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Course Offerings

 FAll 2017

CMLT-C 110: Writing the World (8 sections, Johnson/staff)
Fall 2017 Topic: Where’d You Go?
Carries GenEd Foundations in Writing: EC and CASE EC credits.
In search of a long-lost friend, missing children, a paradise at the edge of the world, a perfect lover, your own human body—these are just a few of the people, places, and things that characters in our literature go in search of over the course of this semester. Tales of dangerous travels, discovering new places, and losing familiar people can be found in almost every culture around the world and they inspire fascinating and inventive literature from ancient times into the modern era. All sections will read The Epic of Gilgamesh, Shakespeare’s Cymbeline, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, and Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Each section will read additional literature unique to that section. Individual sections may also include selections of television, art, music, and film. Assignments: 3 analytical essays, short papers and essay proposals, 3 quizzes, an introduction to basic research skills, and an annotated bibliography.

CMLT-C 111: Reading the World: (staff)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
Fall 2017 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Diverse literary genres and cultures from around the world explored through a comparative analysis of characters and themes in canonical and non-canonical texts, both ancient and modern.

CMLT-C 147: Images of the Self: East and West (staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, GenEd WC, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Fall 2017 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Topics such as the individual in society, the outcast as hero, and artistic sensibility, examined in selected works of Western and Eastern literature from ancient to modern times.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (4 sections, Lukes/staff)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
General course description: This course defines the field of popular culture as central to how modern societies transmit and discuss key ideas. Across a range of media, genres, and styles, including film and television, music and song, theater, literature, and comics, students will become conversant with recent and contemporary forms of popular culture, and learn how to be active, critical, engaged, and media-literate readers.

Lukes section topic: What’s so funny? What are you laughing at? This course examines literary and cultural forms of comedy, to determine what produces laughter and how. From antiquity to the present, Aristophanes to Amy Schumer, LOL to ROFL, across jokes, satire, farce, parody, caricature, sarcasm, irony, cabaret, stand up, and more, we shall interrogate and gain a critical perspective on comedy in popular culture. We’ll investigate how what’s funny and what isn’t gets determined, and what is acceptable to joke about and what is not, observe how humor changes over time, and seek to understand the power structures, politics, violences, and intersectionalities at play within acts and cultures of laughter.

CMLT-C 155: Culture and the Modern Experience: An Interdisciplinary and International Approach (Scalzo)
Fall 2017 topic: “boundless love”: Queer Romance in Comparative Literature
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
This course will deal with international representations of LGBT romance and other forms of nonheteronormative attraction. We will explore the experiences of queer individuals and consider how these identities are constructed and conveyed in a variety of genre and media. What might these representations tell us about processes of identity construction? How do these representations engage with their respective cultures? How do they fit within our ideas of art and literature? What can they tell us about our own culture or “global” culture? Students should expect critical and creative assignments, including formal papers, a midterm exam, and intermittent reading quizzes as graded assessments. Genres may include: Prose, Poetry, Drama, Musical Theatre and Opera, Film, Adaptation. Works may include: Thomas Glave’s The Torturer’s Wife, Salvatore Antonio’s In Gabriel’s Kitchen, Daniel Ribiero’s The Way He Looks, Julie Maroh’s Blue is the Warmest Color, Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, Pier Vittorio Tondelli’s Separate Rooms.

CMLT-C 205: Comparative Literary Analysis (Van der Laan)
Fall 2017 Topic: Writing about Writing
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE IW credits.
Required for majors in Comparative Literature.
Metafiction: texts that break down the boundaries between the fictional and the “real” worlds to reflect on the nature of fiction and the fictions that underpin reality. We will read metafictional novels, plays, and poems from a range of national traditions and eras, including Shakespeare, Hamlet; Calderon, Life Is a Dream; Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Cervantes, Don Quixote; Borges, Fictions; and Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Students will learn the basic approaches and methods of comparative literature and literary analysis—and learn to turn those methods on the world around them, to decode the narratives and authorial strategies that shape the “real world”. Students will also refine their close-reading skills and improve their ability to craft essays in literary criticism: to write about writing themselves. Expectations include extensive reading assignments, frequent essays, and regular participation in class discussion.

CMLT-C 216: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Western Tradition (Lukes)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
The word “alien” is an adjective that derives from the Latin word “alius” – other. This course will consider what it means to re-think the human and the world around us through the category of the alien other. Science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction (SF/F)’s tales of encounters with fantastical beings, discoveries and explorations of other worlds, and narratives of alien contact and invasion have long been understood as metaphors for racial, gender, and bodily difference, as commentaries on colonialism, imperialism, and immigration, and as defamiliarizing frameworks for viewing anew the ever-alienating world of things. Across a variety of literary and cultural genres and media (novels, short stories, films, comics and animation, popular music) this course will explore political meanings of the alien, critical and theoretical concepts of the other, alienation, and difference, and such topics as the nation state, autonomy, personhood, and the legal category of “alien.”

CMLT-C 252: Literary and Television Genres (staff)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
Fall 2017 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Comparative study of popular literary and television genres, such as farce, domestic comedy, melodrama, biography, mystery, adventure, western, the picaresque. Theoretical, technical, and ideological contrasts between the literary and television media.

CMLT-C 301: Special Topics in Comparative Literature (Peretz)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Fall 2017 topic TBA! From the Bulletin: Special topics concerning two or more literary traditions or literature and other areas in the humanities.

CMLT-C 313: Narrative (Marks)
Fall 2017 Topic: Political Fiction, Ancient and Modern
Carries CASE A&H credit.
2nd 8 weeks
How can we understand the universal urge to tell and listen to stories? Why does so much of our thinking about human relations assume narrative form? In this course, we shall be looking at both the craft of fiction--the strategies story tellers use to achieve their aims (description, repetition, omission, manipulation of time and place)--and what happens when we relive an imaginary experience as if it were our own. We shall thus be putting ourselves in the position of the author, advancing turn by turn and word by word, while also stepping back and watching ourselves as we respond to what we are reading. To give our discussion more coherence, we shall focus on two masterpieces of political fiction, the biblical story of King David and Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma, in which questions of love are inextricably bound to questions of power.

CMLT-C 318: Satire (Adesokan)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Which is the better idea: to grill the sparerib of a child for lunch or let him run in the streets panning wildly for alms? Is a tropical beach a less likely place than a solemn church to experience divine power? In this course we will read several works of satire from different parts of the world and across the ages, focusing on the forms, literary or visual techniques, and the social and political targets of satire. While working from the premise that the victim of a satirical work is assumed to be removed from the reader, we will also look at cases where the dividing lines are not so clear. Authors and sources may include Achebe, Aristophanes, Bullins, Dryden, Horace, Jones, Juvenal, Molière, O’Brien, Soyinka, Swift, Twain, Ward, and the Yes Men.  We will also engage popular contemporary US genres of satire, such as Deadline Poetry, The Onion and the Andy Borowitz Report.

CMLT-C 322: Writing and Photography (Johnston)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Photographs are everywhere in our lives. Often we don’t look at them closely—their meaning seems obvious at a single glance. Yet photographs are much more complex and interesting than they might seem. The notion that they show us “reality,” because they incorporate an imprint of the real world, conceals their complexity, their contextuality, and their partiality. This class is about how to write about photographs, which means that it is about how to think about photographs. We’ll take a close analytical look at certain photographs and photo books, and examine how different authors have written about them. We’ll also look at some literary texts in which photographs play a crucial role. As the semester proceeds, you will begin your own exploration through writing. You’ll create a series of short assignments in different modes (analytic, critical, creative) about photographs, books and exhibitions of photography, and photographers of your own choosing.

CMLT-C 325: The Renaissance (Van der Laan)
Carries CASE A&H and CASE GCC credits.
Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, writers, artists, philosophers, and rulers claimed to rediscover and revive the glories of classical Greece and Rome after a thousand years of darkness and decline. We will trace this cultural movement from its origins in fourteenth-century Italy, through France and northern Europe, to its final flowering in seventeenth-century England. We will chart the development of new ideas about humanity’s place in the universe. Statesmen and philosophers defend the value of the active life, celebrate the material world, and invent new uses for history and a new science of politics. Writers create new ways of exploring the self and individual human experience. Artists celebrate the human body in newly realistic paintings and sculpture. Scholars and theologians apply these developments to religion to spark the Protestant Reformation. Explorers press outward into new seas, and their encounters with unfamiliar peoples and customs inspire a re-examination of European cultural norms. And philosophers turn experimenters to launch modern science.

CMLT-C 340: Women in World Literature (Geballe)
Fall 2017 Topic: Great Expectations: Pregnancy in World Literature
Carries CASE A&H credit.
“Pregnancy,” and its representations in literature and film, is the subject of this course. Exploring the works of authors from around the world, we will trace the ways in which a biological experience can transform into a narrative experiment. Starting with more literal portrayals of wanted (or unwanted) children, we will then explore pregnancy as a metaphor for social change and national redemption, and we will end the semester examining the role of pregnancy and reproduction in speculative fiction and horror films. Drawing from works of poetry, Soviet Socialist Realism, psychoanalytic theory, and contemporary literature and film, this course is designed to show the many ways that pregnancy is intimately bound to culture, ideology, and national traditions as well as the production of stories. With each reading, we will seek to uncover that universal relationship between biological and artistic creation. Workload will include response papers, a final paper, and a group presentation.

CMLT-C 343: Literature and Politics (Johnson)
Fall 2017 Topic: Imperial Literature
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Everyone’s talking about empires! Hollywood dramatizes the clash of empires real and imagined and the sordid lives of emperors (Game of Thrones, 300, Gladiator). Pundits debate whether the U.S. is an empire. Architects, artists, and city planners steal designs from past empires. This course examines representations of empires through a variety of genres, cultures, and periods: tragedy, epic, biography, farming poetry, the modern novel, in ancient Greece and Rome, Renaissance England and Portugal, and modern South Africa. We will examine how issues like colonialism, racial stereotypes, propaganda, conflicts between invaders and indigenous peoples are expressed as literary narratives that blend history, politics, art, religion, ethics, and international law. All interested students are welcome after completion of the General Education composition requirement or its equivalent. Workload: 3 analytical essays, short papers, one in-class presentation. Reading List: Xenophon’s Education of Cyrus, Vergil’s Georgics, Camões’ The Lusíads, Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians.

CMLT-C 345: Literature and Religion (Marks)
Fall 2017 Topic: The Hebrew Bible
Carries CASE A&H credit.
2nd 8 weeks
There is arguably no book of world literature that has been more embroidered, distorted, and misread than the Hebrew Bible. As the ultimate source of Jewish law and the foundation of Christian theology, it is held up even today as a moral and metaphysical guide. But there is a significant strain in the Bible that is impatient with piety and suspicious of dogmatic wisdom, particularly the wisdom of those who presume on their knowledge of the uncanny central figure it calls God or Yahweh. Indeed, if one reads against the grain of tradition, the Bible is a book that revels in contradiction, invites questions but frustrates answers, views human and divine morality with skepticism, and treats its characters, legendary or historical, with irreverent license. The course will explore this skeptical strain in biblical literature through close analysis of a range of texts from Genesis to Job.

CMLT-C 351: Adaptation (Velázquez)
Fall 2017 Topic: Nuns and Guns: Gender, Authority, Resistance, Fantasy
Carries CASE A&H credit.
The image of a nun breaking into a high security nuclear arms plant to protest the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction—and its opposite, the image of a nun herself holding a rifle—are both disturbing. The purpose of this class is to make sense of our fascination and unease regarding these celibate women who under the guise of obedience also proclaim their right to resist. We shall consider historical cases of nuns in times of war, other forms of nun-ly resistance, as well as explore the appeal of nuns with guns in popular culture. This class will address issues of gender, authority and resistance from different the European Middle Ages and colonial seventeenth-century Mexico to contemporary nuns in the United States and Africa as represented in a wide range of literary and visual genres in order to examine the historical, political and symbolic role played by nuns in different cultures.

CMLT-C 355: Literature, the Arts, and Their Interrelationship (Peretz)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Fall 2017 topic: THE AGE OF THE SCREEN Our contemporary moment is one in which not only are we surrounded by more and more screens, in our phones, watches, computers, movies, and so forth, but one in which every surface, and every thing, is becoming a potential screen: a back of a building, a piece of fabric, an isolated tree etc. But what is a screen, and what is the significance of the fact that we can define our age as the age of screens? This class will attempt to answer these questions by looking at the history of screens from ancient cultures to our current moment, from dressing screens to the movie screen, from theatrical curtains to contemporary experimental art, arguing that one of the key entryways into understanding our current historical moment is through a investigation into the history and logic of the screen.

CMLT-C 378: Topics in Yiddish Culture (Kerler)
Fall 2017 Topic: Ghetto, Shtetl, and Beyond: Millennium of History & Society of Yiddish
Carries CASE A&H credit.
From the Bulletin: Selected topics on history of Ashkenazic Jews; Old Yiddish and premodern Yiddish folklore and popular culture; history and sociology of Yiddish; modern Yiddish culture; and centers of modern Yiddish culture.


By individual arrangement between student, faculty supervisor, and DUS, and with the permission of the department:
CMLT-X490: Individual Readings in Comparative Literature
CMLT-X491: Individual Studies in Film and Literature
CMLT-C496 Foreign Study in Comparative Literature
CMLT-C499 Studies for Honors

Courses from previous semesters

  • Spring 2017
  • Fall 2016
  • Spring 2016
  • 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