Approaches to Comparative Literature
Literature and Critical Theory
Why study literature and culture? What is comparative literature? What approaches have been prominent in literary and cultural studies historically and how can we continue to draw from them today? Where are the humanities disciplines going in this new and strange era?
We begin with early definitions of the discipline and “world literature,”and move on to consider questions of mimesis and modes of critical/political thought in times of crisis. Through Lukacs, Bakhtin, Adorno and others—and their legacies in recent thinkers—we examine key points of disciplinary self-questioning. How have marxisms and psychoanalytic approaches changed over time? What are the most compelling aspects of these approaches? We then focus on the emergence of affect theory, black and critical race studies, and debates on the ethics of the networked life we are living today. In each instance art and literary work has a central role in providing new insights and modeling practices of thinking and critique.
The seminar is designed to be a space of exploration for finding your own critical centers of gravity in robust dialogue with your peers, forming graduate community, and to be helpful in the long term for graduate students in literary disciplines with comparative interests.