Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: Cane, Cannons, and the Canon: Postcolonial Rewritings

Tu/Th 08:00-09:30 205 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

currCL R1A:1
Tu/Th 8-9:30
205 Dwinelle
CCN: 17203
C. Scholl

In this course, we will explore the relationship between how literary empires are forged and how they are challenged. Reading texts regarded as classics of the Western canon* alongside 20th– and 21st-century texts from Africa and the Americas produced in self-conscious relationship to the earlier works, we will consider the ways in which narratives are transformed by authors writing from different historical and cultural locations. In doing so, we will see that, in fact, the canonical pre-texts are also appropriating and rewriting narratives generated by Europe’s imperial expansion—meaning that all of the texts we will be reading are in some sense postcolonial rewritings.

This is a writing-intensive course, with an emphasis on the practice of global revision/rewriting as a fundamental part of the writing process. Students will learn how to develop interesting arguments about the texts we are studying and how to refine these ideas through their drafting and revision of several analytical essays.

* Canon: “A body of literary works traditionally regarded as the most important, significant, and worthy of study; those works of especially Western literature considered to be established as being of the highest quality and most enduring value; the classics (now freq. in the canon)” (OED). From ancient Greek kanon, meaning a “reed” or “rod” used as an instrument of measurement. Possibly derived from kanna, the etymological origin of both cannon, the heavy artillery used in European imperial expansion, and of the sugar cane that played a significant role in motivating and fueling the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism in the Caribbean.

Possible textual pairings include:

Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey (selections) / Derek Walcott, Omeros (selections)
Michel de Montaigne, “Of Cannibals” / Oswald de Andrade, “The Cannibalist Manifesto”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest / Aimé Césaire, A Tempest
William Shakespeare, Othello / Toni Morrison and Rokia Traoré, Desdemona
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe / J. M. Coetzee, Foe
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights / Maryse Condé, Windward Heights (La migration des cœurs)
Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor / Claire Denis, Beau Travail

Course Catalog Number: 17203

R1A.003: Reading Illness

M/W/F 10:00-11:00 259 Dwinelle Instructor: Johnathan Vaknin

CL R1A:3
MWF 10-11
259 Dwinelle
CCN: 17209
J. Vaknin

We tend to think about illness in biological and epidemiological terms; much of our knowledge about health is communicated through the language of medicine and science—we look to doctors, pharmacists, nutritionists, and a range of other experts when seeking advice on how to lead a healthy life. But can science fully convey what it means to be ill? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17209

R1A.004: Russian and British Literature of Empire

M/W/F 10:00-11:00 233 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL R1A:4
MWF 10-11
233 Dwinelle
CCN: 17212
M. Renolds

This course will focus on the literature of two major empires – Russia and Britain – and will examine how these empires use literature to create the “identity” of those living in the empires’ respective colonies. What is an empire, and what is a nation? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17212

R1A.006: Being Conventional: Fitting in and the Fictions of Community

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 203 Wheeler Instructor: Keith Budner

CL R1A:6
MWF 11-12
203 Wheeler
CCN: 17218
K. Budner

We often imagine reading to be a private and personal matter.  We all have our own favorite novels, and when we want time alone, curling up with a book is never a bad option.  Yet this course hopes to explore how reading literature informs our place within groups, within homes and families, cities, nations, and a host of other collective categories.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17218

R1A.008: Literature, History, and Cosmopolitanism

Tu/Th 08:00-09:30 79 Dwinelle Instructor: Gabriel Page Keith Ford

CL R1A:8
Tu/Th 8-9:30
79 Dwinelle
CCN: 17223
G. Page & K. Ford

This course will focus on the relations between literature, history, and cosmopolitanism. We will read a selection of literary texts produced in the greater Atlantic region – Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and Africa – since the arrival of the Europeans in the Americas. The history of conquest, colonialism, plantation slavery, decolonization, and postcolonial migration makes the Atlantic region a zone of cultural exchange and creolization. As we read literary narratives that represent lives conditioned by this Atlantic history we will reflect on the concept of cosmopolitanism, interrogating the role that literature might play in producing transnational or cosmopolitan modes of thinking and feeling.

Primary readings will likely include The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, The Kingdom of this World, Home to Harlem, Voyage in the Dark, and White Teeth, but students should wait until the first day of class before purchasing the texts. This is also a writing intensive course with several essay assignments. We will approach academic writing as a process, and students will learn how to articulate clear and interesting arguments about the texts we are studying.

Course Catalog Number: 17223

R1B.001: Swashbuckling in Literature and Film

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 109 Dwinelle Instructor: Jessica Crewe Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:1
Tu/Th 9:30-11
109 Dwinelle
CCN: 17224
J. Crewe & E. Laskin

Tales of travelers questing across the globe have been a cornerstone of popular culture from Homer’s Odyssey to Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yet, while these adventure narratives continue to seduce large audiences, we must also consider the political and social ramifications of such texts. What ethical problems might authors face in trying to represent foreignness and “the exotic”? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17224

R1B.002: Science and Literature

Tu/Th 08:00-09:30 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:2
TuTh 8-9:30am
215 Dwinelle
CCN: 17227
J. Hock and P. Gerard

In The Republic, Plato condemps poetry for being too far removed from reality. A feeble imitation of the world (itself an imitation of ideal Ideas), poetry isn’t really “true” and thus distorts our understanding of the world and is a bad influence on young people. In the Poetics, Aristotle argues that didactic, or scientific, verse isn’t really poetry. From the Greeks onwards, we have tended to distinguish poetry and science as different modes of thought with different relationships to truth or the real, and different functions in society. This course will take a long view of this troubled history and read in the history of science, poetry, and poetic theory to question the traditional generic boundaries between scientific and literary texts and practices. From the farming manual that is Virgil’s Georgics to contemporary scholarship that uses neurological advances to analyze literature to science fiction from all periods, we will question the boundaries between science and literature and the practice of each.

Reading List:

Readings will likely include selections from the following works and authors, among others. They will be available at the University bookstore, in the course reader, or on bSpace.

Hesiod, Theogony

Plato, Republic

Ovid, Metamorphoses
Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis
Cyrano, Voyage to the Moon

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Primo Levi, “The Periodic Table”

Oliver Sacks, essays

Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

Poems and short works by John Donne, William Wordsworth, John Keats, William Blake, John Milton, Matthew Arnold, Elizabeth Bishop, Oulipo poets.

Films may include:

Blade Runner


Grizzly Man

Green Porno

Course Catalog Number: 17227

R1B.002: Complicity

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:2
Tu/Th 8-9:30am
215 Dwinelle
CCN: 17227
A. Gadberry & P. Gerard

“The best way to bind them is to burden them with guilt, cover them with blood, compromise them as much as possible, thus establishing a bond of complicity so that they can no longer turn back.”

– Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved

What makes a bystander “innocent,” and what problems arise when guilt seems not to reside solely, and tidily, in one “evil” person?  What happens if or when there’s no one who’s not, at least a little bit, a “bad guy”?  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17227

R1B.003: Translations

Instructor: Diana Thow

CL R1B:3
TuTh 8-9:30am
105 Dwinelle
CCN: 17230
D. Thow

“The word “translation” comes, etymologically, from the Latin for “bearing across.” Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.” –Salman Rushdie, “Imaginary Homelands”

Translation is everywhere.  But what is it, exactly?  The term is often used to mean anything transferred, adapted, communicated, displaced or interpreted. What does it mean when something is “lost in translation”?  What is the difference between a translator and an author?  In this class will examine translation as a creative process that bears meaning from one language to another, and think about many of the metaphors implied by the term. We will also examine the figure of the translator as a character in literature and film as someone who enables movement, transferal, transformation, adaptation, interpretation, but also loss.

We will read many works of literature in translation and perform close comparative readings of various short translated passages over the course of the semester.   Our focus in this class will be to hone our analytical reading and writing skills, and translation will therefore serve as a model, one that makes interpretative claims about the meaning of a text.

Course objectives:

This is the second class in the Reading and Composition series, and will specifically address the process of writing a research paper.  We will build upon the analytical writing skills students have acquired through their experience in R1A, and gradually work towards producing a final research paper.

Required texts

William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Brian Friel, Translations
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
Vladimir Nabokov, Pnin
Vassilis Alexakis, Foreign Words
Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

Course reader with poetry, prose selections, and critical material


Course Catalog Number:

R1B.004: The Real Housewives of Comparative Literature

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Jordan Greenwald Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:4
TuTh 9:30-11
215 Dwinelle
CCN: 17233
J. Greenwald & K. Crim

This course will examine a long legacy of cultural fascination with domestic space and its iconic caretaker, the housewife.  We will discuss literary texts and films that feature housewives as their protagonists – from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf to the present.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17233

R1B.005: Laughing Matters

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 105 Dwinelle Instructor: Marianne Kaletzky

CL R1B:5
TuTh 9:30-11
105 Dwinelle
CCN: 17236
M. Kaletzky

What’s the opposite of laughter? The tear? The sigh? Or the particularly grave, slightly condescending expression of the person who informs us, reproachfully, that a situation is serious and therefore “no laughing matter?” » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17236

R1B.006: Shipwrecked Texts

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 209 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:6
TuTh 9:30-11am
209 Dwinelle
CCN: 17239
R. McGlazer and J. Saidenberg

In this course, we’ll think and write about literature’s fascination with shipwrecks and their aftermath.  We’ll cross a number of seas and several centuries in order to ask what accounts for this fascination and what, if anything, might be left of it today.  How do desert islands, for all their devastation, come to represent alternative worlds and to shelter new forms of social life?  » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17239

R1B.007: Misplaced Identities

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Suzanne Scala Kareem Abu-Zeid

CL R1B:7
TuTh 11-12:30
215 Dwinelle
CCN: 17242
S. Scala & K. Abu-Zeid

It’s a commonplace to say that one travels to “find oneself.” But what does that mean? How does a self go missing in the first place, and what processes are necessary to “find” it again? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17242

R1B.008: Voices of Babel

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 109 Dwinelle Instructor: Celine Piser Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:8
TuTh 11-12:30
109 Dwinelle
CCN: 17245
C. Piser & J. Tan

In this course we’ll study the connections between multilingualism, multiculturalism, and marginalized communities in literature. We’ll look at different ways of storytelling to determine how narratives are structured formally and linguistically. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17245

R1B.009: TiME TRAVEL: Retelling Science, History, and Self

Tu/Th 12:30-02:00 209 Dwinelle Instructor: Bonnie Ruberg Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:9
TuTh 12:30-2
209 Dwinelle
CCN: 17248
B. Ruberg & C. Goldblatt

Like the time traveler revisiting to a fateful moment in history, literary and sci-fi authors alike return again and again to the theme of time travel. The trope dates back as far as mythology, appearing in early Jewish and Japanese texts. More recently, in the century following H. G. Wells’ Time Machine, innumerable characters have been hopping across the space/time continuum.  The popularity of these stories — A Wrinkle in TimeThe Time Traveler’s Wife — challenge us to question: what about time travel, as a literary device and a thought experiment, so compels us? Dr. Who, the most prominent pop culture time traveler, has been on the air for sixty years! We might even extend the topic of time travel to include memoirs, historical fiction, anachronisms: all textual attempts to retell fact and self through temporal displacement.

This course will stress both literary analysis and writing skills. Creative exercises will be paired with close readings and writing workshops, while we explore the history and attraction of time travel in fiction.

Reading List

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells (1895)
A Wrinkle in Time,  Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
The Lover, Marguerite Duras (1984)
The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
Dr. Who (1963 to present)
The Talmud, excerpts

Course Catalog Number: 17248

R1B.010: Space is the Place: Framework and Composition

Tu/Th 12:30-02:00 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:10
TuTh 12:30-2
234 Dwinelle
CCN: 17251
S. Schneider & O. Erez

How would our lives change if we lived in a two-dimensional universe? If we could travel freely, without subjection to borders, but had no one place to call home? How can a whole city be invisible? This course will encourage building critical reading, thinking and writing skills around literary works and theoretical essays, and films that consider space as a primary concern. These texts explore the invisible or unspoken laws governing even the most familiar places. Some of our texts ask how real or imaginative spaces reflect the encounters, experiences and memories of an individual. In others, space itself becomes the protagonist or antagonist. We will use our critical analyses to question how geographical, architectural and fictional spaces are manipulated or in turn manipulate us.

Writing shares much with space-building: whether they be in a room, a city street, a border crossing or outer space, imaginative narratives are inextricable from their environments. Similarly, critical arguments also require a considered framework for their composition. By engaging with works of literature, film and photography that make clear allusions, through their depiction of space, to their mode and style of composition, we will consider the way we compose. Through readings and class discussions, we will focus on how to frame our narratives and arguments to get our audience on the same page with us.

 Course Requirements:

As this is a writing intensive course, many of our activities will be dedicated towards refining your prose. Assignments include a diagnostic paper, a 6-7 page analytical paper and a 10-page research paper. The two larger papers will include a draft and the final paper, and we will place a major emphasis on the process of revision. Other assignments include approximately bi-weekly bSpace postings, group presentations, a final, independent presentation and in-class writing exercises.

Texts and films may include:

Edwin A. Abbott Flatland
Madame de Lafayette Princess of Cleves
George Perec Species of Spaces
W.G. Sebald Austerlitz
Italo Calvino Invisible Cities
Tayeb Salih Season of Migration to the North
Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker
Stanley Kubrick Space Odyssey
Sun Ra Space is the Place

*Please do not purchase texts until after our first meeting.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.010: Uncertain Hunger

Tu/Th 12:30-02:00 234 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL R1B:10
TuTh 12:30-2
234 Dwinelle
CCN: 17251
S. Cochran & O. Erez

Hunger is fundamental: both because it is utterly ordinary, shaping the course of our daily life, and also because it is simultaneously one of the most complex and mysterious of yearnings, shaping the murky landscape of our psyche.  It is as mundane as a craving for a ham sandwich and as abstract and often unconscious as a need to feel loved, a need to feel safe, or a need to feel connected to a community.

In this course we will explore literature in which characters experience hunger of all sorts but are often uncertain of what exactly they are hungering for.  We’ll discuss Kafka’s “hunger artist,” who, as he performs great feats of starvation for crowds of spectators, feels perpetually misunderstood and lonely and can only think to starve himself for longer and longer periods of time.  We’ll meet a group of terrifying, flesh-eating wolves in Angela Carter’s short story, who never cease, nonetheless, to mourn their irremediable appetites.  We’ll read about the fairy tale witch who fattens up a little boy and girl to gobble them up herself.  And we’ll even meet on film “Hannibal the Cannibal” in the Silence of the Lambs, whose brutality in eating human bodies is matched only by his cultured politeness to the FBI agent whose own unconscious hungers he is keen to point out to her.

This will be a course in which we encounter great texts, reflect together on what we take from them, and express our individual interpretations in several longer, and shorter, papers designed to develop the best of skills in reading, writing, and research.

Reading list:

Franz Kafka, “The Hunger Artist”
Amélie Nothomb, The Life of Hunger (selections)
Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves”
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Anne Sexton, Transformations (selected poems)
Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat”
Brother Grimm, “Hansel and Gretel” and other selected fairy tales
Silence of the Lambs, dir. Jonathan Demme


Course Catalog Number: 17251

R1B.012: Alternative Worlds

M/W/F 10:00-11:00 109 Dwinelle Instructor: Kfir Cohen Howard Fisher

CL R1B:12
MWF 10-11
109 Dwinelle
CCN: 17257
K. Cohen & H. Fisher

In this course we will develop writing and argumentative skills through exploring imaginative and theoretical texts that offer us models of alternatives worlds whose social structures attempt to solve some of the perennial problems of modern living. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17257

R1B.012: Close Encounters: Confronting Other Worlds

Instructor: Laura Wagner Howard Fisher

CL R1B:12
MWF 10-11
109 Dwinelle
CCN: 17257
L. Wagner & H. Fisher

What does it mean to meet someone or something we can’t name?  How do we know the difference between self and other, between friend and foe, between the familiar and the foreign?  What distinguishes a novel experience from an everyday event?  And how do we talk about what we’ve seen?  This course will turn to a variety of literary genres and visual representations as we interrogate the notion of the encounter.  We’ll track down visits to and from alien worlds, examine meetings between cultures, and look at contact with animals and with ghosts.  Most importantly, we’ll work on developing the critical reading and analytical writing skills that will help us to articulate what happens in our own close encounters with texts of all kinds.

Texts will be chosen from among the following:

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
Charles R. Johnson, Middle Passage
Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy
China Miéville, Embassytown


Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man

A course reader will include selections by François Rabelais, Michel de Montaigne, Olaudah Equiano, Elizabeth Bishop, Edgar Allen Poe, Julio Cortázar, and John Berger, as well as varied resources on writing.

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.013: Listening In: Eavesdropping & Surveillance in Literature

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Jane Raisch Taylor Johnston

CL R1B:13
MWF 11-12
215 Dwinelle
CCN: 17260
J. Raisch & T. Johnston

What do we do with information we’re not intended to receive? In this class, we’ll be exploring the concepts of eavesdropping, surveillance, and interception as both plot devices within works of fiction and as effects produced by the act of reading fiction. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17260


20: Episodes in Literary Cultures

Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust: Changing Times

M/W/F 11:00-12:00 126 Barrrows Instructor: Michael Lucey

CL 20: 1
MWF 11-12
126 Barrows Hall
CCN: 17287
M. Lucey

In the masterful hands of Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust, the novel becomes an instrument for studying and for experiencing what it means to exist in the world and in time. Both Woolf and Proust saw the world around them changing rapidly – the world of the new twentieth century, increasingly global, a world of artistic revolution, of technological innovation, of political upheaval,  of rapid social change, of international warfare. They wrote novels as part of studying that change, as part of thinking about the experience of change itself, the effects of change on our ability to perceive the world we live in.  In turn, their novels changed how people thought about and read novels. Some would say their novels contributed to changing our ability to see the new world around us. The novels of Woolf and Proust (Woolf, in fact, was an admiring reader of Proust) are now thought of as some of the most inventive, challenging, and influential novels ever written.  In this course we will explore Woolf and Proust’s aesthetic, philosophical, historical, and sociological experiments within the form of the novel.  We’ll read four novels by Woolf, part or all of four of the volumes of Proust’s seven-volume masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, along with a few of their essays and a few essays by other writers.

Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way, In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Sodom and Gomorrah, Finding Time Again  (We will be reading the Penguin translations, series editor Christopher Prendergast.)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, The Waves, The Years

Course Catalog Number: 17287

24: Freshman Seminar

Bob Dylan and Arthur Rimbaud: Poetry and the Senses

F 11:00-12:00 202 Wheeler Instructor: Timothy Hampton

CL 24: 2
F 11-12
202 Wheeler
CCN: 17305
T. Hampton
(1 unit Pass/No Pass)

Bob Dylan has named the nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud as one of his major sources of inspiration.   In this seminar we will explore the connections between these two important writers.  First we will read carefully through the poetry and letters of Rimbaud, one of the most original and powerful of modern poets. We will try to get a sense of what makes Rimbaud’s poetry so influential, not only for Dylan, but for a whole host of modern artists (including such figures as Patti Smith and Johnny Depp).  Then we will study the intersection between Rimbaud’s work and Dylan’s.  Central to our concerns will be the role of the senses in poetic creation, as well as, of course, the relationship between lyric poetry and song.   Students will gain familiarity with the writing of a major modern poet and have the chance to work closely on issues of poetic language and versification.  They will be expected to participate actively in the discussion and write a short paper.  The course will be in English.  No knowledge of French is required.

Book on order:

Rimbaud, Arthur.  Complete Works, Selected Letters, trans. Fowlie (University of Chicago Press)

Course Catalog Number: 17305

24: Freshman Seminar

Reading and Reciting Great Poems in English

Tu 04:00-05:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Steve Tollefson

Tu 4-5:00
225 Dwinelle
CCCN 17287
S. Tollefson

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.”

In this class we will read a number of “classic” poems as well as a number of other (perhaps lesser, but still memorable) poems, and discuss them. The poems cut across centuries and types, and students will encouraged to find other poems for the group to read.

Students will be required to memorize and recite between 50 and 75 lines of poetry throughout the semester. In addition, students will prepare a short anthology of their favorite poems, with an explanatory introduction for each poem.

Course Catalog Number: 17287

60AC: Topics in the Literature of American Cultures

Re-Visioning the “Sixties”

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 258 Dwinelle Instructor: Current Graduate Students

CL 60AC:1
Tu/Th 9:30-11
258 Dwinelle
CCN: 17308
M. Koerner

In this course we will explore the diversity of selected works of American literature, film, and music produced during the “long sixties” (1955-1975). Placing considerable emphasis on the relationship between artistic experimentation and emancipatory social movements, we will consider how innovative practices of language, image, and sound were mobilized alongside the more directly political actions associated with the Civil Rights Movement, the Student Movement, the Black and Red Power Movements, and the Women’s and Gay Liberation Movements. How have writers, filmmakers, visual artists, and musicians used their work to challenge war, racism, social and economic inequality, sexual violence and gendered discrimination? What critical and conceptual tools emerged in the encounters between artistic and social movements? What critical practices and theoretical orientations might enable us to better understand the points of connection between aesthetic and social revolutions? What, for instance, is at stake in the notion of a counter-culture or a cultural revolution? What criteria do we use to define “political art”?

Given the persistence of the “sixties” in the U.S. cultural imaginary – mostly recently evidence by a range of new films, documentaries, and television series focused on this transitional period in U.S. history – a significant portion of this course will also be devoted to critically engaging contemporary adaptations and representations of past works, events, and figures associated with the “sixties.” How and for what purposes does the present “revision” the past? What claims does that past still make on our own present?

Course materials include texts (poetry, fiction, journalism, manifestos), images (photographs, independent films, television clips, visual art), and sounds (music, recorded voice performances and political speeches) produced between 1955-1975, as well as selected contemporary films, documentaries, and critical essays. Written assignments include include several short response essays, a research paper and contributions to a course blog.

Course Catalog Number: 17308

100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Studies in Narrative: Open Secrets

Tu/Th 12:30-02:00 134 Dwinelle Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

CL 100:1
Tu/Th 12:30-2
134 Dwinelle
CCN: 17326
A. Francois

How do literary and filmic texts simultaneously disclose and keep their secrets? This course examines the role of secrets in producing and blocking narrative movement. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17326

112A: Modern Greek Language

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 125 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

Open to all students, no prerequisites

MWF 12-1:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN 17332
M. Kotzamanidou

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: 17332

151: The Ancient Mediterranean World

History of Sexualities

M/W/F 01:00-02:00 88 Dwinelle Instructor: Leslie Kurke

CL 151: 1
MWF 1-2
88 Dwinelle
CCN: 17335
K. Kurke

This course will study sexuality and gender in two very different historical periods–ancient Greece and 19th-century Europe.  Sexuality will be defined as including sexual acts (e.g. sodomy, pederasty, masturbation); sexual identities (e.g. erastes and eromenos); and sexual systems (e.g. kinship structures, subcultures, political hierarchies).  Readings and lectures will focus on situating queer sexualities relative to dominant organizations of sex and gender.  Topics will include Greek democracy and male homosexuality; the biology of sexual difference; the politics of sodomy; “romantic” friendship between women and men; and the emergence of strictly defined homosexual and heterosexual identities.  We will read literary texts along with historical documents and critical essays to constitute a comparative analysis of ancient Greek and 19th-century European systems of gender and sexuality.

Authors to be read include Hesiod, Sappho, Aeschylus, Plato, Wilde, Freud, and Foucault.

There will be two papers and a final exam.  There will also be required weekly reading questions that will count towards your final grade.

Course Catalog Number: 17335

155: The Modern Period

European Avante-garde: From Futurism to Surrealism

Tu/Th 03:30-05:00 130 Wheeler Instructor: Harsha Ram

CL 155: 2
Tu/Th 3:30-5
130 Wheeler
CCN: 17350
H. Ram

The literary avant-garde of the early twentieth century was the most radical expression of European modernism in literature and art. We will be focusing on the four most radical and creative of the avant-garde movements to have swept through Europe between the 1910’s and the 1930’s: Italian and Russian futurism, dada in Zurich and Paris, and French surrealism. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17350

155: The Modern Period

Literature and Human Rights

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 204 Wheeler Instructor: Victoria Kahn

CL 155: 1
Tu/Th 11-12:30
204 Wheeler
CCN: 17347
V. Kahn

This course will explore the history of the idea of human rights and the role of literature in depicting human rights abuses and in advancing human rights claims, from the sixteenth century to the present, with a particular focus on twentieth-century works. How does literature contribute to the invention of the concept of human rights? How do the authors talk about human dignity? » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17347

170: Special Topics in Comparative Literature

Honors Thesis Seminar: Literary Theory, Criticism, & Methodology

W 02:00-05:00 211 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

CL 170: 1
W 2-5
211 Dwinelle
CCN: 17353
R. Kaufman

[Note:  Enrollment in this seminar is limited exclusively to Comparative Literature students who will be writing an Honors Thesis during the 2013-2014 academic year (or very soon thereafter), and who have both the required overall and in-the-major GPA.  Instructor’s approval is required; please check with the Comparative Literature Department’s Undergraduate Advisor, Anna del Rosario.]

Although this seminar is optional rather than required for Comparative Literature Honors Thesis students (i.e., students who will be taking Comparative Literature CL H195 in 2013-2014 or soon thereafter, in which they will write an Honors Thesis under the direction of a faculty advisor), the seminar is nonetheless designed to help provide students with a strong background and training in what their Honors Thesis will entail. The seminar will offer readings, discussions, and a sense of the trajectory across time and circumstance of some of the most influential texts in literary theory, criticism, and aesthetics from Plato and Aristotle until today. We will also attempt to apply these theoretical traditions to the actual practice of literary criticism by engaging (in essay assignments) the various theories and methodologies we’re studying with particular literary texts that students will likely be writing about in their Honors Theses. We’ll thus likewise consider some of the nuts and bolts involved in undertaking the sustained critical essay of forty or more pages that the Honors Thesis involves. The theory and criticism we’ll read and apply will include aspects of Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, Neo-Classical, Enlightenment, Romantic and post-Romantic traditions, although we will emphasize the study of modern and recent trends (including New Criticism, Reader-Response, Psychoanalysis, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism/Deconstruction, New Historicism, Marxism, Feminism, and Race, Gender, and Sexuality-focused criticism). Our double-focus throughout the seminar will be on how literary theory and criticism have historically helped­-or hindered­-understandings of literature and literary/cultural works, and of how students can make literary theory and criticism help them as they think and work towards their upcoming H195 Honors Thesis projects (in terms of interpretation, analysis, methodology, and the practical tasks involved in writing a sustained critical essay).

Course Catalog Number: 17353

171: Topics in Modern Greek Literature

The Character of the Turk in Modern Greek Fiction

F 02:00-05:00 125 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

CL 171.1
F 2-5:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN: 17356
M. Kotzamanidou

With its varied cultural history and its geographical position as a bridge between East and West, Turkey, once the center of the Ottoman Empire, has always attracted the imagination of travelers and of writers.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17356

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Reading Interiority

Instructor: Sophie Volpp

CL 190.1
Tu/Th 12:30-2
203 Wheeler
CCN: 17359
S. Volpp

In this course we will read novels drawn from both the British and the Chinese traditions that experiment intensively with the representation of other minds. At what historical junctures does the representation of interiority become an issue? What is the distinction between individual psychology and consciousness?  How do novelists sustain our uncertainty as to our comprehension of fictional minds? Topics include Austen’s work with what later would be called free indirect discourse, James’ presentation of the restricted consciousness of a child, Woolf’s use of stream of consciousness, and Cao Xueqin’s experimentation with interior dialogue.


Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Henry James, What Maisie Knew
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Plum in the Golden Vase trans. David Roy
Cao Xueqin, Story of the Stone vol. 1 & 2

Course Catalog Number:

190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

The Image of Arthur in the Middle Ages

Instructor: Annalee Rejhon

The course will focus on Arthurian romance in medieval French, Welsh, and English literatures.  The figure of Arthur—his image and social function—will be examined in the three cultural contexts with special attention devoted to how his reception in each culture reflects the concerns of that particular milieu. » read more »

Course Catalog Number:


200: Approaches to Comparative Literature

Comparative Literature and Critical Theory

M 02:00-05:00 125 Dwinelle Instructor: Miryam Sas

CL 200.1
M 2-5
125 Dwinelle
CCN: 17401
M. Sas

This seminar is designed as an introduction to graduate study in Comparative Literature. The readings and discussions consider theoretical models central to the discipline and their influential critiques. We begin with genealogies (origins) of the discipline, questions of reality and representation, and move on to consider the era of disciplinary revision/crisis, “high” theory and New Criticism, psychoanalysis and queer theory, theories of temporality and phenomenology, and postcolonial criticism, ending with  more recent works on affect and new media. » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17401

201: Proseminar

F 12:00-01:00 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Miryam Sas

K. McCarthy
F 12-1:00
4104 Dwinelle, Comp. Lit. Conference Room

Required for all first year graduate students

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 apspects 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: 17380

202C: Approaches to Genre: The Novel

W 02:00-05:00 202 Wheeler Instructor: Michael Lucey

CL 202C.1
W 2-5:00
202 Wheeler
CCN: 17406
M. Lucey

What is sociological knowledge? How do certain novels acquire the resources to produce sociological forms of knowledge? In particular, what aesthetic practices and what features of novelistic form contribute to this kind of knowledge production? What critical frameworks allow us to perceive this aspect of the representational work that novels do? We will use a series of American, French, and English novels to pursue these questions, reading in tandem with them a variety of sociological works, including work by Durkheim, Weber, Marx, Lukács, Bourdieu, and Goffman, as well as some recent literary criticism.

Novels: Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans; Balzac, Old Man Goriot; James, The Ambassadors; Proust, The Guermantes Way; Woolf, To the Lighthouse; Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop; Sarraute, Between Life and Death.

Course Catalog Number: 17406

225: Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

Modern Poetry and Frankfurt School Aesthetics

Tu 02:00-05:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Robert Kaufman

CL 225:2
Tu 2-5
225 Dwinelle
CCN: 17413
R. Kaufman

[Note: Although this seminar emphasizes the importance of nineteenth and twentieth-century poetry and poetics to the development of Frankfurt School aesthetics, criticism, and theory, and likewise considers more recent dialogues between later twentieth and  twentieth-first-century poetry/poetics and Frankfurt-oriented criticism, the seminar is also cross-listed as a Critical Theory 205 “Frankfurt School” Core-Curriculum Course (for students enrolled in the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory). Whether enrolled through Comparative Literature, or through the Critical Theory Program, students not focused on poetry in their Ph.D. studies are nonetheless welcome to take the seminar as a survey of some major texts in Frankfurt aesthetic, literary, and cultural theory more generally, provided they are willing actively to study and engage with the modern poetry and poetics that will be treated as the seminar’s primary literary field.]
» read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17413

225: Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

Musil: Man without Qualities

Tu 02:00-05:00 214 Haviland Instructor: Niklaus Largier

CL 225.1
Tu 2-5
214 Haviland
CCN: 17410
N. Largier

In this seminar we will read, discuss, and analyze Robert Musil’s Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften. We will read the entire novel and focus on a selection of short passages for close readings each week. Students should have read as much of the novel as possible by the beginning of the semester. Also listed as German 214.01.

Course Catalog Number: 17410

232: Studies Near Eastern-Western Literary Relations

Space and Representation in Arabic Literature

M 03:00-06:00 201 Giannini Instructor: Gretchen Head

CL 232.1
Mon 3-6pm
201 Giannini
CCN: 17419
G. Head

With the pre-Islamic ode’s evocation of the past figured through the space of the abandoned campsite, place is a central organizing trope from the earliest poems of the Arabic literary canon onward. The Meccan surahs of the Qur’an are inextricably linked to the landscape of the desert.   » read more »

Course Catalog Number: 17419