Comparative Literature Courses
Spring 2014: Five Week III Session (April 7 - May 8, 2014)
Comparative Literature 233: Literature & Film, 3cr (U)
Topic: Monstrous Figures on Page and Screen
Lec 201, Course 34168, Online (Momcilovic)
Supernatural beasts, mythical giants, Blobs and Things, human-animal hybrids, blood-sucking devils, flesh-eating cannibals, serial killers with no moral compass - all these "monstrous" figures have been at the center of literary and cinematic explorations of the abject "other": the horrific antithesis of the rational, beautiful, cultured, civilized human we aspire to be. But what makes monster tales so appealing and enduring? Why are we, as a human race, so entertained by so many variations on this theme? This special-session online course examines the history and cultural specificity of these monster tales, originating in the classical and medieval worlds and taking on strange permutations in the modern era. We will explore the philosophical, theological, cultural, social and political roles monsters and monster tales play in our own lives - how they allow us to cope with fears of death and chaos, how they shape our narratives of the past and present, and how they influence the way we see ourselves and our relationship to the natural world. Literary texts will include Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, world fables and fairy tales about witches and werewolves, Beowulf, and shorter selections from the works of Homer, Hesiod, Aesop, Marie de France, Marquis de Sade, Franz Kafka, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. We will also watch a selection of "classic" monster films, including Pan's Labyrinth, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Blade Runner, and Gojira, the original Japanese-language version of Godzilla. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International Requirement. Affiliated with Film Studies and the Digital Arts & Culture certificate.
Spring 2014 Courses
CompLit 133 - Contemporary Imagination in Literature and the Arts, 3cr (U)
Lec 001, Course 18663, 11:00-12:15PM, MW (Momcilovic)
Lec 202, Course 20693, Online (Momcilovic)
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, Franz Kafka's bewildering tale of transformation "The Metamorphosis," Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso's revolutionary art, and Igor Stravinsky's controversial ballet and orchestral piece The Rite of Spring. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.
CompLit 135 - Experiencing Literature in the 21st Century, 3cr (U)
Topic: Youth Culture in the Middle East
Lec 001, Course 20692, 12:30-1:45PM, TR (Gomaa)
This course is an overview of contemporary narratives emerging from the Arab region in the 21st century. We will explore some of the pressing issues in the region, such as political unrest, the war on terror, and women's status. We will discuss and analyze novels, short stories and blogs, as well as some movies and documentaries in order to examine the multiple facets of the Arabic culture. All the narratives are in English and no prior knowledge of Arabic is required. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities.
CompLit 208 - World Literature in Translation: The 17th to the 21st Century, 3cr (U)
Topic: Global Encounters: Cultural Contact and Exchange
Lec 201, Course 18664, Online (Pitt)
In this age of globalization, we recognize that we are increasingly interconnected with societies and peoples around the globe. But what constitutes such connections? What are the possibilities, the difficulties, and the conflicts associated with cross-cultural contact and exchange? This course will survey literary forms from the 17th to the 21st centuries and from a wide range of global perspectives. Texts will include novels, poems, plays, essays and films that portray the negotiations, understandings, and misunderstandings of “contact zones” and other sites of cultural exchange. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Cultures & Communities and Great Books.
CompLit 230 - Literature and Society, 3cr (U)
Topic: The East European Novel: The ‘Other’ Europe
Lec 201, Course 33438, Online (Momcilovic)
Far more than a mere geographic designation, "Eastern Europe" has been portrayed as the antithesis of the "West" and its celebrated values and institutions - capitalist enterprise, optimism and rationality, democratic idealism, humanism, and due process. What happens to these values in the "other Europe," where communist regimes have risen and fallen, where individuals and communities have tolerated and even resisted various forms of political repression and cultural marginalization, where civil war suddenly collapses nations and where genocide from decades past still continue to haunt the landscape? This online course addresses these issues with a survey of the most bewildering, entertaining, and even frightening fictional representations of the "other Europe" - including Bram Stoker's Gothic masterpiece Dracula, Franz Kafka's parable of modern alienation The Metamorphosis, Mikhail Bulgakov's sci-fi allegory Heart of a Dog, Orhan Pamuk's Ottoman mystery My Name is Red, Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Dubravka Ugresic's Baba Yaga Laid an Egg, a clever multi-genre reworking of the Slavic folk tale "Baba Yaga," the famous cannibal witch. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.
CompLit 231 - Literature and Religion, 3cr (U)
Topic: Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Jewish Lit
Lec 001, Course 33439, 9:30AM-10:45AM, TR (Williams)
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea has been hailed as arguably the greatest find of ancient manuscripts of the 20th century. This fortuitous discovery of ancient Jewish texts has transformed the scholarly understanding of the Hebrew Bible (O.T.), early Post-Biblical (Second Temple) Judaism and Christian origins. Yet the discovery has also triggered many controversies, not the least of which involves the relationship of the scrolls and the community that produced, preserved and perpetuated them to early Christian origins. These and other issues will be addressed in this course. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Religious Studies.
CompLit 233 - Literature and Film, 3cr (U)
Topic: The Gangster Film in the East and West
Lec 002, Course 21687, 2:00PM-3:15PM, TR (Xu)
This class will study the gangster film as a genre originating in America and how after traveling to other parts of the world, especially Asia, it undergoes interesting changes while retaining important generic features. Although as in other continents the genre has been frequently bent, hybridized, or parodied to fit the cultural needs of the local, its transplant has also made it truly global. By comparing Asian gangsters with their Western counterparts in theme, style, visual content, and social function, we want to find out what common qualities bind them. A good knowledge of how this popular cultural form travels and finds home in the East may lead to a deepened understanding about the processes of global modernity that has been inexorably transforming the spatial and temporal structures of our lives. Our objectives are to learn to analyze film texts from different parts of the world with a comparative approach, and to learn to construct interpretive arguments that are clear, coherent, persuasive, and well organized. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req. Affiliated with Film Studies.
CompLit 309 - Great Works of Modern Literature, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: The Truth of Others
Lec 001, Course 22290, 11:00-12:15PM, TR (Xu)
In this class we are going to study an experience of modern literature that is often mediated by a narrative encounter with otherness. This otherness can be cultural, social (e.g. class), racial/ethnic, religious, or sexual. We will focus on a range of influential works from different parts of the world and examine how in these works the encounter with otherness unsettles our normal ways of looking at the world, bringing to crisis our value systems, moral compasses, cultural identities, and sense of a stable and coherent self always in control... Central to our study are various textual formations that condition our experience of the encounter and produce an array of literary subjectivities answering to the truth of others. We will examine how modernist, postcolonial, and postmodern texts (including their many variations) posit different epistemological relations to this truth and in what sense our experience of otherness through literature can be one of authenticity. The goal of the course is to enable students to experience the transformative power of literature and to equip them with interpretive tools to make sense of a number of influential works produced in diverse cultures under different social conditions so that they can discuss and critique them comparatively and in a theoretically informed way. Satisfies GER(HU) and L&S International req.
CompLit 360 - Seminar in Literature and Cultural Experience, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: Paul the Apostle
Sem 001, Course 32735, 12:30-1:45PM, TR (Williams)
One of today’s leading New Testament scholars, N. T. Wright, states in his book of recent vintage: “The letters of the Apostle Paul changed the world like no others before or since, and they continue to strike us afresh with their panoramic vision of human history and destiny.” Some might agree and others might disagree with Wright’s statement, but it is undeniable that the life and literary legacy of the Apostle Paul has exerted profound influence upon the course of Western civilization. This course will explore the importance of the history of interpretation of Paul, such as feminist, liberationist, postmodern and postcolonial perspectives. Such an approach to the examination of Paul’s writings and the history of their interpretation will equip students to engage and assess the Pauline traditions and their varied interpretations intelligently. Satisfies L&S International req.
CompLit 463 - Literary Criticism: Major Authors, 3cr (U/G)
Topic: Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literary and Critical Theory: An Introduction
Lec 001, Course 32736, 2:00-3:15PM, MW (Russell)
The purpose of this course is to provide an overview to the major schools and problems characterizing twentieth and twenty-first century literary and critical theory and their evolution. It will stress a reading of representative texts from each movement, with available background or historical texts specified as appropriate. The focus of our discussions will be the outline of the philosophical premises of each movement, and our work will explore how they could be applied to literary texts or discussed within the study of literary texts generally. By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with the broad outlines and the historical development of modern criticism and have experience with assumptions central to today's literary and cultural studies. Satisfies L&S International req.
CompLit 704 - Seminar in Cultural Studies, 3cr (G)
Topic: Border Narratives, Narrative Borders
Sem 001, Course 32737, 3:30-6:10PM, M (Pitt)
This course explores the relationship between border and migration studies and narrative studies through an examination of contemporary border narratives. How are national and political borders defined, conceptualized, and experienced in the narratives of borderland residents and border crossers, and what relationships exist between such narratives and the borders themselves? How do narrative constructions of borders shape border experience, and how do borders shape narrative representations? While the U.S./Mexico border will serve as a starting point for many of our theoretical and literary engagements with the concepts and representations of borders, our collective readings will take into account other border experiences as well, and students are encouraged to examine border narratives from any region of the globe and any historical period relevant to their own scholarship for their final research projects. Jointly offered with MALLT 704.