Comparative Literature Courses 2020-21
CPLT 7120 / SPAN 7990 Marginal Subjects: Art and Power in Modern European and American
Instructor: Dr. Dorota Heneghan
Time: Wed, 4:30-7:20 p.m.
A source of fascination since the origins of Western culture, marginal subjects found diverse forms of expression in multiple literary and visual works in the turn-of-the-century Europe and North America. In this course, we will examine how the figure of a romantic spinster, a fallen woman, a crude immigrant and a decadent artist became sites of complex negotiations of meaning of what is or is not normal in relation to bodies, sexual identity, class, race and gender in Iberian, Slavic, German and American literary and cultural traditions. Authors include Benito Pérez Galdós, Leopoldo Alas, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Henry James, Anton Chekhov and Heinrich Mann. All readings are in English.
CPLT 7130: Cosmopolitanism
Instructor: Dr. Adelaide Russo
Time: Tue, 3:00-5:50 p.m.
The current realities of travel restrictions imposed by the Corona Virus, and increasing efforts to thwart globalization has had an impact on the key concept of “Cosmopolitanism” which is central to the discipline of Comparative Literature. In this course we will study the history and current theories of “Cosmopolitanism,” exploring the theoretical works of such critics as Françoise Lionnet, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Edward Said and Bruce Robbins. The literary corpus we will address will be European, Caribbean, African and South American, Asian. We will focus on both writers whose work was inspired by their international contacts and their experience abroad, or as exphonic writers, writers who expressed themselves in languages other than their mother tongue. They include: Joseph Conrad; Guiseppe Ungaretti; Paul Claudel; Henri Michaux; Victor Segalen; Ionesco; Ryoko Sekuguchi; Michel Deguy and Edwige Danticat. Our objective will be to analyze how the dynamic forces of rootedness and mobility play a role in each author addressed. Students will be required to give an oral presentation, write one short analysis of a text included in the course program, and write a 15 to 20-page research paper, whose topic is developed in consultation with the instructor. They are encouraged to bring forth other writers whose work underlines the positive ways in which knowledge is enhanced by difference – cultural, linguistic, political, ethical, or religious – in the context of transoceanic mobility and its impediments.
CPLT 7140 / FREN 7960: The Movies Go to the Theatre: World Cinema and Stage Performance
Instructor: Dr. Jeffrey Leichman
Time: M 3:00-5:50 p.m. or 4:30-7:20 p.m.
How does cinema approach the asymptote of the “live” as a tool for exploring the limits of representation? How have major filmmakers used the self-reflexive device of stories about acting for the stage as a vehicle to explore the construction of the real in cinema? This course will complement film screenings with theoretical and theatrical texts around performance, as well as critical assessments of the problematic of representing the stage in narrative cinema. Films may include works by Mizoguchi, Malle, Rivette, Leigh, Szabó, Ichikawa, Hitchcock, Mankiewicz, Piñero, Bergman, Fosse, Assayas, Iñárritu, Cassavetes, Almodóvar, etc.
CPLT 2202/ENGL 2202: World Literature II
Instructor: Albert Garcia
Time: MWF, 11:30-12:20 p.m.
Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear…Yet the wholly enlightened earth radiates under the sign of disaster triumphant.” – Theodor W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947). Post-enlightenment, reason was celebrated by many as advancing human progress, a pivotal tool wielded to create a more civilized, advanced, modern world. Mythology, superstition, and religion seemingly fell to the wayside in a world disenchanted. But as empires fell with the rise of nation states, global industrialism and world war brought increased scrutiny to the horrors of modernity and what reason had wrought. In this course we will see that despite these developments, the world remained enchanted as a thread of fascination with the mystical and magical persisted in literatures across the globe. Inspired by dreams and visions, heavens and hellscapes, the mystical, magical, and monstrous is explored across culture, epoch, and genre: Gothic horror; European existentialism; modern and postmodern poetry; Latin American magical realism. We will see that literature of magic and monsters continue to shock and inspire in ways that bend reality and challenge perceptions of ourselves and modernity.
CPLT 2201/ENGL 2201: World Literature I
Instructor: Anwita Ray
Time: MWF, 12:30-1:20 p.m.
This course will focus on some of the canonical and peripheral literature from all over the world, from the Antiquity to the Renaissance, with an emphasis on the code of honor as their common and central theme. An analysis of the changing meanings and implications of honor from the ancient times until the fifteenth century will be studied, through the characters and their actions in the selected texts. Through such an analysis the ethical questions about law and order, justice, and the breach of it will be explored. This course will begin with The Mahabharata, one of the oldest and the longest primary epic in the world and will gradually extend to texts of the Renaissance periods such as Macbeth by Shakespeare. The course will comprise of a wide range of texts from India, Arab, Europe, China and so on, taught in a chronological order to give the students an overview of the changing function of ‘honor’ as an intangible social code that finds prominence in some of the earliest works of literature until the fifteenth century. Accompanying themes such as family, kinship, feudalism, transgression, gender roles, religion, the notion of power and other related textual themes will be discussed, that gives honor a platform to develop. Some of the questions that will be explored in the course are: how is ‘honor’ as a theme conceived in the various genres? How differently does honor and the lack of it shapes different societies through different ages? How did the codes of honor and dishonor affect different genders differently?
CPLT 7010: History and Theory of Criticism
Instructor: Gundela Hachmann
Time: Wed, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
In this course, we explore some of the major works in literary theory from the classical through the modern period. We’ll start our journey with Aristotle and Plato, then move to Roman antiquity with Horace and Longinus. The classical theorists will set the stage for our subsequent lines of inquiry, such as: How do we define literary genres? In what ways and for what purpose is literature mimetic or realistic? How do allegory and irony complicate the relation between art and reality, or the relation between text and reader? How do aesthetic ideals like the beautiful and the sublime inform the perception and understanding of art? How can poetry and drama intersect with the political, and to what end? Thomas Aquinas and Dante Alighieri will introduce us to Medieval hermeneutics. Immanuel Kant, Edmund Burke, Friedrich Schiller, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Mdme de Stael will be our guides to understanding the paradigm of the Enlightenment in which (male dominated) idealism is thriving, but also challenged by prominent female intellectuals. We’ll conclude our explorations with powerful voices from the Romantic period, such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Percy B. Shelley, and Friedrich Schlegel, theorists who continue exert their influence on contemporary notions of literature and art. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism will serve as primary course material and we will supplement as needed for additional details or contexts.
CPLT 7120 / ENGL 7030: Arthurian Literature
Instructor: Rick Godden
Time: Tue, 12:00-2:50 p.m.
Love, betrayal, war, giants, fairy queens, Christmas games, the search for the magical and for the divine. These are only some of the elements that make up the rich and varied tapestry of Arthur, his queen Guinevere, the sorcerer Merlin, and knights like Lancelot, Gawain, Galahad, and Percival. Arguably the most popular story in the Middle Ages (and beyond), the exploits of Arthur not only entertained and captivated many, but also served as a narrative canvas for exploring the relationship to the past, the problems of the present, and the hopes for the future. We will explore the Celtic roots of the Arthur myth, and we will read widely in the both the French and English traditions of what can be called The Matter of Britain. We will consider the historical underpinnings of chivalry and the social and cultural contexts which produced chivalric literature, and we will also explore how Arthurian literature provides an intriguing opportunity to interrogate diverse theoretical and critical questions such as the construction of the subject, the relation to the nonhuman world, embodied difference, and much more.
Throughout our semester together, each seminar participant will develop a set of portable academic skills, including leading discussion, presenting academic papers, teaching undergraduates, developing a theoretical vocabulary, conducting research and writing for an academic audience.
CPLT 7130-01 THTR 7926.0: Seminar in Drama of Africa
Instructor: Femi Euba
Time: Tues/Thurs,10.30-11.50 a.m.
A comparative study of the dramatic and theatrical expressions of the black cultures in Africa, identifying, where possible, not only African influences on some of the dramatic works in the diaspora, but also the Western classical influences on African plays. Works include those by Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Efua Sutherland, Ama Ata Aidoo, Athol Fugard et al, Tewfik al-Hakim, etc.
CPLT 7140: The Promised Land: On Queer Bodies and Nations
Instructor Elena Castro
Time: Tue, 3:00-5:50 p.m.
This course sets in conversation two of the most important threads in the humanities today: gender and sexuality studies and transnational studies and their shared investments in interrogating the fundamental constructs of social relations, and their field-shaping effects on the practice of literary studies. Doing so, we will explore how the fluidity of gender and sexuality creates within cultural texts a model for understanding, what I am calling a “queer nation”. We will bring together the thinking and writing of intellectuals and artists from both the English-speaking and non English-speaking world, offering a trans-national way of thinking about how sexual minorities and gender-non-conforming persons are enfranchised and protected by the state.
This class will be taught in English and all materials for the course, from primary text to secondary sources, will be in English or in English translation (all films with be with English subtitles).
CPLT/ENGL 2201: Intro to World Literature
Instructor: Negar Basiri
Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00-1:20 p.m.
This course is designed to introduce you to world literature masterpieces from the antiquity to the seventeenth century. You will gain an understanding of some of the major literary pieces from a global perspective. An important goal of the class is to promote an understanding of the works in their cultural/historical contexts and of the enduring human values which unite the different literary traditions. We will also discover the place of difference in cross-cultural Literacy. We will be reading the major texts from India to Spain and from Persia to France and Italy.
CPLT 2202/ ENGL 2202 World Literature II
Instructor: Ikea Johnson
Time: Mon/Wed/Fri, 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
This is a survey course on representative works of world literature from the post-Renaissance till now. This course immerses students in ideas about memory and mobility. Students will engage with diverse perspectives in literature, history, philosophy, religion, and language. Examining authors and graphic novelists such as Chang-Rae Lee, Ralph Ellison, Joann Sfar, Joseph Conrad, and Octavia Butler, we will ask what can these texts tell us about their respective societies? What can we gain from reading them? How can they help us to arrive at an informed position regarding ourselves?