Program in Comparative Literature

C L 305C • Dissent In 20th Cen Ukr-Wb

34315 • Lutsyshyna, Oksana
Meets T 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
GC (also listed as EUS 307, REE 302F)
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This course will offer a survey of the Ukrainian authors from the 1920s through the present. We will examine the writings from the times of the “executed renaissance,” underground literature, and postmodernism. We will focus specifically on works that, in one way or another, challenge the set paradigm of socialist realism, either ethically or aesthetically, by discussing forbidden subjects (famine, religion, Gulag), or even simply accentuating the themes that are not considered “major” (personal life). Book excerpts and articles will supplement literary works, to enable better understanding of the historical context.


  • Exams (2): 30% (15 each)
  • Short papers (2): 20% (10 each)
  • Participation: 10%
  • Term (final) paper prospectus: 5%
  • Term (final) paper: 25%
  • Presentation: 10 %

C L 323 • Contemp Scandinv Stories-Wb

34475 • Cortsen, Rikke
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM • Internet; Synchronous
GCWr (also listed as EUS 347, GSD 341J)
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The principal focus of this course will be to analyze contemporary Scandinavian literature, film and comics and examine how the arts reflect a Scandinavian reality that is under transformation. The main focus will be Scandinavian stories from the last 25 years.

Scandinavian fiction has reached international audiences lately, gaining new followers with the concept of “Nordic Noir” which expands on the previous success of Scandinavian crime fiction as a form of fiction explicitly concerned with social critique in TV-series, novels and films. The Scandinavian comics scene is experiencing a diverse and creative growth mirroring the international development in the field and visual culture plays an important role in discussions of sustainability, immigration, equality and democracy in the North. In our discussions, we will compare similarities and differences between the various materials and look at how they each tackle historical and contemporary themes including how these artistic forms negotiate Scandinavian identity and interact with an increasingly global and interconnected world. We will examine what makes Scandinavian stories Scandinavian and discuss, in what ways the individual countries in the region might differ from each other in their political discussions as well as their creative output.


  • Essays: 30%
  • Final essay: 20%
  • Quizzes: 20%
  • Midterm: 10%
  • Participation: 20%



C L 323 • Diasporic Magic:lit/Perf-Wb

34494 • Young, Hershini
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
CDGCWr (also listed as AFR 330T)
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A child born when the door between the spirit and material world was swinging open, 100 year old vampires who look like little girls, and crack cocaine as a character with a wicked sense of humor: this class will use satirical and slightly off-kilter texts and performances to examine real life dark forces that plague contemporary black societies across the world. Moving from Southern Africa to black England to African America, this class explores not just the meaning of race, gender and sexuality, but also how those categories of identity can be reimagined given the omnipresent threat that black lives face. We will pay close attention to both issues of context (historical, socio-economic and anthropological) as well as to questions of structure and genre. Specifically we will think through notions of Afrofuturism, addiction, ecological disaster capitalism, thinking through how the ways black people make and embody art inform the content. The class will also include a large number of contemporary cultural texts such as music videos, popular dance trends and music.


1. Fledgling by Octavia Butler

2. An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

3. Delicious Foods: A Novel by James Hannaham

4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

5. The Girl with All the Gifts (Film)

6. Pumzi directed by Wanuri Kahiu (Film)

7. “In their Own Form” (Jan 21-May 16): Christian Green Gallery and Idea Lab

8. The Fits directed by Anna Rose Holmer (Film)

9. Performances by Nelisiwe Xaba, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Nora Chipaumire, Wura Natasha-Ogunji and Faka

Supplemental theoretical material will be provided on various authors in course documents.

C L 323 • Performing Lgbtq+-Wb

34465 • Darlington, Mary
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM • Internet; Synchronous
CDWr (also listed as T D 357T, WGS 335)
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This discussion-based seminar takes a multi-disciplinary, multi-media, approach to study LGBTQ performance in the U.S., historically and in the present moment. We will also explore how the fields of queer theory and queer studies have turned to performance and performativity as key modes through which gender and sexuality are expressed and understood. Case studies pay attention the diverse cultural, racial, able, and geographic locations, as well as the variety of platforms/events/organizations that make this moment a vital one for LGBTQ performance. In this class, we pay particular emphasis on queer of color, trans*-, and crip/queer approaches and cultural practices. Focusing on a new performance almost each class day, we will engage a wide variety of performances onstage (dance, film performance art, multi-media works), in galleries (installations), in community sites (social practice art, community-based art), in video/film (online media platforms, as well as film and television markets) to ask how LGBTQ performance has informed LGBTQ experience, and continues to do so today. Given our location, the students will study Austin’s LGBTQ performance scene.

C L 323 • Scandvn Cin Since 1980-Wb

34485 • Wilkinson, Lynn
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
GC (also listed as EUS 347, GSD 331E)
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What does it mean to be a Scandinavian in the last decades of the twentieth and early twenty-first century? To what extent does film reflect or even construct a sense of national or transnational identity?

This course will begin with two detective films which tie these issues to the presence of new groups of people within the borders of Scandinavia and to the links between contemporary Scandinavian culture and society and the European past. We will then turn back to Ingmar Bergman’s After the Rehearsal, which marked the end of one phase of the prolific filmmaker’s production, before moving on to films by younger filmmakers in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Some, such s Lasse Hallström’s My Life as a Dog, Bille August’s Pelle the Conqueror, Liv Ullmann’s Sofie, and Lukas Moodysson’s Together, turn back to the past, at times reverently, at others critically. Others, such as Thomas Vinterberg’s The Celebration, turn a scathing eye on contemporary Scandinavian culture. Still others, such as Per Fly’s The Inheritance and Susanne Bier’s Open Hearts respond to economic and political crises of recent years. 


ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING:  One two-page paper (5%); one five-page paper which may be rewritten (25%); one storyboard (10%) accompanied by a five-page essay (25%), and five quizzes (25%; you may drop the lowest grade). Class participation will count 10%.



Tytti Soila et al.:  Nordic National Cinemas

Bordwell and Thompson:  Film Art



August:  Smilla’s Sense of Snow

Oplev:  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Bergman:  After the Rehearsal

Hallström:  My Life as a Dog

August:  Pelle the Conqueror

Ullmann:  Sofie

Vinterberg:  The Celebration

Moodysson:  Together

Scherfig:  Italian for Beginners

Bier:  Open Hearts

Dagur Kári:  Noí albínói

Fly:  The Inheritance

Trier:  Dogville

Kaurismäki:  The Man without a Past

Bier:  In a Better World

C L 323 • Scandvn Contrib World Lit

34480 • Straubhaar, Sandra
Meets MWF 3:00PM-4:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
GCWr (also listed as EUS 347, GSD 341K)
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It happened in music, it happened in arts, and it happened in literature – the transition to modernity asked for completely new expressions in order to interpret the revolutions that happened in the society and in the human relationships. In this course we will read a variety of texts from the golden age of Scandinavian literature - 1890-1910 - and we will at the end of the course be able to understand why and what happened in that period, and that will increase our understanding of a world of thoughts and ideas which laid the foundation for the emancipated lives we are all living.

The transition to modernity in Scandinavia created namely an artistic outburst never seen before or since. The amount of eternal classics written in that period is astounding. Nobel prize-winning authors like Knut Hamsun, Selma Lagerlöf, Johannes V. Jensen, Sigrid Undset and Henrik Pontoppidan all wrote masterpieces in that period as did August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen.

This course is enhancing the students’ analytical skills in reading texts, but as we can’t understand these texts if they are not read according to the historical and social context in which they were written, we will also take a closer look at the many societal changes. It means that the students will be acquainted with the most important social reforms of the day, and they will be able to analyze historical events and their significance for the individual person.


August Strindberg: Miss Julie and other plays, Knut Hamsun: Hunger, Selma Lagerlöf: Saga of Gosta Berling, Henrik Ibsen: Four major plays, Johannes V. Jensen: Fall of the king, Hjalmar Soderberg: Doctor Glas, Sigrid Undset: Gunnar’s daughter


Essays: 30%

Quizzes: 20%

Midterm: 10%

Participation: 20%

Final essay: 20%

C L 385 • Found Literary Thry/Critsm-Wb

34495 • Wojciehowski, Hannah
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
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C L 385 (34015): Foundation of Literary Theory and Criticism

Course Title (ALT):  Building Comparative Literature in Theory: From Eden to Arcadia

Comparative Literature (CL) has, from its modern origins as a field in the 20th century, defined itself vis-à-vis its visions of various "theory projects": models of how literature, texts, writers and readers exist, work, circulate, and intervene in their environments.  To study CL's canon of theory, then, means to study the ideological interventions by means of which the discipline has defined itself and to recover its strategies for constructing and legitimating its core ideologies through canonical discussions and textual sources. 

This course will trace the projects that CL has used to define itself and its work with literature and culture; it will take up the "epochs" of theory as historical reconstructions that must be understood in terms of their original historical contexts, not just and the contemporary uses to which they have been put.  Literary scholars in general and CL ones in particular have expropriated  "theory texts" from historical disciplinary forms, including rhetoric, philosophical exegesis/hermeneutics, poetics, ethics, and philosophical ontology/epistemology, then repurposed them as canonical texts supporting their own activities in the service of various ideologies of art, nation, identity, culture, and society. The source eras to be studied include, in rough outline:

  • The Classical Era (Plato, Aristotle, Greek and Roman discussions of rhetorical and dramatic literature):  literature, modalities of communication as performatives;  its function as public understandingfor the audience and the polis
  • Medieval Era (including Middle Eastern commentary traditions):  the question of textual authority, exegesis, the "arts of reading," and the status of texts as revelation
  • Renaissance:  the historicity of texts and the science of reading; art and taste
  • Early Modern era (late 18th to late 19th centuries):  the correlations of textuality with aesthetics, and the philosophy of art and the genius (focus on the reader and on education of the mind)
  • The Dawn of Modern Theory (late 19th century to end of WW I):  From Philology to the Science of Literature (a study of the ethics of scholarship). 

Post-World War II CL theory emerged out of a brew of these sources, whose urgency often gets lost as the background to today's debates about culture, literature, and the privileges that had grown up around them.  As acts of reading and interpretation were embedded by CL scholars into the universities as a master theory discipline, and as CL now moves into its third or fourth generation, it is time to recover these models for cultural and literary knowledge production that often refute the naturalizing claims made about them.  Class discussion will focus on the disciplinary frameworks that CL codified as its historical canon and legitimation, and on what assumptions about texts, writers, readers, and cultural processed have to be recovered.

By the end of the semester, students will be able to:

  • identify, define, and exemplify major arguments / issues / debates that have been hallmarks of CL theory, both as used in the modern discipline and at their origins
  • use particular theories to construct interpretations of texts (both as a précis and in essay form)
  • understand and exemplify how the theory project is used in their own area(s) of specialization (and in terms of language use in that specialization)-- how an essentially Eurocentric reconstruction of aesthetic-critical thought could itself be coopted for new ideologies of understanding texts and cultures.

 READINGS (all available on CANVAS):

  • Wellek and Warren, A Theory of Literature (various)
  • Hazard Adams' Critical Theory Since Plato (3rd ed), and small parts of Critical Theory since 1965
  • Supplemental materials:
    • Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction,  Susan Bassnett (1993)
    • First edition of Critical Theory since Plato


  • 2 (depending on size of class, might end up being group projects) 5-minute introductions to assigned theory readings (oral presentation and 1-page summative handout); strict time limits will be imposed, because these are intended to start class discussions (5% each)
  • 3 analytic précis (1 page / 5 % each), aimed at uncovering the epistemological premises of chosen theory texts
  • 2 short (5 page) systematic interpretations of a short story or poem guided by a particular interpretive optic (parallel to those required in the CL QE; 15% each)
  • Final class project, done in stages (total 45% of the grade, allowing individual students to track how the CL canon has affected, is or is not parallel to the theory use and issues foregrounded within their own disciplinary/national contexts: annotated bibliography with prose commentaries as reflecting the ideologies of the US university literature-culture projects. The final section will be a short essay (ca. 1000 words) on how these texts cause or relieve problems of Eurocentrism or the evaluation of other regional cultural interpretive projects, marginalization, essentialization, reification, (dis)empowerment of interpretive communities, and manipulations of cultural power reified in institutions -- an individual stock-taking of the relevance of the CL history project for today's literary and cultural studies.




C L 386 • Digtl Map Of Cult Networks

34500 • Ries, Thorsten
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM GEA 114 • Hybrid/Blended
(also listed as GER 382N)
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The course offers an introduction to cultural and literary networks in northern Europe from a digital perspective. It will cover digital humanities methodology to map historical cultural, literary networks as well as inter- and intratextual networks, and networks of digital culture. On the other hand, the course will deal with digital networked art and literature, their code, and the history of digital culture networks (web history) as well as tech culture history.


Coming from a data perspective, the course will move from mapping women editor’s networks of the 18th century, letter exchange networks of literary exiles and scholars, and inter- and intratextual literary networks of texts and periodicals up to the 20th century in the Germanic language communities and England. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with digital art and literature, its source code and will learn to scrape, analyse, study web (literary) history from the mid-1990s until today and web culture phenomena such as fan fiction networks and the mechanisms of digitally spread disinformation.


The course will include a practical, hands-on introduction to digital humanities methods as well as to critical reflection on DH methodology and appraisal of DH research results.     


Please note: This course will be taught in English, with all main readings available in a native language (e.g. German or Dutch) and English translation. As the Electronic Literature Organization is strong in Spanish digital literature, student presentations in this area are welcome, but they would have to provide translations.

C L 386 • Gdr Culture-Wb

34505 • Hake, Sabine
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
(also listed as GER 382M)
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The course offers a historical overview of the culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and a consideration of terms that have been, and are today, central to its scholarly (re)assessment. The selection and presentation of the material is based on two premises: that the study of GDR culture offers a privileged perspective on key problems of postwar culture in general (Cold War culture, German division, history of socialism) and that the overdetermined function of culture in GDR society brings into sharp relief central questions unique to German culture since the nineteenth century (the public role of the writer and intellectual, literature in/as the public sphere, the importance of cultural heritage).    


Focusing on literature and film but also considering other cultural forms (official painting, punk music), the historical overview follows the emergence of Aufbauliteratur and Ankunftsliteratur to the liberalization of culture and the development of an underground culture in the 1970 and 1980s; it concludes with the various manifestations of a East German memory culture (Ostalgie) after 1989. Literary debates (socialist realism vs. modernism) and political crises (Eleventh Plenary) are essential to this overview, as are comparative perspectives involving the Federal Republic and the Eastern Bloc and recent scholarship on the historiography of the GDR and GDR culture. Discussions will be organized around the following themes: 1) the writer/artist and the state; 2) the myth of antifascism; 3) socialist modernisms; 4) the problem of gender and everyday life; and 5) postsocialist history, memory, and nostalgia.   



40%     Participation: 20% participation,10% class reading,10% final presentation

60%     Forschungsbericht (10pp.) and conference paper (10pp.), 30 % each



Literary texts: Heiner Müller’s Der Lohndrücker; Christa Wolf’s Nachdenken über Christa T and Was bleibt;  Ulrich Plenzdorf’s Die neuen Leiden des jungen W.; Christoph Hein’s Der fremde Freund; Volker Braun’s Die unvollendete Geschichte; Brigitte Reimann’s Franziska Linkerhand, plus shorter poems, songs, and theoretical texts by Bertolt Brecht, Johannes R. Becher, and Wolf Biermann


Films: Wolfgang Staudte’s Der kleine Muck, Kurt Maetzig’s Roman einer jungen Ehe, Konrad Wolf’s Der geteilte Himmel, Frank Beyer’s Spur der Steine, Heiner Carow’s Die Legende von Paul und Paula, Peter Kahane’s Die Architekten


Survey texts: Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR, 1949-1989; Wolfgang Emmerich, Kleine Literaturgeschichte der DDR; and excepts from major studies on GDR literature, film, and culture (David Bathrick, Paul Betts, Konrad Jarausch, etc.)



Please note: Depending on departmental needs, this course can be offered as an English-language or German-language course. All texts are available in English translations  (or, in the case of films, with subtitles.)

C L 386 • Memory/Archive In Europe

34510 • Beronja, Vladislav
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BEN 1.124 • Hybrid/Blended
(also listed as REE 386)
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This seminar explores the relationship between fiction, history, and the archive in contemporary literature from Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Readings will range from novels by world-renowned authors, such as Orhan Pamuk, Dubravka Ugrešić, Daša Drndić, W.G. Sebald and Georgi Gospodinov, to more theoretical articulations of the archive in the writings of Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Alaide Assmann and Wolfgang Ernst. Special attention will be paid to imperial and multinational legacies (Habsburg and Ottoman empires, Third Reich, Soviet Union etc.) in these historically polyglot regions as well as to affective modalities of writing and archiving traumatic history and memory, such as nostalgia, melancholia, outrage, and hope. The seminar is structured around weekly readings and discussions, as well as visits to the special collections at the university museums and libraries. Students from all disciplines and levels of regional expertise are welcome. All readings are in English. 

C L 386 • Women In French Fiction/Film

34515 • Wettlaufer, Alexandra
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM BEN 1.122 • Hybrid/Blended
(also listed as FR 382L)
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In this course we will consider eighteenth- and nineteenth-century novels about women and their twentieth-century interpretations as films.  Focusing on questions of gender, representation, genre, translation, and narrative form, we will examine these various texts through a variety of critical filters, including history (social, political, literary, filmic), contemporary documents (i.e., Diderot’s essay on “La Femme,” transcripts of the Madame Bovary obscenity trial, etc), and critical theory from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Reading knowledge of French is required; discussions will be held in English.  May be cross listed with WGS as well.


Required Texts

Balzac, Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu and Sarrasine

Dumas, La Dame aux camélias

Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Maupassant, La Maison Tellier. Partie de campagne

Zola, La Bête humaine

Mirbeau, Journal d’une femme de chambre

Maroh, Le Bleu est une couleur chaude

Monaco, How to Read a Film


Required Films

Carné, Les Enfants du paradis

Rivette, La Belle Noiseuse

Cukor, Camille

Zeffirelli, La Traviata

Chabrol, Madame Bovary

Minelli, Madame Bovary

Renoir, Une Partie de campagne

Ophuls, Le Plaisir

Renoir, La Bête humaine

Buñuel, Le Journal d’une femme de chambre

Kechiche, Le Bleu est une couleur chaude




Participation:             20%

In-Class Presentation: 20%

Short paper:            20%

Final paper:            40%