Courses in Comparative Literature (Division 354)

240. Introduction to Comparative Literature. (3). (HU).
Section 001 Reading to Live.
Why read? Why live? Do the two questions have the same answers? What does reading have to do with living? In this course, we will take these questions as a framework through which to approach comparative literature as something people study and as a way they study it. But wait, there's more! The books you read, the thoughts you think, and the words you hear, speak, and write will slip under your skin with excruciating sweetness. They might make you feel itchy and uncomfortable. It may be difficult to walk and talk normally. You may begin to hear voices and to tell stories. I promise... But only if you do the reading (which will include work by authors such as McCullers, Kafka, Puig, Achebe, Shelley, Cortazar, Freud, Nietzsche, Marx, and Deleuze), writing (weekly short papers, one or two longer essays), talking, and thinking (constantly). (Colas)
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424. Literature and Other Disciplines. Upperclass standing and one course in literary studies. (3). (HU). May be elected for a total of nine credits.
Section 001 Gender, Travel, and Transgression in 18th-Century Literature.
For Fall Term, 1997, this section is offered jointly with English 417.005. (Porter)
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430. Comparative Studies in Fiction. Upperclass standing. (3). (HU). May be repeated for a total of nine credits.
Section 001 Narratives: From Gilgamesh to Mahfouz.
This course is a literary reflection on the history of the Middle East through its narratives, from Gilgamesh to Mahfouz. Against the backdrop of orality and literacy, memory and imagination, storytelling and fiction, we will follow the different phases of the art of storytelling as the prevalent narrative, and examine the impact of the introduction of the novel's genre into that region. Three basic topics will be discussed comparatively (in a seminar format): stories from the Bible and Koran on the background of the ancient Near Eastern literatures; Medieval Arab and Jewish tales; points of convergence and departure in the modern literatures of the Middle East. Texts will include a selection (in English translation) from: The Epic of Gilgamesh, ancient Egyptian tales, The Bible, The Koran, Arab and Jewish Medieval texts, tales from The Thousand and One Nights, and Modern Arab and Hebrew writers. Different theoretical writings, on the art of narrative and the issues of orality and literacy, will also be consulted. Students will be evaluated through an oral presentation and a term paper. (Shammas)
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434. Comparative Studies in Poetry. Junior standing. (3). (HU). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
Section 001 Sappho and the Lyric Tradition.
This course is part of the Fall Term, 1997 LS&A Theme Semester: Genders, Bodies, Borders. Sappho of Lesbos, the Greek archaic poet who wrote lyrics sometime around the seventh century B.C., has inspired writers throughout following centuries despite, and indeed because of, the fact that her work survives only in fragments. This course surveys some of the poets who have translated, imitated, and otherwise aligned themselves with Sappho in various languages and historical contexts. We will begin with a close study of Sappho's poetry, referring to the original Greek whenever possible, reading recent critical essays on Greek lyric, and comparing twentieth-century translations into English. Next we will consider several moments in the history of Sappho's reception: her reputation in antiquity, Sapphic imitations in the Renaissance and in Romanticism, the emergence of "Sapphism" in fin-de-siècle England and France, and the early modernist reconstruction of Sappho as fragment. Finally, we will consider Sappho's association with lesbian poetics in the work of contemporary poets such as Judy Grahn, Olga Broumas, Audre Lorde, and in The Lesbian Body by Monique Wittig. Throughout the term we will develop some theoretical questions about the function of "tradition," the definition of lyric poetry as a genre, the construction of female subjectivity, and the formulation of lesbian studies through the figure of Sappho. Requirements will include regular attendance and active participation in class discussion, three papers, and an oral presentation. The course will also offer an opportunity for creative response to Sappho, in the form of translating one of her poems and presenting a final project (in writing, performance, or any other medium) to the class at the end of the term. Students from other disciplines are welcome. Knowledge of a foreign language is helpful, but not required. (Prins)

Section 002. Lyric poetry has been around for over two and a half thousand years in the West, with comparable kinds of verse as old or older in other cultures. What is this kind of literature, what accounts for its astonishing tradition and intertextuality, and how do they work and change? What are some of lyric poetry's basic forms, fundamental elements, and recurrent themes? These questions will be explored in a seminar (discussion) format through analyses of poems in English, and in other languages with facing translations from ancient Greece to the present, from men and women (Sappho, Dickinson), from North Africa or Asia as well as Europe and North America. No previous study of poetry is presupposed, while previous coursework in literature is expected. Students will be evaluated through in-class tests, an oral presentation, and a term paper. Texts will include an anthology and a course pack. Cost:2 WL:2 (Bahti)
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490. Comparative Cultural Studies. Junior standing. (3). (Excl). May be repeated for a total of six credits.
Section 001 The Literature of Witness: From the 1914-18 War To AIDS.
The twentieth century has been an era of wars, genocides, economic and political upheavals and unspeakable events. We will look at the crop of witnessing writing this history of pain has produced, concentrating mainly on the 1914-18 war, the Holocaust and the AIDS epidemic. On the hypothesis that witnessing is about the obscene for which existing genres, media and discursive strategies do not have a place we will look at the way the attempt to give an account of obscene realities stretches the resources of genres like autobiography, poetry and narrative fiction and of wholly or partly nonverbal media like cartooning, film, video, and dance. This course will make serious demands on your time. There will be quite a lot of reading, and it will require a thoughtful and sensitive response. Please do not sign up unless you are willing to commit yourself to two hours of reading per day. Writing assignments will be of varying length (3-10 pages): you will be asked to write one analytical paper, in another you will have a chance to write personally if you wish. Midterm by meeting with instructor; no final. Cost:2 WL:2 (Chambers)
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495. Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature. Senior standing and concentration in Comp. Lit. (3). (Excl).

As the capstone course for undergraduate study in Comparative Literature, this seminar is designed to provide Senior concentrators with an opportunity to work collaboratively and intensively for a term in a series of discussions and workshops. Sessions will be arranged around a set of texts and topics drawn from recent debates that have informed the theory and practice of Comparative Literature. The course will culminate in a final paper, which in the case of some of the class will form the basis for an Honors Thesis, to be written in the second term continuation (Comparative Literature 496). Cost:2 WL:2 (Prins)
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496. Honors Thesis. Comp. Lit. 495 and Honors concentration in Comp. Lit. (3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

In the Honors Thesis course the Honors student typically develops the seminar work done in Comp. Lit. 495 (Senior Seminar) into a longer, more thorough study under the auspices of a faculty thesis director. Students who need help in arranging for a thesis director should contact the Comparative Literature office, 2015 Tisch, 763-2351.
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498. Directed Reading. Permission of instructor. (1-4). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

This course is intended for Comparative Literature concentrators. It offers a student the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member associated with Comparative Literature on a comparative topic chosen by the student in consultation with the professor. Together they will develop a reading list; establish goals, meeting times, and credit hours (within the range); and plan papers and projects which the student will execute with the tutorial assistance of the instructor. The student will be required to submit a written proposal of his or her course to the Program office. For further information, contact the Program in Comparative Literature, 2015 Tisch.
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