COMPLIT 240 - Introduction to Comparative Literature
Section: 001 What makes life worth living? : Analysis, Detection and Desire
Term: FA 2010
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Course Note:
What is comparative literature? How and what do comparatists compare? We address these questions and indicate how comparative literature differs in scope and methodology from the study of a national literature. Readings come from Western and non-Western societies and are considered within a variety of contexts.
Credits:
3
Requirements & Distribution:
HU
Other:
Theme
Other Course Info:
F.
Repeatability:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

At the beginning, COMPLIT 240 is an introduction to the classic detective stories of Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Agatha Christie. But things get weird (that is, fun) quite fast, and soon we’ll be thinking about neurosis, ghosts, and Chinese history, and reading drama, novels, history, and psychology. The stories we will read in this class are woven of mysteries and enigmas. They want very much to answer questions of life and death (what went wrong? who done it? why?), but often pose more questions that they answer.

To the LSA Theme Semester’s question, What makes life worth living? The course answers with yet more questions:

  • How do you make sense of what is in itself and by itself without sense — that is, the world around you, your life, your “self”, the words you read?
  • What if that sense you that you make is arbitrary, or doomed to be wrong?
  • What desires are directing your sense-making?
  • What are you making from and with your desire to make sense?

Readings:

  • Paul Auster, City of Glass
  • Patrick Chamoiseau, Solibo Magnificent
  • Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Sigmund Freud, Dora
  • Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
  • Sophocles, Oedipus the King
  • Jonathan Spence, The Question of Hu

The texts we will read in this class are woven of mysteries and enigmas. They want very much to answer questions of life and death (what went wrong? who done it? why?), but often pose more questions that they answer. Some of our questions, then: What makes a detective? What does she or he want? What does it mean to solve a problem? How do we know when it’s completely solved? We will explore these questions, working under the hypothesis that asking questions is as important as answering them.

To the LSA Theme Semester’s question, What makes life worth living? The course responds: paying attention. Pay attention and you’ll make meaning.

Readings will be drawn across genres, time, and cultures, from ancient Greece to the present in New York and Martinique.

COMPLIT 240 - Introduction to Comparative Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 
13073
Open
16
 
-
M 10:00AM - 11:00AM
002 (DIS)
P
13075
Open
6
3LSA Hnrs
-
WF 10:00AM - 11:00AM
Note: Discussion sections will meet starting week of 9/10.
003 (DIS)
P
13077
Open
3
 
-
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Note: Discussion sections will meet starting week of 9/10.
004 (DIS)
P
13079
Open
7
 
-
TuTh 3:00PM - 4:00PM
Note: Discussion sections will meet starting week of 9/10.
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