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Course Offerings

Spring 2016

CMLT-C513 (32671)
Narrative: The Experience of the Novel: History and Theory of a Modern Genre
Professor Johannes Turk

04:00-06:15 W room WH118
This course investigates the history and theory of the novel from the eighteenth to the twentieth century in exemplary readings. The novel emerges after the end of an era, in which poetics has stabilized literary genres. Openness and flexibility are often described as hallmarks of a genre that seems to escape traditional criteria for literary form. It both represents and constitutes a profound reorganization of human experience that is inseparable from modernity. The resulting porosity allows the novel to explore a large spectrum of experiential dimensions ranging from love and adventure – the hallmarks of the chivalresque – to domesticity, sensibility, sociability, the quotidian, historicity, and privacy. Beginning with Huet, Blanckenburg and others in the eighteenth century, a rich debate on the novel opens. Through a wide range of exemplary novels reaching from Defoe, Wieland, Goethe, and Dickens to Thomas Mann and Proust, as well as a large number of theories, the course will discuss the novel as a space where the existential implications of our world and its history unfold. The course is taught in English.


CMLT C523   Medieval Literature
Topic: Performance, Identity, and Community in Medieval Europe
Instructor: Rosemarie McGerr

01:00-02:15 MW room BH245
4 credit hours
This course will explore what medieval lyrics, plays, and narratives can reveal to us about the role of performance in constructing identity and community in medieval European cultures.  We will examine such topics as the relationship of musical and dramatic performance of verbal texts to the visual arts and visual forms of constructing identity, the representation of reading as performance, and the construction of gender, class, and faith as performance.  Medieval documents of several kinds reveal awareness of the performative nature of defining identity and community.  Constructing the Self always involves imag(in)ing the Other. Medieval rituals suggest that what people do or say can create or express identity, yet the need for expressing identity or agency when a person is physically absent leads to the use of various forms of representation, such as seals, heraldry, or letters for the literate.  All of these forms of representation are fraught with anxiety: disguises can be entertaining or deceptive.  Literature can provide a tool for direct or indirect performance of identity or community, but literature can also serve as a forum for raising questions about the assumptions underlying constructions of identity and exploring human capacity for projecting multiple forms of identity.  This course offers an opportunity to explore literary works that were performed, as well as representations of performance in lyrics, narratives, and drama from different times and places in medieval Europe from the 4th through the 15th centuries.  In each case, we will look at how the text constructs identity or questions such constructions and how this process highlights the role of performance in medieval cultures
Our common readings will include lyrics poems by Yehuda Halevi, Hildegard von Bingen, Lombarda de Toulouse, Walther von der Vogelweide, Alfonso X, and Guillaume de Machaut; plays such as Abraham, Aucassin and Nicolette, The Second Shepherds’ Play, and Everyman; and narratives such as The Song of the Cid, The Romance of Silence, the Decameron, The City of Ladies, and The Book of Margery Kempe.  Students will prepare two class presentations on critical or theoretical readings and complete an individual research project on the role of performance in a medieval text plus another text of their choice. 
Meets with MEST M502.


CMLT-C580: History and Theory of Translation
Section  # 29788 | Prof. P. Losensky | 4 cr

09:30-10:45 TR room BH235
This seminar will explore the burgeoning field of translation studies and the central role of translation in the field of comparative literature. We will first look at the history of translation, with an emphasis on the English tradition, and examine some representative translations from the Renaissance to the present. Close readings of influential, “pre-theoretical” statements on translation will provide a foundation for our study of the development of translation studies since the 1960s. Concepts such as translatability, equivalence, resistance, uncertainty, naturalization, and foreignization will be analyzed in terms of various models of language, social communication, and poetics. We will also consider how the field of translation studies engages other trends in contemporary criticism, such as structuralism, deconstruction, gender studies, and post-colonialism. Participants in this seminar are expected to play an active role in leading and participating in discussions of the readings and of their own research. They are also required to prepare written discussion questions for one or more of the readings, to write a formal proposal of a seminar project, and to present the final project orally to the class before submitting it in written form. A good knowledge of English and at least one other language is a prerequisite for this seminar.


CMLT-C603 (15758)
Topics in Comparative Literature: Nabokov
Professor Jacob Emery

04:00-05:15 MW room WH007
This course provides an overview of Vladimir Nabokov’s work in both Russian and English and contextualizes that work within the Russian diaspora. The focus is on his prose fictions, but we will also consider Nabokov as a poet, playwright, critic, translator, and puzzle constructor. In exploring a selection of Nabokov’s major literary works, as well as samples of poetry and fiction by Nina Berberova, Boris Poplavsky, Joseph Brodsky, Eduard Limonov, and Gary Shteyngart, we will explore the themes that make Nabokov a central figure of twentieth century literature. These include: the poetics of exile and nostalgia; translation and transnational culture; literary trickery and deceit; paranoia as a tactic of reading; the relationship between the aesthetic and the sadistic; artifice and the imagination; and art as an image of a higher reality.


CMLT-C611 (30077)
Topics in Literary Genres, Modes, and Forms: The Renaissance Epic
Professor Sarah Van der Laan

02:30-03:45 TR room BH016
The Renaissance saw the last great flowering of the Western epic tradition. After centuries of relative neglect, the epic became once again the form of choice for poets intent on exploring nationhood, community, and the human spirit on a grand canvas. Why should the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so “early modern” in many other respects, have been the last to turn to this ancient form for their national poems? How did the belatedness of this recovery shape these epics? How did the epic tradition change in response to the transformed cultural and religious context—or, to paraphrase a recent study of this problem, how does epic make the transition “from many gods to one”? Epics to include Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso, Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, Luis Vaz de Camões’s Os Lusíadas, John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Approaches to foreground ancient and contemporary theories of intertextuality and allusion.


CMLT-C 670 (30385) Topics in Cross-Cultural Studies:
Biopolitics and Postcolonial Discourse
Professor Akin Adesokan

04:00-06:30 M room BH236
As a discourse of identity, postcoloniality has brought institutional respectability and redress to important questions of difference—race, gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and the like. One criticism of postcolonial studies, however, is that the emphasis on these questions is often uneven and instrumentalist. This seminar proposes to pitch selected classics of postcolonial studies against the currents of critical theory such as transnationalism, micropolitics, and biopolitics in order to examine this criticism and others like it. We will do this by engaging several compelling postmodernist propositions (the exhaustion of difference, the fragmentation of political reason, the deterritorialized rule of empire) and equally compelling contemporary ideas about unequal exchange, actual human suffering, economic logic, and the politics of knowledge. Among the questions informing this seminar are: How do we make sense of the ubiquity of acts of impunity across different parts of the world at a time when legalism is perhaps at its strongest? What is the relationship between “disorder” and “inventiveness”? What does culture (as in “local culture” or “high culture”) mean today?


Courses from previous semesters

  • Fall 2015
  • Spring 2015
  • Fall 2014
  • Spring 2014
  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2013
  • Fall 2012
  • Spring 2012
  • Fall 2011
  • Spring 2011
  • Fall 2010
  • Spring 2010
  • Fall 2009
  • Spring 2009
  • Fall 2008