Generic Course Descriptions

COM 202 /JDS 203
Introduction to Jewish Cultures
Professor(s): Lital Levy

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 course's interdisciplinary approach covers Bible and Talmud, Jewish mysticism, Zionism, Jewish cinema, music, food, modern literature, and graphic arts. All readings and films are in English.

COM 205 /HUM 205 /HLS 203
The Classical Roots of Western Literature

Professor(s): Leonard Barkan

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.

COM 300
Junior Seminar: Introduction to Comparative Literature

Professor(s): Eileen A. Reeves

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? We will discuss these and related questions in the context of both literary and theoretical works.

COM 308 /ECS 308
Postcolonial Literature/Postcolonial Criticism

Professor(s): Benjamin Conisbee Baer

Postcolonialism deals with theories, practices, and representations of movements for national liberation in the twentieth century. The times and spaces of decolonization have profoundly influenced today's world, and the ghosts of colonization have not yet been put to rest. We will develop an understanding of postcolonial hauntings of the present through readings from both metropolitan and colonized societies in Europe, South Asia, Africa, and the Americas. How have literary and theoretical representations of colonialism and imperialism multiplied and changed in today's world? Why are questions of gender so central in the postcolonial world?

COM 310 /MED 308
The Literature of Medieval Europe

Professor(s): Daniel Heller-Roazen

An introduction to medieval literature and the question of performative language in literature, linguistics, philosophy and theology. Works to be read include romances from the French, German and English traditions, as well as selections from Scholastic philosophy, grammar and theology. Attention will also be paid to the idea of the "speech act" in twentieth-century philosophy and linguistics. Topics to be discussed include lies, promises, oaths, baptisms, ritual speech and the structure of sacraments.All texts will be read in translation, though study of the originals will be encouraged whenever possible.

COM 351 /ENG 343 /TRA 351
Great Books from Little Languages

Professor: David Bellos, Liesl M. Yamaguchi

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 opportunityto discover literary works from languages with small reading populations which rarely attract academic attention in the USA. It also offers tools to reflect critically on the networks of selection that determine which books reach English-language readers; the role of literature in the maintenance of national identities; the role of translation; and the concept of "world literature" in Comparative Literary Studies.

COM 362 /JDS 362 /ECS 362 /CHV 362
Stolen Years: Youth under the Nazis in World War II

Professor(s): Froma I. Zeitlin

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. In final projects, students may elect to study other theaters of war.

COM 369 /HLS 369 /ECS 369
Reading the Greek Crisis

Professor(s): Karen R. Emmerich

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. Students will face the comparatist's challenge of encountering not only an unfamiliar literature as it unfolds in a time of crisis, but also an unfamiliar culture, history, and society, mediated not just by linguistic translation but by market forces and media spin.

COM 379 /EAS 379 /HUM 379
Script, Screen, and Sexuality in East Asia

Professor(s): Ayako Kano

This course focuses on representations of gender and sexuality in East Asia, including theatrical traditions and their cinematic adaptations, documentary films, short fiction, graphic novels, animation, and music videos. It will introduce students to fundamental texts in sexuality and gender studies, to the contours of East Asian culture, and to the challenges of orientalist perspectives. Sexuality and performance will be examined within the context of cultural, political, and economic exchange. We will also consider the ways in which our knowledge of the lives of people in East Asia is constructed and constrained. Freshmen are welcome.

COM 414 /ECS 414 /POL 481
“What is Enlightenment”? Social and Political Theory in the Age that Defined “the Human”

Professor(s): Claudia Joan Brodsky

Kant's response to the question, "What is Enlightenment?", posed in the Berlin Monthly in 1783, continued to arouse debate, as Foucault's late return to Kant made plain. We will examine many of the formative texts of modern political and moral philosophy written during an era when the very concept of "the human" was interrogated as never before. In that they presume no extra-human foundation, these works turn out to be fundamentally interdisciplinary in reach, and include theories of government, knowledge, language, property, contractual and transnational rights. Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant are among the authors we read.