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Comparative Literature

Good/Evil: East/West
Comparative Literature 141
University of Massachusetts/Amherst Dale Hudson
Summer 2000, Session II South College 309
MTuW 6.30—9.00 Office hours: M 4.15—6.15
Herter 211 Telephone: 545.0929
Schedule no. 316918 e-mail:
Course description
This course will examine how categorical oppositions of "Good/Evil" and "East/West" are historically and culturally determined. We will question the effects of power and ideology in the generation of distinctions such as familiar/foreign, purity/contamination, innocence/guilt, piety/perversion, madness/sanity, etc., so that we can begin to think about the ways in which literary texts and films construct and deconstruct, reinforce and subvert such oppositions. Our basic assumption will be that writing is never objective but always expressed a particular point of view–even if it is an ambivalent one. Our focus is on close reading, discussion, and comparative analysis.

In our reading, we will pay close attention to how difference–in gender, race, class, political allegiance, etc.– is often used as a pretext to legitimize and naturalize prejudices, fears, and violence. We will begin by looking at how certain conventions of ‘Good versus Evil’ were established in 19th-century works of popular and children’s literature. The focus of our analysis will be on how these works often camouflaged political issues by emphasizing religion and superstition. We will then examine how in times of war nationalism and patriotism were often constructed according to notions of ‘Good versus Evil’; that is, how these conventions are mobilized to new ends. Finally, we will consider the ‘everyday impact’ of these conventions by looking at how notions of ‘Good versus Evil’ have filtered from classical works into contemporary ones.

Required texts
Available at Collective Copies, 71 South Pleasant Street, Amherst
  Course packet
Available at Atticus/Albion Bookshop, 8 Main Street, Amherst
  Gabriel García Márquez Collected Stories
  Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston Farewell to Manzanar
  R. K. Narayan The Ramayana
  Art Spiegelman Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  Bram Stoker Dracula
Copies of these texts are available on reserve, 3rd floor, W. E. B. DuBois Library. In most cases, videos are available for additional screenings at AIMS (303 Goodell) or in the FLRC (basement Herter Annex).
Course requirements
Short paper no. 1 20% Close reading and comparative analysis of two texts; 4—5 pages; due 31 July
Short paper no. 2 20% Close reading and comparative analysis of two texts; 4—5 pages; due 14 August
Final paper 30% Close reading and comparative analysis of three texts; 6—7 pages; due 25 August
Quizzes 10% Unannounced; 3 total; lowest grade dropped; no make-up quizzes
Participation 20% Attendance and active participation required; brief in-class presentation
All reading assignments should be completed by the date they appear on the syllabus. All videos will be screened in class on the date they appear on the syllabus.

Active participation is not optional! Discussion is an important means to develop analytical skills. Test your insights without the "pressures" associated with written assignments, and see what your classmates think.

You will be asked to lead the discussion for at least one reading assignment. Prepare five questions about the assigned text that will stimulate discussion. In most cases, plot-related questions will not generate active discussion. While these brief in-class presentations are not graded separately, they do contribute to the participation grade. Also, the work you put into your presentation may be useful when you write your papers.

Unannounced quizzes are designed to test your reading skills. If you keep up with the reading assignments, you should do well on the quizzes. They will consist of simple questions and are intended to help you increase your overall grade for the course.

Your short papers should focus on a close reading and interpretation of two works. You may want to anchor your analysis by focusing on a single aspect (such as theme, narrative structure, or point of view) of both works. The objective of these short papers is to sharpen your analytic skills and prepare you for the comparative analysis of the final paper. A list of suggested paper topics will be distributed. All papers should be double-spaced with standard fonts, point sizes, and margins. On average, a page should contain about 250 words. Papers appreciably shorter or longer will not be accepted.

Electronic submissions (e-mail attachments) and late assignments will be accepted in special circumstances with advanced permission only. The night before the paper is due is too late to make special arrangements–as is the beginning of class on the day the paper is due.

If you have questions about anything related to the course, I am available after class, or you may contact me by telephone or e-mail. Should you be unable to make office hours, schedule an appointment for another time.

Absence policy
If you miss class due to religious observance or participation in a sporting event, please notify me in advance. If you miss class for medical reasons, please provide a note from your doctor and notify me of extended absences. Remember, missing a class does not excuse you from respecting assignment deadlines. Please make arrangements with me as soon as possible to discuss possible extensions. If you cannot come to class, you are responsible for keeping up with assignments and for contacting me when necessary.

If you have questions about anything related to the course, I am available after class, or you may contact me by telephone or e-mail. Should you be unable to make office hours, schedule an appointment for another time.

Tu 18 Introduction;
Horace Miner, "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" (1956) [handout]; and
David Lean, A Passage to India (1984) [video]
W 19 Salman Rushdie, "Outside the Whale" (1984) [packet];
W. W. Jacobs, "The Monkey’s Paw" (1902) [packet]; and
Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" (1892) [packet]
M 24 Edward Said On Orientalism (1998) [video];
Lisa Lowe, "Discourse and Heterogeneity: Situating Orientalism" (1991) [packet]; and
Excerpts from Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Book of the Thousand Nights and A Night
(1885—1888) [packet]
Tu 25 Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)
W 26 Francis Ford Coppola, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) [video]
M 31 Juan Padrón, Vampiros en la Habana (1985) [video];
Short paper no. 1 due
Tu 01 Gabriel García Márquez, "The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless
Grandmother" and other stories in Collected Stories (1961—1972)
W 02 Ruy Guerra, Eréndira (1983) [video]
M 07 Giorgio Bassani, "A Night in ‘43" (1960) [packet]; and
Vittorio de Sica, Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (1970) [video]
Tu 08 Franz Kafka, "Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk" (1924) [packet]; and
Tadeusz Borowski, "This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen" (1948) [packet]
W 09 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (I: 1973—1986; II: 1986—1991)
M 14 Alain Resnais, Nuit et brouillard (1955) [video];
Short paper no. 2 due
Tu 15 Nakazawa Keiji, "Introduction: My Hope for Barefoot Gen" (ca. 1994) [packet]; and
Maruyama Masao, Hadashi no Gen (1983) [video]
W 16 Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (1973)
M 21 Rea Tajiri, History and Memory (1991) [video]; and
Emiko Omori, Rabbit in the Moon (1999) [video]
Tu 22 R. K. Narayan, The Ramayana (1972)
W 23 Deepa Mehta, Fire (1996) [video]
F 25 Final paper due by noon in CompLit office, 3rd floor, South College

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