• Topics in the History of Opera: Verdi and Shakespeare

    Over the course of his lengthy career, Giuseppe Verdi composed three operas based on plays by William Shakespeare. His operatic treatment of Macbeth (1847) was composed when Verdi was only 33-years old; he would wait another forty years before returning to Shakespeare for his two final (and arguably greatest) operas: Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1891). This seminar focuses on a close reading and analysis of these three operas; literary sources, ottocento operatic conventions, performance traditions, representations of race and gender, genre, etc.
  • Seminar on Andrei Bitov

    Analysis of works of one of Russia's most important contemporary writers. Focus on major novels, including "Pushkin House," the 1st Russian postmodernist novel. We explore his wide-ranging concerns, such as psychology; philosophy; science; other arts (including jazz & cinema); people's relationship to other biological species; integrity & societal and psychological obstacles to it. We examine him as a Petersburg writer. Focus also on his relationship to time, history, & other writers; his place in Russian & Soviet literature & culture.
  • Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory: Drive: Toward a Conceptual History

    This course tracks the concept of drive through a series of natural scientific, literary, and philosophical discourses between approximately 1780 and 1940. After a preliminary discussion of appetite and self-motion between Aristotle and Newton, we explore the surge of interest in the concept around 1800, followed by the emerging science of sexuality, before finally turning to psychoanalytic and 'cosmological' theories of drive from early 20c. Our focus is on changing conceptions of human motive, especially the difference between instinct, desire, and intelligence.
  • Seminar in Modern Spanish-American Literature: Mario Vargas Llosa:Literature and Politics

    This seminar discusses a selection of Mario Vargas Llosa's major political novels in dialogue with the works of political philosophy that shaped his thinking. Our discussion begins with Vargas Llosa's engagement with radical Marxism in his youth, his active participation in the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, leading up to his turn towards liberalism in the 1980s. Political theorists discussed include: Marx, Mariátegui, Sartre, Fidel Castro, Edmund Wilson, Karl Popper, Octavio Paz, Isaiah Berlin. Topics include: guerilla warfare, class struggle, the market, social justice.
  • Comparative Literature Graduate Pedagogy Seminar

    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.
  • Topics in Literature and Philosophy: Sentences

    Sentences are objects crucial to several disciplines: grammar, logic, law, literature and philosophy. This seminar explores some of their conditions, limits and paradoxes. What distinguishes one kind of sentence from another? How can a command, for example, do things that a question cannot do? Why is it difficult, even impossible, to rephrase an exclamation as a statement? Reading works of literature, philosophy and linguistics, we focus on five basic sentence types: the question, exclamation, command, assertion and negation.
  • Introduction to Comparative Literature

    An introduction to poetics, its history and some of its fundamental works and terms, from antiquity to the medieval, modern and contemporary periods. Our readings are drawn from philosophy and linguistics as well as literature. Subjects to be discussed include the senses of poiesis; performance; mimesis; the definition of verse; the poetics of prose; the concept of the vernacular; poetics and rhetoric; the grammar of poetry; poetry and the inhuman.
  • 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.
  • Ideographs, Images and Emblems

    From the inception of writing in ancient times to the present, the intersection of images with texts has created subtle and ingenious systems of signs as well as philosophical, aesthetic and psychological discourses about how such signs relate to cognition and semiotics. This course studies several of these systems and discourses. Objects of study derive from ancient Egypt and Meso-America, Early Modern Europe, Modernism and Post-Structuralism, from competing theses on speech, writing, and gesture to attempts to develop new taxonomies of images.
  • Arabs, Jews, and Arab-Jews in Literature, History, and Culture

    This course examines the idea of the Arab, the Jew, and the Arab-Jew as represented in history, literature, and film. It revisits the interdisciplinary scholarship around "Jews and Arabs" since the 1990s in order to reassess past and current approaches and to assist students with their own research agendas. We consider the following analytical frames: memory studies and its politics; historiography, recovery and the archive; hybridity and cosmopolitanism; and passing and cross-identification. We also utilize the Katz Center (U Penn)'s 2018-19 program on Jews in modern Islamic contexts.


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