Program in Comparative Literature

C L 315 • Masterworks Of World Lit

33345-33400 • Kornhaber, David
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WCH 1.120
GCWr HU (also listed as E 316N)
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E 316N  l  World Literature


Instructor:  Kornhaber, David

Unique #: 34780-34835

Semester:  Fall 2020

Cross-lists:  C L 315


Prerequisites:  One of the following: E 303C (or 603A), RHE 306, 306Q, or T C 303C (or 603A).


Description:  This course presents a survey of world literature through the lens of dramatic literature, examining classic works of drama from around the globe.  Our survey will begin with the classical theatre of Greece, Rome, India, and China and will continue through the religious dramas of the European middle ages, the plays of feudal Japan, early modern drama from England and Spain, and eighteenth-century neoclassical tragedies from France and Germany; we will continue our studies with an examination of the global spread of melodrama in the nineteenth century, the rise of modern drama in Europe and Russia near the turn of the century, and the explosion of theatrical experiments worldwide across the twentieth century, concluding with a selection of modern and contemporary plays from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, East Asia, and the Caribbean as well as the United States.  Throughout, we will examine the shifting characteristics of dramatic literature across time periods and cultures and will pay ongoing attention to the complex relationship between dramatic literature and theatrical performance.  We will also consider the ways in which the study of drama touches on wider issues of history, politics, and philosophy, even raising questions as to the nature of literature itself.  Students can expect to receive a grounding in the history of world drama, training in the core techniques of close reading and literary analysis, and an appreciation for literary and performance cultures worldwide.  All texts will be read in English.


Texts (tentative):  Agammemnon (Aeschylus, Greece); Oedipus Tyrannos (Sophocles, Greece); The Bacchae (Euripides, Greece); Thyestes (Seneca, Rome); Shakuntala (Kalidasa, India); Snow in Midsummer (Guan Hanqing, China); Everyman (Anonymous, England); Atsumori (Zeami Motokiyo, Japan); Hamlet (William Shakespeare, England); Life is a Dream (Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Spain); The Rover (Aphra Behn, England); Phaedra (Jean Racine, France); Faust (Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Germany); The Octoroon (Dion Boucicault, Ireland); A Doll’s House (Henrik Ibsen, Norway); The Cherry Orchard (Anton Chekhov, Russia); Mother Courage and Her Children (Bertolt Brecht, Germany); Song of Death (Tawfiq al-Hakim, Egypt); Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett, Ireland/France); The Sea at Dauphin (Derek Walcott, St. Lucia); A Raisin in the Sun (Lorrain Hansberry, US); The Man Who Turned Into a Stick (Kobo Abe, Japan); Death and the King’s Horseman (Wole Soyinka, Nigeria); Angles in America (Tony Kushner, US).


Requirements & Grading:  Attendance and participation in weekly discussion sections: 5%; four in-section quizzes: 20% (5% each); two in-section mini-exams: 30% (15% each); two short papers: 45% (first 20%, second 25%).

C L 323 • Caribbean Literature

33405 • Wilks, Jennifer
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 204
GCWr (also listed as AFR 330Q, E 343C)
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E 343C  l  Caribbean Literature


[previously offered as E360L.2]


Instructor:  Wilks, J

Unique #: 34935

Semester:  Fall 2020

Cross-lists:  AFR 330Q, C L 323.6


Prerequisites:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description:  Through a survey of “classic” texts from English-, French-, and Spanish-speaking islands, this course seeks to address the complexity of the Caribbean as a geographic construct, that is, the chain of islands stretching from North to South America, and as an imagined site, that is, the tropical destination marketed to North American and European tourists.  To do so we will supplement our reading of literary texts from the region with the examination of travel-related texts about the region.  Throughout the semester, we will consider how the dynamics of slavery and colonialism differed from island to island and explore the multiple manifestations of “postcolonial” life that have emerged across the archipelago since the 1960s.  The course will conclude with an examination of the migration of Caribbean authors and texts to the United States and of the resulting development of hyphenated Caribbean-American identities.  All texts will be read in English, and the list of proposed texts is subject to change.


Texts:  Derek Walcott, “The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory,” What the Twilight Says; Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of This World (Cuba, 1949); Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land (Martinique, 1939); Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Dominica, 1966); Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (Antigua, 1988); Maryse Condé, Crossing the Mangrove (Guadeloupe, 1995);


Requirements & Grading:  Two short papers (4 pages each), 40%; Final critical essay (8-10 pages), 35%; Reading journal, 15%; Rough draft, 10%.

C L 323 • Danticat And Diaz

33435 • Wilks, Jennifer
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM PAR 303
CDWr (also listed as AFR 330S, E 349D)
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E 349D  l  Danticat and Díaz


[previously unnumbered E349S topic]


Instructor:  Wilks, J

Unique #: 34970

Semester:  Fall 2020

Cross-lists:  AFR 330W, C L 323.60


Prerequisite:  Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


Description:  In this course we will study the work of two of the most celebrated contemporary fiction writers in the United States: Haitian American Edwidge Danticat and Dominican American Junot Díaz.  Between them Danticat (b. 1969) and Díaz (b. 1968) have won almost all of the major American cultural and literary prizes, including the MacArthur Fellowship, National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prize; and their work has been consistently published and reviewed in such high profile venues as the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times.  At the same time that their respective works speak to broader questions of American identity, however, Danticat and Díaz also write culturally specific narratives that explore the intricacies of what it means to be Haitian and Dominican, Haitian American and Dominican American, in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  As a result, in addition to considering the qualities that have resulted in Danticat and Díaz’s elevation to the status of exemplary American authors, we will also examine how issues of gender, migration, history, and race factor into their work.


Texts (subject to change):  

General: C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution; Frank Moya Pons, The Dominican Republic: A National History; Michelle Wucker, Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola.


Edwidge Danticat: Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994); Krik? Krak! (1995); Brother, I’m Dying (2007); Claire of the Sea Light (2013).


Junot Díaz: Drown (1996); The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007); This Is How You Lose Her (2012).


Requirements & Grading:  Two short papers (3-4 pages each), 40%; Final paper (5-7 pages), 35%; Rough draft & substantial revision (4 pages), 10%; Reading journal, 15%.

C L 323 • Intro To Arabic Literature

33415 • Noy, Avigail
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM MEZ 1.122
GC (also listed as ISL 373, MEL 321, MES 342)
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An introduction to Arabic literature from ancient Arabian poetry to modern Palestinian novels. Students will familiarize themselves with the major themes, genres, and writers of literary masterpieces written in Arabic from the 6th century to the late 20th century. Topics include desert poetry, the Qur'an, medieval Muslim court literature, popular literature, Arabic poetics, travel literature, and the emergence of modern Western genres, with a focus on Palestinian literature as a test-case. We will engage first-hand with Imru' al-Qays' Qifa Nabki, al-Jahiz's Books of Misers, Ibn Hazm's theories about love, Mahmoud Darwish's I Come from There, and Emile Habiby's The Pessoptimist. All readings are in English. No prior knowledge of Islam or Arabic is necessary.

C L 323 • Northern European Comics

33430 • Cortsen, Rikke
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM MEZ 2.124
GC (also listed as EUS 347, GSD 341Q)
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The burgeoning field of comics and graphic novels has received attention in the last few decades where publishers, critics and new readers have engaged enthusiastically with a medium which has historically not been at the pinnacle of cultural good taste. This course provides an introduction to comics and graphic novel with an emphasis on works from Northern Europe as a specific area of comics culture that tends to stand in the shadow of more known comics cultures. The course will go into depth with the mechanics of comics, how images and text work together, as well as how this particular way of telling stories relates to other media. The main readings will delve into the rich material from the Northern European sphere but will situate these comics in the wider world of international comics culture through parallel readings of American, Franco-Belgian and Japanese manga. The main focus will be on comics from the last 30 years, but the course will include a historical element that considers the history of comics globally.

One of the main reasons comics have surfaced as an artistically viable and serious medium in recent years is the diversity of subjects and the quality of writing and drawing of comics artists today. This course discusses style, line, coloring and structure as important aspects of comics and graphic novels story telling but also emphasizes the wide variety of topics that comics portray with great sensibility and complexity. From adventure stories to graphic memoir, from avant-garde experimental comics to newspaper humor strips, this course allows you to read, write, discuss and think critically about comics and graphic novels as well as it provides a greater understanding of the cultures of Northern Europe.

The course meets the Writing Flag and the Global Cultures Flag Criteria

C L 323 • Squaring The Vienna Circle

33420 • Arens, Katherine
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BUR 337
GCWr (also listed as GSD 361F)
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Today's Anglo-American Analytic Philosophy grows out of the tradition of Logical Positivism/Logical Empiricism as it evolved in the circles around Wittgenstein in England after the Second World War, and it positions itself over and against Continental Philosophy.  That positioning, however, obscures how Wittgenstein and the group that Viktor Kraft, the first historian of the Vienna Circle of Logical Positivism, took over a much broader cultural project that is echoed in the work of twentieth-century theorists and philosophers from Walter Benjamin through Ernst Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms.  Just as significant, the Vienna Circle's work parallels today's philosophy of science as practiced by figures like Bruno Latour.

This class will combine perspectives from philosophy and the history of philosophy to undertake a project in "historical epistemology":  it will trace how Logical Empiricism  actually came into being out of a set of methodological arguments about the philosophy of science and hermeneutics that were widespread in the late nineteenth century (and which find their echoes in figures as diverse as Nietzsche and Heidegger).  The new genesis narrative we will trace reverberates with problems of forced migration and emigration, as a generation of theorists and philosophers were forced out of continental Europe and to the US and Great Britain by the Nazis.  And in order to find their feet, these émigrés took up new projects and redefined their work for new audiences, offering a set of cases of culture transfer -- cases where philosophical logics responded directly, if tacitly, to politics and culture.

No background in philosophy is required for this course, and all readings will be available in English on the class blackboard site.    Background reading on the history of science will ground our readings of primary texts, and each student will be responsible for evolving a semester project in writing a specific philosopher or project into a new kind of intercultural history of ideas.

C L 380M • Translating India

33450 • Selby, Martha
Meets W 5:00PM-8:00PM WCH 4.118
(also listed as ANS 388M)
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This graduate-level seminar will introduce students to the craft of literary translation through a wide variety of approaches.  Over the course of the semester, we will read various tracts, articles, and books on the theory and craft of translation from a wide range of Euro-American and South Asian stances and viewpoints.  We will analyze editions of various classics from India that have been translated into English repeatedly, paying particular attention to the political nature of the act and art of translation in its colonial and post-colonial contexts. 

This seminar will also have a practical component, and one hour of our meeting period each week will allos students to present translations-in-progress to their peers for comment and critique. 

Graduate standing required.  Students must have a good working knowledge of at least one South Asian language, classical and/or modern.

C L 382 • Writ/Gender Span Speak Wrld

33465 • Lindstrom, Naomi
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BEN 1.118
(also listed as ILA 387)
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Course Description:

This course involves first reading articles on feminist criticism and gender and queer theory, and then selected texts from Spanish America and to a lesser extent Spain that have especially attracted critics who work on gender. We will read the primary texts together with relevant examples of criticism on those works. The purposes of the course are: to read some important works of theory and of Spanish-language narrative, to examine some of the main currents in feminist and gender studies of literature, and to practice evaluating critical studies, including giving peer feedback to other members of the class.

Required Readings:

The Canvas site will include articles on feminist criticism and gender and queer theory, ranging from such pioneering figures as Joan W. Scott to theorists still active today, as well as critical analyses specifically of the primary works read for the course.

Tentative list of primary works (some of these may need to be replaced if available editions cannot be located):

Bombal, La última niebla

Puig, El beso de la mujer araña 

Ferré, Papeles de Pandora

Santos-Febres,Sirena Selena vestida de pena

Preciado, Testo yonqui

(Texts by Preciado are included in both the theoretical readings and the selection of primary works.)

Required Activities and Grading Criteria:

Each member of the class will write a term paper of approximately 4200 words (17 pages), which will analyze a creative work or works from the Spanish-speaking world from a feminist or gender-studies perspective. While all the works read in common by the students in the course are narrative and/or expository prose, the term papers can focus on cultural production in any genre or creative medium. Term paper topics that go beyond these guidelines are welcome, but before proposing such topics students must consult with the instructor to see how their themes can be part of the course.

Feedback: Considerable importance will be given to peer feedback, and students will present their paper topics to the entire class for commentary before submitting the detailed proposal. There will be a second round of peer feedback before the final version of the term paper is due. The instructor will also provide suggestions after reading drafts of the proposal and term paper.

Detailed proposal for paper, 35%

Final version of term paper, 60%

Attendance and participation, 5%

C L 386 • Global Habsburg Cultures

33475 • Arens, Katherine
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BUR 228
(also listed as GER 382M, REE 387)
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The Habsburg Empire is remembered today mainly for fin de siècle Vienna, the "gay apocalypse" of 1900. Yet Habsburg culture unified central Europe for a millennium, as rulers of their own lands and the first empire on which "the sun never set" (through their Spanish line, they claimed the Americas), elected heads of the Holy Roman Empire, and as one of the imperial-royal lines that created modern Europe before their demise at the end of the First World War. The House of Habsburg was Catholic and often Germanophone, but its members also ruled and lived in Czech, Italian, Spanish, and Hungarian, as well as in French, English, and Balkan Slavic languages. The nexus of culture that they created are less acknowledged and remembered, however, than Britain's and France's empires.

This class will be a workshop in how to understand an imperial culture that was not a single culture or site of cultural production, but rather a transnational political unit that acknowledged and, to a degree, balanced off, issues of development, differentiated local culture, and the cause of creating same-but-different narratives of local cultures. The empire sustained an elite culture, most often Germanophone throughout its existence; especially after the French Revolution, large and small cities emerged as fostering local educated elites who often worked multilingually. 

The class will be broken into sites of cultural production, each implicating German plus at least one other language. Each will be defined historically, so that Central Europe' history is sketched as the background for cultural studies analyses. Then, significant literary, film, philosophical, and/or artistic masterpieces will be adduced to work out how the central Habsburg culture resonated outward throughout Europe and the Globe in ways quite alien to scholars of English and French empires. TO be presented in lecture are its most visible authors (Stifter, Ebner-Eschenbach, Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, Kafka, Jelinek, Andrić, Capek, Molnár, Horváth, Hasek, Svevo, Calvino, Esterhazy, Kundera), philosophers (Bolzano, Mach, Freud, Zimmermann, Wittgenstein),filmmakers (Wilder, Kertesz [Curtiz], Haneke) and cultural monuments (the Baroque in Latin America and North Europe). Students will workshop presentations on individual texts, against the background of suggested readings supporting their work (with an emphasis on primary texts).

This class will thus be a laboratory in transnational analysis; I hope to incubate out of it a special issue of the Journal of Austrian Studies about "new approaches to Habsburg Culture" that can incorporate research on any global area impacted by Habsburg culture, networks, and colonialism.