Comparative Literature

2021-2022 Courses

Fall 2021

CPLT 7020 History of Literary Theory from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present 

Instrucor: Dr. Alan Sikes

Time: MW 3:30-4:50 

The CPLT 7020 seminar will examine how literary genres have been fashioned and re-fashioned from the ancient world through the modern era.  Many of our common-sense notions of “what literature is” and “what literature does” are based upon the expectations of our present moment.  So, how do we address the profound differences between past and present understandings of “what counts” as literature across the millennia, and across many global cultures?  In this CPLT 7020 seminar, we will focus on four genres: the Epic, the Drama, the Novel, and the Epistle.  And we will track the shifts of these genres over time, as well as their continued influence upon the global discourses of the present day.

CPLT 7120 Course Flyer

CPLT 7120/ ENGL 7962: Global Dickens:  Adaptation and Appropriation

Instructor: Dr. Sharon Aronofsky Weltman
Time: W 12:30-3:20

Filmmakers, playwrights, novelists, artists, choreographers, and composers worldwide find in the work of the Victorian novelist Charles Dickens an abundance of material to reshape into art of their own. This course examines the sources and adaptations/rewritings/appropriations side by side for the reciprocal insights each supplies in understanding the other. Adaptation and performance theory will supply a foundation for our inquiry along with historical and cultural context of Dickens and his adaptors. We will also consider Dickens’s own representations of the wide world beyond London and the industrial cities of England; and we will investigate the ways those reimagining him have interpreted his representations. Texts will include not only Dickens’s fiction such as Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Martin Chuzzlewit, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood but also films, plays, TV series, graphic novels, and musicals by directors, playwrights, and authors from South Africa, Mexico, India, Australia, China, France, the United States, etc. Because of this course’s global sweep, the students are likely to find and present on adaptations and appropriations that the professor does not yet know, which will add an extra level of excitement to the class experience.

THTR 7920 Course Flyer

THTR 7920-01/CPLT 7130:  Seminar: Drama of the African Diaspora

Instructor: Dr. Femi Euba
Time: T-Th 10.30 am to 12 noon
Location: 321 M&DA, School of Theatre
Contact: e-mail: theuba@lsu.edu

A study of the dramatic and theatrical expressions of the black cultures of the New World (North and South America, and the Caribbean), identifying, where possible, comparable connections with African counterparts. Works include those by August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Aime Cesaire, Abdias do Nascimento, and Derek Walcott.

ARTH 7441 Flyer

ARTH 4440/ARTH 7441/CPLT 7140: African Art

Instructor: Dr. Darius A. Spieth
Time: MWF 10:30 - 11:20

This course surveys the traditional arts and architecture of Sub-Saharan Africa, following mostly a geographical order. It will cover traditional forms of creative expression along the African west coast, featuring the arts of such peoples as the Dogon, Baga, Senufo, Baule, Yoruba, Punu, Kota, Pende, Fang, Luba, Kongo, Yaka, or Chokwe. The class concludes with an overview of early cultural and historical developments on the eastern coast of Africa from ancient Nubia to Zimbabwe. Special attention will be given to the original, ritual use of many of the objects discussed, and how the Western perception of African art was conditioned by its appearance in a museum/gallery context. We will also look at the issue of how traditional African art came to inspire Western avant-garde movements of the early twentieth century.

CPLT 2201 Course Flyer

CPLT 2201/ENGL 2201: World Literature I: Literature from the Antiquity to the Renaissance

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 2202 Fall 2021

CPLT 2202/ENGL 2202: The Other Song: Conjuring a New Reality

Instructor: Aparajita Dutta 

We thrive in a world where our bodies are subjugated based on our identity: gender/sexuality/ race/class/ immigration/ ability, etc. The question therefore we ask is: how do we claim our right to exist? Literary traditions across ages and communities have always challenged and resisted this subjugation of identity. In doing so, subversive discourses have been created that reclaim the identity of the minority communities. This course, “The Other Song: Conjuring a New Reality” aims to explore the literary traditions that conjure alternative realities and echo the voice of the ‘other”: the subjugated body. Students will be exposed to literature from the post-Renaissance to the contemporary world, covering the writings from Europe, India, North America and Latin America with special focus on writers from marginalized communities like Dalit community, Black and Hispanic community, and the LGBTQ community. We will also look at how the various movements (the feminist movement, the Dalit movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, etc) were shaped by these subversive literary traditions.  We will take an intersectional approach to understand how these marginalized identities come together to create alternative power structures. The primary questions we will be keeping in mind throughout this course are:

  1. How is the subjugated body depicted in the texts?
  2. How is the individual identity performed and reclaimed in the texts?
  3. How do these texts create an alternative power structure?

Required Texts

We will be reading short stories,( authors like Alice Munroe, Virginia Woolf, Jorge Luis Borges, and others),  poetry ( poets like Aphra Behn, William Blake, Elizabeth Browning, Audre Lorde, Derek Walcott, Sylvia Plath and others) along with some theoretical essays which are representative of literary and cultural movements from different cultures and time ( Patricia Hill Collins and Black Feminist Literature, Sharmila Rege and Dalit Feminism, among others). 

All the texts will be provided by the instructor.


2021-2022 Courses

Spring 2021

Flyer for Comp Lit Seminar Spring 2021

CPLT 7120 / SPAN 7990 Marginal Subjects: Art and Power in Modern European and American Novel and Theater

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.

Flyer for CPLT Spring 2021 Course

CPLT 7130: Cosmopolitanism: History Theory, and Current Examples of Cosmopolitianisms

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.

Flyer for Spring 2021 CPLT Seminar

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. 

Spring 2021 Comp Lit Flyer

CPLT 2202/ENGL 2202: World Literature II: Magic Monsters Mystics

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. 

Sprig 2021 Comp Lit Flyer

CPLT 2201/ENGL 2201: World Literature I: Literature from the Antiquity to the Renaissance

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?    

Fall 2020 

This is the course poster for CPLT 7010 for Fall 2020

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.

course poster for all 2020 cplt 7120

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.

course poster for dr. euba fall 2020

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.

course poster for dr castro fall 2020

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). 

Course artwork

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.

course poster for ikea

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?