Courses in Comparative Literature (DIVISION 354)

241. Topics in Comparative Literature. Comp. Lit. 240 recommended. (3). (HU).

METAMORPHOSES, OR COMPARATIVE LITERATURE AS LITERARY TRANSFORMATION. Literature transforms things, experiences, and desires into words. At an extreme, it transforms other arts, and our languages themselves. This course will study these METAMORPHOSES OR TRANSFORMATIONS as they work upon themselves and come to form what we recognize as literary and cultural traditions. Three series of critical analyses of pieces of literature about transformations; of literature which transforms visual art objects into words; and of films transforming literature and painting will introduce students to COMPARATIVE LITERATURE as both a characterization of literature (it always compares itself with what it transforms) and a way of studying it. Readings will be drawn from a COURSE PACK of verse and prose by Homer, Sappho, Vergil, Ovid, Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Kleist, Keats, Rilke, W. H. Auden, W. C. Williams, Wallace Stevens, Francis Ponge, and others, and from PAPERBACK EDITIONS of Flaubert's A SIMPLE HEART and Kafka's THE METAMORPHOSIS. We will also study slides of sculpture and painting, and two films by Werner Herzog and Peter Handke. Three sessions per week: one lecture and two discussion periods (attendance and participation required). Four short papers; no midterm or final. [Cost:2, including lab fee] [WL:1] (Bahti)

422. Literature and the Other Arts. Junior or senior standing. (3). (Excl). May be elected for a total of 9 credits.

The course is designed to offer students an insight into the complex and often invisible links between aesthetics and ideology, through a selective study of the literary and artistic production in Europe between the two world wars (1918-1939) We will focus in particular on the ideological underpinnings of modernist movements, and their explicit or implicit relation to contemporary politics, taking as examples Dada and surrealism, German culture during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, and the College of Sociology (Bataille, Leiris, Caillois). By providing a basic knowledge of theories of ideology (Marx, Lukács, Althusser, Benjamin, Adorno, Raymond Williams, Eagleton, Jameson), as well as methods of sociological and literary analysis, the course will invite students to explore specific problems related to the topic: e.g., the function of new genres such as the literary manifesto, Dada performance, poster-art; the use of art for propaganda or subversion; the improbable alliance between surrealism and communism; the relation between German film production and Nazi ideology. We will finally attempt to question the political conditions of artistic production at the time. How do art and politics influence and contaminate each other? To what extent is power an aesthetic phenomenon? What is the relation between eroticism, death, and fascism? How can we assess the impact of political forces on our very way of interpreting artforms and texts? The materials will be presented through lectures and discussion sessions. Evaluation will be based on active participation in discussion and research, 2 short in-class reports, and a term-project/essay (25 pp.) No prerequisites. Students from all disciplines are welcome. [Cost:2] [WL:1] (Clej)

430. Comparative Studies in Fiction. Upperclass standing. (3). (Excl).

WORLD FICTION THE SEEING AND THE SEEN. There are three aims of this course. The first is to acquaint undergraduates with some of the key figures and works from outside the traditions of Europe and the United States. The second is to do so without segregating this writing, treating it as if it were somehow different and apart from a Western norm. The third is to place the problems of cultural assumptions and misgivings in the form of a direct dialogue. The course is designed in a series of pairings in which a work of (usually) canonical Western fiction about a visited, colonized, or temporarily inhabited foreign culture is joined by a work of fiction from that culture's own people in which the West is seen as other. For example, E. M. Forster's A PASSAGE TO INDIA with G. V. Desani's ALL ABOUT H. HATTERR; Joan Didion's SALVADOR with Manlio Argueta's ONE DAY OF LIFE; Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS with Sembene Ousmane's GOD'S BITS OF WOOD; Jane Bowles' PLAIN PLEASURES with Tayeb Salih's SEASON OF MIGRATION TO THE NORTH; and so on. There are no prerequisites, although as always, the more you know the better. Students will be asked to write two ten-page papers, give one in-class presentation, and take a final one-hour essay exam. The course will combine lectures with in-class discussion. [Cost:2] [WL:1] (Brennan)

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. [Cost:1] [WL:3, Independent study; permission of instructor required; Department office can issue override.]

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, 411 Mason Hall. [Cost:1] [WL:3, Independent Study; permission of instructor required.]


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