Comparative Literature

  • Introduction to Comparative Literature

    This course traces the history of criticism in comparative literature along with recent critical developments such as surface reading, distant reading, affect theory, necropolitics, queer futurity, the new materialism, thing theory, biopolitics, ecocriticism, world literature, theory from the south, critiques of neoliberalism, and so on. The class will not embrace a mastery posture toward theory, but an instrumental one, aiming to assist graduate students in conceptualizing their particular projects within and against current debates.

  • 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.

  • Realism and Symbolism: Realism

    Realism is often rhetorically dismissed as naïve or uninteresting--'mere' realism. It comes accompanied by a list of strange but standard adjectives, from gritty to photographic to bourgeois to kitchen-sink. But realism has a rich and varied history of argument and experiment, above all in the nineteenth century (when the word was coined). Why represent reality, and which reality? What might be the pleasure or the point of it?

  • Fashion: The Art, the Politics, the Performance

    Fashion began in the early 15th century when expanding textile trade created a new awareness of what was worn beyond one's own community. A new desire emerged: to look like a figure in a picture, to imitate someone you'd never met. This seminar is devoted to the modern legacy of that new desire. Fashion often gets short shrift in the intellectual community, but is one of the most profound expressions of a culture.

  • Everyday Stories

    "How was your day?" "Tell me about yourself." Such commonplace prompts draw out "everyday stories" of real, unremarkable life. But what counts as real life or unremarkable life, and what happens when it gets into literature, too? What parts of reality do everyday stories suppress or show up? Drawing on writers from Homer to Jane Austen to Woolf to Christopher Isherwood, this course looks at novels, stories, diaries, and essays that present versions or theories of everyday life.

  • 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 different types of literature? How well, far, and fast do literary texts travel? How much can we rely on analogies with markets or with ecological systems to explain the wide circulation or long-term survival of particular texts? What does an individual text disclose about its place of origin and its potential destinations? We will address these and related questions through both literary and theoretical texts.

  • 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.

  • Classical Japanese Theater

    In this course we study four major forms of pre-modern Japanese drama: Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki and Bunraku. These dramatic forms have close relation to other aspects of Japanese culture, especially literature and music, and give voice to a wide range of human experience within the context of an intricately articulated body of conventions, with surprises. No knowledge of Japanese is expected. We will devote a significant portion of our time to studying performances on DVD and/or VHS.

  • 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.


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