Methods of Teaching Literature and English Composition-Comparative Literature

This seminar offers practical support for Graduate Student Instructors beginning to design and teach Reading and Composition (R&C) courses on the UC Berkeley campus. Together and in dialogue with other instructors, we will explore a spectrum of theories and practices related to teaching literature and college composition, all while testing and critiquing these against our own expanding experiences as students, writers, and teachers.

Gender, Sexuality, and Culture

Comparative investigation of a topic related to the study of gender and/or sexuality in literature and culture.

Studies in Philosophy and Literature

So-called ‘mystical’ forms of thought and experience have played a major role in the history of modern philosophy and literature from Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Schopenhauer to Lukàcs, Heidegger, Bataille, Benjamin, Derrida, and Fred Moten; and from Novalis to Musil, Kafka, Celan, Bachmann, Klossowski, and Cage (to name just a few). In this seminar we will read and discuss key texts written by some significant medieval figures in this tradition.

Studies in Symbolist and Modern Literature

This course will explore the fiction and reading practices of Vladimir Nabokov. While the focus will be on the first half of his career, we will make our way by the end of the semester to Lolita. Special consideration will be given to the teachability of these novels and what they offer current undergraduates. Themes covered will include literature in emigration and the relation of the novel to the cinema. Members of the seminar will present and lead class discussions and write a final seminar paper.

Approaches to Genre: Lyric Poetry

[NOTE: This course is "co-listed" as Critical Theory 290]


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

Approaches to Comparative Literature

This class introduces students to key discussions in the field of comparative literature and postcolonial theory. We will first analyze examples from world cultures of concepts of the literary that preceded the age of modern national literatures and globalization. We then discuss translation as theory and practice, examine its global politics in setting up a market of world literature, and think along with Barbara Cassin and Emily Apter on the significance of the untranslatables.

The Craft of Critical Writing

Did you ever wonder how other people get their work done? Or where they get their ideas? Are you curious about the best strategies and habits for clear, forceful, and engaging writing? This seminar about writing and publishing is for you. You must have a seminar paper that you wish to revise for publication in the course of the semester. You must also commit to sending your revised essay out for review by a journal at the end of the semester. The vast majority of our time will be spent discussing the written work of the seminar members.

Studies in Renaissance Literature

In his reading of Rabelais, Mikhail Bakhtin foregrounds an imagistic style that reflects the “fullness of life” in a dialogic and carnivalesque manner. At the same time, he observes that early in the history of followers and imitators of Rabelais, this use of images starts to “disintegrate”; that “Rabelaisian images become petty”; that they “begin to acquire the character of genre and manners”, that their “universalism is considerably watered down”; and that they “began to serve the purpose of satire” where “a weakening of the ambivalent image’s positive pole takes place.

Studies in Literary Theory

In this seminar, we’ll study the relationship between literature and modern discourses on psychopathology. We’ll ask how literature informs and inspires psychoanalysis, schizoanalysis, and psychiatry. But, conversely, we'll also ask how these clinical practices alter the production and reception of literature. How do modernist and later writers respond to the claims of clinical knowledge, whether to borrow from, channel, suspend, complicate, contest, or refuse them?