Comparative Literature | Comparative Literary Analysis: Under the Influence
C205 | 16347 | Professor Jeffrey Johnson


MW 11:15 am – 12:30 pm
This course provides Arts and Humanities credit and Intensive
Writing credit.

Artists do not live in a vacuum, but in a world inhabited by the
works of great artists who came before them. Creative inspiration is
not always a matter of dreaming up something totally new, but
reacting to and engaging with the work of some previous artist. This
will be our approach to Comparative Literature: to study how one
author has influenced another and how that influence reveals itself
in subject matter, style, and themes. We will examine how the later
author responds to and re-writes the work of the earlier author—
praising, correcting, surpassing, belittling, or even
misrepresenting his predecessor’s accomplishments. Crossing
centuries, language barriers, and genres, we will read three pairs
of texts: two fundamentally different visions of the “ideal” society
in Thomas More’s Utopia and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; two
legendary Japanese poets, Saigyo and Basho, contemplating humanity’s
place in the natural world through their poetry and travel journals;
and the fate of empires dramatized in two epic poems from ancient
Rome and Renaissance Portugal, The Aeneid of Vergil and The Lusiads
of Luiz Vaz de Camões.

This course is required of Comparative Literature majors, but has no
prerequisites, so it is also open to any interested person. The
Intensive Writing curriculum includes 4 essays ranging from 3 to 6
pages long and a revision of one of these. There will also be short
writing assignments and reading quizzes. There are no exams for this
course. For further information: jwjohnso@indiana.edu.