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Course Offerings

 SPRING 2018

CMLT-C 110: Writing the World (8 sections, Johnson/staff)
Spring 2018 topic: Secrets, Lies, and Mysteries
Carries GenEd Foundations in Writing: EC and CASE EC credits.
Is she a devoted wife or a serial killer? What happened that night in the horse stable? Was a ten-year war fought over a phantom? Was the king a pious visionary or a pervy creep? Find answers to these and other secrets, lies, and mysteries this semester as we travel from ancient Egypt and Greece to medieval Russia to a psychiatric hospital in modern Britain. The world’s literature is filled with puzzles and deception that challenge us to follow the clues and make sense of their mysteries.
All sections will read Euripides’ Medea and Helen, Alexander Pushkin’s Boris Godunov, Peter Shaffer’s Equus, and Naguib Mahfouz’s Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth. Each section will read additional literature unique to that section. Individual sections may include television, art, music, and film. Assignments: 3 analytical essays, short papers, 3 quizzes, introduction to basic research skills, and an annotated bibliography.

CMLT-C 111: Reading the World (staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC 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 (Qu)
Carries GenEd A&H, GenEd WC, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Who is a hero? What is your definition of the hero? Does the image of the hero change over time and across countries and continents? If it does, how? If it does not, what is the essence inherent in the hero’s image? In this course, we will read a wide range of texts spanning from antiquity to today, and from ancient Greece and Mesopotamia, to medieval Europe and Victorian England and then to China and Japan. The goal of this course is to explore the different portrayals of heroes in different cultures and times, as a lens through which to view ethos of peoples, authorial intentions, social contexts, and the construction of the idea of the “self”. Workload will consist of two analytical essays (4-6 pages), two exams, and short response papers.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (4 sections, Potapowicz/staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
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. For individual Spring 2018 section topics, see descriptions below.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (Potapowicz)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
When and why do we laugh at ourselves and at Others? How is humor used to perform identity, to signal difference or singularity, to subvert social conventions? How is it used to emphasize difference, or to create exclusion? How does it foster community, belonging, and self-empowerment? Through the study of US popular culture, we will critically address the relationship between humor and (self)representation. We will study short stories, songs, comics, caricatures, internet memes, stand-up specials, television and films in order to investigate humorous representations of class, gender, race, and ethnic identity and discuss concepts of difference, exclusion, and cohesion. Texts will include short stories by Dorothy Parker, Sherman Alexie, Woody Allen, Zadie Smith, and Firoozeh Dumas. Films and TV will include: White Chicks (2004), Borat (2006), Maz Jobrani: I’m Not a Terrorist, But I've Played One On TV – (2015), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), Saving Face (2004), Master of None (2015-), The Big Sick (2017), Sarah Silverstein: A Speck of Dust (2017).

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (Sidky)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
The Holocaust has played a central role in the cultural imagination of the United States, and this seems to only be increasing in the 21st century, in new and unpredictable ways. This course will look at the development of Holocaust in the popular culture and media of the United States — and briefly looking at text and film from abroad — from the late 1940s to the present. We will look at media in a wide range of forms and genres, from newspapers and journalism to novels, graphic novels, film, television, music, and theatre. We will examine how the image of, and use of the Holocaust (and its perpetrators and survivors) has changed over time, focusing on questions of memory, truth, ethics, representation, identity, and atrocity. Students can expect short written assignments, a midterm examination, and a final essay.

CMLT-C 155: Culture and the Modern Experience: An Interdisciplinary and International Approach (Richards)
Spring 2018 Topic: The Middle Ages in Popular Culture
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Dragons! Knights! Adventure! Impossible ideals of the structure of romantic relationships! Sports! This course will explore elements of medieval culture which are embedded in modern popular culture. We will read medieval literature and consider how it has stayed the same or evolved into its modern analogues. For example, we can look at the the Cabinet Battle of Hamilton in comparison with the troubadouric genre of tenso, which pitted famous trouboudours’ wits and rhymes against each other. In addition to literature, we will also look at images from the Middle Ages. For the modern portion, we will be drawing from films, TV shows, music, and social expectations to consider how the medieval is still with us in surprising ways. Course requirements include a final paper, a creative project, and a presentation.

CMLT-C 200: Honors Seminar (Johnson)
Spring 2018 Topic: Vergil, Dante, Milton
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
This is your chance to journey through three unforgettable epic poems in their entireties: Vergil’s Aeneid about the founding of the Roman Empire; in the Divine Comedy, Dante travels from hell to the outer cosmos; John Milton’s Paradise Lost dramatizes the rebellion of Lucifer and the fall of Adam and Eve. Each poet put everything he knew about life and literature into his masterpiece. We will focus on how Dante transformed the work of Vergil and how Milton transformed Vergil and Dante together.
Students interested in literature, ancient Rome, medieval Italy, Renaissance England, politics, art, philosophy, mythology, and ethics are welcome. This course is offered to students in the Hutton Honors College; however, interested students who are not in HHC are encouraged to contact the instructor, Jeff Johnson (, for permission to enroll. Workload: short response papers, one essay per epic, and an in-class presentation. For more information, contact instructor.

CMLT-C 205: Comparative Literary Analysis (McGerr)
Spring 2018 Topic: Heroes and Villains
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE IW credits.
Required for majors in Comparative Literature.
Does the hero always win the battle? Does a story need a villain? This course explores the variety of heroes and villains found in texts from different times and cultures. We will examine theories about heroes and villains in literature and ways texts subvert such categories.We will study the relationship of literary genre and heroism, the relationship of gender and heroism, and the role of intertextuality in depictions of heroism. In addition to examples of heroes and villains in folk tales, fairy tales, fables, and legends, we will analyze characters in complex narrative forms such as epic, romance, short story, and novel. Readings for the course will include texts from ancient times to the twentieth century in English or modern English translation. Students will complete a series of short comparative writing projects, following the guidelines of the Intensive Writing program.

CMLT-C 217: Detective, Mystery, and Horror Literature (Scalzo)
Spring 2018 Topic: The Case of the Stolen Script: Detective and Mystery Fiction in Adaptation
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
Who done it? And why? These questions underlie two popular categories of contemporary global literature and popular culture: detective fiction and adaptation. This course will explore detective fiction as the subject of U.S. and cross-cultural adaptations, as well as how mystery and detective fiction might serve as a metaphor for the process of adaptation itself. Students will first read canonical works of detective fiction and will use that knowledge to discuss how the genre is represented on both stage and screen. Works may include: Charles Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher mysteries, the Inspector Montalbano series, Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X, and Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series. Students should expect to complete formal papers, a midterm exam, a presentation, and intermittent reading quizzes as graded assessments

CMLT-C 255: Modern Literature and the Other Arts: An Introduction (Holler)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
What motivates the creative personality to turn forms, colors, sounds, silences and words into art and literature? How and why do styles in art change over time? Why did painting sublime scenery give way to dripping paint on a canvas and why would anybody pay to hear a four-minute silent symphony? Blake, Beethoven, Mary Shelley, Keats, Friedrich, Turner, Wagner, Poe, Monet, Manet, Joyce, Kafka, Kandinsky, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Pollock, Beckett, Brecht...

CMLT-C 301: Special Topics in Comparative Literature (Van der Laan)
Spring 2018 Topic: Rebels with a Cause
Carries CASE A&H credit.
From ancient Greece to the present day, the figure of the hero—or anti-hero—who rebels against divine commandments has captured readers’ imaginations. If Homer’s Iliad and Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound give us the original rebels with a cause in Achilles and Prometheus, a later series of texts returns explicitly to draw on, rewrite, and interrogate its predecessors to ask when it is right—and when it is necessary—to break the rules. Reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, and Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, we will explore the literary and ethical problems of knowledge, transgression, independence, and indebtedness that lie behind these rebellions. We will also engage with theories of allusion and intertextuality that help us to understand how texts interact and construct—intentionally or not—conversations among themselves. Assignments to include challenging readings and multiple papers.

CMLT-C 305: Comparative Approaches to Literature: Theory and Method (Peretz)
Spring 2018 Topic: Introduction to Literary Theory
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Required for majors in Comparative Literature.
This course aims to introduce you to the theoretical study of literature. Its leading questions are: 1) what concepts are needed in order to be able to respond to these strange events in language we usually call literary works? 2) How can we describe the person, usually called “the reader”, who engages with the literary work? Or, in other words, who is the reader? While these questions might seem enigmatic for now, or perhaps, to the contrary, trivial, the challenge of this course will be to elucidate them and show their necessity and complexity.

CMLT-C 321: Medieval Literature (McGerr)
Spring 2018 Topic: Women’s Voices in Medieval Europe
Carries CASE A&H and CASE GCC credits.
This course explores the rich tradition of texts authored by women in medieval Europe. Our readings come from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and England and include texts from a wide range of genres in which women sought to make their voices heard: lyric poems, plays, letters, vision accounts, romance narratives, allegorical narratives, and autobiography. The authors include “saints” and “heretics,” members of royal courts and members of the merchant class, mothers and nuns. We will examine each text from multiple perspectives and consider how it constructs concepts such as gender, nobility, and holiness, as well as subversion of such categories. Other issues we will explore are the position of medieval women in relation to literary, civic, and theological authority; medieval definitions of literacy and authorship; the roles of women in manuscript transmission of texts; and the relationship of medieval women’s texts to modern conceptions of feminist writing.

CMLT-C 351: Adaptations: Literature, Stage, and Screen (Van der Laan)
Spring 2018 Topic: Tales of Troy
Carries CASE A&H credit.
One hero must choose between an early death in exchange for immortal fame and a long life that leaves no mark upon the world. Another struggles through unimaginable dangers and powerful temptations to return to the wife and home he left twenty years ago. The Iliad and the Odyssey—the oldest surviving works of European literature—continue to inspire films, plays, novels, poems, graphic novels, and artworks: war stories and love stories, queer and feminist revisions, parodies and tragedies. Explore these adaptations and learn why Homer’s tales of Troy, with their questioning of ideals of honor and glory, their awareness of the human cost of warfare, and their struggle to find heroism in human experience, remain necessary today. Discover how authors and directors from Shakespeare to Atwood to the Coen brothers reinvent myths for new audiences and examine the nature of adaptation itself. Assignments to include extensive readings, papers, and the option of a final creative project.

CMLT-C 355: Literature, the Arts, and Their Interrelationship (Fischer)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
2nd 8 weeks
Discover the connections and interactions between literature and music in German Romanticism. We will explore the profound impact that the dialogue between these two arts had on the concept of the romantic idea in Europe and the role of music as an inspiration to the other arts.

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