Reading and Composition (R&C)

R1A.001: Storytelling Inside and Out

Instructor: David Walter

MWF 10-11:00
175 Dwinelle
CCN 17203
David Walter

This course focuses on the mechanics of storytelling and the way successful storytellers go beyond craft to create a living work of art. We will examine classic attempts to say what makes a good story and analyze strategies that writers, dramatists, and filmmakers use to draw in their readers. Students will be introduced to the concept of the genre and will be asked to put to the test the idea that each genre has certain “rules” that make it successful. Readings will include the drama of Sophocles and August Wilson, stories by Boccaccio, Diderot, Dinesen and O’Connor, and films by Wilder and Polansky.

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R1A.002: Narrative and Memory

Instructor: Nina Estreich

MW 4-5:30
264 Dwinelle
CCN 17206
Nina  Estreich

In this course we will be reading some modern literary works which are characterized by highly individual narrative voices.  With attention to the unique characteristics of different prose styles, we will think about how these writings raise questions about individual and cultural identity and the workings of memory.  We will also consider how colonial experience is conveyed in the sometimes idiosyncratic forms of modern fiction.  Readings include Jamaica Kincaid, Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, Assia Djebar, Pramoedya Ananta Toer.  Regular writing assignments and two required essays will emphasize skills in interpretive close reading and revision.

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R1A.003: Babes in the Wood: Children in Literatures of Loss and Uncertainty

Tu/Th 11:00-12:30 156 Dwinelle Instructor: Jessica Crewe Sarah Chihaya

T/Th 11-12:30
156 Dwinelle
CCN 17209
S. Chihaya and J. Crewe

While childhood and its attendant joys often provide the focus for works of literature and film, this course will turn to a darker image – that of the child in crisis. The texts we will examine place young protagonists in situations of intense strain and stress, with a particular focus on the child in the midst of war and national upheaval. The questions that surround these issues are many and varied: why do authors choose to focus on children and childhood in these works, especially those intended for adult audiences? What is it about the figure of the child that allows us, as adult readers and viewers, to view problematic historical moments with such clarity? How might the child protagonist serve as a focus for our own insecurities and fears – and alternately, as a possible source of hope or optimism? Over the course of the semester, we will explore these questions (and more) in depth through discussion and written analysis.

Texts will include:

Pan’s Labyrinth, dir. Guillermo del Toro

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

Selections from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, William Blake

Grave of the Fireflies, Akiyuki Nosaka (with film, dir. Isao Takahata)

Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard (with film, dir. Steven Spielberg)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer

The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

Selections from Paradise Lost, John Milton

Course Catalog Number: 17209

R1A.004: Imitation and Misrepresentation

T/Th 3:30-5:00
263 Dwinelle
CCN 17212
Ruth Lorenz

This course will give you a taste of one of the most enduring debates surrounding literary fictions while also providing a solid introduction to analytical thinking and writing. The texts we’ll be reading, drawn from the English, Russian, German and Classical Greek traditions, will offer arguments and experiments that explore what happens when literature aspires to represent reality—whatever “reality” might be. Does fiction decieve readers or enlighten them? Does it cater to our preconceived notions or challenge them? What distortions are embedded in the literary reflection? We will explore these questions and more in readings and class discussions. These discussions will in turn be the backdrop to a sustained examination of the skills involved in writing argumentative essays. The course will offer direction in how to generate an argument, how to structure a paper and how to express yourself with clarity. You will leave the course with more insight into the truths and lies of fiction and with a honed ability to write elegantly and effectively.

Texts will include:

Plato, The Republic (selections)

Aristotle, Poetics

Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

Brecht, Life of Galiei

Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Barthes, S/Z (selections)

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R1B.001: Criminal Women

MWF: 10-11a
263 Dwinell
CCN 17215
Gina Zupsich


Murder, sorcery, betrayal, suicide, adultery… These are a few of the charges brought against the female figures that we will study in this course. Opening up the term crime as broadly as possible, we will attempt to answer a range of questions about the relationship between women and crime. What is a woman’s crime? Are women particularly prone to crime? Is it a crime to be a woman?

Looking at various narratives of criminal women, we will investigate the cultural, social and political conditions of women’s existence that inform their transgressive behavior. Our texts include novels, short stories, film, and gender theory that deal with delinquent women of diverse classes, races, cultures and occupations. We will examine how literature itself criminalizes and decriminalizes women, including retellings of infamous criminal women such as Tituba, a witch from Arthur Miller’s Crucible and Charlotte Bronte’s madwoman from Jane Eyre, who tell “their” side of the story.

R1B is a continuation of college-level argumentative writing with an aim to develop more advanced writing skills based on literary critique and basic research. In the first week of class, you will write a 3-page essay that will help identify specific areas of writing for you to improve. You will write two 7-8-page essays on the course reading that  includes independent research outside of class. Our focus will be to practice the step-by-step process of writing from brainstorming to argumentation and revision. Class discussions are a vital part of this process as a way to focus critical themes and develop literary analytical skills.


The Awakening Kate Chopin

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem Maryse Condé

Wide Sargasso Sea Jean Rhys

Writing Analytically, 5th Edition, Rosenwasser and Stephen

Notes on a Scandal (2007) Richard Eyre

COURSE READER (available at Copy Central on Bancroft)

Thérèse Desqueyroux François Mauriac trans. Gerard Hopkins

María de Zayas “Judge Thyself” from The Enchantments of Love

“Womanliness as Masquerade” Joan Rivière

The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir (Excerpts)

Gender Trouble Judith Butler (Excerpt)

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R1B.002: Literature and Perception

T/Th 9:30-11:00
224 Wheeler
CCN 17218
Jason Bodik

“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, above all, to make you see. That—and no more, and it is everything.”

—Joseph Conrad

In this course we will be reading and discussing a number of texts that concern themselves with questions of perception. How does a lyric poem allow us to see or feel something we’ve never directly experienced? How does the ability or inability clearly to see and understand a state of affairs affect the plight of a character, or the conflicts around which a plot revolves? Is language, though a verbal phenomenon, able somehow to change the way we perceive in our actual lives? If so, what types of real-world power does this ability imply for literature, and what light can it shed on the controversies that surround so many literary texts? Through wide-ranging in-class discussion and frequent writing assignments, we will explore these and other questions over the course of the semester.


Sophocles, Oedipus Rex

William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell

Richard Wright, Native Son

Marguerite Duras, The Lover

Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlon, Ukbar, Orbis Tertius”

Nikolai Gogol, “The Overcoat”

Clarice Lispecter, “Journey to Petropolis”

We will also be reading a number of shorter poems by authors including, but not limited to: Elizabeth Bishop, William Blake, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Pablo Neruda, Ezra Pound, Cathy Song, and W. B. Yeats.

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R1B.002: TBA

T/Th 9:30-11:00
224 Wheeler
CCN 17218
Jason Bodik

Course Description: TBA

Course Catalog Number:

R1B.003: Language, Reality, and Race: Philosophies of Language and African American Experience

T/Th 11-12:30
20 Wheeler
CCN 17221
Amy Jamgochian

This course will begin from the assertion that language is not a transparent reflection of reality, but a highly political form of human interaction.  In the first half of the class, we will look at philosophies of language that debate just how words reflect and/or produce reality.  In the second half of the course we will focus on African American novels, poetry, and film to look at the politics of language in practice.

Course reading will include selections from:

Gorgias, On What is Not
Plato, The Phaedrus
Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages
Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lies in an Extramoral Sense”
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks
Jean Toomer, Cane
Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man
Gwendolyn Brooks, poems
David Foster Wallace, “Authority and American Usage”
Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Signifying Monkey
Marlon Riggs, Tongues Untied
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
Langston Hughes, selected poems

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R1B.004: From Oedipus Rex to Oedipa Maas: The Literature of Psychoanalysis

Tu/Th 03:30-05:00 211 Dwinelle Instructor: Nina Pick

Tu/Th 3:30-5:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN 17224
Nina Pick

In this course we will consider the relationship between literature and psychoanalysis. Privileging praxis as well as theory, we will lurk in the library, eavesdrop in the analyst’s office, and peer into the bedroom to examine the various positions, practices and repercussions of psychoanalytic thought. Our project will be to read psychoanalytic texts as literature and, conversely, to read literature through or against a psychoanalytic framework, focusing on texts that explicitly exhibit a psychoanalytic engagement or critique. We will survey some of Freud’s key theories—on love, dream interpretation, hysteria, etc.—, and simultaneously we will read Freud reading: what was he reading, and how? We will examine both the myths at the foundation of Freud’s writing and the continuing momentous aftershocks of his theories: the creation and dissemination of new cultural mythology; the waves of resistance, criticism, disavowal, and dismissal. What were the driving myths for Freud? And what are the myths that drive us?

To explore these questions, we will follow the Oedipus myth from Sophocles’ classical play, Oedipus Rex, to the post-modern play (in the other sense of the word) of Deleuze and Guattari’s schizophrenic Anti-Oedipus, Nabokov’s other family romance, and the paranoiac quest of Pynchon’s Oedipa Maas. How does the Oedipus myth continue to resonate in contemporary considerations of self and relationship? We will linger in the places in Freud’s theories that strike us as undertheorized, dissatisfying or provocative, to examine the ways post-Freudian criticism builds upon or dismisses Freud, specifically in its conceptions of female and/or queer desire. And finally we will look at how other genres—the novel, poetry, drama and film—perform their own powerful theorization.

Texts will include the following (please wait to buy until after the first day of class):

Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle

Peter Gay, The Freud Reader

William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

Peter Shaffer, Equus

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

Course reader and/or class handouts will include:

Excerpts from Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus, Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, Teresa de Lauretis’ The Practice of Love, and selections from Carl Jung and Adrienne Rich.

Course Catalog Number: 17224

R1B.005: Cities: Real and Imagined

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 223 Dwinelle Instructor: Suzanne Scala Current Graduate Students

T/Th 9:30-11:00
223 Dwinelle
CCN 17227
Suzanne Scala and Jessie Hock

Encrusted with history and heedlessly modern, intimate mental landscapes and sites of anonymous dehumanization, cities have been a favorite topic of writers at least since Plato wrote his Republic. In this course, we will focus on the role of the city in literature and film. Can a city function as another character in a novel? Can it be a “psychical entity,” as Freud called Rome? Why have so many authors created imaginary cities? In film, what is the interplay between the city as the location of the action and the action itself? Could Lost in Translation, for example, take place anywhere but Tokyo?

Course Catalog Number: 17227

R1B.006: Outsiders

Instructor: Adeline Tran

T/Th 11-12:30
229 Dwinelle
CCN 17230
Jennifer Lillie and Adeline Tran

What is advantageous about the vantage point offered from outside the healthy, the normal, the mainstream, the acceptable, the recognized? This course will focus on short stories, novels, and films about outsider figures: geniuses, patients, loners, inmates, hermits, outcasts, foreigners, etc. In doing so, we will also consider the (de)normalizing effect of the creative process and insider status as an inhibitor and/or facilitator of that process. We will also explore our own privileged outsider status as critical writers. A heavy load of writing assignments will emphasize how to assume a critical (as opposed to a moral or purely aesthetic/affective) stance and how to make a logically coherent literary argument.

Readings: Selections from Don Quixote, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, J. D. Salinger’s “Teddy,” Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, Nikolai Gogol’s “The Overcoat” and “Diary of a Madman,” Lu Xun’s “A Madman’s Diary,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Hayashi Fumiko’s “Diary of a Vagabond,” Edogawa Ranpo’s “The Stalker in the Attic,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Man of the Crowd,” Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Margaret Edson’s Wit, Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, Susan Sontag on sickness, selected works of Henry Darger


“Naked,” dir. Mike Leigh

“The Face of Another,” dir. Teshigahara Hiroshi

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R1B.007: Physical Fictions (Action-at-a-Distance)

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 20 Wheeler Instructor: Current Graduate Students

T/Th 9:30-11:00
20 Wheeler
CCN 17233
Amanda Goldstein and Margarita Zaydman

Though they seemed to lay bare the workings of so much of the natural universe, Newton’s  Principia famously declined to posit a cause, physical or metaphysical, for the gravitational attraction at work between bodies separated in space.  Over the following century, meanwhile, the distance between literature and science grew to define increasingly separate means of observing and representing the world. This course seeks to hone your critical reading and writing skills through the examination of literary, philosophical, scientific, and category-defying texts (from early to very recent modernity) that take up physics’ problem of action-at-a-distance. How, in these works, do forces of sympathy, similarity, memory, writing, or desire assume the capacity to move without touching? Are there influences that operate across distances in time, as well in space? How do our texts depict the medium (physical or otherwise) through which a delayed, waylaid, or mislaid “action” might pass?

The fictions, poems, essays and films we will be discussing here present situations where the difference between cause and effect, action and reaction, break down: they will provoke us to ask just what kind of an action “looking-on” might be; how ideas might work as contagiously as germs; how war and violence can happen by remote-control; and how different genres, such as elegies or odes, engage their absent and present objects.

Meanwhile, our emphasis on critical reading and writing will entangle us in new problems of distance and proximity. And although the notion of “action”  will be called routinely into question, it is clear that our class will require your active participation and preparation on several fronts: attentive reading before class and thoughtful contributions to discussion when we meet; writing and revising several essays; presenting a midterm multimedia group project; and preparing short, written homework assignments to be shared on bSpace or in class.


Books for purchase

William Shakespeare, Othello

Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

Denis Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew and D’Alembert’s Dream

J. W. Goethe, Elective Affinities

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye


Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others

Ari Folman, Waltz With Bashir


Isaac Newton, from the Principia, “General Scholium”

Michel de Montaigne, “Of Physiognomy,” “Of Cannibalism”

Adam Smith, from The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Denis Diderot, from The Indiscreet Jewels

Heinrich von Kleist, “On the Marionette Theatre”

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”

Friedrich Nietzsche, selected aphorisms from The Gay Science

Franz Kafka, selected parables and “The Hunger Artist”

Walter Benjamin, from Berlin Childhood

Poems by Horace, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Charles Baudelaire, W. H. Auden, Thomas Hardy, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Rainer Maria Rilke, Elizabeth Bishop, and Daniel Berrigan.

Texts by Victor Shklovsky, Barbara Johnson, Jean Starobinski, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour, Sigmund Freud, Paul Valèry, Charles Baudelaire, and Karl Marx.

*Some of these will not be included in the course reader but available on b-space e-reserve.

Course Catalog Number: 17233

R1B.008: ‘O brave new world’: Conversion in its Contexts

Tu/Th 09:30-11:00 215 Dwinelle Instructor: Gregory Bonetti Jeffrey Weiner

T/Th 9:30-11:00
215 Dwinelle
CCN 17236
Jeffrey Weiner & Gregory Bonetti

This course examines a term, “conversion,” in its religious context, and also in the areas of sexuality, ideological discourse, ethics, politics, and aesthetics.  We begin by reading Socrates’ account of the potential for poets to influence fantasy and desires, so that we may assess the extent to which art can produce a “conversion.”  From Ovid’s tales of unwilling transformation in the Metamorphoses and Shakespeare’s treatment of the subject in The Tempest, we go on to the Biblical accounts of religious conversion.  Why and in what context does a person choose to convert from one set of beliefs and one state of being to another?  What kinds of transformations occur in the subject and in her social context?  How is individual conversion threatening to the social and cultural status quo?  We will be looking closely at the roles of desire, fantasy, absence, and presence in the conversion of literary characters through the works of St. Perpetua, Ignatius of Loyola, Molière, and Cervantes.  We will also consider how the dream of the cultural Other’s conversion plays into our own fantasies.

While we will always keep in mind the text’s role in converting the reader, we will focus increasingly on this function in more explicitly ideological works.  We will read Orwell’s Animal Farm and Collodi’s allegorical conversion of Pinocchio, as well as the aestheticized, psychological conversion in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Holleran’s novel about gay culture in the late 1970s opens the way for a group conversation about the insistent role of sex, music, and dance as sources of individual and communal conversion.  We will listen to and analyze some of the most important disco anthems in this context.  The course continues with an exploration of the function of the text in converting a resistant audience through the Belgian film about a cross-dressing child in a bourgeois family, Ma Vie en Rose.  Finally, we will theorize about the possibilities for extending the term conversion to “sero-conversion,” meaning to become HIV-positive.  The movie adaptation of Kushner’s Angels in America will give us an opportunity to play again with the ideas of desire, fantasy, and communal resistance in the context of the “forced conversion” of HIV-positive people.  As the film’s audience, we are invited to undergo a “conversion” in our thoughts about disease, blame, and communal responsibility.

Whether they are explicitly religious, ideological, or aesthetic, we will imagine all discourses of conversion as playing with similar kinds of desires, fantasies, and issues of agency between text and reader in the attempt to transform the individual and society.

Readings will include most of the following:


D’Aurevilley, Barbey “A Woman’s Revenge” from Les Diaboliques

Bible, selections form the Gospels and Book of Acts

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de, excerpts from Don Quixote and Exemplary Novels

Collodi, Carlo, excerpts from The Adventures of Pinocchio

Holleran, Andrew, chapters from Dancer from the Dance

Huysmans, J.-K., À rebours

Loyola, Ignatius, excerpts from Spiritual Exercises

Molière, Dom Juan

Orwell, George, Animal Farm

Ovid, excerpts from The Metamorphoses

Pamphili, Eusebius, excerpts from Church History and Life of Constantine

Perpetua, The Passion of St. Perpetua, St. Felicitas, and their Companions

Plato, excerpt from The Republic

Shakespeare, The Tempest

Wilde, Oscar, excerpts from The Picture of Dorian Gray



Angels in America (Nichols 2003)

Ma Vie en Rose (Berliner 1997)


Selections from the disco era (1973-1981)

Course Catalog Number: 17236

R1B.010: To be or not to be…Happy

T/Th 8-9:30
209 Dwinelle
CCN 17242
Jordan Bulger and Sydney Cochran

In this course we will investigate the imaginative worlds of literature and visual art, exploring what they teach us about the nature and experience of happiness. We will discuss the emotions of such perversely isolated individuals as Melville’s Bartleby, who chooses not to engage with the world around him, and such morally questionable characters as Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, whose love both sustains and deceives him. We will consider what it means for Gregor, in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, to find himself a stranger to his own skin; what the characters gain in Aristophanes’ Women at the Thesmophoria as they dress in drag and create identity through costume; and how two African American women, in Larsen’s Passing, struggle to understand the meaning of race in a society that sees only in black and white. What emotions do these experiences bring forward and what happiness, if any, is available to each character?

Beyond culling examples of happiness from these texts and others, we will examine how each work’s respective style and form add to our understanding of the emotions involved in these experiences. A love poem and a romantic movie may both reveal the joys of passionate love, but in what ways do their respective media (poetry versus film) and
the artistic options available to each medium shape our comprehension and appreciation of love? We will consider too how fiction, as opposed to other forms of expression, has unique mechanisms for conveying and exploring emotion. How might a novel teach us about happiness, for instance, in different ways than a psychology book?  When we read fiction critically, furthermore, we explore on dead paper a world of characters whose choices, whether they lead to
disappointment or to triumph, invite us to reflect upon our own lives, experiences, and choices. While focusing on what it means to be happy in work and in love, in our communities and with our bodies, we will also strive to gain new power in expressing our ideas and observations with clarity and good argument. Whether happily or unhappily, you will write several research papers in this course, in addition to shorter writing assignments, designed to develop your reading, writing, researching, thinking, and even your living skills to their fullest potential.


Principal Texts:

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
Passing, Nella Larsen
Women at the Thesmophoria, Aristophanes
“The Overcoat,” Nikolai Gogol
“Bartleby the Scrivener,” Herman Melville
“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Poems by Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Wordsworth, and others
Films: The Hours and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Hacker Rules for Writers with 2009 MLA Update

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R1B.011: Caliban in Latin America

MWF 11-12:00
109 Dwinelle
CCN 17245
Allen Young

“You taught me language, and my profit on’t

Is, I know how to curse. The red plague rid you,

For learning me your language.”

Deprived of his land and his language, Caliban, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, can denounce his enslavement only in the words of his master. The play is often read as an allegory of the conquest of the New World, and in Latin America and the Caribbean it has long served to frame discussions of cultural and intellectual relations across the Atlantic.   » read more »

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R1B.012: Travel Literature

T/Th 9:30-11:00
229 Dwinelle
CCN 17248
Dascha Inciarte and Madeline Cohen

This class will explore changing models of travel literature, beginning with some classical and medieval works (Herodotus, Chaucer, Ibn Battuta, Marco Polo, Columbus) and following the genre up through the twentieth century (Sforim, Kafka, Calvino, Lasker-Schüler).

Students will improve their analytical reading and expository writing skills through close reading, theoretical and contextual discussions, and critical research. Requirements will include a three to four-page diagnostic essay; short free-writing assignments; writing workshops; short critical group presentations; regular postings for online discussion; and two progressively longer essays, each of which will be revised.

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R1B.013: Flights Out of Time

Tu/Th 3:30-5:00
79 Dwinelle
CCN 17251
Adam Rzepka

This course explores the history of escapes from history, focusing on constellations of texts that perform radical critiques of existing social worlds by imagining radical departures from them.  We will track the astonishingly diverse lineage of the utopian imagination, from ancient accounts of the Isles of the Blessed to the manifestos of contemporary anarchist enclaves.  We will examine the generic and political transformations that drive the darkening of that imagination as the specter of dystopia emerges from within utopia and begins to subsume it.  Along the way, we will also consider a number of ‘xtopic’ fictions that defy the utopia/dystopia binary—the nonsensical maps and languages of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, for example.

Our guiding questions throughout the course will be about the ways in which discourse is turned and stretched in experiments with space and time.  How, for instance, do sharply contested social and political topics in a specific historical period translate into topographies for societies that are intended to be timeless?  What impact does utopian removal have on the languages spoken by utopian subjects?  Why does resistance within totalitarian dystopias so often begin as a kind of remembering?  Where do we stand as historical readers when we engage with texts that envision a future society located in what is now our present?

Major readings: Plato, The Republic; More, Utopia; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass; Kafka, The Castle; Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four; Gibson, Neuromancer.


Shorter readings may include: Selections from Hesiod, Pindar, Virgil, and Horace; selected Renaissance travelers’ pamphlets; Defoe, “Of Captain Mission”; chapters from Thoreau, Walden; chapters from Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture; De Certeau, “Walking in the City”; Debord, “Theory of the Dérive”; Foucault, “Panopticism”; Jameson, “The Desire Called Utopia”; Hakim Bey, “The Temporary Autonomous Zone”; selected late-twentieth century manifestos.



Lang, Metropolis

Marker, La jetée

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R1B.013: Sex and Violence: The Literature and Politics of Sadomasochism from Petrarch to the Present

T/Th 8-9:30
223 Wheeler
CCN 17254
Natalie Cleaver

Repression operated as a sentence to disappear, but also as an injunction to silence, an affirmation of nonexistence, and, by implication, an admission that there was nothing to say about such things, nothing to see, nothing to know.

Foucault, We “Other Victorians”

This course is centered around two works by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, the writers whose names gave us a word that can still seem shocking: sadomasochism.   » read more »

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R1B.015: Common Grounds: American Cultures in a Hemispheric Context

T/Th 3:30-5:00
223 Wheeler
CCN 17257
Luis Ramos

This course takes as its object of reflection a question Gustavo Pérez Firmat nearly two decades ago posed:  Do the Americas share a common literature? That is, do the two Americas—north and south, continental and insular, polar and equatorial—share textual common ground? If so, what similar literary strategies and common critical concerns might such an ensemble of texts bring to the fore? This course takes up these questions from a historical—and materialist—perspective; that is, from one that views history (and by extension, literature) from the violent and traumatic conditions from which they both emerge. In so doing, however, we will not subscribe to a deterministic or defeatist view of either, but rather, to one wherein both emancipation and conquest, resistance and domination, dispossession and regeneration, are accounted for in equal measure. Students should expect not only to devise novel strategies of conceiving the relation between literary traditions typically understood as distinct, but moreover, to articulate previously unforeseen ways of thinking about the Americas as an expanded category of aesthetic and geopolitical thought. In keeping with the above aims, the course will be structured into four related units: The meaning of freedom and self-awareness in Anglo American and Spanish American republican thought (1); the imprint of slavery and diasporic identity in Afro Cuban and African American poetry (2); the legacies of conquest in Pueblo Indian and Mayan historical consciousness (3); and the histories of Chinese new world migration in Asian American and Cuban American fiction (4).


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100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Philosophic Fantasies

Instructor: David Walter

MWF 11-12:00
215 Dwinelle
CCN 17289
Dr David Walter

This class looks critically at the moments where philosophy intersects with narrative, myth, and figuration. Where does philosophy fall back on the imagination in order to explore its principles?   » read more »

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100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Literature in Exile

T/Th 9:30-11:00
106 Wheeler
CCN 17287
Ulf Olsson

Already in classical antiquity, writers were being expelled from their native countries – and this continues even today. But exile might be chosen and voluntary, or forced, it might be an inner or an outer exile. Modern literature, in particular, displays different aspects of exile, and the development of modernist literature is closely related to different forms of exile. Many of the great, pioneering modernists performed their work in countries other than they were born in: James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett… The interconnectedness of modernism, emigration, exile and the internationalization of literature is discussed in this course, as well as the importance of exile for the construction of self and identity, experiments in language and aesthetic renewal. Critical and theoretical key concepts that will be central to the course are inner and outer exile, voluntary and forced exile, modernism, world literature, experiments in language, and the construction of identity.

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112B: Modern Greek Composition

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

MWF 12-1:00
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17290
Maria Kotzamanidou

This course examines forms of Modern Greek writing (prose, poetry, drama) and the reading of literary texts as auxiliary to the acquisition of compositional skills.

Prerequisites: Comparative Literature 112A or consent of the instructor.

A reader for the course is prepared by the instructor.

Course Catalog Number: 17290

112B: Modern Greek Language and Composition

M/W/F 12:00-01:00 225 Dwinelle Instructor: Maria Kotzamanidou

MWF 12-1:00
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17293
Maria Kotzamanidou

This course examines forms of Modern Greek writing (prose, poetry, drama) and the reading of literary texts as auxiliary to the acquisition of compositional skills

Prerequisites: Comparative Literature 112A or consent of the instructor. A reader for the course is prepared by the instructor.

Course Catalog Number: 17293

151/Classics 130: The Ancient Mediterranean World

Religion and Literature in the Greco-Roman World

Also listed as Classics 130:2
T/Th 11-12:30
151 Barrows
CCN 17293
Kathleen McCarthy

(Comparative Literature Majors can satisfy either their Period Requirement or the Classical Literature Requirement with this class)

Religion and literature are two conceptual systems through which people and societies organize disparate experiences into meaningful wholes. » read more »

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152: The Middle Ages

Complexities of Desire: Medieval Love Literature

Instructor: Frank Bezner

Tu/Th 12:30-2:00
175 Barrows
CCN 17296
Frank Bezner

Often labelled as ‘courtly’ love, medieval love literature is of a rich, complex, and challenging variety: intellectuals write (in Latin) about the anxieties and traps related to falling in love; monks send their love poetry to nuns; French nobles negotiate power and dependency by writing abouth ‘their’ desire; professional singers create and perform highly dense literary fabrics about their unreachable lady; authors of romances explore the tensions between being a ruler and falling in love; mystics interpret (and write about) their religious experience as sensual love.

Our course will explore this variety. In the first half we will closely read and compare a significant number of both ‘classic’ and less known Latin and vernacular love lyrics from the High Middle Ages: authors read include Baudri of Bourgeuil, Peter of Blois, Andreas Capellanus (Latin), William of Aquitaine, Marcabru, and Bertrand of Ventadorn (French), Heinrich of Morungen, Reinmar and Walther of the Vogelweide (German). In the second half we will mainly read and compare some medieval (Arthurian) narratives centered around the problem of love (Erec, Tristan), but at the end also discuss the fusion of religious lyrics and love lyrics.

In reading and comparing these texts we will engage in literary analysis (form, imagery, recurrent elements, principal ideas, beginnings/ends, construction of a speaker/’I’, performance), explore the intersections of love literature and other discourses (medical, theological, legal), and discuss the relationship between our texts and the complex intellectual and social milieus in which they originated.

Students must read at least one of the above languages, and a some knowledge of Latin is helpful, but not required. All texts will be available both in the original and in translation. Students must be willing to engage in intensive close reading and are expected to contribute actively to class. One oral presentation, one mid-term and one final paper will be required.

Books: Course reader (for the poems) on bspace. Erec and Enide (Chretien de Troyes, tr. Staines ), Erec (Hartman of Aue, tr. Tobin ), Tristan (Gottfried of Strassburg, tr. Hatto).

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153: The Renaissance

Literature and the Age of Exploration

Instructor: Timothy Hampton

MWF 2-3:00
87 Dwinelle
CCN 17299
Timothy Hampton

In this course we will read major authors of the European Renaissance, working in a variety of national traditions and literary genres. Our focus will be on the ways in which authors such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, Montaigne, and their contemporaries respond to the new European voyages of “exploration” to the New World, Africa, India, and China.  Works by major literary authors will be read in conjunction with selections from writings by and about explorers,  ambassadors, navigators and pirates.  The course will offer both an introduction to the literature of the Renaissance, and a reflection on issues involving cross-cultural encounters, the rise of empire, and the relationship between writing and travel.

Books on Order:

Cervantes, Don Quixote (Penguin)

Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (Penguin)

Camoens, The Lusiads (Oxford World’s Classics)

More, Utopia (Yale University Press)

Shakespeare, Othello (Signet)

Shakespeare, The Tempest (Signet)

Columbus, The Four Voyages (Penguin)

Supplementary materials will be made available on bSpace or in Xeroxed form.

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155/Architecture 136/236: The Modern Period

The Literature of Space

Tu 5-8:00
270 Wurster
CCN 17302
Jill Stoner

Also listed as ARCHITECTURE 136/236

If interested in enrolling, please contact Professor Stoner at:



The concept of space as it is applied to the fields of architecture, urbanism and geography can be understood as a barometer of the condition that we call “modernity.” » read more »

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171: Topics in Modern Greek Literature

The Modern Greek Short Story in its Contexts

F 2-5:00
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17307
Maria Kotzamanidou

The purpose of this course is to present a broad selection of modern Greek short stories, from the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the last quarter of the twentieth, with a great range and variety in their style and focus. They range thematically, among others, from “ethographic fiction”, where customs and community loom large in the story, to the alienation of the individual and the anonymity of the urban space, to the psychological impact of the savagery of war, to idiosyncratic flights of individual imagination and states of the mind. The stories are arranged chronologically, in order to underscore the development of the genre, and are placed in a variety of contexts: literary, historical, social, psychological, political, economic.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the increasing consciousness of Greece as a modern European nation intensified the efforts of writers and intellectuals to apply European literary standards to Greek fiction. These standards were gleaned from French, English, German and Russian translations of fiction which were published or serialized in newspapers and magazines. Thus, the modern Greek short story seems to have kept pace in its development with its European counterparts and, more recently, especially in the latter part of the twentieth century, with its North American ones.

Unlike modern Greek poetry and the modern Greek novel, examples of which have circulated widely in foreign translation, the modern Greek short story, despite a few collections translated into foreign languages, remains virtually unknown outside Greece. As a genre, it has reflected, with a particular immediacy and sensitivity, the historical, social and intellectual climates that fostered it, and it has helped to highlight the contributions of women to contemporary literary culture.

No Prerequisites.

Greek Texts: available in English translation

History, theory and secondary sources: in English

Films: in English or in Greek with English subtitles

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190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Reading Character

Instructor: Sophie Volpp

Tu/Th 12:30-2:00
203 Wheeler
CCN 17311
Sophie Volpp

In this senior seminar, we will revisit an age-old problem in the study of fiction: How do readers become involved in the lives of literary characters? What criteria for such a relationship seem necessary to contemporary readers and critics? How does the representation of thought and feeling influence our conception of fictional character? And how did other periods and cultures construe such problems? We will consider two significant trajectories: the Victorian to the modernist novel, and the late sixteenth to the eighteenth century Chinese novel. Primary texts include Henry James, The Golden Bowl; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Vladmir Nabokov, Transparent Minds; the Plum in the Golden Vase (Jin Ping Mei); and Cao Xueqin, Story of the Stone (Hong lou meng); critics include Peter Brooks, Sharon Cameron, Dorrit Cohn, Lisa Freeman, Catherine Gallagher, Bill Brown, Eve Sedgwick, Blakey Vermeule, and traditional Chinese commentators. All Chinese texts will be available in English translation.

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190: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

Anime: Critical Readings in Visual Culture

Instructor: Miryam Sas

T/Th 2-3:30, with film screenings on T  3:3-5:30
188 Dwinelle
CCN 17308, 17314
Miryam Sas

This course is a senior seminar focusing on  theoretical readings of Japanese animation, or anime, as a medium from its earliest forms to contemporary works. We will think through the impetus and methods for the critical study of popular cultural forms such as anime. The seminar addresses issues such as the depiction of memory and temporality, imaginations of childhood, cultural disaster and the post-war; corporeality, shôjo, and yaoi and otaku culture, as well as the placement of anime within contemporary media theory.  We will view works by Miyazaki Hayao, Satoshi Kon, Anno Hideaki, Oshii Mamoru, and many others.

Required readings:

Proust, Marcel Remembrance of Things Past, Vol.  1 (paperback)

LaMarre, The Anime Machine

Azuma Hiroki, Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals

Mechademia 4: War/Time

Further readings will be made available on bSpace

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200: Approaches to Comparative Literature

The Desire Called Comparative Literature

Instructor: Barbara Spackman

Comparative Literature 200: 1
M 2-5:00
202 Wheeler
CCN 17347
Barbara Spackman

The Desire Called Comparative Literature

How does the discipline of Comparative Literature constitute its object of study in the year 2010? What is its relation to “world literature,” to “transnational studies,” or to “cultural studies”? » read more »

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215: Studies in Renaissance Literature

Renaissance/Early Modern Europe

Instructor: Anthony Cascardi

M 2-5:00
211 Dwinelle
CCN 17350
Anthony Cascardi

The early modern period has long been recognized as one of enormous transformations in the literature, thought, and culture of Europe.  Many of those have been linked to the emergence of the category of the modern “subject” and have been regarded as playing a formative role in the long history of modernity.  » read more »

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223: Studies in the 19th Century

Green Romanticism

Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

W 3-6:00
125 Dwinelle
CCN # 17353
Anne-Lise Francois

What contribution does the study of Romanticism have to make to current critical discourses such as ecocriticism and biopolitics concerned with animal/human divides and the relationship between place, language and politics?  Romanticism was once defined as a turn toward “nature” in response to the industrialization marking Western Europe’s transition to modern capitalism in the early nineteenth century.  Rather than simply resurrecting the idea of Wordsworth and others as “nature” poets, we will carefully examine the relationships between discourse and experience,figure and origin in these writers, while also searching for alternatives to the salvific or curative role often assigned both “nature” and “poetry”in environmentalist criticism.  Topics will include: the gendering of “nature”; the conflict between “modernity” and “modernization” and the role of marginalized communities; agriculture as a border-space between “culture” and “nature”; the role of memory and imagination in writing about place and the loss of place; weather-reporting and other practices of attention; fantasies about ecological disaster, social catastrophe, and science’s ability to save or destroy humankind.   As we compare different definitions of “nature”—as a set of finite, exploitable resources, a normative authority limiting human experimentation, a repository of traditional ways of doing and knowing, and a site of vulnerability in need of protection from extinction—we will also explore the alternatives to the nature/human binary developed by the writers in question.  Our readings will traverse British, North American, German and French contexts and will include works by Rousseau, Schiller, Goethe, Coleridge, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Malthus, Percy and Mary Shelley, Clare, Keats,Thoreau, Freud, Adorno and Horkheimer.

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225: Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

Modern Poetry and Frankfurt School Aesthetics

Instructor: Robert Kaufman

Tu 2-5
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17356
Robert Kaufman

(Note: Although this seminar emphasizes the fundamental importance of 19th- and 20th-century poetry and poetics to the development of Frankfurt School aesthetics, criticism, and theory, as well as the role of later 20th- and now 21st-century poetry in more recent contributions to Frankfurt-oriented criticism, the course can serve also–e.g., for those taking it as a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory elective–as a survey of some of the major texts in Frankfurt aesthetic, literary, and cultural theory more generally, provided students are willing actively to study and engage with modern poetry and poetics as the course’s primary literary field.) » read more »

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258: Studies in Philosophy and Literature

Mysticism and Modernity

Instructor: Niklaus Largier

Also listed as German 205:1
Th 2-4:00
225 Dwinelle
CCN 17359
Niklaus Largier

So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, and Derrida, and from Novalis to Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Pierre Klossowski, and John Cage (to name just a few). In this course we will read and discuss key texts written by Meister Eckhart, one of the most significant background figures in this tradition. » read more »

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265: Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Sexuality and the Literary Field

Instructor: Michael Lucey

F 2-5:00
202 Wheeler
CCN 17326
Michael Lucey

In this seminar we’ll be investigating a number of different topics, all of which will somehow, if we are lucky, meet up by the end of the semester:  What happens when you think of sexuality sociologically, as a set of categories and social forms that circulate through space and time? What happens when you think of literature also as a set of categories and social forms (genres, activities, patterns of response) and a set of works that circulate in particular patterns of their own, and  that produce meaning as much via their interrelations and their endurance in certain institutional contexts as by way of their own signifying?  How and why might sexuality come to be a particular topic of representation and investigation in a given literary field at a given time, and what that might mean, both literarily and sociologically?  How will different literary institutions cope with sexuality in literature? We will focus on literature from France between 1930 and 1970 (in particular texts by Colette, Genet, Leduc, Pinget), and in the course of our study we will consult a wide variety of classic sociological texts (Durkheim, Goffman, Bourdieu), some contemporary ethnographic work on sexuality and some recent work in linguistic anthropology, along with a variety of approaches to the aesthetic (in particular, the literary) object (including Dewey, Adorno,  Bourdieu).

One book by Violette Leduc that we will be reading, Mad in Pursuit, is currently out of print, but there are used copies easily available on line, so interested students are encouraged to seek them out.  Other books that will be ordered include:  Colette, The Pure and the Impure, Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers, Leduc, La Bâtarde, Robert Pinget, The Libera Me Domine, John Dewey, Art as Experience, Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction.

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