course surveys the development of the fairy tale in Europe and North America, from the first collections in early modern France and Italy (Basile, Perrault) through the Brothers Grimm to the extraordinary regeneration of fairy-tale subjects and motifs in the 20th and 21st centuries (Disney, Sexton, Carter). We will discuss the role of this marvelous genre in interrogating reality and engaging in the “civilizing process,” and put our encounters to dynamic use by writing and performing tales. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Canepa.

40. Special Topics: Genres

11W: 12

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 11W, The History of the Book (Identical to English 60). This course examines the book as a material and cultural object. We’ll consider various practical and theoretical models for understanding the book form and investigating the materials, technologies, institutions, and practices of its production, dissemination, and reception. We’ll focus primarily on the printed book in Western Europe and North America, but we’ll also discuss the emergence of the codex (book), medieval manuscript books, twentieth and twenty-first century artist’s books and the challenges posed by digitality to the book form. The readings for the course will be balanced by frequent use of exemplars drawn from Rauner Library and practical experience setting type in the Book Arts workshop. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Halasz.

41. The Comic Tradition

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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.

42. Topics in Popular Culture

10F: 11

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

In 10F, Trash Culture. Cheese, kitsch, camp, corn, trash – all of these terms refer to easily recognized objects and phenomena, yet the theorization of how and why these modes of labeling are so important and widespread in diverse cultures has rarely been undertaken. Which critical theories seem appropriate to the study of a body of artifacts ranging from the Parisian panoramas examined by Walter Benjamin, to kitsch art and camp spectacles, to the wrestlers and detergent brands of Barthes’s Mythologies, to Lady Gaga, YouTube, and American Idol? The focus of this course will be upon the interactions between the production of “artworks” as commodities and the interpellation of individuals as subjects who purchase or adopt these works as integral parts of their social identities. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. LaGuardia.


45. The Quest for Utopia

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

46. Psychology, Society and Literature: The Family

10F: 3B

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 10F, Children on the Streets. Abandoned or neglected children living on the streets of major cities like Mumbai and Sao Paulo have been the focus of international attention through films like Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Padilha’s Bus 174. Examining the theme of the street child both historically and cross-culturally, we will analyze and define components of the literary theme of the abandoned child. We will explore citizenship, representations of the modern city, race and ethnicity, and theories of trauma. Authors and filmmakers may include: Andersen, Dickens, de Assis, Riis, Amados, Buñuel, and Choukri. Dist: LIT. Smolin.

47. Myths and Transformations

11F: 10A

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.

In 11F, Don Juan. This course examines configurations of the Don Juan legend in literature, music, and film, from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, through texts by Tirso de Molina and Zorrilla, Moliere, Laclos, Casanova, Mozart, Byron, Hoffmann, Shaw, Frisch, and others. Topics for discussion include: Don Juan and psychoanalysis; feminist perspectives on Don Juan; and the rhetoric of seduction and conquest. DIST: INT or LIT; WCult: W. Swislocki.

49. Special Topics: Themes

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S


50. Europe and its Cultural Others

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

Literatures of the world cannot be compared without regard for the relations of domina-tion 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.

51. African Literatures

11S: 10A

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 11S, Masterpieces of Literatures from Africa (Identical to African and African American Studies 51 and English 67.11). Providing students with a specific and global view of the diversity of literatures from the African continent, we will read texts in English or translated from French, Portuguese, Arabic and African languages. Through novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, we will explore the colonial encounter, conflict between tradition and modernity, negotiation of African identities, post-independence disillusion, gender issues, apartheid and post-apartheid. Discussing this variety of literatures from a comparative context, we will assess similarities and 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

10F: 12

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 10F, Afro-Brazilian Diasporic Literature in the Americas (identical to African and African American Studies 83 and identical to and described under Latin American and Caribbean Studies 63). This course will offer a general introduction to the history and major critical issues of Afro-Brazilian literature by focusing on the lives and works of key authors from the nineteenth century to the present. We will examine how Afro-Brazilian writers have expanded Brazilian literary discourse by challenging dominant cultural narratives of race and ethnicity. The course will also seek to place Afro-Brazilian literature within the context of African diasporic literatures of the Americas, particularly Afro-American literature of the United States. The course will introduce students to the extraordinary diversity of Afro-Brazilian narrative, with texts ranging from nineteenth-century poems written by a former slave to the 1997 novel that inspired the hit film City of God.  The course will be taught in English and all texts will be available in translation. Dist: LIT: WCult: CI. Smolin.

53. Middle Eastern Literature

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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.

55. Asian Literatures

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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.

56. Eastern European Literatures

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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: Culture, Place, and Identity (Identical to International Studies 17)

10F: 2A 11S: 2, W 2-5 11X: 2A

This course considers the role of culture and identity, migration, evolution of language, gender, race, and class issues, and studies the diverse cultural and artistic productions (literary, cinematic, musical, multi-media) that exemplify the tensions and negotiations between cultures and people.

In 10F, Women of the Asian Diaspora: Literature and Performance (Identical to International Studies 17). This course studies literary and dramatic representations of women of the Asian diaspora, ranging from authors in North America, Canada, Australia, and Europe to Southeast Asia. It examines the ways in which migration, dislocation and resettlement have influenced identity formation and cultural production for women of Asian descent. We will look at the impact of global versus local imperatives and feminist responses to the tensions between these and other historical forces. Authors may include: Yoko Ono (Japan/USA), Catherine Lim (Singapore), Beth Yahp (Australia), Jessica Hagedorn (Philippines/USA), Chuah Guat Eng (Malaysia), Sky Lee (Canada), Wendy Law-Yone (Burma), Monica Ali (U.K.). Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Chin.

In 11S, Gender and Islam (Identical to International Studies 17 and Women’s and Gender Studies 50.2). While the European novel takes a notoriously orientalizing view of the exotic, often veiled, Muslim woman, in the hands of Muslim writers the novel has become a site for contestation of traditional gender definitions, even reinterpretation of legal and religious texts. We will read novels by Naguib Mahfouz, Assia Djebar, Tahar ben Jelloun, Nawal El Saadawi, Leila Ahmed, Fatima Mernissi, Leila Abouzeid, and Mariama Bâ. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Green.

In 11S, US Afro-Latino Literature and Contemporary Thought (Identical to International Studies 17, Latino Studies 43, and described under African and African American Studies 88). Dist: LIT. Tillis.

In 11X, Migration Stories (Identical to International Studies 17 and Film and Media Studies 47). With over 50 million displaced people today, migration is one of the most compelling problems of our time. Filmic and literary representations of migration focus on borders, different types of migrants, and their border crossing experiences. We will study migration from Latin America to the U.S.; from Africa and Eastern Europe to Western Europe; and internal migration within these countries. We will also analyze how Hollywood cinema itself creates images and values that drive migration. Spitta, Gemünden.


60. Literature and Music

11S: 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 11S, (Identical to Music 13, pending faculty approval). 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 10F through 12S

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

11X: 3A 12S: 11

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 11X, Continental Strangers: European Exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950 (Identical to Film and Media Studies 42). During the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of German-speaking film professionals lived and worked in Hollywood, among them Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, Peter Lorre, and Marlene Dietrich. In this course we study how the exiles’ sense of identity in the United States was shaped by the experience of displacement and the fight against fascism. We will also investigate how exile cinema intervenes in public debates, and how it reframes political issues in terms of narrative and images. Dist: ART; WCult: W. Gemünden.

In 12S, Film as Poetry: The Avant Garde (Identical to Film and Media Studies 41). The cinematic avant garde is to film what poetry is to prose, a demand to read differently. Topics to be explored include the relation of poetry and film to history, the family, gender and sexuality, visual arts such as painting, photography, and book arts, and different ways to think about formal experimentation. Dist: ART. Lawrence.

63. Literature and Politics

12S: 11

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 12S, The World on Fire: Visions of Apocalypse in Contemporary Culture. Terrorism, urban riots, and large-scale accidental loss of life prevail much of the cultural landscape of our times. By focusing on the fracture of “security,” in both its physical (9/11, terrorist attacks in Madrid and London) and symbolic contexts (identity wars in the former Yugoslavia and riots in the margins of Paris and other cities), students will analyze cultural productions that counterbalance these apocalyptic imaginings. Aguado.

64. Literature and History

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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.

65. Literature and Science

11F: 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 11F, Literature, Science and Madness. This course will provide an introduction to scientific and literary discourses on madness in 19th and 20th Century Europe. We will discuss literature, films and artwork such as Marquis de Sade’s Crimes of Love, Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse trilogy or the art brut movement, and relate them to scientific and theoretical literature by authors such as Krafft-Ebing, Freud or Foucault. We will further analyze the connections between constructions of madness, criminality, gender and race. Fuechtner.

66. Literature and Psychoanalysis

10F: 2A

This course aims to explore the relationship between literature and the theoretical and clinical writings of psychoanalysis. Through readings representing a range of psychoana-lytic 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.

In 10F, What is Psychoanalysis? What is the relationship between “literary” works and the theoretical and clinical writings of psychoanalysis? This large question will be examined through readings of essays and case histories by such analysts and theorists as Freud, Klein, Lacan, Kristeva, Butler, Bersani and Zizek. The course will focus on the theme of the family romance and its relationship to the question of gender in works by authors such as Sophocles, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Kafka, Woolf, Mann, Proust, Duras, Kushner, Almadovar, and Woody Allen. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Kritzman.

67. Literature and Women’s/Gender Studies

11F: 11 12S: 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 11F, From Hand to Mouth: Writing, Eating, and the Construction of Gender (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 53.2). Our perceptions of food are often limited to familiarity with its preparation and consumption, but do we consider food as an extension of the self or as a marker of class, gender and sexuality? This course will look at food as an intersection of production, consumption and signification, and at how different cultural traditions regulate gender by infusing food with socially determined codes. Readings include Margaret Atwood, Isak Dinesen, Marguerite Duras, Laura Esquival, among others. Dist: INT or SOC, WCult: W. Reyes.

In 12S, Colonial and Postcolonial Masculinities (Identical to African and African American Studies 67, English 63.1, and Women’s and Gender Studies 52). 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

11S: 11 12W: 2A

In 11S, Second Skin: Reflections on Capitalism in Literature and Philosophy. Examining literary, philosophical, and visual sources, this course will explore capitalism historically as both a revolutionizing and a repressive force, and culturally as both utopian, promoting values such as personal responsibility and individual effort; and conversely as exploitative, conformist, and unethical. Authors include Dickens, Defoe, Marx, Locke, Smith, and Zola. Filmmakers will include von Stroheim, Capra, Stone, and Moore. Gomez.

In 12W, European Jewish Intellectuals (Identical to Jewish Studies 26). This course examines the role of the Jewish intellectual in twentieth century 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. Topics include 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; and Zionism, anti-Zionism and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Kritzman.

Refer also to Philosophy 20.


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

Not offered in the period from 10F through 12S

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

10F: 10A 11F: 12

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 10F, 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. Washburn.

In 11F, Literary Theory: Entering the Conversation. Disparate theories of literature have shared a certain number of fundamental questions since long before the twentieth century: what is a text? what is an author? what is a reader? what is context? How does literature itself imply theoretical concepts? By studying a range of different answers, we will seek to formulate productive questions. How can we use these questions to join critical conversations already under way among established scholars? Warren.

73. Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory

11W: 3A 12W: 12

This course will focus on a specific preoccupation of contemporary theory or on a particular theoretical movement. Prerequisite: Comparative Literature 72.

In 11W, 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. Prerequisite: Comparative Literature 72. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W. Kacandes.

In 12W, Spectacle and Exhibitionism. This course explores cultural theory (the public sphere; spectacle; display; ideology; collective memory) through examples drawn from the history of World Fairs. Nation-based gatherings of international scope, the fairs (1855-1964) brought millions of visitors to urban settings; organizers sought to both awe and persuade. The fairs support a wide range of theoretical and historical research topics related to race, empire, gender, politics, science, technology, advertising, visual arts, architecture, museums, academic disciplines, literature, film studies, etc. Prerequisite: Comparative Literature 72. Warren.

79. Independent Study

11W, 11S, 12W, 12S: 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 10F through 12S

85. Senior Seminar in Research and Methodology

11W, 12W: Arrange. Spitta.

87. Thesis Tutorial

11S, 12S: Arrange.

Permission of the Chair is required.

100. Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory

10F: 10A 11F: 10A

In 10F, 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, 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, and others. Open to M.A. candidates only. Kritzman.

In 11F, Meaning…. The concept of “meaning” relies on certain assumptions about texts, interpretation, and communities. Attending to the roots of contemporary critical practices in philosophy, linguistics, and semiotics, we will consider some of the latest, “cutting edge” ideas in literary and critical theory as they relate to all kinds of cultural “objects”: written texts, films, bodies, identities, buildings, cities, nations, etc. Works by Hegel, Nietzsche, Saussure, Kristeva, Foucault, Lacan, Benjamin, Derrida, Butler, and others. Open to M.A. candidates only. Biron.

101. Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory

11W: 3A 12W: 12

In 11W, see description under Comparative Literature 73. Prerequisite for M.A. candidates: Comparative Literature 100. Kacandes.

In 12W, see description under Comparative Literature 73. Prerequisite for M.A. candidates: Comparative Literature 100. Warren.

102. Tutorial

10F, 11F: Arrange

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

103. Workshop in Critical Writing

11S, 12S: 3A

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. Mladek (11S), Kopper (12S).

105. Graduate Seminar

11W, 12W: Arrange. Verona.

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

106. Graduate Research