Comparative Literature

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

    COM 362 examines the gendered experiences of childhood and 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 and feature) of 1st and 2nd generations.
  • Sex, Violence, Sacrilege in Enlightenment Fiction

    This seminar will explore the dark side of the Enlightenment, or Age of Reason. The fiction and philosophy we will read shock and challenge all our pieties and inhibitions. How did the age that brought us liberty, equality, and fraternity also bring us such gleefully conspicuous cruelty, terror, and vice? How do our texts both expose and indulge these? We will approach them with a view to better understanding the ethical thought and moral values of the Enlightenment.
  • Agency, Persons, Aesthetics. Epistemologies of the Polis

    This class explores why social and political theory requires theory of knowledge. Prefiguring Hegel and Marx the authors we read remain seminal to both history and "the permanence of the aesthetic" (Marcuse) because they conceive "thinking" itself as "self-determination" in which any "self " first "becomes" "itself" in relation to others "outside" it (Kant), just as any "subject" is "predicated" not by choice but definition (Rousseau).
  • "Modern" Poetry and Poetics: Baudelaire to the "Present"

    Designed for both undergraduates and graduate students, this course will focus on reading major "modern" poets and writings on poetics, in French, German, English and Spanish, with additional readings in theory of 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. Secondary readings will include essays by major theorists and critics who consider the larger questions of representation, temporality, visuality, and language underlying poetic practice.
  • BANNED: The Paradox of Free Speech in Cinema

    The First Amendment protection of free expression was only extended to motion pictures in 1952, yet from the beginning of its history film was caught up in the paradox of free speech and civil rights. We will examine the paradoxical effects of local, state, market and self-censorship on filmmaking and cinematic innovation. We will search for the aesthetic criteria that can separate propaganda film from genuine art through close reading of some of the most scandalous films of cinema history.
  • What is Passing? Cultural Encounters in Race, Ethnicity, and Sexuality

    What is "passing" and why is it such a persistent obsession of great literature and film? Why does the act of changing one's identity fascinate, excite, and repel us? At once a universal phenomenon and the most intensely personal of experiences, passing is a site where history, culture, law and society collide with individual identity and desire. This course examines narratives from the African-American, Jewish-American, and LGBTQ contexts in order to explore the idea of passing through the lenses of race, ethnicity, and gender.
  • Comparative Literature Graduate Pedagogy Seminar

    Teaching practicum required of departmental PhD students and open only to those concurrently teaching in their first course at Princeton. A wide range of topics is discussed, based primarily upon the needs and experience of participants. These typically include: facilitating discussions, delivering lectures, grading papers, designing course syllabi, teaching with translations, using technology in the classroom, developing a statement of teaching philosophy, and preparing a teaching portfolio. Course leads to partial fulfillment of the McGraw Teaching Transcript.
  • Topics in Literature and Philosophy: Sentences

    Sentences are objects crucial to several disciplines: grammar, logic, law, literature and philosophy. This seminar explores some of their conditions, limits and paradoxes. What distinguishes one kind of sentence from another? How can a command, for example, do things that a question cannot do? Why is it difficult, even impossible, to rephrase an exclamation as a statement? Reading works of literature, philosophy and linguistics, we focus on five basic sentence types: the question, exclamation, command, assertion and negation.
  • Introduction to Comparative Literature

    An introduction to poetics, its history and some of its fundamental works and terms, from antiquity to the medieval, modern and contemporary periods. Our readings are drawn from philosophy and linguistics as well as literature. Subjects to be discussed include the senses of poiesis; performance; mimesis; the definition of verse; the poetics of prose; the concept of the vernacular; poetics and rhetoric; the grammar of poetry; poetry and the inhuman.
  • 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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