Comparative Literature

  • Jews and Muslims: History and Culture

    This interdisciplinary course examines Jewish-Muslim interaction in the spheres of written culture, kinship, shared culinary practices and living spaces, neighborhoods, musical customs, and overlapping religious practices. It considers these relations in Spain, Egypt, North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and modern France. Historic contexts include the amazing medieval world of the Cairo Geniza and Islamic Spain; colonialism and modernity in the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century Mediterranean; and the present-day aftermath of Jewish emigration from the region.
  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    What is comparison, and what are its stakes? How do we compare across languages, genres, and/or media? How and why might we "read" closely, at a distance, historically, politically? What can we learn from engaging in and with translation(s)?
  • Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Culture and Ethics

    What is the relationship between culture and ethics in conflict zones? Can culture be a force for conflict resolution or social change? This course examines these questions in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. How does the conflict permeate everyday life, and how do Palestinian and Israeli artists, writers and filmmakers respond? How have they pushed aesthetic and ethical limits in representing extreme violence and loss? How does the cultural imagination transgress borders?
  • 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.
  • Political Novel and Cinema

    Societal and political themes - such as class struggle, race/race relations, national/cultural identity, the rights of workers, gender and sexuality - are inextricable from the novel, as the form that seeks to encapsulate the experience of life in the modern world. But although every novel is political, some novels are deliberately so. This seminar will discuss notable novels that engage with political themes as well as the political implications of the novel as a genre.
  • Crafting Freedom: Women and Liberation in the Americas (1960s to the present)

    This course explores questions and practices of liberation 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 60s, we will study a poetics and politics of liberation, paying special attention to the role played by language and imagination when ideas translate onto social movements related to social justice, structural violence, education, care, and the commons.
  • Saying 'I': First Person Point of View in Literature and Philosophy

    What does it mean to say (or think) "I"? What accounts for the unified character of our experience? What disruptions and gaps in experience can be made perceptible through philosophical scrutiny and daring literary experimentation? This interdisciplinary course for undergraduates as well as graduate students explores central problems of point of view and consciousness by focusing on first-person representation.
  • Ethics and Politics of Pedagogy

    Theory and philosophy of formal educational practice with specific attention to ethical questions and political implications. How have ideals and practices of education changed over time, especially with the unprecedented emergence of common or universal public education in the last two centuries? How is learning braided with power and desire; with nations and subjectivities; with class, race and gender; with colonial structures; with the reproduction of norms, and challenges to them?
  • Comparative Literature Graduate Pedagogy Seminar

    Teaching practicum required of departmental Ph.D. students concurrently teaching their first course at Princeton, and open to those from other literature departments. A range of topics is discussed, based upon the needs and experience of participants. These typically include: facilitating discussions, delivering lectures, grading papers, designing course syllabi, teaching with translations, language and writing instruction, technology in the classroom, developing a statement of teaching philosophy, and preparing a teaching portfolio.
  • Topics in Literature and Philosophy: Mimetic Faculties

    A seminar on ideas of the "mimetic faculty," as Walter Benjamin defined it: the capacity to perceive similarities and the "compulsion to become similar." Through close study of selected ancient, medieval and modern accounts of imitation, particularly in language and literature, we explore some of the promises and perils of becoming alike. Topics to be discussed include simile and likeness; the poetic syllogism; animal mimicry; ancient divinatory practices and their modern legacies; play; gesture; onomatopoeia; translation; homophony.


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