COMPLIT 241 - Topics in Comparative Literature
Section: 002 Isolations
Term: WN 2014
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Other Course Info:
May not be repeated for credit.
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Isolation comes in many shades. Many of us cherish time alone, but it has less welcome forms like longing and confinement. Films, novels, and philosophy texts often find something exotic in the familiar phenomenon of isolation. Real life is interdependent, but the internal perspective of fictional characters does not require that other characters exist, and thus a novel can go on for pages describing a character as if he or she were alone in the universe. In this class, we will read literature whose main characters do things on their own or reflect on others’ absence. While some stories captivate us with their gripping plots, these novels and short stories emphasize internal events rather than purposeful action. But isolation is never complete and, as we will see, the inner life cannot remain inert forever.

Our course materials will include some contemporary works, but many nineteenth-century texts such as Madame Bovary, about an imaginative woman who finds her solitude unbearable, excerpts from Thus Spoke Zarathustra by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a connoisseur of solitude, and Notes from Underground, Dostoevsky’s classic depiction of proud isolation. Our readings and viewings will gradually shift from pessimistic to optimistic views of solitude: from prisoners to monks, from bored to pioneering. We will move from descriptions of imprisonment, to novels where the narrator’s wit provides pleasure that disrupts the reader’s empathy with the solitary person’s feelings of painful isolation, to stories of characters who seek inspiration, joy, and blessedness in their solitude.

Film viewings will include Kubrick’s The Shining and Fassbinder’s Effi Briest. Graded work consists primarily of two essay assignments and a reading journal.

COMPLIT 241 - Topics in Comparative Literature
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
3LSA Hnrs
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
002 (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: 014310649X
Madame Bovary : provincial ways, Author: Gustave Flaubert ; translated with an introduction and notes by Lydia Davis., Publisher: Penguin Books Penguin Cl 2010
ISBN: 9780140296402
Disgrace, Author: J.M. Coetzee., Publisher: Penguin Books 1999
ISBN: 0140455124
Notes from underground ; and, The double, Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky ; translated by Ronald Wilks with an introduction by Robert Louis Jackson., Publisher: Penguin 1. publ. i 2009
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