Comparative Literature | National Identity and Literary Form
C603 | 16541 | Prof. Miryam Segal

MW 11:15-12:30
4 credits

What is the relationship between nation and literature? How have works
of literature, literary theory and criticism, political philosophy,
sociology and the field of linguistics conceived of this relationship?

This course looks to these genres to consider the common origins of
modern nations and literature; the central role of (vernacular)
language in both the projects of nation formation and the formation of
national literatures; the very idea of “literature” as one informed by
and necessary to nationalist ideologies; points of convergence between
nation and literature such as the “national poet”; the ambivalent
symbolic and actual roles of women in both nationalist literary and
more general nationalist projects; as well as what we can learn about
contemporary assumptions about literature and nation—and their proper
relationship—from the recent so-called culture wars and canon debates.

Literary works are taken from a variety of literary traditions, with
an emphasis on America and American literature—both as seen from a
European perspective (de Tocqueville, Kafka) and as a model for a new
or belated literature (we will read works of modern Hebrew literature
and, to a lesser extent, Irish literature, with this model in mind).

Reading will include works by Anderson, Arendt, Auerbach, Badiou,
Bialik, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Dickinson, Goethe, Guattari, Guillory,
Grays, Hawthorne, Herder, Hobbes, Lukacs, Melville, Spivak, Swift, de
Tocqueville, Whitman and Yeats.