Program in Comparative Literature

C L 305 • Dissent 20th-Cent Ukraine

33940 • Lutsyshyna, Oksana
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GEA 127
GC (also listed as EUS 307, REE 302)
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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.



Presentation:  20%

Participation: 10%

Short papers (2): 30%

Term (final) paper prospectus: 15%

Term (final) paper: 25%

C L 315 • Masterworks Of World Lit

33945-34030 • Richmond-Garza, Elizabeth
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WCP 1.402
GC HU (also listed as E 316N)
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E 316N l World Literature


Instructor:  Richmond-Garza, E

Unique #:  35360-35445

Semester:  Spring 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: Global Literature and Culture --

What is a “self,” an individual? Is it a single entity or is it always entangled with others?  Is it something created by history, by politics, by art, by culture or by the divine?  Or does it fashion itself?  Does it change over time and across space?  At some level, art is always concerned with making and unmaking the individual and with freeing or chaining this being.  Tracking texts from Classical Greece, Iraq and India to medieval Europe and Japan, we will focus on the continuing, and sometimes desperate, attempts of ancient and early modern artists and authors both to phrase and to answer this question.  Expected names from the western canon, like Euripides, Shakespeare, Goethe and Baudelaire will keep company with Japan’s Bashô, Russia’s Pushkin, Argentina’s Borges and Nigeria’s Achebe.


We shall not limit ourselves only to the western canon but will look at points of crisis where, whether because of gender, race, ideology or class, an individual’s voyage of discovery will demand answers and action.  We shall trace a drama of self-actualization, more than two thousand years old, one that is still being enacted.  From the extremities of the Greek stage to a lonely cry of agony in the Assyrian desert, from ideal Platonic love to its witty and non-dialectical Asian counterparts, from a Parisian’s insomnia in 1900 to the painful experience of post-colonial Africa, from compulsive gambling to uncanny hauntings, from the dark voyages of Romantic self-discovery to imagined journeys through magical lands, we shall explore the limits of this question’s answers.


While the basis of the course will be the literary texts, we shall pillage often and importantly the resources of the other arts of painting, sculpture and film especially to conjure back to life the spirits of these past identities in preparation for a spring in which we shall interrogate our own century as it emerges from the twilight of the twentieth-century experiment.


Texts: All selections will be from The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces(Expanded Edition in One Volume, 1997), and will include: Gilgamesh;Euripides, Medea;selections from Chuang Chou; Kalidasa, Sakuntala;selections from The Thousand and One Nights;Montaigne, “Of Cannibals;” Shakespeare, Hamlet;Basho, The Narrow Road to the Interior; Goethe, Faust; Baudelaire, from The Flowers of Evil;Pushkin, The Queen of Spades;Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths;Achebe, Things Fall Apart.


Requirements & Grading: The participation requirements include: Careful reading of all texts, consistent attendance and active discussion in class and in the discussion section.  Attendance will be taken regularly at the start of each class.  Each student will be allowed three unexcused absences in the course of the semester.  Any further absences will lower the student's grade by a half grade (i.e. a B becomes a B-, and a B- becomes a C+).


Three midterm examinations (25% each); Reading journal to be turned in periodically (15%); Attendance and class discussion (10%).


In order to pass the course all four assignments must be completed.  Failure to complete any one of the assignments will constitute failing the course.

C L 323 • Ancient Historians

34039 • Lushkov, Ayelet
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM RLP 0.106
E (also listed as AHC 325, C C 322D, CTI 375)
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This class aims to acquaint the student with the main works of ancient historiography, as well as provide grounding in the central issues with which these works engage. The ancient historians are our first port of call in our quest to understand democracy, tyranny, empire, religion, civil war, and international relations, so it is to these foundational texts that we will turn to enliven our connection with the ancient world. Beyond acquiring basic knowledge of each of the historians and their text, we will explore issues such as: the development and coherence of a historiographical tradition, the value of textual material as historical evidence, the status of prose historiography as an independent work of literary art, and the function of historiography as a space to explore broader questions such as truth, identity, nationalism, ethnicity, and political ideologies. We will conclude by thinking about the unique qualities of historiography, and what distinguishes it from related genres such as biography, historical epic, or historical novels.

This course carries the Ethics flag.

C L 323 • Russian/Mexican Men In Pop Cul

34045 • Garza, Thomas
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM PAR 1
CDGC (also listed as MAS 374, REE 325, WGS 340)
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Over the past twenty-five years, the image of urban Mexican and Russian men has changed; the physically strong, often violent, and emotionally unavailable male of 1990s film, television, and popular music has been replaced by the more balanced, emotional, and cerebral performances of the 2000s. While still maintaining their mantle of macho, i.e., powerful, attractive, and decisive masculinity, the New Machos of the New Millennium in Mexico and Russia represent cultural transformations of masculinity. They reflect the need for a “feminized,” but not emasculated, male cultural hero to counterbalance the harsh and crude reality of male-dominated criminal life and the men who participate in it. In effect, these recent portraits eschew more traditional popular portraits of machismo, while maintaining the social and cultural status of masculinity in both. And they do so in dialogue with each other. This course undertakes the study of representations of masculinity in products of Mexican and Russian popular culture at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries.


In both Mexican/Mexican-American and Slavic studies, much recent attention has been focused on the role and place of men in cultural, political, and social environments have appeared and received critical praise. This course juxtaposes these influential cultural portraits of masculinity in popular culture: Mexican and Russian. The course constitutes a comparative study of the performance of masculinity in Russian and Mexican cultures. It provides with provocative cultural perspectives on what it means to be macho in the twenty-first century. The course will engage texts from cultural, gender, ethnic, and media studies, as well from Slavic and Latino studies.



Shorter essay (4-5 pp.)                           25%

Film Review (2-3 pp.)                           20%

Seminar presentation                             20%

Longer Paper (8-10)                                          25%

Participation                                                     10%

C L 381 • Memory And Trauma

34060 • Bos, Pascale
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 128
(also listed as GER 382N, WGS 393)
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Course Description
An interdisciplinary investigation of the significance of ideological structures of thought in historical contexts. Emphasis is on the genealogy, interpretative power, and critical reception of ideas that inform the ends and methods of German studies as a discipline.


C L 382 • Cultural Tropicalities

34065 • Roncador, Sonia
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM BEN 1.118
(also listed as ILA 388, LAS 381)
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Course Description: Despite Brazil’s centrality in a vast range of discourses about the tropics, the nation has remained a marginal player the mainstream (anglophone) academic research about the hermeneutics of tropical nations, societies and their environments.  In recent years, however, we have seen an emergence of studies of the transnational imaginings of the Brazilian tropics, or Brazilian cultural “tropicalities” (David Arnold), in eco-criticism, environmental history, post-colonial and cultural studies, cultural geographies, and so on. One of the anticipated contributions of these studies involves expansion of the field’s canon, which has majorly represented other formerly-colonized regions in Africa, Asia and the Brtish and French Caribbean (Nancy Stephan).

Cultural Tropicalities thus proposes to explore the less-studied yet prolific cultural and intellectual production about the Brazilian tropics, by way of historically-contextualized analyses of a variety of discourses—namely, fiction, essays in tropical medicine and geography, memoirs and travelogues, film and photography. Although thematically structured, this seminar will provide a historical overview of key concepts and myths comprising the New World tropics—from Montaigne’s tropical paradise and Montesquieu’s dystopian tropics to Humboldt’s writings. Besides analyzing the interfaces of these foundational imaginings with post-independence Brazilian nationalist narratives of mestiçagemand cultural autonomy/uniqueness, the seminar will also examine the ways the shifty tropical hermeneutics of Brazil mobilized 19th and 20thcentury debates and politics of mobilities and acclimatization, epidemic diseases, violence and de-forestation. Finally, this course will engage with key utopianisms or doctrines of Brazilian culture and society, such as Gilberto Freyre’s lusotropicalism, Oswald de Andrade’s cultural canibalism, and the kitsch politics of Caetano Veloso’s Tropicália.

Cultural Tropicalities ultimately proposes to demonstrate the centrality of Brazil, and the New World in general, in the global meanings, simbology, memory, and knowledge of the inter-tropical cultural zone. Drawing from new imperial studies (Ann Stoler, Cristiana Bastos) and biopolitics theory (Biopolitics Reader), the course also proposes to politically frame the Brazilian tropical hermeneutics.

This seminar is intended to appeal not just to doctoral students in our program, but also more broadly to graduate students in Latin American studies, comparative literature, and Brazilianists from all fields. Although reading knowledge of Portuguese is highly recommended, this seminar will be taught in English.

Primary Works (provisional):

Louis Agassiz. A Journey in Brazil(& photography)

Aluisio Azevedo. O cortiço; Araripe Junior “Estilo Tropical”

Oswald Andrade. Manifests; O Rei da Vela

Claude Lévis-Strauss. Tristes tropiques

Gilberto Freyre. O mundo que o português criou(& Margot Dias’s Filmes Etnográficos)

Caetano Veloso. Verdade Tropical

Davi Kopenawa. A queda do céu

C L 382 • Deconstructing Tragedy

34069 • Bizer, Marc
Meets TH 2:00PM-5:00PM HRH 2.106C
(also listed as FR 391K)
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In this seminar we will attempt to grasp key features of “tragedy” and the tragic in the West by reading not only plays, but epics, romances, novellas, and histoires tragiques across Greek, Latin, Italian, French, and English literature from earlier periods in order to gain a sense of the original possibilities of the genre. In this seminar we will examine how tragedies represent various types of conflict involving gender, the resistance to authority, free will vs. determinism, clemency and revenge, but also how these representations mediate history. The goal will be to see whether and in what form tragedy is possible in the modern era.

C L 382 • Haiti, Hist, & Amer Imaginatn

34070 • Wilks, Jennifer
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM CAL 419
(also listed as AFR 381, E 397M)
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Haiti, History, and the American Imagination

Haiti is at once one of the most dismissed and most documented countries in the Western Hemisphere. According to conventional narratives of success and failure, Haiti is largely seen as a failed state, an underdeveloped nation that has not lived up to the promises of its 1804 Revolution. Despite such impressions, however, the culture and history of Haiti have captured the American—used here in a hemispheric sense—imagination to a degree rivaled by no other country (with, perhaps, the exception of the United States). Beginning with key theoretical texts and continuing on through coverage of the January 2010 earthquake, this course will interrogate Caribbean, Latin American, and U.S. responses to and representations of Haiti. What were the repercussions of the 1804 Haitian Revolution in other slaveholding societies in the Americas? How was European Enlightenment philosophy in keeping with and antithetical to said revolution? What do literary and cinematic representations of Haiti tell readers and viewers about the home country of the author/filmmaker?  Has Haiti, even amidst the rich particularity of its culture and repeated contestation of its nationhood, been construed as a representative American site? These questions and others will be explored through selected readings from literature, literary theory, and political theory and viewings from documentary film and journalism.
Reading List (subject to change)
Émeric Bergeaud, Stella (1859/2015)
Susan Buck-Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History (2009)
Alejo Carpentier, El reino de este mundo (The Kingdom of This World, 1949)
Aimé Césaire, La tragédie du roi Christophe (The Tragedy of King Christophe, 1963
Edwidge Danticat, “Create Dangerously” (2010)
Junot Díaz, “Monstro” (2012)
Frederick Douglass, “Lecture on Haiti” (1893)
Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (2004)
Edouard Glissant, Monsieur Toussaint: théâtre (Monsieur Toussaint: A Play, 1961
Kaiama Glover, Haiti Unbound: A Spiralist Challenge to the Postcolonial Canon (2010)
Zora Neale Hurston, Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938)
C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938)
Leonora Sansay, Secret History; or, The Horrors of St. Domingo (1808)
Arturo A. Schomburg, “Is Hayti Decadent?” (1904)
David Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (2004)
Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1997)
Marie Vieux-Chauvet, Amour, colère, folie (Love, Anger, Madness; 1968/2009)

C L 382 • Identity/Politics

34075 • Arens, Katherine
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CMA 3.108
(also listed as PHL 387, WGS 393)
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Katherine Arens

Department of Germanic Studies


Spring 2020:  WGS 393 (45225)  = CL  382 (34075)

T/TH 12-30-200 CMA 3.108


Identity (and) Politics:

From Class Identity to Positionality and Intersectionality


This course will offer students a laboratory in which they can work through the practical implications of theories of identity and politics from Marx through contemporary work in positionality and intersectionality.  It is a "laboratory"  framed as a work-in-progress seminar, where students start the semester with a project or type of cultural text that they are interested in, and then use that text’s/text type’s cultural site to explore it as reflecting different generations' debates about identity, politics, and power.  By the end of the class, students will be expected to present a well-theorized case study project outline that combines the texts read in the class with further research in theory and on the chosen texts – the kind of document suitable for submission to a conference, journal, or granting agency. 

The theories to be discussed originate in work by Kant, Hegel, and Marx; critically, they add up to a very contemporary call for understanding texts as participant in social and political networks, not only personal psychology, and for understanding the projects of culture not as representational (imposing social norms or authorial insight onto them) but as interventional -- as speaking from nexes of power and social/historical/cultural praxis that create subject positions and mediate agency within groups.  This class, therefore, investigates culture from a post-bourgeois lens, investigating texts rather than art, consumption rather than production of ideology, and the limits and potentials for signification rather than simple reception.

Their goal, and the goal of this class, is to explore generations of texts designed not just to lead/oppose/revolt, but to recenter and pull focus onto interpretations that privilege the multiplicity of subject positions emerging from texts – more than those that signify, testify, and teach rather than preach, but also those inspiring acts of resistant consumption of cultural traditions. The class will introduce (not survey) scholarship in the various subfields in order to open out the map for the various strands of cultural analysis that can be used in students’ individual project-investigations into identity politics as a research field. 


SELECTED READINGS (all readings will be available as pdfs on the class Canvas site):

Marx, selections from the "German Ideology"

Marcuse, "One-Dimensional Man"

Benhabib, "Below the Asphalt"

Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory"

Patricia Hill Collins, Intersectionality

and essays by Lacan, Kristeva, Irigaray, Deleuze, Lyotard, Kornbluh, Gates, Sandra Harding, bell hooks, and work on intersectionality and postcoloniality



20% oral introductions to theories (strictly limited to 5 min;  deductions for overrun)

10% abstract for final project

15% map of analysis and research

15% theory postings

40% 20-pp final paper OR 7-10 page conference paper plus a grant proposal (5-10 pp).


C L 382 • The Fascist Aesthetic

34080 • Hake, Sabine
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM BUR 232
(also listed as GER 392)
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The fascist aesthetic offers a perfect test case for addressing larger issues of art and power, culture and ideology, and the function of the aesthetic in hegemonic and oppositional practices. But how to define the fascist aesthetic? What accounts for the central role of culture in Nazism/fascism? How does fascism organize the relationship between art, life, and politics? And what is the function of the aesthetic in understanding fascism as a historical phenomenon and as an object of ongoing fascination? We will address these questions through an interdisciplinary approach that focuses on literature, theory, film, art, and architecture from the Third Reich but also includes antifascist discourses and comparative perspectives to Fascist Italy. Key figures such as Leni Riefenstahl, Albert Speer, Ernst Jünger, Carl Schmitt, Bertolt Brecht, Anna Seghers, and John Heartfield will be used to revisit leftwing and rightwing modernisms and analyze the fascist Gesamtkunstwerkin the context of popular culture and the culture industry.

C L 385 • Found Literary Thry & Critsm

34085 • Richmond-Garza, Elizabeth
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PAR 305
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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.