COMPLIT 241 - Topics in Comparative Literature
Section: 002 Undercover-Rethink False/True Identities
Term: WN 2010
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Other Course Info:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Who are we hiding when we put on a mask? Is it our true self? Could it be that without the mask there wouldn’t be any self to hide? Perhaps the mask is truer than that which is beneath it? What does it mean then to ask ‘who am I’?

In this course we will think of the self through literary, dramatic and cinematic instances, in which the self is disguised, concealed, undercover. We will begin by revisiting our assumptions about true and false identities looking at some classic espionage moments where the self is in real danger if it is discovered. With the questions we will formulate together as a point of departure, we will go on to consider how socio-political categories such as race, class, gender, sexuality and nationality are rethought when (true? false?) identities are borrowed. Masquerade, hopefully we will discover, is not only a way of hiding from society but also a way of playing with social boundaries, disrupting them, and perhaps even opening new possibilities.

Our reading for this course is diverse, and will include novels such as Philip Roth’s The Human Stain and Erica Fischer’s Aimée and Jaguar, plays and scenes from plays by Shakespeare, Genet and Kushner, short stories by Grace Paley, and probably even a chapter from the Bible. We will also take advantage of the rich cinematic engagement with the theme of masquerade and watch several films and clips from films together, including Hitchcock’s “Stage Fright,” Preston Sturges’ “Sullivan’s Travels” and Blake Edwards’ “Victor Victoria.”

The requirements for this course will be short mid-term paper, longer final paper, class presentation and, of course, active participation in discussions.

COMPLIT 241 - Topics in Comparative Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
1LSA Hnrs
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
002 (SEM)
MWF 11:00AM - 12:00PM
003 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 038057117X
Lisa and Lottie, Author: Erich Kastner ; illustrated by Victoria de Larrea ; translated by Cyrus Books., Publisher: Avon Books 1969
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 0099422131
The human stain, Author: Philip Roth., Publisher: Vintage 2001
ISBN: 0571148565
The maids ; and, Deathwatch : two plays, Author: Jean Genet ; translated by Bernard Frechtman ; with an introduction by Jean-Paul Sartre., Publisher: Faber 1989
Other Textbook Editions OK.
ISBN: 1559362316
Angels in America a gay fantasia on national themes ; part one: Millennium apporaches, part two: Perestroika, Author: Tony Kushner, Publisher: Theatre Communications 1st combin 2006
ISBN: 1555834507
Aimee & Jaguar : a love story, Berlin 1943, Author: Erica Fischer ; translated from the German by Edna McCown., Publisher: Alyson Books 1st Alyson 1998
ISBN: 0393979164
Passing : authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts, about Nella Larsen, criticism, Author: Nella Larsen ; edited by Carla Kaplan., Publisher: W.W. Norton & Co. 1. ed. 2006
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