Fall 2015

  • Masterworks of European Literature

    In this course we will examine the major forms and themes of Western Literature since the Renaissance: the drama, essay, lyric and novel. We shall read major works by British, Spanish, French, German, Russian and American authors, considering the unique contributions of specific nations and languages and the transformations of themes and genres over a span of five hundred years.

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, and the Tasks of Literature

    An introduction to Tolstoy through his select short fiction and/or drama, critical essays, and all of [War and Peace] in the context of various theories of the novel. Our thesis--which is open to debate--is that Tolstoy's radical ideas on narrative have their counterpart in his radical ideas on history and the self, which, taken together, offer a coherent view of the human condition at odds with most Russian writers and philosophers of his time.

  • Everyday Stories

    "How was your day?" "Tell me about yourself." Such commonplace prompts draw out "everyday stories" of real, unremarkable life. But what counts as real life or unremarkable life, and what happens when it gets into literature, too? What parts of reality do everyday stories suppress or show up? Drawing on writers from Homer to Jane Austen to Woolf to Christopher Isherwood, this course looks at novels, stories, diaries, and essays that present versions or theories of everyday life.

  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    The junior seminar will investigate the literal and figurative meanings of the phrase "the place of literature." How relevant is geography to different types of literature? How well, far, and fast do literary texts travel? How much can we rely on analogies with markets or with ecological systems to explain the wide circulation or long-term survival of particular texts? What does an individual text disclose about its place of origin and its potential destinations? We will address these and related questions through both literary and theoretical texts.

  • The Modern European Novel

    Description; This course is designed for those 1) wanting to read landmark fictions in the modern European literary tradition; 2) intrigued by the question of "world literature" as it is posed in and by the European novel.

  • Classical Japanese Theater

    In this course we study four major forms of pre-modern Japanese drama: Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki and Bunraku. These dramatic forms have close relation to other aspects of Japanese culture, especially literature and music, and give voice to a wide range of human experience within the context of an intricately articulated body of conventions, with surprises. No knowledge of Japanese is expected. We will devote a significant portion of our time to studying performances on DVD and/or VHS.

  • Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis in World War II

    This course examines the gendered experiences of childhood & adolescence under the Nazis in World War II as witnessed, remembered, and represented in texts and images through a variety of genres and different nationalities. We include historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), photos, and film (documentary & feature) of 1st and 2d generations. While we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, who were deliberate targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries.

  • Reading the Greek Crisis

    This course will offer a comparative approach to the cultural production of contemporary Greece, investigating the "Greek crisis" through literature and film of the past decade, as well as writings drawn from history, anthropology, political science, and economics, contemporary news sources, political and cultural blogs, and even the fast-changing landscape of Athenian graffiti.

  • Love and Death on the Japanese Stage

    Love and death are staples of Japanese stage, as in many dramatic traditions. In traditional Japan, they take on a particular coloring, in response to specific cultural conditions and because of long-established and sophisticated conventions of performance. In this course we study how those conventions of performance depict and articulate these fundamental experiences of life. We study the ways gender and religion influence ideas about love and death, and how political change is reflected in dramatic performance.


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