Spring 2020

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Advanced Creative Writing (Literary Translation)

    Students will choose, early in the semester, one author to focus on in fiction, poetry, or drama. All work will be translated into English and discussed in a workshop format. We will address the challenges of revising, with the goal of arriving at a 25-30 page sample of the author's work. Weekly readings will focus on the comparison of pre-existing translations and also on some translation theory.
  • Dangerous Bodies: Cross-Dressing, Asia, Transgression

    This course examines "dangerous bodies" - bodies that transgress existing gender and racial norms in Chinese and Sinophone cultures. Situated at the intersection of literary, film, performance, gender and ethnic studies, this course provides an introduction to the shifting social meanings of the body in relation to historical masculinity, femininity, and Chineseness.
  • Postwar Japanese Narrative: Modern to Postmodern

    This course examines postwar Japanese experience through major literary, cinematic, and intellectual achievements. The objective is first to analyze a multitude of struggles in the aftermath of the Asia-Pacific War, and then to inquire into the nature of post-industrial prosperity in capitalist consumerism and the emergence of postmodernism. The course will cover representative postwar figures such as, Oe Kenzaburo, Dazai Osamu, Mishima Yukio, as well as contemporary writers such as Murakami Haruki.
  • Cultures at Play: The History, Aesthetics, and Theory of Games

    This class explores games and the culture of play through a variety of angles, ranging from the aesthetic to the ideological, from the historical to the technological. By doing so, we familiarize ourselves with the increasingly prolific literature on (video) games as well as the longer history of game theory.
  • Nature vs. Culture: A European Problem

    Where does nature end? Where does culture begin? In this seminar, we will walk the contested borderlands claimed by both, exploring key works of literature, art, and film from the Middle Ages to the present that challenge, represent, perform, condition, and subvert our notions of morality and human conduct. Is nature cruel or edifying? Should human values be informed by botany? How can an earthquake become an act of natural justice? Is the environment a field of scientific study or a human-made reality?
  • Afterlives of the Artists

    We will examine the ways in which Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the Artists" have morphed into modern and postmodern literature, focusing on the novelistic and lyric subversions of the original model. Adjustments to the standard narrative include biographies of wretched artists, artsy dealers, and aesthetically inclined criminals; texts set within the imagined world of a painting; tales privileging the instrument or materials over the artist; and dramatically rewritten or unwritten lives of the usual suspects.
  • New Diasporas: Black British Literature

    This is a course on the dynamic body of works produced by migrants and descendants of migrants from Africa and the Caribbean in Britain since the 1950s. How has the migrant experience transformed the British cultural landscape after the end of an empire? What does it mean to be British and Black? How have migrant writers created new aesthetic forms to respond to the meaning of postcolonial Britishness? How does writing function as a mode of imagining alternative spaces of belonging?
  • Early Modern Amsterdam: Tolerant Eminence and the Arts

    Inter-disciplinary class on early modern Amsterdam (1550-1720) when the city was at the center of the global economy and leading cultural center; home of Rembrandt and Spinoza (Descartes was nearby) and original figures like playwrights Bredero and Vondel, the ethicist engraver Coornhert, the political economist de la Court brothers and English traveling theater. We go from art to poetry, drama, philosophy and medicine. Spring Break is in Amsterdam with museum visits, guest talks and participation in recreation of traveling theater from the period.

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