Comparative Literature

  • The Classical Roots of Western Literature

    This course focuses on the classics of the Western literary tradition from Antiquity through the medieval period. We will examine the ways in which poets, playwrights, biographers, and other fabulists addressed questions of public duty and private emotion, domestic and exotic customs, and natural, unnatural, and supernatural events. All works are taught in English.
  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    Thick Reading is the aim of the course, which is to say, "close reading" in the sense of paying heightened attention to the ways in which we read our object of study. Most of those objects will be literary, but we'll make room to interrogate and straddle the borders of the "literary" as well, considering visual arts, music and film. We will also try to thicken the canon, in reading beyond the Euro-American canon even as we acknowledge an interest in aesthetic critique.
  • 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.
  • The Literature of Medieval Europe

    A seminar on medieval arts of love and the new forms of poetry and prose that are their expression. Our main focus will be literary works that present themselves as amorous inventions, from the Arabic and Hebrew poems of Islamic Spain to Juan Ruiz's Book of Good Love, from the troubadours and Minnesinger to the French, German and English romances of Lancelot, Tristan and Isolde, and Gawain. Yet we will also study medieval theoretical works by such authors as Ibn Hazm, Andreas Capellanus and Richard de Fournival.
  • Storytelling as Self Defense: Political Novellas

    Modern citizens' struggle for liberty produced a radical literary tool of defense: the novella. Part everyday life, part sudden event, these short forms gave advice to those fighting the Man: How can outcasts question authority? What is a feminist plot? Can resistance be a reader response? We will discuss and read how these stories organize, formulate, and intensify real-world arguments through fictional protagonists in examples from the Americas and Europe, esp. 19th-century Germany.
  • Texts and Images of the Holocaust

    In an effort to encompass the variety of responses to what is arguably the most traumatic event of modern Western experience, we explore the Holocaust as transmitted through documents, testimony, journals, memoirs, creative writing and cinema. In our study of works, reflecting diverse languages, cultures, genres, and points of view, we focus on issues of bearing witness, collective vs individual memory, and the nature of radical evil Throughout we are mindful of tensions between ethical and aesthetic imperatives, and the perils of representation itself, when faced with the unrepresentable.
  • Beyond Crisis Contemporary Greece in Context

    This course examines an emergent historical situation as it unfolds: the ongoing financial, social, and humanitarian "crisis" in Greece, including the "refugee crisis." It offers a comparative approach to current Greek cultural production, through literature and film of the past decade and writings drawn from history, anthropology, political science, economics, news sources, and political blogs.
  • The Gothic Tradition

    The purpose of this course is to analyze and understand the cultural meanings of the Gothic mode through a study of its characteristic elements, its historical, aesthetic, and political origins in eighteenth-century English and German culture and thought, its development across Western national traditions, and its persistence in contemporary culture, including film, electronic media, clothing, social behavior, and belief systems, as well as literature. Films, artifacts, web sites and electronic publications will supplement readings.
  • Lyric Language and Form I: Renaissance to Romantic

    Open to undergraduate and grad. students, this course investigates poetry and prose writings on poetry by major poets writing in 16th-19th cent. English, Spanish, and German, alongside critical texts on poetics. (Foreign language knowledge desired but not required.). Brief practica on the mechanics of poetics (meters, rhyme and stress patterns, and specific poetic forms) will be presented to assist us in our examination of texts. Figuration and representation, lyric syntax and experience, temporality, and materiality, are some of the critical subjects we will address. See prof.

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