Comparative Literature

  • Introduction to Jewish Cultures

    This introductory course focuses on the cultural syncretism and the global diversity of Jewish experience. It provides a comparative understanding of Jewish culture from antiquity to the present, examining how Jewish culture has emerged through the interaction of Jews and non-Jews, engaging a wide spectrum of cultures throughout the Jewish world, and following representations of key issues such as sexuality or the existence of God in different eras.

  • The Classical Roots of Western Literature

    A reading of some of the greatest works of literature in the European tradition from Homer to Shakespeare. The course is also designed as an introduction to Comparative Literature--that is, a reading of literary works across the boundaries of time, geography, and language. All works taught in English.

  • Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

    The Junior Seminar will investigate the literal and figurative meanings of the phrase "the place of literature." How relevant is geography to literature? How do we distinguish between imagination, invention, and falsehood when considering a literary setting? How well, far, and fast do texts travel? How do contemporary texts convey the particulars of transient populations and non-native speakers? What does an individual text disclose about its origins and potential destinations? What does it mean to map a text?

  • The European Novel: Cervantes to Tolstoy

    A study of the classic European novel from Cervantes to Tolstoy, with particular attention to their charismatic (and often renegade) characters, their inventive, often sprawling forms, their battle with reality.

  • Postcolonial Literature/Postcolonial Criticism

    We examine visions of the future produced in areas that underwent processes of decolonization in the 20th century. Focusing on Africa and Asia, we look at how prospects for societies after decolonization were imagined by those struggling against imperialism. What was envisaged for the younger generations? How would alternative states be made? New kinds of international connections? Communities and relations between races, sexes and classes? Themes include Pan-Africanism, Socialism, nationalism, class, caste, gender, and race.

  • The Literature of Medieval Europe

    An introduction to medieval literature and the question of performative language in literature, linguistics, philosophy and theology. Works to be read include romance and lyric poetry from the French, German and English traditions, as well as selections from Scholastic philosophy, grammar and theology. We will also study some twentieth-century philosophical and linguistic accounts of speech acts. Topics to be discussed include lies, promises, oaths, baptisms, ritual speech and the structure of sacraments.

  • Great Books from Little Languages

    For historical reasons most books that come into English are translated from just a few languages, creating a misleading impression of the spread of literature itself. This course provides an opportunity to discover literary works from languages with small reading populations which rarely attract academic attention in the USA.

  • Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis in World War II

    This course examines the gendered experiences of childhood & adolescence under the Nazis in World War II as witnessed, remembered, and represented in texts and images through a variety of genres and different nationalities. We include historical studies, diaries, testimonies, memoirs, fiction (semi-autobiographical or otherwise), photos, and film (documentary & feature) of 1st and 2d generations. While we focus on the fate of Jewish youth, who were deliberate targets of genocidal policy, not just unintended victims, we will also attend to others in the occupied countries.

  • Reading the Greek Crisis

    This course will offer a comparative approach to the cultural production of contemporary Greece, investigating the "Greek crisis" through literature and film of the past decade, as well as writings drawn from history, anthropology, political science, and economics, contemporary news sources, political and cultural blogs, and even the fast-changing landscape of Athenian graffiti.


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