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.
2 units — Davis, Hughes, Scheiner
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.)
1 unit —
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, RM200 and EN280.
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.
At least since Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) reinvented “nature” and denounced urbanism in the 18th century, there has been no shortage of literary texts that advocate “getting back to nature”—cities are crowded, dangerous, dirty, and kill the soul. Yet despite Rousseau and his aftermath, literature that celebrates urbanism has also flourished—cities are engaging, exciting, and inspire humans toward their greatest endeavors in art and science. We will engage this conflict through the examination of works from authors such as Rousseau, Wordsworth, Arthur Schnitzler, Charles Beaudelaire, Virginia Woolf, Henry David Thoreau, and others. We will also analyze literature specifically focused on Chicago, including Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City (2003). Our classroom will be in the Newberry Library and students will draw on the vast resources of the library to write their own research papers focusing on our topic of city vs. nature in literature since Rousseau. At the same time, the city of Chicago will act as our alternate classroom, with multiple field trips and assignments that require us to explore, engage, and analyze America’s “second city,” one of the most dynamic and compelling urban spaces in the world.
What do Tin Tin, Milou, and characters from Maus have in common? This new course examines the nature of the comic book and graphic novel from a comparative perspective. Drawing on French, American, Belgian, and English sources, students study topics such as humor, iconography, nationalism and semiotic systems, as well as examine the nature of tragedy in the comic book by using this medium to look at representations of the Holocaust and September 11th. Also listed as FR316.
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
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 and EN381. 1 unit
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.
An introductory course to the field of world literature, its theories, canonical texts, reading practices and institutional constituencies in the Anglo-American academy. We will explore the genesis of this literary enterprise in relation to current trends in global Anglophone literatures, postcolonial and ethnic writing from the Middle East and North Africa, comparative Literature, translation studies and bibliomigrancy. Also listed as EN280.
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
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.
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
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
(In Greece) This course studies Greek drama and society in fifth century Athens, where the genre was intimately connected with democracy. The Athenian acropolis prominently featured Athena, the masculine patron goddess of the city, and Dionysos, the most feminine of the male Olympians, and in whose cult gender reversal is prominent. Likewise, three of the most important civic festivals, the City Dionysia, the Lenaia, and the Panathenaia were in honor of these peculiarly gendered deities. Here, we will examine the major monuments on the acropolis, the three major festivals of the city, and the dramas performed at those festivals. Athenian drama originated and for centuries was performed in the cult of Dionysos at festivals of Dionysos, a site where Athens explored many of its most profound conflicts. This study of gender in Athenian tragedy and comedy takes as its starting point the significance of the location of the theater of Dionysos, on the Acropolis so dominated by Athena, patroness of the city. The relationships between men and women in the plays, and in the city, as well as Athenian concepts of justice can be better understood by reflecting on the importance of the highly ambiguously gendered gods, thus we will read dramas paying specific attention to the issue of gender relations and the creation of civic ideology. In addition to some history and theory, we read tragedies from Aeschylus, and Euripides, as well as comedies from Aristophanes, as we address these issues. In addition, we will look at other monuments of the city, as well as artifacts in the Acropolis Museum. We will take one three-night field trip to Nafplio and one three-night field trip to the island of Hydra. Also listed as TH200, EN280, FG206 and CL219
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
Introduces features of what might be called a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer literacy and theoretical tradition. Uses classical, Renaissance, modern postmodern, and contemporary literature, criticism, and film to examine the complicated status and experience of non-majority sexualities. Considers writers, theorists and activists who have explored the relationships among sexuality, knowledge, and literature, including Plato, Michel Foucault, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, Nella Larsen, Leslie Feinberg and Jeanette Winterson. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement. Also listed as EN259 and FG259.
The mafia in Italy is referred to as a “piovra” or “octopus” as the phenomenon has pervaded almost every factor of Italian cultural life. Tony Soprano, Don Vito and Michael Corleone, Lucky Luciano, Robert De Niro, Salvatore Giulano, Martin Scorsese, Placido Rizzotto, Peppino Impastato, and Leonardo Sciascia are some of the historical and fictional figures that contribute to the myth of the Italian and Italian-American mafia. In this course we will identify these protagonists of movie folklore and critically assess their relationship to history, politics and social relations. We will use Italy as a backdrop for our discussions, including potential site visits to towns and former sets as a way of examining the topic further. (taught in English) Also listed as IT320 and FS205. Taught in Italy--Program fee applies.
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
- Lindblade, Evitt
During the “European summer” of 2015, more than one million refugees arrived in Germany. In the years since, authors, artists, filmmakers, and activists—many of them migrants themselves—have responded in exciting and radically new ways to the challenges and opportunities posed by this mass migration. This course takes a closer look at these developments, focusing specifically on literature, film, current art projects, and grassroots activism. Students will also learn about the broader history of 20th-century Germany, including colonialism, imperialism, Nazi Germany, refugee movements after WWII, and guest worker treaties, before we move on to the current political and cultural landscape of Germany, public policy, and the rise of right-wing populism. Special emphasis will be placed on the Turkish German, Black German, Jewish German, and LGBTQ community, as well as the ongoing realities of racism and social exclusion of people of color in Germany and Western Europe at large. Fulfills the “Social Inequality” critical perspective. Also listed as GR220/320
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.
We will investigate two related trends in 21st-century thought and literature, both of which highlight the “weird” in relation to materiality, or bodies in space. As a pronounced move away from the “linguistic turn” of poststructuralism and postmodernism of the mid to late 20th century, theorists from disparate fields have turned their attention to corporeality and its strange elusiveness. “Speculative Realism”—along with “Ontologically Oriented Ontology” (OOO) “Weird Realism,” or, more generally, “New Materialism—are theories and terms associated with this trend. Simultaneously, and culturally connected, a form of fiction has arisen since the turn of the century that is likewise obsessed with raw materiality (as opposed to digital culture) and its strangeness. The fiction writer Jeff Vandermeer has labeled this writing simply “The New Weird.” We will read and discuss key examples of both of these recent forms of cultural expression. Theorists we will study will include: Graham Harman, Tim Morton, Jane Bennett, and Quentin Meillassoux. Fiction writers include H. P. Lovecraft, Jeff Vandermeer, China Miéville, Kathe Koja, and Lena Krohn. Also listed as GR334.
Freud’s ideas regarding the “unconscious”—the notion that many of our darkest urges and fears remain mostly unknown to us, repressed by mechanisms that help us function in polite society—had a great influence on literature and other arts at the turn of the 20th century. Freud’s student and later rival, Carl Jung, looked in part to myth and literature as he constructed an alternate version of the Freudian unconscious; a version Jung believed better reflected the creative potential of the dark energy of the soul. Through the works of writers such as Stefan Zweig, Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Hesse we will examine literary representations of the suppression of dark urges in the human psyche, with an eye to better understanding the relation between the emergence of psychoanalysis and literature so important to the artistic movement of Modernism. Also listed as GR334
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
Offered during half block
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
The study of a single theme or subject as it emerges in selected periods of literature, chiefly English and American, from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Attention will be directed toward the Classical and Medieval origins of texts and traditions. The historical periods and the subjects will vary from section to section and from year to year. The focus will be upon such themes and subjects as nature, cities, love, oppression, satire, the epic, narrative, and critical tradition and revolt.
- Hughes, Sarchett
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.
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.)
In this course we will examine the construction of childhood in Japan, primarily through literary texts about and for children. We will supplement this with a variety of texts from other fields (history, sociology, anthropology, art, and music). Through an analysis of the printed text and cultural artifacts, we will come to an understanding of the process of how childhood in Japan has evolved into its current status. (Also listed as PA250).
1 unit - Ericson
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.
1 unit - Dobson
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
1 unit - Dobson
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.
Comparative investigation of the literature of the Romantic period—a movement in the years around 1800 that precipitated revolutionary changes in cultural representations regarding notions of subjectivity, or the self’s relation to the world. We will focus specifically on literary encounters with death, the body, romantic love, sexuality, and gender—overlapping andinterrelated themes for Romanticism. Texts include lyric poetry and fiction originally written in English, German, French, and Italian. Representative authors include: Friedrich Hölderlin, Novalis, Heinrich Kleist, Mary Robinson, Ann Cristall, S. T. Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Shelley, Byron, J. J. Rousseau, F. R. Chateaubriand, Alphonse de Lamartine, Giacomo Leopardi. If taken for German 320 credit requires reading German texts in the original language. Also listed as GR220/320.
Readings in ancient Greek drama in their socio/cultural/historical contexts having themes and characters especially open to psychoanalytic understandings. Modern receptions of ancient Greek literature by creative authors and theorists particularly devoted to and influenced by both classical literature and psychoanalysis. Also listed as CL222.
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 - Hughes
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.
1 unit - Scheiner
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.
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 - Krzych
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.
This course focuses on the analysis of cinematographic production in Spain in the last 25 years. By examining Spanish film, students will acquire an informed and critical perspective on contemporary Spanish society. At the same time, students will explore if there is a uniquely Spanish aesthetic of understanding, perceiving, and representing the world. Thus, filmic production will be addressed as a means to explore important questions related to contemporary Spanish society, such as immigration, historical memory, and sexuality, and as an artistic means to explore notions of collective identity, the self, and one´s position in the universe. Students will study significant films by key directors such as Pedro Almodóvar, Julio Medem, Alejandro Amenábar, Icíar Bollaín, and Isabel Coixet among others. Aside from the films, our discussions will be informed by relevant historical and cultural readings, fundamental cinematic concepts, and critical theory in order to contextualize the filmic productions. Also listed as SP 316 and FM 200
1 unit - Ruiz
Also listed as EN383 and PH303
1 unit - Furtak, Mason
The course is a contemplation of theatre as a voice of the dispossessed and oppressed, focusing on the development of various performance aesthetics as a response to sociopolitical subjugation. The course will utilize both national and international performances and texts. Special attention will be paid to Brecht/s epic theatre as a laboratory of socioeconomic inequality, Boal’s concept of theatre as an agitprop tool, and Wilson’s notions of social boundaries, expressionism, and the ethical territories of the dispossessed.
1 unit - Lindblade
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
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 English 306
Examination of central texts in early feminist theory, psychoanalytic theory, structuralism, and semiotics, with particular emphasis on feminist deconstructions of hetero-patriarchy. Exploration of the use of Freud and Lacan by early feminist film theorists and the tendency by many of these thinkers to turn to Kristeva’s maternal/semiotic as an alternative to Lacan’s logocentrism. Consideration of theoretical texts that approach theory, gender, and sexuality as products of language, but also those approaches that attempt to move beyond language. Analysis of affect theory, specifically the work of Berlant, as one of the key theoretical movements to emerge from this early intersection of psychoanalysis and feminism. Also listed as EN306 and FM305.
1 unit - Scheiner, Krzych
CO431 - Senior Thesis
Thesis subject chosen by student and approved by Comparative Literature Program Director. Choice of subject, research, outline and writing completed in this course. Prerequisite: Comparative Literature 310, required for Majors.
1 unit - Scheiner
This is the Comparative Literature Program
Browse all Departments & Programs
- Economics and Business
- Environmental Program
- Feminist and Gender Studies
- Film and Media Studies
- French and Italian
- Human Biology and Kinesiology
- Mathematics and Computer Science
- Molecular Biology
- Organismal Biology & Ecology
- Political Science
- Southwest Studies
- Theatre and Dance
- Asian Studies
- Comparative Literature
- The Departmental Major/International Affairs Option
- East Asian Languages
- Global Health Program
- Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies
- Russian and Eurasian Studies