Comparative Literature, LLC


Spring 2015 Schedule of Classes: Graduate

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591L     Sex, Love, and Marriage in the Middle Ages

This course explores representations of passion, obligation, and love from the ancient Roman world to sixteenth-century France, in a broad range of literary and historical texts read in translation. In particular, we focus on the formal ways in which relationships were organized under the rubric of "marriage", on the relationship (or lack thereof) between marriage, love, and sexual passion, and the role of  homosocial and homosexual desire within this complex set of relationships.



691SJ    Translation and Social Justice

This course will explore the role of translation and interpreting in the distribution of social justice within communities, nations and at the global level. It will consider issues such as the position of refugees, asylum seekers and foreign contract and domestic workers, as well as the question of which minority languages are selected for translation in multicultural societies, a decision that can underscore the relative power and significance of one migrant or minority culture in relation to another. A central focus of the course will be on how translators and interpreters actively inhabit their position, which may involve omitting, declining or deciding to advocate for the rights of vulnerable individuals and groups. Students will engage with relevant scholarship, ethnographic materials and literary texts to examine ways in which translators and interpreters have sought to actively challenge their professional codes of ethics, which call for neutrality and impartiality in their role, in situations where a clear bias, injustice or imbalance of power is evident. It will also explore in depth the complex ethical issues and challenges that emerge in the process.  



691TC                 Translation and the City

Explorations of lost, divided, secret, secondary, and sister cities using translation as a tool of literary analysis. We will read twentieth-century prose from the U.S., Latin America, and the Iberian Peninsula, as well as critical and theoretical texts. Students will also work individually on a text of their choice from any region and will share it with the group in theme-based discussions. Presentations, short papers, and a final project.




693W       What Is Art?

This course aims for a wide-ranging discussion of the role(s), function(s), nature(s), characteristics, varieties, definitions, and theories of art, in other words, any and all the issues the students and the instructor feel need to be explored and debated in attempting to answer this question. Students will be strongly encouraged to branch out and look at as many of the other art forms as possible, to overcome the usual literature-cinema orientation that seems to be common in CompLit classes. They would be asked to start exploring art forms they may not yet know much about (or care for very much), such as dance, architecture, sculpture, decorative arts, perhaps even classical music.

One possible focal point of the seminar would be to see what (if anything) ties together all the arts, what is common to them all, what allows us to group very dissimilar things (such as, for example, a song, a vase, a rug, a ballet, a novel, a building, a digital poem, etc.) under one category: "art.? Graduate students would be asked to design their dream course, one they would love to teach when they get their first "real" job, and describe and justify their selections, interpretations and approaches in an electronic paper that could eventually serve as a template for the actual future course. The course may have guest lecturers and artists.




695C        Fassbinder/ Godard/Melodrama

What were Godard's early films for Fassbinder?  Instead of rejecting the most influential avant-garde film maker of the sixties, Fassbinder adopted Godard as father. Yet this fathering was a highly selective progeneration. What does the juxtaposition of these film makers reveal and conceal - and not only about Fassbinder's films, since we cannot now see those of Godard without having our past viewings of Fassbinder films in our heads.  Fassbinder sets us on track with two remarks: "Godard believes that film is the truth 24 frames per second, while I believe film is the lie 25 frames per second," and "Both Godard and I despise our characters." The course will raise theoretical issues of spectatorship, tone (irony, distanciation, citation) gender, genre, while being firmly grounded in the formal analysis of filmic text; the construction of the filmic text and its "meaning," and the destruction of subject by means of abyssal structures (mises-en-abyme, structural or metaphoric infinite regresses); Fassbinder's ideological fatigue and complex sexual politics, Godard's political innocence (which is not the same as naivete), his cinematic energy amidst his films' increasing cultural despair. Pre-requisites: familiarity with film theory and discourse, preferably by at least two courses in film analysis.  Course meets as intensive seminar, once a week for 4 hours.  Films selected from: Why Does Herr R. Run Amok and Breathless; American Soldier and Les Carabiniers; The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant and Une Femme MariĆ©e; Effie Briest and Vivre sa Vie; Beware of the Holy Whore and Contempt.



752     Theory and Practice of Comparative Literature

Lecture. An examination of current issues in Comparative Literature:  their relation to contemporary intellectual debates, and their roots in the history of the discipline.  Topics include translation theory and practive; perspectives on the canon and cultural literacy; cultural and intercultural studies; literary interrelations and polysystems theory; debates over "literature" and Comparative Literature"; gender theory; reading theories; feminist perspectives; interdisciplinary approaches (e.g., film, psychoanalysis); genre theory; and the institution of Comparative Literature:  its research and pedagogy, its role in higher education, and the job market.



791W   Research Seminar: Projects in Cross-Cultural, Cross-Linguistic, and Translation Studies

The goal of this seminar is to develop existing student projects to a higher professional level such that they will be suitable for presentation at a conference, submission to a journal, or incorporation into a thesis or dissertation.  The class will involve assigned readings that serve as background for research on these topics, class presentations, and a final substantial project.



895A     Dissertation Research Seminar

An overview of the state of each participant's research, to familiarize members with the problems and possibilities of a doctoral dissertation in Comparative Literature. The group's composition determines the nature of invitations to potential guests, or the decision to concentrate on its own members' discussions, with topics including: preparation for paper presentations at academic conferences, potential openings for positions at colleges and universities, and opportunities for funding for fellowships, grants, and post-doctoral research.


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