Comparative Literature Courses
CompLit 133 - Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts, 3cr (U)
Class Number: 52778, Lec 001, MW 11:00am-12:15pm (Momcilov)
Class Number: 44928, Lec 202, Online (Momcilov)
From Gothic terror to modern alienation, the human imagination has been a prominent theme in literature and the visual arts for the last 200 years. This course, which is taught in online and face-to-face sections, is an introductory survey of some of the most gripping, imaginative narratives, images, and performances around the world. Our survey will include Mary Shelley's famous creation narrative Frankenstein, Fritz Lang’s sci-fi classic film Metropolis, Franz Kafka's bewildering tale of transformation "The Metamorphosis," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's enchanting opera The Magic Flute, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso's revolutionary art, Madonna’s controversial stage antics of The Girlie Show Tour, Marjane Satrapi’s landmark graphic novel Persepolis, and Igor Stravinsky's controversial ballet The Rite of Spring. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S Int’l req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.
CompLit 135 - Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century, 3cr (U)
Topic: Magical Realism and the Fantastic in Literature and Film
Class Number: 48147, Lec 201, Online (Pitt)
Through this course, we will examine notions of reality and its artistic representation, asking what the role of the apparently magical is within our apprehensions of literary and cinematic reality. Is it possible that creative fiction must rely upon the magical in order to present “the real” or “the truth”? What are the possible artistic advantages of magical or fantastical representation, and what are the possible sociopolitical implications of these literary modes? Many of our readings will be examples of what has come to be termed “magical realism,” literature that does not quite fit traditional definitions of either realism or fantasy. Although many of the texts we read will come from the Spanish American tradition with which magical realism is perhaps most often associated, we will also explore other examples of magical realism and fantastical fiction, allowing us to develop a broader sense of the philosophical, political, ideological, and literary implications of the texts. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Digital Arts & Culture; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; and Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latino Studies. Online.
CompLit 192 - First-Year Seminar, 3cr (U)
Topic: The Undead
Class Number: 52784, Sem 001, TR 11:00am–12:15pm (Momcilovic)
From Egyptian mummies to Eastern European vampires and Haitian zombies, the “undead” have cast their shadows over the literary imagination for centuries, from classical antiquity to post-modern reality. As they continue to surge in popularity, now more than ever, we must ask: why do the “undead” continue to haunt us? And why do we love being haunted by them? This first-year seminar explores the wealth of literature and art that has been overtaken by menacing figures caught between life and death. Our exploration will focus on four archetypal figures of the “undead” – the vampire, the re-animated corpse, the ghost, and the mummy – and students will be given the opportunity to engage in a final research project about an “undead” figure of their choice. Our texts will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, various Japanese and Chinese ghost stories; zombie tales and “accounts” by Zora Neale Hurston and August Derleth; stories of the macabre by Edgar Allen Poe, Rabindranath Tagore, Alexander Pushkin, and Naguib Mahfouz; vampire poetry by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Charles Baudelaire; paintings by Francisco Goya and Remedios Varo; classical music by Franz Liszt; and films like Let the Right One In, Nosferatu, The Others, Night of the Living Dead, and Cronos. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S Int’l req.
CompLit 207 - World Literature in Translation: Antiquity through the 1600s, 3cr (U)
Topic: Monstrousness and Humanity in Ancient Literature
Class Number: 50718, Lec 201 Online (Russell)
This course is designed to give students an introduction to works of literature from various non-Western and Western literary traditions in the ancient, medieval, and early modern periods. This semester, we will examine how and why the human imagination conceives of the non-human, such as monsters, gods, or figures in the afterlife. We will explore how each text seems to define the monster, how that definition seems to affect the understanding of the human, how important monsters are to the narrative, to civilization and individual psychology. Texts will include the Epic of Gilgamesh, Homer's The Odyssey, Ovid's Metamorphoses, tales from A Thousand and One Nights, the medieval epic Beowulf and Dante's Inferno. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs. Online. Affiliated with Ancient Mediterranean Cultures; Cultures & Communities; and Great Books.
CompLit 208 - World Literature in Translation: The 17th to the 21st Centuries, 3cr (U)
Class Number: 50720, Lec 001, MW 11:00am-12:15pm (Seymour-Jorn)
In this course we will explore a wide range of literary genres from various locations across the globe, over a four-century period. Genres considered include the novel, drama, poetry, short story, novellas, manifestos and essays. We will explore how these various genres have been used to explore the relationship between self and society, the nature of government and power more generally, the relationship between the genders, and the colonial and post-colonial experiences. Objectives of the course include gaining general knowledge of world literature in its historical context, exploring different critical approaches to literature, and applying new critical skills through class discussion and written assignments. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities and Great Books.
CompLit 230 - Literature and Society, 3cr (U)
Topic: Representing Nature
Class Number: 53289, Lec 001, MW 12:30-1:45pm (Pitt)
What do we mean when we say "nature," "the environment," or "wilderness"? What values and assumptions do we attach to these terms? What values and assumptions have other people, in other cultures and other eras, attached? This course will explore literary and artistic representations of nature and the environment from several Western and non-Western cultures, investigating a range of creative ways in which societies have imagined human-nonhuman relationships. How do these works reveal environmental values? How do they perceive humanity's relationship to nature? Is humanity apart from nature, or a part of it? How do these cultural and artistic perceptions shape both sustainable and unsustainable environmental practices? Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs.
CompLit 233 - Literature and Film, 3cr (U)
Topic: Body and Desire from Hollywood to Bollywood
Class Number: 50722, Lec 001, TR 2:00-3:15pm (Xu)
The human body, by dint of its placement in culture and history, is laden with meaning. Its movement in space, posture, stylization, affect and sensation, cannot but signify. But besides this semiotic inevitability, the body also lives a life in materiality. This material body, though unsymbolizable, is intensely explored in cinema, by way of crises that endanger its being, producing narrative tension and visual fascination. This being body in crisis reveals a complex of desire, desire both as a sociohistorical imprint that structures the body’s meaning and as a material transgression against that meaning. Through a group of films produced in different parts of the world, this class will study how the human body in cinema is often straddled between meaning and being, performing the paradoxical function of creating an otherness within the symbolic. We’ll examine how films from different cultures stage unusual situations to call forth the material body, and what critical agency such a body often brings forth. We’ll observe how such psychosomatic practices as religion (eastern), martial arts, music and dance, occult rituals, dragging, psychiatric therapy, scientific experiments, etc., mold, affect, or produce the body’s meaning and desire, and how film diegesis mediates that meaning and desire through its own cultural codes. The objective of our study is to discover how this unique cinematic body opens up dimensions of truth we do not normally see, truth that undermines the entrenched norms of society by overstepping many boundaries, from those of race, class, gender, sex, to what it means to be human. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.
CompLit 233 - Literature and Film, 3cr (U)
Topic: Post-Apocalyptic Literature and Film
Class Number: 52781, Lec 002, MW 2:00-3:15 (Paik)
Recent years have seen a surge of interest in narratives dealing with the end of the world and the aftermath of the collapse of civilization. In this class we will study books and films that portray life after an apocalyptic calamity has transformed the world beyond recognition. We will watch films such as 28 Days Later and Children of Men, read novels such as In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster, which portrays a ruined and destitute New York, The Witch of Hebron by James Howard Kunstler, which is set in a world that has run out of oil, the graphic novel V for Vendetta by Alan Moore, in which Britain is ruled by fascists, and The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq, which imagines the far future where technology offers a strange and inhuman salvation from economic conflict and climate catastrophe. What do such works tell us about our present social and economic dilemmas? What kind of influence does the fear of the end have on our culture in the present? What kind of larger patterns might our current anxieties be forming? Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int’l reqs. Affiliated with Digital Arts & Culture and Film Studies.
CompLit 309 - Great Works of Modern Literature, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: Existential Fiction
Class Number: 51383, Lec 201, Online (Momcilovic)
This course explores the rise of existentialist philosophy and theories of the absurd in some of the most provocative novels, plays and short stories from around the world. Our survey features work by writers who are preoccupied with the meaninglessness of existence and the responsibilities that consequently fall onto our shoulders in the wake of that proposition. We will also consider the stylistic and narrative strategies by which these writers represent the most familiar and troubling aspects of existentialist crisis - like despair, boredom, angst, sleeplessness, and alienation from modern life - and the ways these ideas often develop in response to personal and historical traumas. Literary texts include No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai, “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy, “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and The Plague and The Stranger by Albert Camus, as well as the plays Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco, No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre, and Death & the Maiden by Ariel Dorfman. We will supplement our discussions with selections from philosophical works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Blaise Pascal, Miguel de Unamuno, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S Int’l req. Online.
CompLit 350 - Topics in Comparative Literature, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: Love and Passion in the European Novel
Class Number: 52782, Lec 001, MW 11:00am-12:15pm (Paik)
In this class we will read narratives by major European authors of the 19th and early 20th centuries dealing with love and desire, and passion and prohibition. How are we educated about the nature of society and the character of other individuals by the desire for love? What does passion reveal about social conventions, moral taboos, and the class divide? The course will focus on the role of desire and ambition in the formation of the modern European subject, examining such conflicts as those between the moral law and the romantic desire, Christianity and secularism, the aristocracy and the middle class, and social convention and individual authenticity. The question of what constitutes realism in literature will also be a major concern of class discussion. The readings for the class may include: Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen, Elective Affinities (1809) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Red and the Black (1830) by Stendhal, Sentimental Education (1869) by Gustave Flaubert, The Kreutzer Sonata (1889) by Leo Tolstoy, and Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman (1927) by Stefan Zweig. Satisfies L&S Int’l req.
CompLit 360 - Seminar in Literature & Cultural Experience, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: Early Christian Literature
Class Number: 52783 Sem 001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Williams)
What did the faithful of the early Church believe? How did they address the questions of politics, society, gender, and history? Why were women able to attain leadership roles in some Christian groups and not in others? Why were some Christian groups labeled “heretical” and others “orthodox”? Why has the literature, beliefs and doctrines of ‘heretical” groups been kept hidden from general readers? Why are there so many different Christian groups and divisions among them? This course is designed to address the questions above and others by critically exploring the diverse literature of early Christianity from the second through the fourth centuries of the Common Era (100s – 300s C.E.). While no prior knowledge of the literature is required, a close reading and serious engagement of the literature is expected. The purpose of this course is two-fold: (1) to introduce students to a broad array and of examples of early Christian literature outside of the New Testament canon; and 2) to critically examine and explore the variety of early “Christianities” and other related social and religious issues that are reflected in these writings. Satisfied L&S Int’l req. Affiliated with Religious Studies.
CompLit 362 - Transnational Asian Cinema, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: New Chinese Cinemas
Class Number: 48194, Lec 001, TR 11:00am-12:15pm (Xu)
In the past three decades, a great number of high-quality films emerged in Chinese language cinemas. These films overturned many conventions in their effort to produce new artistic expressions germane to the temporal and spatial experience of rapid changes on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. As economic developments transform social structures as well as the normative codes by which social relations are regulated, the Chinese-speaking communities are re-imagining their world and history through cinema, altering cultural parameters, forming new identities and selfhood, and rebuilding a symbolic universe in which tradition and modernity interface. By studying a series of contemporary classics such as Yellow Earth, Horse Thief, The Puppet Master, and Chungking Express as well as new works made in the 21st century, the course will explore the formation of three distinct film cultures in their respective “new waves” and the secrets of their “glocal” strategies of belonging in world cinema. The course is designed also to be a window to many of the pressing issues about history, memory, and representation emergent in the region’s postcolonial and postsocialist modernizations, since these issues, without exaggeration, are both producing and produced by its films. Satisfied L&S Int’l req.
CompLit 820 - Translation Theory, 3cr (G)
Class Number: 53415, Lec 201, Online
Class Number: 53416, Lec 202, Online
This course offers a survey of translation theory from historical to contemporary thinkers. Students read statements about the role of translation in the development of languages, cultures and societies. Of central concern are the processes of translation, and the roles of the translator and the place(s) of the text in translation. Students compare various translations of certain works to analyze the cultural and ideological forces shaping the translations. Finally, through the process of writing a research paper, students hone their abilities to engage in theoretical thought about translation. The course is conducted in English and considers all language pair possibilities within the theories studied. Course Objectives: learn the fundamental concepts and contexts of translation theory; critically evaluate the theories and their theoretical contexts both synchronically and diachronically; summarize and synthesize theoretical perspectives; learn to analyze translations from a theoretically informed position; gain facility in formal analytical writing through both theoretically-informed research essays and critical reviews of primary and secondary texts on translation theory. Jointly offered with TRNSLTN 820. Online. Grad st req.