Courses in Comparative Literature (Division 354)

240. Introduction to Comparative Literature. (3). (HU).

What sort of "poetry" is the verse in greeting-cards? Why is a poem like a proverb? (a riddle? a joke? advertising copy?) Is oral storytelling "literature"? Do people who read the Bible "as literature" really read the Bible? What exactly is "fiction" and what sort of "truth" (or "truths") does it convey? What does literary narrative have in common with film? the opera? ballet? Why do we read literature from remote cultures (which may not themselves recognize the concept of "literature")? As an introduction to Comparative Literature, this course asks the question: "What is literature?" Is it a specific category of discourse that can be isolated and defined in formal (or other) terms? Or is it an institution that needs to be accounted for in purely social terms? Is it perhaps both? or neither? Many more questions will be raised than will be answered. Classwork will consist of two discussion hours and one lecture hour per week. There will be regular weekly readings, and three short writing assignments over the term (one of which will be "creative," and another comparative). No exams; grades will be based on written work and classroom participation. Texts: J. Cortazar, Blow Up and Other Stories (Pantheon); The Four Gospels, transl. R. Lattimore (Washington Square); L. Pirandello, Naked Masks; P. Roe, Gularabulu (Fremantle Arts Centre Press); Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle, transl. R. Fitzgerald (Harcourt Brace); and a Coursepack of readings. (Chambers)

241. Topics in Comparative Literature. (3). (HU).

FOUR INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES. This course will compare and contrast the presentation in four different disciplines (political science, philosophy, theology, and psychology) and three literary genres (drama, novel, and short story) of several ideas that have fundamentally redefined Western man's concept of himself in the last 100 years. These ideas center upon the rise of the totalitarian state, the emergence of "psychological man," and the destruction of the concept of God as well as all absolute value systems. How do the styles of each discipline and genre differ according to the writer's aim and intended effect upon the reader? Can we isolate and describe the particular techniques (discursive and metaphoric) used, respectively, by the political scientist, philosopher, theologian, and psychologist to explain and convince? In particular, how does literature as a genre differ from the four other disciplines in its function as a "living laboratory" for the exploration of and experimentation with new visions of the self and society? I. Literature and Political Science: Communism in the Drama. The ethics and psychology of Communist revolution and terrorism. Texts by Marx, Lenin, Brecht, Sartre. II. Literature and Philosophy: Existentialism in the Novel. Nihilism and the concomitant destruction of Christian morality and the Western concept of the self. Texts by Nietzsche, Camus. III. Literature and Theology: The Irrational in the Novel. Man's religious, mystical impulse in conflict with the logic of science and the demands of rational self-interest. Texts by Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky. IV. Literature and Psychology: Psychoanalysis in the Short Story. Theories of psychosexual development and the father-son conflict. Texts by Freud, Kafka. Midterm and final exams. (Peters)

498. Directed Reading. Permission of instructor. (1-4). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

This course offers a student the opportunity to work closely with an Associate Faculty member of 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, 411 Mason Hall.


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