Skip to main content


Information on this website is posted for historical reference only. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for current requirements.

Comparative Literature

Chair: John Kopper

Professors W. W. Cook (English), K. Conley (French and Italian), J. V. Crewe (English, Comparative Literature), A. T. Gaylord (English, Emeritus), G. Gemünden (German, Comparative Literature), L. H. Glinert (AMELL), M. J. Green (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), J. A. W. Heffernan (English, Emeritus), L. A. Higgins (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), M. Hirsch (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), K. J. Jewell (French and Italian), J. M. Kopper (Russian, Comparative Literature), L. D. Kritzman (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), A. LaValley (Film and Television Studies, Emeritus), A. Lawrence (Film and Television Studies), G. Parati (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), B. Pastor (Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature), D. E. Pease (English), S. P. Scher (German, Comparative Literature), B. P. Scherr (Russian), L. Spitzer (History), V. Swain (French and Italian), J. H. Tatum (Classics), K. L. Walker (French and Italian), M. F. Zeiger (English); Associate Professors N. L. Canepa (French and Italian), M. Desjardins (Film and Television Studies), I. Kacandes (German, Comparative Literature), H. N. Kadhim (AMELL), V. Kogan (French and Italian), D. P. LaGuardia (French and Italian, Comparative Literature), M. Otter (English, Comparative Literature), U. Rainer (German, Comparative Literature), I. Reyes (Spanish and Portuguese), I. T. Schweitzer (English), S. D. Spitta (Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature), M. Swislocki (Spanish and Portuguese), R. Verona (French and Italian), D. Washburn (AMELL, Comparative Literature), M. Williamson (Classics, Comparative Literature), J. K. Wine (French and Italian); Assistant Professors P. Armstrong (Spanish and Portuguese), A. A. Coly (AAAS, Comparative Literature), A. Martín (Spanish and Portuguese, Comparative Literature); Visiting Professors, W-P. Chin (English), A. Winograd (Theater); Research Associate Professor L. J. Davies (English, Comparative Literature); Visiting Associate Professor W. F. Phillips (Film and Television Studies); Senior Lecturer A. C. Cone (French and Italian).

Courses in Comparative Literature are designed to meet the needs of students whose literary interests are broader than those that can be met by the curriculum of any single department.


The major seeks to provide an opportunity for selective and varied study of two or more literatures in their relation to each other, or for the study of a foreign literature in its relationship to an extraliterary discipline, such as film, music, or history (see the three options below). Each student’s major plan is designed individually around a particular focus of interest. Students planning to major in Comparative Literature will normally enroll in an Honors Program, which entails writing a thesis (60 to 80 pages) during their senior year. Some students may choose to write two senior essays (about 25 pages each) in lieu of the thesis. Students pursuing the two-paper option will substitute another Comparative Literature course for CL 87. One senior essay will be written in Comparative Literature 85. The second will be written in a course taken senior year that is relevant to the student’s course of study. The two-paper option does not carry honors credit.

The major is administered by the Comparative Literature Steering Committee. Students design their major plan in consultation with an advisor and the Chair. All applications to the major must be approved by the Steering Committee. Major cards can be signed only by the Chair. Students interested in becoming majors should consult the Chair well in advance of their intended declaration of a major.

 Prerequisite for the major: Comparative Literature 10.

 Required courses: Comparative Literature 72, 85, and, for honors majors only, 87.

Comparative Literature 85 (Senior Seminar) is required to fulfill the culminating experience requirement for students who do not meet the honor requirements, and Comparative Literature 85 and Comparative Literature 87 (Tutorial Thesis) for students meeting honors requirements.

Major options

A. Two foreign literatures.

We require fluency in the primary language and competence in the secondary language. Fluency and competence are determined by the chair in consultation with the chair of the relevant foreign language department. Competence is ordinarily defined as completion of the fourth quarter of language study, and fluency as three courses beyond the fourth quarter of study. One course from an LSA+ or FSP may be counted toward work in a language, as long as the course content in primarily literary. This major consists of 10 courses; Comparative Literature 72, 85, 87; at least 2 additional Comparative Literature courses; 3-4 courses in the primary literature and 1-2 courses in the secondary literature.

Students interested in graduate study in Comparative Literature are strongly encouraged to choose Major option A.

B. Two literatures (one of which is a literature in English).

We require fluency in the non-anglophone language. Fluency is determined by the chair in consultation with the chair of the relevant foreign language department. One course from an LSA+ or FSP may be counted toward work in a language, as long as the course content in primarily literary. This major consists of 12 courses: Comparative Literature 72, 85, 87; at least 2 additional Comparative Literature courses; 3-4 courses in the non-anglophone literature; and at least 3 courses in the anglophone literature.

C. A foreign literature and a nonliterary discipline (e.g. literature and music; literature and film; literature and history, etc.).

We require fluency in the foreign language. Fluency is determined by the chair in consultation with the chair of the relevant foreign language department. One course from an LSA+ or FSP may be counted toward work in a language, as long as the course content in primarily literary. This major consists of 12 courses: Comparative Literature 72, 85, 87; at least 2 additional Comparative Literature courses; 3-4 courses in the foreign literature; and at least 3 courses in the nonliterary discipline.


Each graduate student must receive credit for at least nine courses for the one- year Master of Arts degree and complete a major text presentation and prepare a paper of professional quality.

To receive the Masters degree in Comparative Literature a candidate must satisfactorily:

1. Complete nine courses as described below:

CL 72/100, Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory (required)

04F: 12. Kopper

CL73/101, Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory (required)

05W: 3A. Gemünden

CL102, Tutorial (required)

Arrange with advisor.

CL103, Workshop in Critical Writing (required)

05S: Arrange. A. Lawrence

CL105, Graduate Seminar (required)

Arrange with graduate advisor. Kacandes

Four elective courses in relevant Dartmouth language and literature departments including one upper level course in the candidate’s first foreign language.

2. A major text presentation. In conjunction with CL101 and the Tutorial (CL102) and in consultation with an advisor, each candidate will study one major text and prepare a lecture on that text for public presentation. The text must be read in the original foreign language.

3. An M.A. essay. During spring term, in conjunction with CL103 (Workshop in Critical Writing), the candidate will prepare a paper of professional quality which will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the Graduate Committee.



7. First-Year Seminars

 Consult special listings

8. Classic Themes in World Literature

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

This course offers students an introduction to literature from around the world from a comparatist perspective. It explores literary traditions, movements, and genres across national, linguistic and temporal boundaries and raises questions about “universal” concerns and cultural differences.

10. What is Comparative Literature?

04F: 10A 05W: 12 05S: 10A 05F:11 06W: 10 06S: 11

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 5 before enrolling in Comparative Literature 10.

In 04F, 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. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI. Coly.

In 05W, Under the Watchful Eye: Female Servitude in Literature, Art and Film. Observers of the plot and helpers in its unfolding, women working in the servant trades, whether they be chambermaids in seventeenth-century classical comedy or modern day nannies in all too realist autobiographical fiction provide a mirror that reflects not only the domestic family drama that tends to dominate stories in which they play a prominent role but also the social, racial and sexual inequities of society as a whole. This course will explore through a variety of genres the difficult subjectivity of a person who is both a servant and female. Readings and films may include Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid, Mozart’s opera Cosé fan tutte, Flaubert’s A Simple Heart, short stories by Maupassant, “Empress of the Splendid Season” by Oscar Hijuelos, Sembene Ousmane’s The Promised Land, The Nanny Diaries, and the films Angels and Insects, Schlöndorf’s Celeste, and La Cerémonie. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Cone.

In 05S, Danger: Primates at Work.When and how do science and literature overlap, and when do they diverge? Why does science fascinate or even inspire some writers, while others remain hostile? We shall explore the comparatist method as we discuss the literary portrayal of scientific thought and work in such authors as Mary Shelley, Verne, Dickens, Dürrenmatt, Brecht, Primo Levi, Pynchon, Le Guin, Zamyatin, Levi-Montalcini, Seltzer, Haraway, and Hayles. Dist: LIT. Davies.

In 05F, The Other in the Text: ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ in European Literature. How did the Greeks, Romans and later European colonizers represent differences between themselves and those they regarded as in some way other? How did perceived or imagined differences of ethnicity or gender arise from and help constitute the colonizers’ own sense of cultural and national identity? We will explore these questions in literature and travel writings by authors such as: Herodotus, Euripides, Tacitus, Shakespeare, Behn, Equiano, Charlotte Bronte, Flaubert, Rider Haggard, Conrad, Rhys, and Friel. Dist: LIT or INT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI. Williamson.

In 06W, 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. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Kacandes.

In 06S, This course will introduce the strategies of close reading of literary and visual texts which focus on the perception of the poet’s, writer’s and film director’s role in different societies and periods of literary and film history. Texts will include poetry by Goethe, Blake, Mallarmé, Dickinson, Rich, Mandelstam and Auden; fiction by Hoffmann, Poe, Woolf, Achebe and Wolf; films by Cocteau, Bergman and Fellini. Dist: LIT or INT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Rainer.

18. Literature and Other Media

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary study of literature. Throughout the history of literature and art, works have been reenvisioned across media, either as direct adaptations or as reworkings of similar subject matter, with each new work introducing different formal and historical concerns. The serious consideration of the transformation of works across media requires a comparative approach.

19. Translation: Theory and Practice

05W: 2

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 05W, we will compare published translations of works such as the Homeric epics, the Bible, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and German lyric poetry. We will examine the reflections of theorists and practitioners (such as Benjamin, Borges, Derrida, Goethe, Robinson, and Venuti) with an eye towards the possibilities and limits of translation between cultures. Intermediate reading competence of a foreign language is required, as each student will present a translation to the group. Dist: LIT or INT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Williamson.


20. The Middle Ages

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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

05S: 11

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

In 05S, Medieval Song. We will study poems about love, politics, student and tavern life, from various European traditions (Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, German, English, with brief excursions into Arabic and Hebrew)—keeping in mind that many of these poems were first and foremost songs. Topics will include the relationship between text and music; voice and performance; the lyrical persona; manuscripts and audiences; and modern theories and practices of performing medieval song. Specialist knowledge of music not required. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Otter.

22. The Renaissance

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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.

23. Topics in Early Modern Literatures

06S: 10

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).

In 06S, Inescapable Romance: From Late Antiquity to Early Modernity. In reading long narrative works (or excerpts) by Heliodorus, Longus, Ariosto, Tasso, Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, and Cervantes, we will pose the question “what is romance?” We will consider the history and some incarnations of the genre from late antiquity through the early modern period. Critical topics to be covered will include those of cultural function, readership, narrative pleasure, desire and subjectivity; they will also include the central tension in romance between “endlessness” and the plotting of closure. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Crewe.

25. The Enlightenment

06S: 10A

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.

In 06S, Picturing the Eighteenth Century. The eighteenth century has captured the modern imagination, becoming a frequent subject of recent films and plays. This course will compare original novels by such authors as Defoe, Diderot, Fielding, and Laclos to their stage and screen counterparts by Buñuel, Frears, Kubrick, Müller, and Rivette, raising questions about approaches to history, ideas of the modern, issues of gender, and politics and art. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Swain.

26. Romanticism

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S.

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 04F through 06S.

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

05X: 10A

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.

In 05X, Los Angeles/Modernism. L.A. and Modernism are almost synonymous. Prose writers, moviemakers, architects and painters all developed unique expressions of modernism befitting this highly “invented,” new, glamorous, yet often ugly, and disquieting place. Ranging from the Hollywood movie novels of Fitzgerald and West to Raymond Chandler’s combination of elegance with pulp in his crime novels to film noir, the work of German/ modernist exiles in Hollywood to the contemporary mix of new ethnic film and literature, modernism and the city of L.A. continually redefine themselves. Among authors we will look at are Cain, Isherwood, Brecht, Didion, Himes, Rechy, Moseley and Bukowski and filmmakers Wilder, Lang, Gregory Nava, Luis Valdez and Charles Burnett. LaValley.

29. Postmodernism

05S: 2

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 05S, Tears, Love, Happiness: Feminine Territories/Feminist Readings (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 46). A cross-cultural and interdisciplinary rethinking of classical Hollywood melodrama within the context of feminist film aesthetics and contemporary women’s writing. Topics include sexuality and mass culture, class relations and emotions, historical memory and everyday life, and the postmodern borders between high/ low culture. Readings and screenings from the work of Carmen Martín Gaite, Toni Morrison, Adrienne Kennedy, Clarice Lispector, Marguerite Duras, Federico Fellini, Margarethe Von Trotta, Ken Loach, Pedro Almodóvar, Helena Taberna, and Woody Allen. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU or NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI. Martín.


31. Topics in Poetry

06S: 2A

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.

In 06S, Postcolonial Poets. A study of poetic responses to colonialism, paying special attention to modes of resistance and decolonization in shaping language and form. We will look at how poets “write back” to dominant European traditions, claim authenticity and negotiate identity in the process of creating distinctive voices. Poets studied may include Grace Nichols, Edwin Thumboo, Edward Brathwaite, W.S. Rendra, Aimé Césaire, Jose Rizal and others. Dist: LIT. Chin.

33. Modern Drama

05W, 05F: 10A

In 05W and 05F, 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. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Winograd.

34. Topics in Drama

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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

35. History of Narrative

06S: 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 06S, The Arabian Nights East and West (Identical to Arabic 62). This course is an introduction to Arab/Islamic culture through its most accessible and popular exponent, The Thousand and One Nights. This course will take this masterpiece of medieval Arabic 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 examine leading stories from the corpus of The Nights in translation. Analyses of the stories themselves will draw on the rich body of critical literature dealing with The Nights. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult; NW. Kadhim.

36. The Novel I: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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 04F through 06S

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

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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; or, alternatively, it might be an experimental workshop in which students write fragments of a novel.

40. Special Topics: Genres

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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.

41. The Comic Tradition

04F, 05F: 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 04F and 05F, Rabbis, Rogues and Schlemiels: Jewish Humor and its Roots (Identical to Hebrew 63). 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? This course mines the long and rich tradition of Hebrew comic and satirical folklore and fine literature, and their relationship to Yiddish, Israeli and Anglo-American Jewish humor. We will also compare the joke, popular song, film and the cartoon, asking how genre impacts on theme. A valuable and unique resource for this course is the new Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive, with its wealth of online recordings.Taught in English translation. Dist: LIT. Glinert.

42. Topics in Popular Culture

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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


45. The Quest for Utopia

06S: 2A

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. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU or NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Pastor.

46. Psychology, Society and Literature: The Family

05F: 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 05F, The Jewish Family (Identical to Jewish Studies 60). 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 04F through 06S

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

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S


50. Europe and its Cultural Others

05S, 06W: 2A

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 05S and 06W, Islamic Spain: Literature and Society (Identical to Arabic 63). The eight centuries of Arabo-Islamic presence in Spain produced a uniquely rich and diverse cultural space. This course will trace the fusion of the Arabo-Islamic tradition with local and European elements. Readings will include excerpts of poetry, prose, as well as philosophical and mystical writings. We will end with an excursion into al-Andalus as a metaphor of loss in modern Arabic literature. The course will be taught in English in its entirety. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Antoon.

51. African Literatures

04F: 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 04F, 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

05W: 10

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 05W, The Borderlands: Latina/o Writers in the United States (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 40). 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 inbetween 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. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Spitta.

53. Middle Eastern Literature

05S: D.F.S.P., Fez

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. Higgins.

54. Jewish Literatures

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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, thematics, or cultural perspectives.

55. Asian Literatures

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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 04F through 06S

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

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S


60. Literature and Music

05S: 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 05S, 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. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Scher. 

61. Literature and the Visual Arts

05F: Arrange

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.

In 05F, Art and Artists in Fiction (Identical to Art History 16, pending faculty approval). This course will examine literary representations of art works, artists, and the art world in fictional texts of the 19th and 20th century. A set of underlying themes and structures will be developed within different national literary traditions. These include the role of art and the artist in changing societies; the nature of the work of art; literary discourses of the visible (description, ekphrasis); the artist as the shadow of the writer; and the role of women in institutional structures. Dist: LIT. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Schoell-Glass.

62. Literature and Film

04F: 10A 05X: 3A 05F: 2A

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 04F, Ingmar Bergman and Literature: Metamorphosis and Interpretation. Bergman, one of the most literary directors in modern cinema, never made a film from an already existing work of literature. Nevertheless, certain authors influenced him deeply as literary “models,” and reveal the director's preoccupation with the Western literary tradition. In translating the characters, ideas and plots of an established medium into cinematographic expression, Bergman not only offers new interpretations, but also critically reevaluates the very traditions from which he draws. The eight to ten films to be viewed will be compared with their literary models. Primary reading will include The New Testament, Shakespeare, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Strindberg, Ibsen and the screenplays. Secondary reading will focus on Bergman criticism as well as on the director's own critical reflections. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Rainer.

In 05X, Great Film Adaptations. How does one get a good film from a book? In comparing five films to their underlying sources and remakes, we will examine criteria that invite or work against successful film adaptation (including asking what respective media do best in terms of narrative, voice, anachronism, dialogue, irony, and multiple plots). Titles may include The Tin Drum (Schlondorff/Grass); The English Patient (Minghella, Ondaatje); Lolita (Kubrick/Nabokov, remake by Lyne); Like Water for Chocolate (Arau, Esquivel); Rashomon (Kurosawa, Akutagawa, remake by Ritt). Dist: LIT. Phillips.

In 05F, Film as Poetry: The Avant Garde. The cinematic avant garde is to film what poetry is to prose, a demand that we read differently, an attempt to bring a density and weight to images more conventionally used to convey narrative information. In poetic film, the form, shape, repetition, resonance, rhythm, tempo and quality of the image become subjects worthy of exploration in themselves. The course will cover the history of avant garde film from French silents to contemporary video art, and techniques such as the use of found footage, animation, looping, optical printing, and manipulations of color and black and white. Topics to be examined include the relationship between film and language, female and male sexuality, and the relationship of poetry and film to history. Dist: ART. A. Lawrence.

63. Literature and Politics

05F: 10A

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 05F, Shades of Noir: Film, Fiction, Politics. ‘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. Because of its artistic and political complexity, noir is a key term for the study of U.S. postwar culture. 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 that reflect the exile status of many central-European professionals who worked in the U.S. film industry in the 1940s. The course will also trace the pervasive presence of noir and its continuing appeal for artists and audiences throughout the world. Novels and films may include The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, The Killers, Devil in a Blue Dress, The Black Dahlia, and Pulp Fiction. Dist: ART or INT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU or NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Gemünden.

64. Literature and History

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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

05W: 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 05W, 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. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary Requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Lahr, Pastor.

66. Literature and Psychoanalysis

04F: 2A

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.

In 04F, 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, Rose, 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, and Woody Allen. Dist: LIT or INT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU or NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Kritzman.

67. Literature and Women’s/Gender Studies

05S: 10A 06S: 12

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 05S, Legends of Sappho (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 41 and Classical Studies 10). Goddess of poetry, sexual predator, exotic holiday destination, lovelorn suicide, schoolmistress, parchment scrap: these are among the associations clustering around Sappho. From antiquity to the twenty-first century her poems and the legends about her life and loves have fascinated writers, artists and musicians as different as Queen Victoria, Willa Cather, Boccaccio, Jeanette Winterson, Ezra Pound, Gounod, and Ovid. We sample some of the twists and turns in this seemingly endless stream of fantasy and creative reaproppriation. Open to all students. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Williamson.

In 06S, Women’s Identities in Migration (Identical to Women’s and Gender Studies 40). Writings by immigrant women in the United States probe complications in representation and self-definition; to migrate or to inherit an immigrant context is to be conceptually as well as physically displaced. We will examine literary and cinematic texts and the growing body of cultural and literary theory about immigration and second-generation women. The syllabus will focus on Latina and Asian American literature and theory, but will include a broad range of immigrant texts. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary Requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Spitta, Zeiger.

70. Special Topics: Literature and Other Disciplines

05F: 10A

In 05F, Midrash: How the Rabbis Interpreted the Bible (Identical to Hebrew 62 and Jewish Studies 20). Two millennia ago, the Rabbis created Midrash, an imaginative method of interpretation probing the existential issues in the Bible and the basic values of Judaism. This mode of thought is a key to the traditional Jewish ‘mindset’ —and has now been ‘discovered’ by postmodernists as a radical ‘new’ way of reading text. We focus on such elemental motifs as the Creation, the Flood, the Akedah, and Jacob and the Angel. No Hebrew required. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW. Glinert.

Refer also to Philosophy 19 and Religion 50.


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

Not offered in the period from 04F through 06S

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 61.

72. Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory

04F: 12 05F: 10A

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, new historicism.

In 04F, Literary Criticism and Theory. The course provides an overview of critical approaches to reading over the last sixty years. We will examine texts that represent New Criticism, Structuralism, Deconstruction, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism, Postcolonialism, and the New Historicism. Foremost among our concerns will be identifying the limits of criticism, integrating theory into our own readings, and positioning ourselves to revise theories. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Kopper.

In 05F, Topic to be announced. LaGuardia.

73. Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory

05W: 3A 06W: Mondays 3-6

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

In 05W, Benjamin and Adorno. This course will provide an in-depth look at two seminal critical thinkers of the 20th century—Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno. Associated with the Frankfurt School, Benjamin and Adorno offer related and contrasting views of art, literature, film and visual culture, philosophy, and theology. Our seminar will focus on Adorno and Benjamin’s response to modernism and modernity; the growth of mass culture; the rise of fascism; the experience of exile; and the transformation of memory. Much emphasis will be placed on close reading and critical analysis. In most cases, weekly readings will be relatively short, in order to allow us to concentrate on the complexity of the material; careful reading will be privileged above vast comprehensiveness. Still, we will acquaint ourselves with many of the key texts by Benjamin and Adorno, tracking the development and range of their thought, and we will also follow some of the diverse avenues of Benjamin and Adorno scholarship. Dist: LIT. Class of 2007 and earlier: WCult: EU or NA. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: W. Gemünden.

In 06W, Topic to be announced. Martín.

79. Independent Study

04F, 05W, 05S: 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 04F through 06S

85. Senior Seminar in Research and Methodology

05W: 3B Kopper.06W: 3A

87. Tutorial Thesis

05S, 06S: Arrange.

Permission of the Chair is required. Kopper.

100. Contemporary Literary Criticism and Theory

04F: 12

See description under Comparative Literature 72. Kopper.

101. Topics in Literary Criticism and Theory

05W: 3A 06W: Monday 3-6

See description under Comparative Literature 73. Gemünden.

102. Tutorial

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

103. Workshop in Critical Writing

05S: 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. A. Lawrence.

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

105. Graduate Seminar

05W: Arrange

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

106. Graduate Research

04F, 05W, 05S: Arrange