Spring 2018

  • Comparative Poetics of Passing: Race, Ethnicity, Sexuality

    The expansion of race theory from the Americas into the global scene invites a cross-cultural approach to the fluidity of identity. This seminar investigates fiction and film from the African American, Jewish American, LGBTQ, and Israeli-Palestinian contexts to broadly explore how society constructs and deconstructs race, ethnicity, and gender. It focuses on representations of passing and reverse passing as well as doubled/split identities for a wide-ranging, comparative discussion of the political and the psychological dynamics of identity and selfhood.
  • Contemporary Critical Theories: Marx's Capital

    Close reading of Marx's Capital vol. 1. Attention paid to questions of translation. Knowledge of German not necessary, but be prepared to engage with the German text. Secondary readings discussed as necessary.
  • Topics in Critical Theory: Comparative Literature Writing and Dissertation Colloquium

    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.
  • Imaginary Worlds: Early Modern Science Fiction

    Science fiction (SF) writing may seem a definitively modern phenomenon, but it has a rich and varied history in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In this course, we examine early modern SF not only a vehicle for popularizing the new philosophy of the "scientific revolution," but as a space for the interrogation of competing beliefs about the relationships between humankind and the cosmos, knowledge and belief, or public and private living.
  • Women and Liberation: Feminist Poetics and Politics in the Americas (1960s to the present)

    This course aims to explore different forms that the question of liberation has taken in writings by women philosophers and poets whose work helped to create cultural and political movements in the U.S. and Latin America. Starting in the 1960s, the course touches upon different philosophical concepts and poetic figures that have shaped the language of women's struggles (intersectionality, black and third world feminism, subalternity and feminist epistemologies, capitalist accumulation and "witch"-hunting, (re)transmission of knowledge).
  • Studies in Forms of Narrative: Jokes, Laughter, Comedy

    A grand old subject - why do we laugh and how does the comic function within literary works and cultural experience? - about which we'll see if we can say something new. Classic statements on the topic, e.g., Freud and Bergson, but some forays into more contemporary theories, including cognitive science. Literary materials mostly drawn from the early modern period - Erasmus, Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Molière - alongside examples from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, to be chosen by the seminar members themselves.
  • Topics in Non-Western and General Literature: Ideographs

    Weekly three-hour seminar. The seminar focuses closely on selected plays from the repertory of noh drama, with attention to related texts regarding training, aesthetic values, patronage and the materialities of performance (masks, costumes, props, the stage, etc.)
  • Creative Writing (Literary Translation)

    Practice in the translation of literary works from another language into English supplemented by the reading and analysis of standard works. Criticism by professionals and talented peers encourages the student's growth as both creator and reader of literature. Students must be fluent in their chosen language.
  • Manga: Visual Culture in Modern Japan

    This course examines the comic book as an expressive medium in Japan. Reading a range of works, classic and contemporary, in a variety of genres, we consider: How has the particular history of Japan shaped cartooning as an art form there? What critical approaches can help us think productively about comics (and other popular culture)? How can we translate the effects of a visual medium into written scholarly language? What do changes in media technology, literacy, and distribution mean for comics today? Coursework will combine readings, written analysis, and technical exercises.
  • Chinese Cinemas

    This course is an introduction to contemporary Chinese cinemas in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. From postwar musicals and pan-Asian blockbusters, to new wave avant-garde films and experimental documentaries, the diversity of Chinese cinemas reflects cinema's relations to global capitalism, Asia's democratization movements, financial crises, and the arrival of (post)socialism. Creating urban nomads, songstresses, daydreamers, travelers, and terrorists, Chinese cinemas put on full display the forces of globalization in shaping the aesthetics and politics of film.


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