Comparative Literature Courses

UWM Schedule of Classes

Summer 2015

Complit 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: The Graphic Novel: An International Survey
Class Number: 47674, Lec201, ONLINE (Dragoslav Momcilovic)

In the last 30 years, the graphic novel became one of the most prominent and celebrated literary forms around the world. England and the United States continue to enchant audiences of all ages with increasingly sophisticated narratives about modern heroism and the moral gray zones that plague us all. But graphic artists from other parts of the world, including Iran and Israel, reinvent the genre with potent and often stinging chronicles of life in unimaginably difficult situations. Combining word and image, this new generation of masters introduces us to the wealth of possibilities that the graphic novel offers. Our readings will include Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight and Alan Moore’s The Watchmen, post-modern re-tellings of traditional superheroes’ narratives; graphic “memoirs” like Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust-themed Mausand Marjane Satrapi’s Iranian coming-of-age story Persepolis; and seminal texts of the history of the graphic novel – including Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis, a masterful 1940s prototype of modern Japanese manga. Students will also have the opportunity to take inspiration from these modern masters in their own graphic novel project, due at the end of the summer term. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Digital Arts and Culture.

Fall 2015

Complit 133: Contemporary Imagination in Literature & the Arts (3 cr; U; HU)

Class Number: 31744, Lec001, MW 11am-12:15pm (Dragoslav Momcilovic)
Class Number: 27860, Lec202, ONLINE (Dragoslav Momcilovic)

From Gothic terror to modern alienation, the artistic impulse and the human imagination have been prominent themes in literature and the visual and performing 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 from around the world. Our survey will include bewildering short stories by Franz Kafka; popular detective fictions from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; decadent poetry by Charles Baudelaire; various folk tales and oral epic songs from around the world; Mozart's enchanting opera The Magic Flute; Tchaikovsky’s timeless ballet Swan Lake; musical masterpieces from Beethoven to the Beatles; Fritz Lang’s sci-fi classic film Metropolis; Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso's revolutionary art; Madonna’s controversial concert performances; Marjane Satrapi’s contemplative graphic novel Chicken with Plums; and so much more. Satisfies GER (HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.

Complit 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century (3cr; U; HU)

Topic: Magical Realism and the Fantastic in Literature and Film
Class Number: 29547, Lec201, ONLINE (Kristin 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, & US Latin@ Studies. Online.

Complit 192: First-Year Seminar. (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: The Undead: Vampires, Zombies, & Mummies in Literature & the Arts Class
Class Number: 31748, Sem001, MW 12:30-1:45pm (Dragoslav 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 L&S International req.

Complit 207: World Literature in Translation: Antiquity Through the 1600s (3 cr; U; HU)

Class Number: 30615, Lec001, MW 12:30-1:45pm (Instructor TBA)

Literary analysis through a survey of world literature from antiquity through the 1600s. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S Int'l req. Affiliated with Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Cultures & Communities certificates.

Complit 230: Literature and Society (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Sublime Pursuits: Literary Inspiration and Intoxication
Class Number: 32171, Lec001, MW 2:00-3:15pm (Matthew Russell)

In “The Philosophy of Composition” (1846), Edgar Allen Poe remarked, “most writers – poets in especial – prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy – an ecstatic intuition – and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes.”  Poe’s debunking of creativity as an “ecstatic intuition” that ignites literary productivity must be understood within the context of a long history.  In the Greek and Biblical traditions, "inspiration" is understood as the possession of an individual voice by some transcendent authority, be that muses or gods: the work of the poet is merely an inscription of this sublime or divine breath.  Beginning with the Renaissance and the eighteenth century, however, the sources of creativity have moved continually inwards or "deeper," such that inspiration is evoked as a desired or deliberate suspension of rational thought.  Moving into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, inspiration and the insights associated with the artificial inducements of intoxication, be that through alcohol, drugs or other means, become more closely intertwined as divine or cosmic voices of authorities come under scrutiny by writers like Poe.  This course will survey a range of works, from Greek philosophy to Romantic poetry and present day music and film, in order to explore the evolution of these theories of inspiration and intoxication. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.

Complit 231: Literature and Religion (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Introduction to the New Testament
Class Number: 33615, Lec001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Demetrius Williams)

Who wrote the New Testament? How is it structured and when was it written? How has it been interpreted? The Introduction to the New Testament course is designed to answer these and other questions from a literary-historical perspective. For this reason, it will avoid confessional or doctrinal perspectives, focusing instead on issues of authorship, dating, theology, literary genre, and other special topics related to the scholarly or academic study of the New Testament.  While this course is designed to be a survey of the New Testament literature, there will be some engagement with literature outside of the canonical New Testament; but only as it relates to special issues and topics in New Testament interpretation. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Religious Studies.

Complit 232: Literature and Politics (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Resistance and Revolution
Class Number: 33616, Lec001, TR 11am-12:15pm (Instructor TBA)

Pending budgetary approval. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.

Complit 233: Literature and Film (3 cr; U; HU)

Topic: Violence and Film Noir
Class Number: 30618, Lec001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Instructor TBA)

Pending budgetary approval. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Film Studies and Digital Arts and Culture.

Complit 309: Great Works of Modern Literature. (3 cr; U/G; HU)

Topic: Existential Fiction
Class Number: 30889, Lec201, ONLINE (Dragoslav 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 tentatively 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, Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, 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 International req.

Complit 350: Topics in Comparative Literature (3 cr; U/G)

Topic: Narratives of War
Class Number: 31746, Lec001, MW 2-3:15pm (Instructor TBA)

Pending budgetary approval. Satisfies L&S International req.

Complit 360: Seminar in Literature and Cultural Experience. (3 cr; U/G)

Topic: Feminist Narratives from North Africa and the Middle East
Class Number: 31747, Sem001, TR 12:30-1:45pm (Dalia Gomaa)

This course focuses on narratives by and about feminist authors from the Middle East and North Africa. Our reading list includes critical and fictional texts from, but not limited to, Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, and Iran. In addition, we will also watch some movies and documentaries related to the subject of the course. Goals and Objectives: familiarizing students with different trends of feminism in the Middle East and North Africa; addressing and analyzing intersections of gender with religion, colonialism, sexuality, as well as political and economic ideologies; dismantling the stereotypical representations of women from that region as intrinsically oppressed; and guiding students to expand their critical perspectives and their analytical skills about the theme(s) of the course. Satisfies L&S International req. Affiliated with Middle Eastern & North African Studies and Women’s Studies.

Complit 457: Topics in French and Francophone Studies in Translation (3 cr; U/G)

Topic: Re-member-ing Women of Africa and the Caribbean
Class Number: 33609, Lec001, TR 2-3:15pm (Sarah Davies Cordova)

This course examines works that address the question of memory as a duty and a form of "home"work – un devoir de mémoire. We will explore the forms that memory can take and examine works that re-inscribe women within and beyond His-tory as witnesses, participants and agents. We will trace conceptions of the nature of engagement and corporeality in the context of human rights, and in the face of the violence of armed conflict as we explore the notion re-member-ing in novels, theater, film, music and dance. Our focus will be chiefly on authors and artists who have addressed the questions of the political and the personal, in the aftermath of genocide, familial violence and civil war in Africa and the Caribbean. (Taught in English with French option for written work). Jointly offered with FRENCH 457. Affiliated with Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latin@ Studies and Latin American & Caribbean Studies.

Complit 820: Translation Theory (3 cr; G)

Class Number: 32267, Lec 201 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.