Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to sub-navigation

Topics Courses

2014-15 Course List

CO100: Introduction to Comparative Literature

What is literature? What are genres? How should they be read, interpreted and evaluated? What social and personal functions does writing have? How is writing related to oral tradition? How do writers compare themselves to others (admiration and imitation, rejection, transformation)? Study of literary of texts from ancient to modern and from a variety of languages and cultures. Emphasis on close reading of literary texts as well as critical research, analysis, and writing. Meets the Critical Perspectives: The West in Time requirement. 

2 units — Hughes, Davis, Scheiner

CO210 – Introduction to Literary Theory

Introduction to the major twentieth-century theories of literature, including such approaches as formalism and structuralism, hermeneutics, reception theory, feminist theory, psychoanalytic approaches, post-structuralism and new historicism. Study of important theoretical texts as well as literary works from a variety of language traditions, exploring the ways in which theory informs possibilities of interpretation. Also listed as English 250.

1 unit—Naji

CO200: Topics in Comparative Literature

Intermediate level consideration of various topics in comparative literature. Topics might include a single genre, a period or a theme. Texts usually in English but with reference to non-English materials within the competence of students. (May be offered as a January half-block.)

Also listed as Classics 219, 220, 222; Comparative Literature 220; English 280, 360; Race and Ethnic Studies 200; Feminist and Gender Studies 206, 220; Film and New Media Studies 202; French 318; Film Studies 205; German 328; History 200; Italian 320; Music 227; Philosophy 262; Political Science 234; Psychology 120, 203; Southwest Studies 253; Theatre 220, 222, 223.

1 unit —

American Political Novel

Also listed as PS203

Introduction to Anglophone Arabic Literature

This course will provide a broad overview of the rich literary heritage produced in the twenty first century by Arab authors writing in English.  We will trace the developments, achievements and trajectories of this emergent literature, and the way this literary creativity reveals the transnational visions of Arab immigrant communities in the United States and Britain. We will examine how culture, religion, race and gender complicate the question of nationalism and identity-formation. The readings will focus on works of fiction including novels and short stories as well as poetry representing several Arab countries and diverse perspectives on Arab history and culture. Also listed as Arabic 320. 


The Bible As Literature

The Bible considered as one of the great literary works of the Western world and, in the King James translation, a masterpiece of English prose. Emphasis on its narrative , structure, its characterization, and the beauty and power of its language, with some attention to its influence on later works of literature. Also listed as EN223.                        


Chinese Cinema and Society

Also listed as CN250, PA250 and FM2016                                                                                                                                                                                                   -


Contemporary Performance 1950-Present

Using an interdisciplinary arts approach, investigates varied performance aesthetics, theory and practices of the later 20th and early 21st century with a focus on the American experience, new and disenfranchised voices, and hybrid genres in the arts. Considers perspectives in music, dance, directing, multimedia, and of theorists and playwrights. Disillusionment of the post-WWII era, voices of protest, agitation/propaganda, performance art, and identity politics; Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender performance, race relations, and the feminist aesthetic. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement. Also listed as TH224 and DA224                                                                                                                      


Topics in Film Genre and History: Crime Films  

Also listed as FM200, FS205 and EN280                                                                                                                                                                                                      


Dante and His World.

In this course, we will explore the world of Dante: his main works, world view, the political unrest of his age, his fellow writers. We will also follow the legacy of Dante across the centuries until today, through citations, re-writings and adaptations in film, including Dan Brown’s Inferno, videogames, and graphic novels. (Taught in English) Also listed as IT320. 1 unit                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


David Foster Wallace  

Described by The New York Times as a “writer of virtuosic talents who can seemingly do anything,” novelist, short-story writer, and essayist David Foster Wallace dramatically changed the face of contemporary fiction.  The course explores Wallace's fiction and non-fiction, focusing both on his use of language and on what he might have termed the preoccupations, that is the central concerns, of his writing.  Texts include: The Broom of the System, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and Infinite Jest; stories from Girl with Curious Hair and Oblivion; Everything and More; and essays from A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster. Also listed as English 280.                    


The Discipline of Love.

From Lancelot and Guinevere to Sleeping Beauty and her prince, this course will examine how the stories and characters of French literature have shaped the way we conceive of romantic love in the West. We will explore the topic of love as a discipline, in the sense of a body of knowledge to be learned, but also how this model of love has been used to discipline human sexuality by limiting our understanding of what “true love” is. We will discover and discuss how various narratives of love, while dictating what true love looks like and who may fall in love, serve to reinforce the economic interests of certain groups within the patriarchal societies of early modern France, and finally, what those models and lessons have come to mean in modern Western cultures. Critical perspectives: Social Inequality.  Also listed as FR316                                                                               


Discovering the Unconscious

Major psychoanalytic perspectives of the late 19th and 20th centuries on the concept of the unconscious in theory, case studies, and fiction. Emphasis on unconscious processes as they relate to the formation of identity. Readings from such authors as Freud, Jung, Klein, Winnicott, Kohut, and Yalom. Also listed as Philosophy 262 and Psychology 120.     


Topics in Francophone Culture Taught in English: Exploring Cajun and Creole Cultures in the US. (Extra $$$, Includes 6-day trip to New Orleans and Lafayette)

This course, taught in English, explores the historical presence and significance of Cajun and Creole cultures in North America, in the US particularly. The course also studies the social and cultural significance of processes of Creolization of French, as well as French as a heritage language in the US. This investigation is carried through the reading and critical study of works by U.S. authors of Cajun and Creole origins. In this course, students view and explore filmic representations of histories and cultures of Creoles, and Cajuns in Louisiana. Filmic productions such as Ann Rice’s popular television series, Feast of All Saints, amongst others, will be studied. The course’s critical exploration of Cajun and Creole cultures culminates with a 6-day guided visit in the historical cities of New Orleans and Lafayette in Louisiana.  Also listed as FR317                                                


Gender and Sexuality in Japanese Literature Film and Manga

This course explores how Japanese writers have dealt with the issues of gender and sexuality from the Heian Period through the modern era. Drawing on literary sources such as The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibi (11th c.), Five Women Who Loved Love by Ihara Saikaku (17th c.), and Kitchen by Yoshimoto Banana (20th c.), as well as films and manga, we will analyze how both male and female authors have portrayed gender and sexuality within an ever changing landscape. Also listed as JA252, PA250, and FG206                   


Good and Evil

Also listed as TH200                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  


Greek Drama: Origins and Early Forms of Theater                                                                                                                                                                                  

A study of origins, early texts, performance practices and developing theatrical conventions in various cultures, with special emphasis on ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Also listed as Classics 219 and Theatre 220.

German Film since 1945 Love, Death and Other Demons: Faith Akin’s Turkish-German Cinema

A study of German cinema of the post-war era, including more contemporary films. Discussions and films shown will reflect the concerns of a younger generation of filmmakers, including coming to terms with the legacy of the Third Reich in such films as 'The Murderers are Amongst Us,' 'The Tin Drum,' and 'The Nasty Girl,' the 'New German Cinema' of Fassbinder, Wenders and Herzog; and alternative points of view by women and gay filmmakers such as Dorrie, von Trotta and von Praunheim. Readings and discussions are in English. All films have English subtitles. (Offered alternate years.) No prerequisites. Also listed as GR211, FM206 and ES200                                                                               


Medieval and Renaissance Theatre

A study of theories about the ‘rebirth’ of theatre during the middle ages, tracing its development throughout Renaissance Europe, with special emphasis on Elizabethan England. Also listed as TH221 and EN280                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Mexican-American Literature

This course provides a broad overview of movements in Mexican American literature in the twentieth century, from Revolutionary corridos, to Chicano movement documents, through the development of Chicana feminism. This interdisciplinary course emphasizes a relation between historical events and literary production. Authors to include Americo Paredes, Tomas Rivera, and Sandra Cisneros.  Also listed as English 280, Race and Ethnic Studies 200 and Southwest Studies 253.                                                                   

Cucher, Lozano

Modern Theatre: 1880-1940

A study of the 20th-century movements in playwriting and theatre practice. Topics will include realism (Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Schnitzler) and the anti-realistic revolts against it, such as the work of Maeterlinck, Cocteau, Kaiser, Brecht, Pirandello, and various artists of alternative theatre. Also listed as: Also listed as TH223.                             


Myth & Meaning

Religion and myth of ancient Greece and Rome in relation to that of the ancient Mediterranean (Akkadian, Hittite, Sumerian, Egyptian). Female presence in art, literature and religion compared to treatment of women in their respective cultures. Theoretical approaches to the understanding of myth (Comparative, Jungian, Structuralist) in relation to myths as they are encoded in their specific cultures. Students may trace a myth through Medieval, Renaissance and modern transformations in art, music, poetry and film, or study myth in other cultures (e.g. Norse and Celtic). Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement. May meet either the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures or Social Inequality requirement. Also listed as Classics 220 and Feminist and Gender Studies 220                                                             


Queer Performance

Examines how performances since 1960 by queer artists have challenged conventional ideas about the body, sexuality and selfhood. Uses readings by theorists such as Michael Foucault, Michael Warner, and Jose Esteban Munoz to identify strategic positions adopted by artists working in literature, film, drama, musical theatre, dance and performance art. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement. Also listed as DA329 and TH329                                                                                                                


Representing the Holocaust in Film and Literature

Topics in German Literature and Culture: Holocaust. Even though such writers as Jean Paul Sartre, Theodor Adorno and George Steiner questioned whether one could ever create imaginative writing after Auschwitz, the Holocaust has been a presence in German literature from the 1940’s to the present. Because the Nazis employed so many lies to pervert the truth, it has been the concern of a number of post-World War II writers and film-makers to render the horrendous truth in their art. In this class we will focus on the formal as well as on the moral responsibilities those artists had to face in order to understand and communicate the complexities of the Holocaust through literary or filmic representation. Prerequisite: (Taught in English).  Also listed as GR220, ES200 and FM206                                                                                                                                 


Romantic Comedy: The Birth, Death and Re-Birth

Is the romantic comedy dead? Was it killed by the sexual revolution and the women’s movement? Where was it born, anyway? (ancient Athens, of course). This class explores how Greece exists in the American cinematic imagination, and studies contemporary American romantic comedy of “The Blue World Cycle” (1982-2013) where the setting is Greece, and the structures and plots follow ancient patterns.  Contextualizing our study with Greek, Roman, and Shakespeare’s “New Comedy”, we see that with remarkably consistent situations and characterization they all explore the persistent questions about and the interconnectedness of love, romance, sex, marriage, family, and freedom. In “Blue World Cycle” films, dazzling waves of blue flood the screen with the sea and sky meeting so that often even the land appears blue. Through the blueness Greece, the place itself, and what it means, emerges as an important notion, as it had been to Roman comedy.   Thus the course will be taught in Greece with careful attention to how meaning is derived from landscape and culture. For if romantic comedies can bereborn anywhere, it will be here, in the birthplace of Aphrodite.  Films include: Paul Mazursky’s Tempest (1982) and Randal Kleiser’s Summer Lovers (1982) and includes Phyllida Lloyd’s Mamma Mia! (2008) and Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight (2013).          


Sex and the Modern City: Literature and Film 1890-1933

Also listed as GR334.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Theatre and Performance in French

Explores theatre as a literary genre and as a form of communication. Students study texts by major French and Francophone playwrights such as Racine, Moliere and Ionesco and (when possible) adapt them for a campus performance in French. Also listed as French 318. Not offered 2015/16

CO220: Topics in Comparative Literature: Literature and Other Disciplines

Intermediate level consideration of various topics in comparative literature with particular emphasis on comparisons between literature and other disciplines. Topics might include a particular period or theme. Texts usually in English but with reference to non-English materials within the competence of students. (May be offered as a January half-block.)

Also listed as English 280; Biology 100; German 334, 336; Japanese 250; Asian Studies 250; Classics 222; Philosophy 203; Film Studies 205.

The Life of the Soul    

Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching into the nature of the soul, its life and its meanings. Starting from the Greeks, this course seeks to discover how the concept of “soul” is understood, and how its life is conceived. We will explore the roots of these questions in ancient Greek epic, drama and philosophy, how these answers transform in medieval and renaissance literature, and how modernity offers strikingly new answers to them. Also listed as Philosophy 203, Classics 222 and Religion 200.           

Dobson -Not offered 2015/16

CO300 – Practice in Comparison

Deepening of comparative reading and critical writing begun in 100. Specific topics, themes or genres as well as texts to vary from year to year. Designed to promote the 'practice' and encouragement of more sophisticated textual work, greater perception of literary issues, and clarity of writing. Prerequisite: consent of instructor or Comparative Literature 100. Also listed as: Also listed as English 380.

Homeric Epic                                                                                                                 

The Iliad and Odyssey as oral traditional poems, preservers of Bronze Age and archaic lore, locus of the creation of classical Greek culture and predecessors of European epic; together with Hesiodic epic and Homeric hymns. Reading in English with attention to the formal Greek diction and the problems of translation, except that students who know Greek will read parts of the original text. Comparative Literature students will pay special attention to the genre and historical aspects of this course: development of the monumental epic in the ancient Near East (Gilgamesh) and of Indo-European oral epic into Homeric/Hesiodic (also into Vedic, Old English and South Slavic) text; reception of heroic poetry in later Graeco-Roman culture (Apollonius, Vergil, Roman Epic), and the development of modern, sometimes “national” narrative poems in the vernaculars of Europe: Dante, Ariosto, Camões, Milton. Comparatists may also want to relate the genre of epic to the more monumental forms of novel (“the Great American Novel”) and film. Students will undertake individual projects, choosing texts/works out of this wide variety. Also listed as Classics 218.1 unit                                                                             

Cramer, not offered 2015/16

Pastoral Tradition

As a preparation for advanced work in English and Comparative Literature this course is a seminar style study of the elusive genre (or mode) called The Pastoral.  The Pastoral impulse started out as a preference of the simple world of shepherds over the corrupt city, but now we see it also in our longing for authenticity in food, wine, art, and love.  Though taught in English with English texts, the course will look at and compare Pastoral texts from a variety of linguistic traditions, cultures, and historical perspectives.  Primary texts will be heavily supplemented by theoretical texts, which will frame all of our readings and discussions.  The course is designed to promote sophisticated textual work, more refined perception of literary issues and clarity in writing about them.  Texts include ancient Greek and Roman lyric poetry, Shakespeare, Cather’s My Antonia, and Proulx's “Brokeback Mountain”. Also listed as English 280. 1 unit                                                                                                                                                                       


CO310: Junior/ Senior Seminar in Comp Lit:                                           

Preparation for the senior thesis; opportunity for students to discuss their work, the work of their colleagues, and theoretical texts of common interest in a workshop setting. Examination of what it means to engage in the study of Comparative Literature and, in particular, of current issues and debates within the discipline. Contextualizing of students' work within a larger, disciplinary framework. Prerequisite: Junior standing, reading knowledge of a language other than English, and a 300 level course in English, or other literature, or consent of instructor.                                                                                                                                                                                                            


CO351: Advanced Topics in Comparative Literature

Topics to include periods, genres, themes, movements or other groupings of texts. (May be taught as a January half-block.) Also listed as Spanish 316; Religion 346; Italian 321; Feminist and Gender Studies 206; Philosophy 314. Prerequisite: 200 or 300-level lit course in CO, EN, or other literatures or consent of instructor. 1 unit —

Hispanic Culture

The study of Hispanic Societies and their cultural productions, such as film, art, music, language and literature. Ordinarily taught as part of a foreign study program. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement.  Also listed as Spanish 307 and Music 398.

Philosophy of Technology

Explores the ways in which technology serves as a compromise between mind and matter. Technology may begin as an idea in the mind of an inventor, but technologies only come into existence through unpredictable processes that involve historical, cultural, and environmental limitations. In those moments when technology begins to operate unpredictably, independently of its inventors or intended purposes, it opens up possibilities for philosophical insights into culture, society, and human subjectivity. Investigates examples in film and new media, including cybernetics, special effects, digital cinema, and virtual reality. Also listed as Film and Media 303. 1 unit                                          


CO352 – Topics in Comparative Literature: Literature and Other Disciplines:

Examination of post-communist political and economic changes in Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and Russia following the fall of communism through the lenses of political theory, economic theory, and literature. Exploration of how literature not only reflects and comments on political and economic developments but also enacts them.

Prerequisite: 200 or 300-level literature course in Comparative Literature, English or other literature course; any 100 or 200 level Political Science course or Consent of Instructor. Also listed as Race and Ethnic Studies 200 and Film and Media Studies 200 and Spanish 316.

Contemporary Spanish Film

Also listed as Spanish 316 and Film and Media 200

Repeating Islands: Contemporary Literature and Music in the Caribbean.

(Taught in Spanish) Also listed as Spanish 316

CO390: Theory and Practice of Translation

This course will combine the practical experience of translating literary texts with reading and discussion in the rich field of translation studies. The first third of the block will be devoted to exploring the questions that translation raises about language, literature, authority, and power, both through readings and through exercises in translation and in translation criticism. The second third of the block will consist of translation workshops and discussion of the more practical issues of translation. We will end the block with a discussion of translations themselves as a cultural force, and with individual research projects on translation. or AN 258, and a 300 level course in a foreign language (or equivalent); or consent of instructor.

1 unit – Scheiner Not offered 2015/16

CO391 – Advanced Literary Theory

In-depth study of important 20th-century movements of thought about literature and art. Topics vary from year to year and may include Russian Formalism, semiotics, New Criticism, phenomenology and hermeneutics, reader response criticism, psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory, post-colonial theory, queer theory and gender theory., and another, 200-level literature course, or consent of instructor. Prerequisite: 210 (or English 250) or consent of instructor. Also listed as: Also listed as English 380 and Film and Media 305

Digital Theory and Posthuman.

The 21st century has seen the rise of cultural theories that respond to life in the digital era. Some of these, such as the “posthuman” theories of N. Katherine Hayles or the “cyborg feminism” of CC alumna Donna Haraway, attempt to come to terms with changing notions of what it means to be “human.” Other theorists, such as Alan Kirby with “digimodernism,” wish to theorize life in the age of binary codes. At the same time, and certainly intertwined, we currently see a proliferation of  “new materialist” theories that hope to overcome the “linguistic turn” of 20th century theory and turn our gaze toward the raw materiality of the world in which we live. Jane Bennett (“thing power”), Karen Barad (“agential realism”), Graham Harman (“object-oriented ontology”), are all theorists invested in the project of reclaiming materiality or thingness in the 21st century. In this course, we will work together to understand the basic ideas of these recent theories, contemplate what is at stake for them, and discuss ways in which they have application for our reading of cultural texts such as literature and film.