Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: Literature and Music

S. Sayar & N. Brenner
MWF 9-10
121 Wheeler

Classical antiquity endowed music with the high charge of praise and exultation of Gods and heroes alike and yet figures such as the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey betray an anxiety about the uncontrollable, potentially destructive power of music.   » read more »

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R1A.002: Being Self-Conscious

B. Tran & T. Singleton
MWF 10-11
20 Wheeler

“Oh God comma I abhor self-consciousness.” John Barth

This course looks at a number of literary texts that are quite aware of their artifice as literary texts. How do such works reflect upon themselves as structures of words?   » read more »

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R1A.003: The Classic

J. Hill
MWF 9-10
263 Dwinelle

This course will consider the question of the “classic” in a comparative context. Our focus will be the careful examination of five works, including an epic, a romance, a novel, a collection of essays, and a film. Apart from asking, What is a classic?, we will want to explore questions of genre, intertextuality, and aesthetics.   » read more »

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R1A.004: Gold in them thar Hills

P. Springer
TT 12.30-2
210 Wheeler

The reading list focuses on frontiers and natural resources, with emphasis on the greed typically surrounding them. Therefore, much of the reading is set in California. » read more »

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R1A.005: Mirror Images

A. Stenport & H. Freed-Thall
TT 9.30-11
20 Wheeler

In reading ranging from Plato and Ovid, via Strindberg and Woolf, to Sexton and Sebbar, we will discuss questions of visually construed duplication in form and content. Topics addressed will be acts of representation and visual imagery, ghosts and dreams, alienation and reflection, narcissism and doubling, and modernism’s love of surfaces yet obsession with ‘perspective.’ » read more »

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R1A.006: Writing (about) Difference in Literature

T. Hausdoerffer & R. Chan
TT 11-12.30
219 Dwinelle

All experience open to the future is prepared or prepares itself to welcome the monstrous arrivant, to welcome it, that is, to accord hospitality to that which is absolutely foreign or strange – J. Derrida

Can we reconceive our reading and writing as a kind of “experience open to the future” that prepares us to “accord hospitality” to difference? » read more »

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R1A.007: Literature and the Unconscious

J. DeAngelis & A. Borrego
MWF 11-12
121 Wheeler

This course examines the relation between literary conventions for representing consciousness and psychoanalytic/philosophical accounts of “the unconscious.” » read more »

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R1A.009: Literature and Pleasure

TT 12.30-2
223 Dwinelle

What pleasures do works of imaginative literature have to offer? Do different works give different pleasures? Can two works of literature please us for entirely different reasons? In this course we will search for answers to these and related questions as we consider the pleasures we encounter in Homer, Austen, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Kafka. » read more »

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R1B.001: Conquerors, Poets, Parasites

J. Ramey and M. Bhaumik
TT 11-12:30
229 Dwinelle

What do all the fiendish dictators, cruel colonialists and mad murderers you’ve ever heard of have in common with all the great writers and filmmakers you’ve ever heard of? To begin with, you’ve heard of them. You also remember something about them. In fact, without people like you remembering them, they would not exist in the way they do. The frightening examples of tyrants and slaughterers would be lost to time, and the inspiring examples of poets, novelists, and filmmakers would be equally extinguished. The thing that keeps all these individuals alive is sometimes called “cultural memory.” But if we’re to believe these figments of time past truly possess some kind of “life,” then what category of life is it? The American Heritage Dictionary defines “parasite” as “An organism that grows, feeds, and is sheltered on or in a different organism while contributing nothing to the survival of its host.” Since the dead depend on us to remember them in order to stay alive in the cultural memory, this course will explore the notion that the snarling devils of history, as well as the writers and filmmakers who capture them in artistic representation, are, in effect, nothing more than parasites inhabiting our brains. As the course progresses, you may expect to discover a growing corpus of parasitic company in your head, a swarming, palpitating mass that is highly unlikely to contribute to your survival. On the other hand, you will have obtained some excellent object lessons in how to become a bloodthirsty oppressor or a successful writer or filmmaker (de gustibus non est disputandum). And you will learn a few things about how the memory of yourself might one day become its own fledgling parasitic plague determined to keep your fame pupating in other minds for centuries to come. Immortality, by any other name, is the humble offering of this semester

Students must attend classes, participate in class discussions, meet outside of class to work on group activies, and demonstrate thoughtful readings of the assigned texts. A total of about 32 pages of prose will be turned in throughout the semester; papers will be subject to extensive revision. Students will be asked to give an oral presentation. Experienced despots, poets and other immortal beings welcome.


Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Frederick Crews, The Random House Handbook


Werner Herzog Aguirre: Wrath of God

Luis Buñuel, Los olvidados

Course Reader

Will include selected poetry, short fiction (e.g. Poe, Melville and Borges), readings in history (e.g. Bartolomé de las Casas), cultural theory and discourse analysis, and critical approaches to the texts.

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R1B.002: Image and Text: Beyond the Verbal and Visual Divide

S. Green
TT 12:30-2
258 Dwinelle

“Poetry is like painting,” –Horace, first century, B.C.E. Writers and visual artists and those who interpret and enjoy their work have long been interested in the relationship between words and images–their limitations, possibilities, intersections, and differences.   » read more »

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R1B.003: Viewing Positions: Spectators in Literature and Film

MWF 10-11
224 Wheeler

This course has two major goals: to introduce students to some of the central questions in the field of visual studies, and to examine how visual motifs are used in literary texts. In order to achieve these goals, we will focus our attention on the figure of the spectator.   » read more »

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R1B.006: Autobiography, Memory and Fiction

J. Fort & L. Ramos
MWF 10-11
88 Dwinelle

This is a course of intensive reading and composition. We will focus primarily on texts that are autobiographical in nature–whether they are “literal” autobiographies or fictional works that take the form of autobiography.   » read more »

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R1B.007: Reading with Your Senses

P. Dimova
TT 11-12.30
222 Wheeler

What can we see while we are reading? And what can we hear? How does a literary text transcend the silence of the page and its black-and-white print? » read more »

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R1B.008: Women Behind Locked Doors

S. Schwartz & N. Shulman
TT 12.30-2
121 Wheeler

Sequestered and enclosed, under lock and key, women are allegedly protected from the dangers of the wolfish world just outside the door. » read more »

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R1B.011: Global Reading: The Geopolitics of Literary Form

M. Allan
MWF 9-10
223 Wheeler

What is world literature, and what is its relation to globalization and empire? Who or what are global readers? Could there be such a thing as global literacy?  This course will address the problem of literary form in relation to global political theory and economics, paying special attention to the emergence of a so-called global market, the development of local languages and particular practices of cultural consumption. We will draw from a range of critical essays, films and various literary genres to explore the dynamics of world literature.


Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind

Michel de Montaigne, “On Cannibals”

The Song of Roland

Lenin, Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Hardt and Negri, Empire

Fanon, “On National Culture”

Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North

Wu Ch’eng-En, Monkey

Montesquieu, Persian Letters

Ghassan Kanafani, Men in the Sun

Wong Kar Wai, “Happy Together”

Theresa Hak-Kyung Cha, Dictee

Chris Marker, “Grin Without a Cat”

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R1B.012: The Use of Stories

M. Fisher
TT 9.30-11
224 Wheeler

“What’s the use of stories that aren’t even true?” Haroun asks his father the storyteller in Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. In this course, we will explore the ways in which texts from a variety of genres, languages, and time periods address this question and its ramifications: when and how do these texts reflect upon their own status as literary and artistic projects, and upon the relation between fiction and “reality?”   » read more »

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R1B.013: Family Ties: Nation, Narration, and the Nordic Imagination

A. Stenport
TT 11-12.30
223 Wheeler

This course investigates the family as a concept, construction, and thematic approach to narrative and national identity. As an introduction to Comparative Literature, the course will analyze the forms of epic, novel, drama, essays, and cinema by authors ranging from medieval Iceland to nineteenth- and twentieth century Germany, USA, England, and Scandinavia.   » read more »

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24: Freshman Seminar

Reading and Reciting Great Poems in English

Instructor: Steve Tollefson

Tu 3-4
204 Dwinelle

People today don’t have enough poetry in their heads, and everyone should be able to recite one or two of their favorite poems. In addition to its purely personal benefits, knowing some poetry by heart has practical applications: in a tough job interview, you can impress the prospective boss by reciting just the right line, say, from Dylan Thomas: “do not go gentle into that good night/rage rage against the dying of the light.” Or at a party sometime, you’ll be able to show off with a bit of T.S. Eliot: “in the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo.” » read more »

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41E: Introduction to Literary Forms: Forms of the Cinema

Marginals, Aliens, Deviants, and Cyborgs: Transborder Encounters in Literature and Film

TT 12:30-2

Additional Required Screenings: TH 5-8:00, 140 BARROWS

In this course, we will examine a variety of marginal subjects represented in minority and post-colonial cultural production from realistic, experimental, and futuristic genres.   » read more »

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60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

Conquests and Empires, Borders and Frontiers: Colonialism and Not-So-Post-Colonialism in Contemporary American Literatures and Cultures

J. White
TT 12:30-2

Beginning with the arrival of Columbus in the New World in 1492, American history has been characterized by the contact and conflict between indigenous peoples and European and American empires. » read more »

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100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Textual, Visual, and Material Self-representation

Instructor: Sophie Volpp

S. Volpp
TT 11-12:30

This course allows students to deepen their understanding of what it means to read comparatively — across genres, cultures, and spans of time — while exploring the problematics of textual, visual, and material self-representation.   » read more »

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112A: Modern Greek

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 222 Wheeler Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

M. Kotzamanidou
MWF 12-1
222 Wheeler

Modern Greek is unique among languages in that it is the only modern language directly descended from Ancient Greek. In this course, the student studies reading, writing, pronunciation and use of contemporary spoken idiom; all within the historical and cultural context of the language. By the end of the course, the student should have a strong grammatical and linguistic foundation in Greek as it is spoken today. (No Prerequisite)

Course Catalog Number: 17287

154: Eighteenth- and 19th-Century Literature

Romantic Visions: The Aesthetics of the Sublime

TT 11-12.30
205 Dwinelle

This course is an analysis of European Romantic literature, art, and philosophy around 1800. It introduces students to Romantic aesthetics, paying specific attention to the question of the sublime. » read more »

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155/UGIS C146A, Women's Studies C146A: The Modern Period

Existentialism, Phenomenology, Sexuality

M. Lucey
MWF 1-2
Cross-listed with UGIS C146A and Women’s Studies C146A

In France in the 1940s and 1950s there were two philosophical modes or movements that shared the spotlight: Existentialism and Phenomenology. In both of them, thinking about sexuality–and specifically about same-sex sexuality–had an important place.   » read more »

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170: Special Topics in Comparative Literature

The Greek Historical Novel in the 20th Century

F 2-5

This course examines how 20th century Greek fiction, as a result of cultural, literary and aesthetic movements, has opened up for re-examination the standard definitions of the Historical Novel. » read more »

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170: Special Topics in Comparative Literature

The Holocaust on Screen

TT 2-3:30

Additional Required Screenings: M 7-10, 188 Dwinelle; Cross-listed with Film Studies 108:5

This seminar explores how the Holocaust has been depicted on film in a variety of national and historical contexts. » read more »

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190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

The Writing of the Self

Instructor: Anthony Cascardi

A. Cascardi
TT 2-3:30

As citizens of the modern world we tend to regard ourselves as unique and irreplaceable individuals; we conceive our personal identity as something to which we alone have privileged access. What are the origins of these beliefs and what are its various literary representations? In this course we will trace the fashioning of the modern “self” through confessional writing, essays, drama, literary portraiture, short stories, philosophical discourses, and poetry. We will ask about the extent to which the self is indeed a modern invention and we will consider the degree to which its very existence depends upon the development of certain modes of writing unique to the history of modernity. Additionally we will ask: What is the difference between selfhood and subjective self-consciousness? What particular forms of individualism mark the modern subject-self and what are its implications for the qualities and values we prize? What are the sources of our belief in authenticity and what are its limits? Finally, we will ask whether we have now entered an era when the self has vanished or when the uniqueness of personal identity has been eroded. Over the course of the semester we will devote equal attention to the literary production of the self and to the questions about self-awareness that these matters imply. Readings will be drawn from Shakespeare, Montaigne, Rousseau, Kierkegaard, Thoreau, Whitman, and Borges, among others.

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190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

War, Media Theory, and the Modernist Event

T. Presner
TT 11-12.30

This course examines twentieth-century media theory by looking at the relationship between modernist warfare, narrativity, and various representational practices.   » read more »

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200: Approaches to Comparative Literature

Introduction to the Study of Comparative Literature

Instructor: Robert Alter

R. Alter
TU 2-5

We will read two seminal works of literary criticism and theory from the mid-twentieth century, one that follows the evolution of Western literature from antiquity to modernist fiction (Auerbach’s Mimesis), the other that puts forth a series of far-reaching propositions about language, literature, and the course of literary history (Bakhtin’s The Dialogic Imagination).   » read more »

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201: Proseminar

F 12:00-01:00 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

F 12-1:00
4104 Dwinelle, (Comp Lit Conference Room)
CCN 17377

This course is designed to give all new graduate students a broad view of the department’s faculty, the courses they teach, and their fields of research. In addition, it will introduce students to some practical aspects of the graduate career, issues that pertain to specific fields of research, and questions currently being debated across the profession. The readings for the course will consist of copies of materials by the department’s faculty.

Course Catalog Number: 17377

201: Comparative Literature Proseminar

Instructor: Francine Masiello

F. Masiello
F 12-1

This course is designed to give all new graduate students a broad view of the department’s faculty, the courses they teach, and their fields of research. In addition, it will introduce students to some practical aspects of the graduate career, issues that pertain to specific fields of research, and questions currently being debated across the profession. The readings for the course will consist of copies of materials by the department’s faculty.

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225: Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

The Dialectics of German/Jewish Modernism

T. Presner
M 2-4
Cross-listed with German 214

Although a number of important studies have reopened the question of the German-Jewish dialogue (such as those by Klaus Berghahn, George Mosse, Paul Mendes-Flohr, and, most recently, Jonathan Hess), the “place” of Jews and Jewish thought within German modernism is still contested ground. » read more »

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227: Studies in Contemporary Literature

Dislocated Narratives

Instructor: Karl Britto

K. Britto
TH 3-6

In this course we will read a selection of literary texts produced within the past thirty years, all of which foreground the movement of individuals or communities across national borders.   » read more »

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232: Studies in Near Eastern-Western Literary Relations

The Shadow Plays of Ibn Daniyal

Instructor: James Monroe

J. Monroe
Tu 3-6

Despite the fact that three shadow plays written in Egypt by the Iraqi author, Ibn Daniyal (d.710/1310) have been known for some time, first in manuscript, and then in a woefully inadequate edition from which two-thirds of the text was expurgated, it has become accepted wisdom that there is no theater in medieval Arabic literature.   » read more »

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265: Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Gender Sexuality and Culture: (Re)Writing the Land as Woman

Instructor: Chana Kronfeld

C. Kronfeld
W 3-6
140 Barrows

The focus of this seminar is the cultural topos of the land as woman and its rearticulations in diverse poetic traditions. Taking our investigation beyond the generalized association of earth with woman, we will start with the foundational biblical metaphor of Zion — the city, nation, or land — as woman or wife; and of God, speaking through the (male) prophet-poet, as lover or husband. » read more »

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266/Spanish 280.002: Nationalism, Colonialism, and Culture


Instructor: Francine Masiello

F. Masiello
TH 3-6
Cross Listed with Spanish 280:2

This seminar is devoted to an investigation of the concept of “South” in the imagination of colonizers, explorers, and creative writers beginning in the 19th century, stretching through the fantasies of high modernists and social realists, and reaching today’s novelists and poets.   » read more »

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360S: Those Who Can, Teach

W 12-1 and F 12-2

The purpose of this course is to introduce new GSIs to the theory and practice of teaching Comparative Literature 1A and 1B (and other courses taught by Comp Lit GSI’s). More generally, the course will help you prepare for a career as a college teacher of literature and for the teaching component of job applications. This course is a 4-unit, S/U class. » read more »

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