Comparative Literature Courses
Summer 2013 Course
CompLit 135: Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century. HU, 3cr
Lec 251, Course 25001, online, 8-Week Session: June 24—August 17(Momcilovic)
Topic: “The Undead” in Literature & Media
This online, 8-week summer course examines various figures of the "undead", those menacing figures caught between life and death, that haunt and terrify their way into our lives and memory. We will look at famous ghost, vampire, zombie and mummy stories from around the world and trace their deeper cultural, religious, philosophical and technological significance. Our reading list includes Shelley's Frankenstein; Chinese and Japanese ghost stories; strange tales by Poe and Mahfouz; canonical vampire literature by Le Fanu and Polidori; poetry by Baudelaire, Goethe, and Borges; selections from the Bible and Virgil's Aeneid; and films like Night of the Living Dead, Nosferatu, Cronos, and The Others. Open to freshmen. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.
Fall 2013 Courses
CompLit 133 - Contemporary Imagination in Literature and the Arts (Momcilovic)
Lec 001, Course 36024, 11:00-11:50AM, MWF
Lec 202, Class 36025, Online
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 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, Franz Kafka's bewildering tale of transformation "The Metamorphosis," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoir Persepolis, and Igor Stravinsky's controversial ballet and orchestral piece The Rite of Spring. Open to freshmen. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.
CompLit 135 - Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century: Magical Realism and the Fantastic in Literature and Film (Pitt)
Lec 202, Course 39758, Online
What is magic, what is fantasy, what is real, and how do we represent these things in literature and film? 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. Fully online. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; and Latin American, Caribbean, & U.S. Latino Studies.
CompLit 192: First-Year Seminar
Sem 001, 12:30-1:45PM, TR
Topic: The Bible, The Blues and The Black Experience
While this course recognizes the Bible as a culturally specific text, the Bible has been significantly appropriated and used as an important tool of liberation in the experience of people of African descent in North America. Although the Bible was used as a tool of oppression during the slave and Jim Crow eras, African Americans found the Bible to be a source of comfort and inspiration, with its themes of love and liberation from slavery, triumph in the face of daunting challenge, “wandering in the wilderness,” freedom, family, and foundational faith. This course will explore the Bible from the African American perspective and will include a range of topics from spirituals and the Blues, to autobiographies, literature, and Gospel music. It will also explore the potential and actual limitations of the Bible’s influence in African American culture and how some later political/religious movements sought to abandon it (and Christianity) altogether. In addition, this course will: 1) introduce students to the art of reading and analyzing religious and non-religious texts; 2) college level analytical reading and writing skills; 3) oral presentation skills; and 4) library and appropriate internet research skills. No prior knowledge of the Bible or African-American literature and culture are required.
CompLit 207 - World Literature in Translation: Antiquity through the 1600s
Lec 001, Course 42937, 2:00-3:15PM, TR
Topic: Love, War, and Honor (Russell)
Global in their vast scope and power, the forces of love, war and honor and the their frequent appearances will form the basis for our survey of ancient to early modern literature. From the epic clashes in the Iliad to the battles in The Song of Roland, war is more than a call to arms; it is also a staging of conflict and complex examination of national, religious, and heroic identities. A similar texture exists for works on love, from Sappho’s lyrical poetry as a negotiation of female identity and community to Petrarch's lament for lost love as a deeply critical self-examination and questioning of the writer's craft. Bringing together these two broad concepts, the values and clashing definitions of honor will act as the stakes and wages for these encounters. This class will take a broad look at diverse genres, historical times, and cultural settings to gain an appreciation for the many different expressions of love, war, and honor in ancient and early modern literature. We will engage in classroom discussions to work through our ideas before writing several analytical and comparative essays to demonstrate our critical reflection on the ideas from this class. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Cultures & Communities.
CompLit 208 - World Literature in Translation (17th-21st Century)
Lec 001, Course 42939, 12:30-1:45PM, MW
Topic: The Power of Blood (Momcilovic)
Violence takes many different forms - some catastrophic and large-scale, others insidiously subtle and painfully private.Yet many writers since the 1600s have taken great pains, sometimes literally, to reflect upon the agonies and limit experiences that four centuries of modernization has wrought on the human race.This course, subtitled "The Power of Blood", traces the themes of collective violence, natural disaster, warfare, self-induced suffering, and family trauma in modern world literature.How does one represent the traumas of modern living?To what degree does language and art perpetrate or ameliorate various forms of violence?And what do we learn about ourselves in the process of writing histories of pain and suffering?We will explore these questions through the work of modern masters like William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, and the Marquis de Sade. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.
CompLit 232 - Literature and Politics
Lec 001, Course 42940, 11:00AM-12:15PM, MW
Topic: Women and War in Latin America and the Caribbean (Pitt)
How do women affect armed conflict? How do armed conflicts affect women? This class will examine literary and artistic representations of the complex relationships between women and war, exploring portrayals of women as combatants, caregivers, protesters, victims, and in many other roles in wars, armed conflicts, revolutions, and resistance movements. Because the history of women’s involvement in war and the history of literature about this involvement is quite long and we must limit ourselves, this class will focus on women and wars during the last century in Latin America and the Caribbean. The history of recent Latin American wars, and of women’s involvement in them, is immensely diverse and complex, and many of these conflicts are directly or indirectly related to United States history as well. Latin American and Caribbean women’s writing and filmmaking of the past century has also been quite artistically and politically innovative and provocative; works we will examine include novels, plays, essays, testimonios, films, and music. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities; Global Studies (Security); International Studies; Latin American & Caribbean Studies; Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies; Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution; and Women’s Studies.
CompLit 233 - Literature and Film
Lec 001, Course 42941, 2:00PM-3:15PM, TR
Topic: Body and Desire from Hollywood to Bollywood (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 International req.
CompLit 309 - Love and Death in the European Novel
Lec 002, Course 43826, 12:30-1:45PM, TR
Topic: The Holocaust in European Literature (Momcliovic)
This course examines the wealth of literature and films emerging in the wake of one of the greatest historical catastrophes and moral failings of the 20th century - the European Holocaust.We will carefully consider the experiences of many different kinds of victims, bystanders, and perpetrators that emerge in canonical and newly emerging texts about the Holocaust and its cultural legacies. Our texts will tentatively include Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz, Kapo by Aleksandar Tisma, Time's Arrow by Martin Amis, Auschwitz and After by Charlotte Delbo, and The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald.We will also look at essays and shorter literary works by Paul Celan, Tadeusz Borowski, and Theodor Adorno, and watch the films Life is Beautiful, The Night Porter, Bent, and The Pianist. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.
CompLit /Italian 333 - Dante’s Divine Comedy in Translation (Bolduc)
Lec 001, Course 43029, 2:00-3:15PM, TR
This course will provide a close examination of the three canticles of Dante’s Divine Comedy, tracing the voyage of the pilgrim from Hell, Purgatory, and finally to Heaven. It will be complemented by an exploration of visual resonances of the Divine Comedy in manuscript painting, frescoes, and film. Affiliated with Religious Studies.
CompLit 362 - Transnational Asian Cinema
Lec 001, Course 39848, 11:00-12:15PM, TR
Topic: New Chinese Cinemas (Xu)
In the past three decades, a great number of high-quality films emerged in the Chinese language cinemas. These films broke the conventional film codes in their effort to produce new paradigms of artistic expression germane to the temporal and spatial experience of rapid changes on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. As economic developments transform both social structures and the normative codes by which social relations are formed and regulated, the Chinese-speaking communities are re-imagining their world and history through cinema, altering cultural parameters and patterns of imagery, forming new identities and selfhood, and opening up a new symbolic universe in which tradition and modernity interface. Based on analytical studies of selected films, the course will explore the formation of three distinct film cultures in their respective “new waves” and the secrets of their singular belonging in our increasingly globalized world. The course is designed to be a window to many of the pressing issues about history, memory, and cultural representations emergent in the region’s postcolonial and postsocialist modernizations, since these issues, without exaggeration, are both producing and produced by its films. Satisfies L&S International req. Affiliated with Asian Studies.
CompLit 707 - Seminar in Methods of Literary Analysis: Stylistics
Sem 001, Course 43362, 4:30-7:10PM, W
Topic: Stylistics (Wright)
This seminar offers an introduction to stylistics – the study of style – for translators, creative writers and students of literature in English and other languages. Students will become familiar with stylistic features such as metaphor, repetition, iconicity, and ambiguity and with concepts such as defamiliarization and foregrounding. They will learn to develop their close reading skills, to consider the effects of stylistic features on the reader, and then to apply this heightened awareness to their own literary analysis, translation practice and/or creative writing. The course will also look at the development of stylistics as an academic discipline and consider how it can be integrated with political modes of reading texts. All readings for this course will be in English. No knowledge of a language other than English is required. Prereq: Grad st. Cross-listed with MALLT 707.
CompLit 820 - Translation Theory (Wright)
Lec 201, Course 43363, ONLINE
This course will survey the various theories and pronouncements that surround the practice of translation. We will consider statements on translation made by historical figures (e.g. Cicero, Dryden, Schleiermacher), look at the issues surrounding the translation of certain text types (e.g. sacred texts, poetry), and take in the emergence of Translation Studies as an academic discipline in the 1970s, investigating the contributions made to the discipline by the fields of linguistics, literary and cultural studies, and by branches of critical theory such as feminist and post-colonial thought. The course offers an opportunity to engage with a wide variety of thinkers from different eras, cultures and languages. All readings for this course will be in English. No background in “hands-on” translation or in translation theory is required. No knowledge of a language other than English is required. Prereq: Graduate st. Cross-listed with TRNSLTN 820.