Comparative Literature

  • What is Vernacular Filmmaking?

    We will study films that address global audiences while rooted in particular, local,vernacular sources of artistic creation. In order to understand this aesthetic phenomenon of World Cinema, we will examine theories of World Literature. Especially, we will focus on Auerbach's famous book, Mimesis and his work on the formation of vernacular audiences.

  • Masterworks of European Literature

    In this course we will examine the major forms and themes of Western Literature since the Renaissance: the drama, essay, lyric and novel. We shall read major works by British, Spanish, French, German, Russian and American authors, considering the unique contributions of specific nations and languages and the transformations of themes and genres over a span of five hundred years.

  • Topics in Comparative Literature: Performing the Planet

    An examination of how literature and the performing arts represent and interrogate climate change. The relationship between the human body and the earth, as seen in Classical Drama, early depictions of the New World, texts by early naturalists. The emergence of technologies of seeing and their effects on theater and dance. The relationship between conceptions of the internal body and the body of the earth (geology, landscape, maternity, the microbiome, the Sublime). Environmental theater, eco theater and dance.

  • 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.

  • Love and Death on the Japanese Stage

    Love and death are staples of Japanese stage, as in many dramatic traditions. In traditional Japan, they take on a particular coloring, in response to specific cultural conditions and because of long-established and sophisticated conventions of performance. In this course we study how those conventions of performance depict and articulate these fundamental experiences of life. We study the ways gender and religion influence ideas about love and death, and how political change is reflected in dramatic performance.

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, and the Tasks of Literature

    An introduction to Tolstoy through his select short fiction and/or drama, critical essays, and all of [War and Peace] in the context of various theories of the novel. Our thesis--which is open to debate--is that Tolstoy's radical ideas on narrative have their counterpart in his radical ideas on history and the self, which, taken together, offer a coherent view of the human condition at odds with most Russian writers and philosophers of his time.

  • Conceptions of the Sensory

    In-depth discussion and analysis of conceptions of the sensory in writings by philosophers, poets, art critics and theorists, and artists, from the early modern to contemporary periods. We will investigate the ways in which the sensory is understood as the necessary basis for conceptual thinking of diverse kinds, including systematic and dialectical philosophy (Kant and Hegel), sign theory (Saussure), imaginative and figural writing, and theory and practice of the plastic arts (Rilke, Mallarmé, Adorno, Greenberg, Serra, Stella, Scully, Buchloh, Warhol, among others).

  • Lyric Form and Language II: The Modern Period

    This course is the continuation of a 2-semester sequence for undergraduates and graduate students, but may be taken independently of the fall semester course (COM 421). We will focus on reading major poets of the modern period in English, French, German and Spanish with additional readings in the theoretical reflections on modernity, poetry, and the arts written by several of the poets we read. These include: Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rilke, Celan, Garcia Lorca, Pax, Borges, Stevens, Bishop and Ashbery, among others. Secondary readings will include essays by major theorists and critics.

  • Translation Theory: Teaching in Translation

    Disciplines across the university rely on texts in translation for research and teaching alike. Yet few of us, from undergraduates to professors, have been trained to discuss translated materials as translations. If each translation embodies an interpretation of an original, how does this affect our own reliance on and interpretation of these texts? This course fosters a responsible pedagogy of translated texts, first and foremost by offering a solid foundation in translation theory and translation studies.

  • 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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