Intro to Comparative Literature
Comparative Literature 100A: “Time, Subjectivity, and Imagination”
This class inquiries into how notions of time and subjectivity figure in different writing genres, literary traditions, and historical periods. In reading a diverse body of pre-modern and modern texts, we explore how time is constructed and articulated and how it is structured by narrative form and psychological content. We examine how diverse and competing temporalities underlie religious and secular worldviews and how they impact imaginaries of self and of society. We reflect on how articulations of temporality and historicity intersect with ideas of fate and free will, tradition and change, memory and imagination, and existential affect and collective reality. We pay close attention to how literary texts comprise multiple time horizons and we think through their relation with character development, the interplay of events and processes, and the mediation of experiences by cultural symbology.
In our class, we also explore the politics of time in modernity, reflecting on the temporalities of nation-state and capitalism, and their interrogation by modernist writing. We will read novels, plays, poems, and essays from different literary traditions and adopt both thematic and historical approaches in studying the conceptualization of time and subjectivity in their imagined worlds.
A majority of our readings will be available on the course website. The following novels must be purchased and are available at the campus bookstore (let me know if you find difficulty in acquiring the texts): Sophocles, Antigone (in Three Theban Plays, ISBN 9780140444254) Kushwant Singh, Train to Pakistan (ISBN 9780802132215) Virginia Wolf, Mrs. Dalloway (ISBN 9780156030359) Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (ISBN 9780385333849) Sonallah Ibrahim, The Committee (ISBN 9780815607267)