Generic Course Descriptions

Graduate-level courses are normally classes numbered 500 and above, but some 400-level courses might also be used to fulfill the course of study requirement; students interested in the latter option need the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.  Graduate students are also allowed to take 300-level courses, provided both that the instructor has stipulated in advance the required amount of extra work and higher expectations, and that the Director of Graduate Studies has agreed in writing to the details of this arrangement.

COM 500
Comparative Literature Graduate Pedagogy Seminar
Professor(s): Staff

Teaching practicum required of departmental PhD students and open only to those concurrently teaching in their first course at Princeton. A wide range of topics is discussed, based primarily upon the needs and experience of participants. These typically include: facilitating discussions, delivering lectures, grading papers, designing course syllabi, teaching with translations, using technology in the classroom, developing a statement of teaching philosophy, and preparing a teaching portfolio. Course leads to partial fulfillment of the McGraw Teaching Transcript.

LAS 506 /ARC 582 /COM 506 /SPA 598
Displaying Latin America

Professor(s): Patricio del Real

Exhibitions are central to the history of architecture. The modern architecture of Latin America made its international debut with several national pavilions in the 1939 New York World's Fair, the most famous being that of Brazil, as part of cultural and economic policies that addressed the need to be part of a modern world. This seminar studies multiple sites and strategies of displaying Latin America through architecture. It examines the cultural institutions (museums, ministries, universities, biennials) and engages the actors (architects, historians, cultural impresarios) that mobilized architecture to imagine the nation and the region.

COM 513/MOD 578
opics in Literature and Philosophy: Missing Persons
Professor(s): Daniel Heller-Roazen

An exploration of literary, legal, linguistic and psychoanalytic works featuring "persons" conceived as temporarily, permanently, and structurally absent. Topics to be considered include missing persons in the law; civil death; the legal status of the unborn and the corpse; ghosts; the Freudian "Id"; the existential "One"; social and linguistic "non-persons"; sexual difference and non-gendered persons.

GER 517/MOD 517/ART 517/COM 519
Modernism and Modernity: Aesthetics of Surveillance

Professor(s): Thomas Levin

Taking up Orwell's master trope of distopic futurity, this seminar in comparative media aesthetics and theory explores the paranoid logic of surveillance in its literary, architectural, artistic and, above all, technological (photographic, cinematic, digital) manifestations in order to unpack a category that is at once a political tactic, a narrative strategy, a theory of the subject, an architectural model, a mode of spectatorship and, quite possibly, the paradigmatic epistemology of the cinematic medium.

COM 521
Introduction to Comparative Literature

Professor(s): Wendy L. Belcher

This course traces the history of criticism in comparative literature along with recent critical developments such as surface reading, distant reading, affect theory, necropolitics, queer futurity, the new materialism, ecocriticism, world literature, theory from the south, disability studies, critiques of neoliberalism, and so on. The class will not embrace a mastery posture toward theory, but an instrumental one, aiming to assist graduate students in conceptualizing their particular projects within and against current debates.

ENG 532 / COM 531
Early 17th Century - Polyglot Poetics: Transnationalism, Gender and Literature

Professor(s): Nigel Smith

On the interaction of different vernacular literatures in early modern Europe in times of turbulent state formation, confessional difference and transcontinental imperial expansion. Through the careers of diplomats, exiles, actors, conquistadors and other travelers, we uncover the deep mutual interest of authors in their neighbors' writings, a story obscured by emphasis upon classical antiquity's continuing hold on learning. We consider work in all genres and are particularly concerned with the politics of theater; poetics; prosody; experiment; the attractiveness of translated prose fiction; philosophy and political theory therein.

SLA 526 /COM 532 /GER 546
East-Central-European Literature of the 20th Century

Professor(s): Irena G. Gross

This seminar is designed as an introduction to East-Central European literature, culture and histo1y.  We will focus on texts from Poland, Romania, ex-Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and the impact of Jewish culture on the region as a whole.  The course will begin with the interwar period (1918-1939); the immediate postwar part of the course is dominated by fictional and poetic accounts of World War II, the Holocaust and Communism.  We will discuss literature as an opposition tool, the writer in exile, the voice of minorities literature and the post  Ocommunist accounting for the past.

COM 534
How does History Appear?

Critical Aesthetics, Lessing through Benjamin
Professor(s): Claudia Joan Brodsky

Beginning with Lessing's identification of the ambiguity of the "image," this course will examine the ways in which materialist aesthetic and literary theory coincide with theories of experience and history. We will focus in depth on four authors - Lessing, Diderot, Baudelaire, and Benjamin - whose critical and literary work alike departs from the proposition that aesthetic and historical experience do not transcend or subsume but rather depend upon and preserve encounters with the material.

COM 536
in Critical Theory:
Comparative Literature Writing and Dissertation Colloquium
Professor(s): Lital Levy

The Writing and Dissertation Colloquium is a biweekly forum for graduate students in Comparative Literature to share works in progress with other graduate students. The seminar welcomes drafts of your prospectus, article, dissertation chapter, conference paper, exam statement and grant or fellowship proposal. Work is pre-circulated. The 90 minute sessions, done in conjunction with a rotating COM faculty member, are designed to offer written and oral feedback.

FRE 538 /COM 538/MOD 579
Le Monde par la bande

Professor(s): André Benhaïm

This course explores representations of the World and History in major bandes dessinées (or graphic novels) published in French from the 1930s to the present, and produced by authors of various backgrounds (French, Belgian, Italian, Jewish, Iranian). Informed by theoretical readings, discussions will address key aesthetical, political, and ethical issues, including Exoticism, Orientalism, (Post)colonialism, national and individual identity, as well as the theory of reception, to critically assess the fluctuations of these visions between fantasy and testimony.

HUM 596 /COM 596 /FRE 596 /GER 596
Humanistic Perspectives on Literature: Case Histories, Life Stories

Professor(s): Peter Brooks & Brigid Doherty

The seminar will reflect on the role of exemplary stories—ones that seem to want to offer a lesson in the understanding of life and character, even of personhood as such—in fiction and non-fiction. What do authors intend when writing factual “case histories” or fictional variants on the genre? What are readers supposed to learn from such texts? What is at stake for the subjects of case histories? How do modalities of narration and literary figuration variously shape the presentation of life stories in autobiography, psychoanalysis, art criticism?