Comparative Literature | The Literary Address-Literature, Theory, and the Question of the Letter
C305 | 8900 | Prof. E. Peretz

CMLT-C 305/8900
Comp App to Lit: Theory & Method
The Literary Address-Literature, Theory, and the Question of the

Prof. E. Peretz	MW 11:15-12:30

Course Description:

“A poem”, writes German poet Paul Celan, “being an instance of
language, hence essentially dialogue, may be a letter in a bottle
thrown out to sea with the – surely not always strong – hope that it
may somehow wash up somewhere, perhaps on a shoreline of the
heart.”  Pointing thus to a relation between poetry – and by
extension, literary language in general - and the question of the
letter, Celan poses for us the task of thinking the following
questions: What exactly is the relation between the writing and
reading of literature and the sending or addressing of letters? Why
is it that a literary text can be compared to a letter, and what at
all is a letter? By taking a look at some major literary texts of
the last two centuries as well at some of the major theoretical
texts of the last fifty years this class proposes that by following
these question we can, on the one hand, reach a general,
theoretical, understanding of the nature of literary language, of
what at all is this thing that we call literature, as well as, on
the other hand, actually learn to read literature in systematic
manner, that is, learn how to pay attention to the way in which
literary language works on us, and addresses us.

Readings include, among others, Melville, Hoffmann, Kleist, Kafka,
Henry James, Poe, Lacan, Derrida, Blanchot.

*This class meets A&H requirements*