Course List

Courses offered for 2023 - 2024 Academic Year

CO120: Literature, Power, and Identities:

An examination of literature as a venue of explorations of power and identities, particularly of how identities are constructed as well as of how literary texts (re)present and can work to deconstruct identities. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

Block 4: At The Margins of European Identity

Through an examination of literary texts over several centuries, along with relevant background readings, we will analyze issues of European power and identity, thinking of “Europe” as a socially and politically constructed fiction rather than as a normative fact. To do this we will pay particular attention to literary texts that thematize this constructed notion of identity or that were written by authors who themselves reside on the margins of Europe. Among more canonical authors who address these issues, this will include authors of immigration, displacement, and marginalization, as well as authors writing from the traditional border areas of European culture. Sample authors include: J.W. Goethe, Friedrich Hölderlin, Franz Kafka, Christa Wolf, Emine Özdamar, Zafer Şenocak, Orhan Pamuk, Laila Lalami. 1 unit. (Also listed as GR220) AIM, EPG


Block 5: Intertexts: Who Tells the Story?

Examination of contemporary texts that (re)tell the story of an earlier text by having previously marginalized and/or silenced characters narrate their own stories. Focus on how these contemporary texts address otherness and marginalization, specifically in terms of gender, race, class, language, and power. Texts include John Gardner’s Grendel (1971), in which the monster Grendel, the villain from the 8th-century epic Beowulf, retells the events of the epic from his perspective; Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife (2018), which sets the characters from Beowulf in contemporary, suburban American and which Grendel’s mother narrates in part;Maryse Condé’s I Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (1986), in which the historical figure, Tituba, a West Indian slave accused of witchcraft, tells her story, one that includes the stories of others, as Condé’s Tituba shares a prison cell with Hester Prynne, the heroine in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850); and Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood (1999), which tells the story of Hester La Negrita, a modern-day Hester Prynne, and her fight against myriad systems of oppression. As we engage with these intertexts, we will focus on developing and strengthening the skills of close reading and critical analysis, both as readers and as writers.


CO121: Literature, Place, and the World:

An examination of the literature as a venue for understanding the rich diversity of global humanity and perspectives, with special attention to how "place" informs literary settings as well as sites of composition and sites of consumption. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

CO130: Literature and Contemporary Issues:
An examination of the intersections of contemporary issues and the aesthetics and production of literature in the world today. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

Block 7: Science Fiction and the Posthuman

Are we entering a posthuman era? This course will focus on recent science fiction literature, along with a few films, that draw on current questions and concerns regarding what it means to be human. We will also examine key theoretical texts regarding technology and the posthuman. In the wake of the digital revolution we encounter both hopes that humans can achieve great things that would never before have seemed possible, along with fears that much of our understanding of what it means to be human is being eroded, even that “the human” may becoming superfluous. At the same time, humans are questioning the status of homo sapiens as the pinnacle of the living world, wondering if we are really such a special category of living organisms. Literary science fiction is a form of cultural representation in which many of these questions and ideas of the status of the human find expression. Representative science fiction authors include: H.P. Lovecraft, Ted Chiang, Jeff Vandermeer, Kathe Koja, Michael Marrak, China Miéville, Neil Gaiman. Representative theorists include: Timothy Morton, Jane Bennett, Donna Haraway, N. Katherine Hayles. AIM, SHB


CO131: Literature, Texts, and Media:

An examination of the intersections between literary texts and other forms of media and textuality, in an international context. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

Block 3: Global Metafictions
Exploration of metafictional texts, that is, texts that call attention to themselves as artifice. Examination of how these texts expose their status as fictional constructs both thematically and structurally and, thus, how they call into question the boundaries between fiction and reality. Although the term “metafiction,” which William Gass coined in 1970, is used most often to refer to postmodern works in the Western tradition written in the 1960s and 1970s, metafictional texts date back to antiquity and can be found across the globe. Accordingly, this course examines contemporary metafictional texts from East Africa, China, Europe and the United States, as well as their precursors. Emphasis on close reading of literary texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

CO200: Topics in Comparative Literature:

Consideration of literature in a comparative context. Comparisons may take place across languages, cultures, periods, genres, or disciplines. (May be taught as a January half-block.) .5 or 1 unit.

Block 1: Greek Drama: Origins and Early Forms of Theater

A study of origins, early texts, performance practices, and developing theaterical conventions in various cultures, with special emphasis on ancient F=Greek and Roman theatre. 1 unit. AIM


Block 1: Homer

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. 1 unit. AIM, HP (Also listed as CL218)


Block 3: Chekhov and Joyce: Invention of the Modern Short Story

Anton Chekhov defined the genre of the modern short story--minimal exposition, rejection of dogmatism, meticulous economy of detail, plot integrated with characterization, and open endings. Class time will be devoted to close readings of Chekhov's stories, as well as viewings of Russian film adaptations of his works. We will also learn about Chekhov's life in the context of the then current cultural and ideological trends.

Garcia and Pavlenko

Block 3: Myth and 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). 1 unit. (Also listed as CL220, FG220) AIM, G or S


Block 5: 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. 1 unit. (Also listed as PH262)


Block 6: Exploring Cajun and Creole Cultures in the US

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 Black, Cajun, and Creole origins as well as critical study of filmic representations of histories and cultures of Creoles, and Cajuns in Louisiana. Particularly, Ann Rice’s popular television series, Feast of All Saints, amongst others, will be studied. The course’s critical exploration of Cajun and Creole and heterogenous southern cultures culminates with a 4 to 5-day guided visits (field trip) in the historical city of New Orleans and vicinity in Louisiana. 1 unit. (Also listed as FR317)


Block 7: Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World

An introductory survey of issues relating to gender and sexuality in Greece and Rome. The focus will be on the role of women in ancient society and their characterization in literature. Though our sources are dominated by male perspectives, the class will attempt a balanced and accurate picture of ancient society. The course will also place these literary depictions in the broader context of art, political and societal structure, religious belief and family relations. Authors examined will include Hesiod, Homer, Aristophanes, Virgil, the female poets Sappho and Sulpicia, Ovid, and many more. 1 unit. AIM, HP, EPG


Block 8: Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Theory and Practice

An introductory study of Freud and Kohut and the transformation of their theories in contemporary psychoanalysis. Students will read the works of and meet with distinguished psychoanalysts who will present new approaches to understanding psychoanalytic theory and therapeutic action. We will also explore how psychoanalysis can be used in the interpretation of culture, especially art and theater. Taught in part in Chicago at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. (Also listed as PH263)

Dobson and Riker, *in Chicago
Block 8: Philosopy and Literature

Through a study of the literary style of certain philosophical texts and the philosophical significance of selected literary works of art, this course will study the comparative ability of different modes of writing to address traditional philosophical questions and to illuminate particular features of human experience. 1 unit. AIM


Block 6: CO250: 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. 1 unit. (Also listed as EN250)


Block 5: CO255: World Literature/Comparative Literature

What is Comparative Literature? What is world Literature? Examination of the history, methods, conceptual frameworks, canonical thinkers, critics, current issues, and debates in these interrelated fields and how they shape our reading of literature. Emphasis on close ready of both theoretical and literary texts, critical analysis, and writing in a comparative context. 1 unit. AIM, EPG


CO300: Topics in Comparative Literature:

Consideration of literature in a comparative context. Comparisons may take place across languages, cultures, periods, genres, or disciplines. No prerequisite. (May be taught as a January half-block) .5 or 1 unit.

Block 2: Medieval Bodies: Head, Heart, Hand, and More

Selected English and/or Continental literature of the period 400-1500, organized around such topics as 'Chaucer's Contemporaries,' 'Women Authors,' 'Fabliaux,' 'Dream Visions,' 'The Alliterative Tradition,' 'Medieval Mysticism,' or 'The Lyric. Prerequisite: English 221 or 250 or consent of instructor. 1 unit.  (Also listed as EN310)


Block 4: Novel Influences

Reflecting the conditions of its historical and cultural genesis, the novel has been a force for aesthetic, formal, social, and political change for over four centuries. This course traces the structural and thematic developments of longform fiction across various national traditions by focusing on the relationship between writers and readers, the reflexive influence of literary works over time, innovations in the novel’s form, fiction’s engagement with genre and history, and the evolving status of literature. Thinking transnationally, students will read examples of fiction from each of the last four centuries, including such authors as Daniel Defoe, Edgar Allan Poe, José Saramago, Isabel Allende, and Ling Ma, alongside key works theorizing the novel as cultural form. 1 unit. AIM (Also listed as EN305)

Scheiner and Richman

Block 8: Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

Intensive study (in translation) of Dante and his intertexts as context for readings and/or further coursework in later English literature (Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Shelley, Joyce, T. S. Eliot, etc.). Prerequisite: English 221 or 250 or consent of instructor. 1 unit. (Also listed as EN313)


Block 7: 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: CO255 and CO430, required for majors. 1 unit.



Report an issue - Last updated: 08/04/2023