• 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.)
  • Problems in Literary Study: The Postcolonial Family Romance

    The goal of this course is to rethink the project of the novel in the colonial and postcolonial world by shifting emphasis from the mimetic model of desire to what Freud called the family romance, the search for alternative worlds in the social order.
  • Topics in Literary and Cultural Theory: Erich Auerbach and the Origin of Existential Realism

    This seminar takes seriously Auerbach's statement that "existential realism" lies at the core of Mimesis, and look for that realism's "origin" in the theo-philosophical apparatus of the book as well as in a selection of the texts about which he writes. Theories of Realism and existence are also explored. Students gain an overview of Auerbach reception to date and challenge some of the ways his work has been read as only concerned with a Eurocentric canon or as an expression of a post-colonial habitus.
  • 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.


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