Comparative Literature, LLC


Spring 2015 Schedule of Classes: Undergraduate

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121            International Short Story  (Gen Ed AL)

Reading and analysis of a variety of short stories from the Russian, Czech, German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, American, and Latin American traditions from the early 19th century to the present.  We will analyze fantastic tales, character sketches, surprise endings; main types of the short story as a special genre marked by compassion and intensity of effect.  All works read in translation.  Course requirements to be announced.


122           Spiritual Autobiography  (Gen Ed ALG)____________________________________________ 

Lecture and discussion. Exploration of the individual psyche, growth of self-consciousness; the dark night of the soul and the role of suffering in personal growth. Reading from a variety of spiritual diaries, autobiographies, from East and West, written by women and men, believers and heretics. Ancient and modern examples. 


131          Brave New World (Gen Ed ALG)

Utopian and dystopian novels. The ability of literature to generate social critique. Readings include works by Huxley, Orwell, Kafka, Atwood, Burgess, Gibson, Piercy, Gilman, Dick, and others.


141          Good & Evil: East-West  (Gen Ed ALG)____________________________________________

This course will explore the concepts of Good and Evil as expressed in philosophical and theological texts and in their imaginative representation in literature, film and television, photography, and other forms of popular media. Cross-cultural perspectives and approaches to moral problems such as the suffering of the innocent, the existence of evil, the development of a moral consciousness and social responsibility, and the role of faith and spirituality will be considered. A range of historical and contemporary events and controversies will be discussed in relation to these issues including, immigration, war, gender and sexuality, and new technologies.



231         Comedy   (Gen Ed AL)____________________________________________________________

The course begins with the premise that contemporary American comedy is informed by the histories of ethnic American groups --African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and U.S. Latinos/Latinas-- along with issues of race, class, sexuality and citizenship. American comedians, independent filmmakers, feminists and transgendered comics deploy the language of comedy to invoke serious social matters in contemporary American life: racism, heterosexism, homophobia, class biases against the poor and the undocumented, misogyny, war and other burning issues of the day. We will thus consider that the ends of comedy are more than laughter. Comedy confronts political issues that are constitutive of and threatening to the U.S. body politic. 




233        Fantasy and World Literature  (Gen Ed AL)_________________________________________

Beginning with Shakespeare's Tempest, an exploration of fantasies as escape into strange realms where time and space are not our own. Explorations of fantastic voyages to learn about human desires and dreams, and the history they are grounded in. Interdisciplinary approach; historical, psychological, and formal study of fantasy literature.


234         Myth, Folktale & Children?s Literature  (Gen Ed AL)

Lecture and discussion.  Reading of significant samples of world folktales and myths as the basis for study of story, with special emphasis on stories for children, from those in picture books to juvenile novels.  Attention to the development of critical perspectives towards stories, as well as to interpretation of meaning in individual tales and children's books.  Readings:  various folktale collections (German, Scandinavian, African, Hungarian); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and eight other books for children, some chosen by the student.  Requirements:  two papers, midterm, final, occasional feedback sheets.


290T      Translation, Cross-Cultural Communication and the Media (Gen Ed ALG)

Translation, Cross-cultural Communication, and the Media is an introduction to translation theory and practice that is grounded in fundamental questions, ideas, and methods of analysis in the humanities, specifically language and culture.  By examining different translation theories and methods, students are exposed to a plurality of perspectives, creatively analyzing the problems of translation and applying critical methods to solve those problems.  Oral presentations and written projects, both individually and in groups, give students the opportunity to strengthen their communication skills at the same time as they are asked to evaluate the fundamental nature of communication itself.



320H      Irish Writers and Cultural Context (Gen Ed AL)

Irish Writers and Cultural Contexts is a lively introduction to the cultural content of a particular literature providing a lens to explore the interdisciplinary inherent in literature, and cross-cultural comparison in literary and artistic expression. Grounded in Irish writers of distinction, we will examine the representation of cultural renaissance, social stratification and memory. Designed for complexity as well as fostering and exercising critical thinking, this course also examines the intersections of myth, religion, art, gender, nationalism, identity in cultural creative expression both in Irish particularity and in comparative study. Works include those by writers, poets and dramatists such as W.B.Yeats, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Roddy Doyle Patrick Kavanaugh, Eavan Boland, Brian Friel, Patricia Burke Grogan, and Marina Carr.



336         International Graphic Novel (Gen Ed ALG) 

Lecture and Discussion. This course will examine contemporary works in the literary and artistic medium of the graphic novel, including works from the United States, Japan, Mexico, and Europe.  The course will concentrate on the period between 1978 (when the term "graphic novel" was invented by Will Eisner for the publication of A Contract with God) and the present, combined with examination of antecedents to contemporary graphic novels and traditions of visual narrative in the popular and high arts.   The first half of the semester concentrates on Surrealist and wordless graphic novels, the development of the European graphic novels from albums aimed primarily at children to adult graphic novels on fantasy themes, the internationally influential politically aware historical and theoretical graphic novels of Mexico and the growth of autobiographical works in the U.S.A.'s Underground movement; the second on the social changes affecting comic art in the 1970s through 1990s, the reinvention of mainstream superheroes under the influence of the graphic novel form, historical and fantastic graphic novels from Japan, and the development of two major divisions in the U.S.A.'s graphic novels, naturalism and magic realism. Artists and writers whose work is studied include Eisner, Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, Keiji Nakazawa, Osamu Tezuka, Rius, and Frank Miller. Course Requirements: There will be a midterm covering the first half of the course, and a final on the second half. In addition, students will write a ten-page paper consisting of an analysis of a work of comic art in aesthetic, social and cultural terms.


383      Narrative Avant-Garde Film (Gen Ed AT)

Lecture and Discussion. Explores modern origin of experimentation in film in avant-garde modes such as Expressionism, Surrealism and contemporary results of this heritage to determine if film is the most resolutely modern of the media.  Emphasis on the ways in which Avant-garde films can problematize themselves through the ploys of telling a story.  By means of a self-consciousness of story-telling which undermines viewer identification, the drive for closure, the demand for origins and order, and even cause and effect, these avant-garde films restore to playfulness its strength and ambiguity.  Requirements: one 5 page paper for midterm, final paper or project; attendance.


384 The Vietnam War: Fact, Fiction, and Film (Gen Ed ALG)

Focus on "images" of the war as presented in poetry, fiction, and film , often comparing the same image as it has been "rewritten" in literature and film. How images are manipulated by (re)writers to reinforce or subvert powerful cultural and political institutions. 



391D      War Stories

An inquiry into the representation  of war in the late 20th century, this course will focus largely on a single conflict, the recent war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We will examine a variety of media: photography, theater, poetry, and narrative, as well as testimonials and documentaries.  Our discussions will also respond to readings grounded in theory rather than context.



391W     Dream, History and Identity in Polish Film

This course is an introduction to classics of Polish cinema. We will watch films by Poland?s best-known film directors to explore their poetic, thematic and philosophical concerns. Among directors whose works we will view are Roman Polański, Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Stuhr, Barbara Sass, Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Agnieszka Holland, Dorota Kedzierzawska and Lech Majewski. Using Freud?s theory of dreams, Lacan?s notion of ?the gaze? and Aristotle?s theory of tragedy, we will examine the dream-like structure of cinematic image to shed light on how history and identity are visually represented by Polish filmmakers. In our class discussion throughout the course, we will attempt to identify those qualities that give Polish cinematography its distinctiveness.


394HI       History of Literary Criticism______________________________________________________

A seminar on literary criticism and theory, from the European classical period (Plato, Aristotle, Longinus) to major trends in the twentieth century, including: new criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, postcolonial theory, feminist theory, and new historicism.  Questions explored throughout the semester include: what constitutes art and beauty in verbal expression? What is the purpose of literature? Who may have access to literature? What are sacred and canonical texts, and how shall they be approached? What is the connection between literature and truth, literature and morality? What is the function of the study of rhetoric? What is the role of an author? What are the proper techniques for composing literatures of value?  Satisfies the Integrative Experience Requirement for Comparative Literature and

Russian & East European Studies majors.



397F        Caribbean Literature: Roots and Routes

With the arrival of the Europeans, most of the native population of the Caribbean was decimated. Since then, the islands have been repopulated with Europeans, Africans, Asians, and Middle Easterners, among others. In this class, we will read literary representations of the routes these people took to the Caribbean, their efforts to root themselves in the new land as well as forge a new identity, and the subsequent routes some have taken as they migrate again, often for political reasons. We will look at the Caribbean as a center of flux, movement, and hybridity, and thus a microcosm of the globalization that marks the modern world. Readings will include fiction and poetry from the last two centuries as well as secondary texts theorizing Caribbean space and identity. Texts may include works by Jamaica Kincaid, Alejo Carpentier, Derek Walcott, Edwidge Danticat, José Martí, V.S. Naipaul, and Patrick Chamoiseau, as well as folk literature and slave songs.

482          Introduction to Interpreting: Research and Practice II

This course is the second part of a two-semester certificate course in interpreting across different contexts. In Part II of the course, students will work with spoken texts of varying lengths, developing their understanding of socio-cultural, ideological and linguistic aspects of a range of spoken genres (e.g. personal narratives, political speeches, media interviews, conference papers). They will learn how to process meaning and reformulate these texts through the analysis of their macro and micro-textual elements. Students will continue to develop their listening and

analytical skills, including the ability to anticipate the content and reformulate the meaning of a spoken text effectively. The course will also introduce students to the historic and continuing role that interpreters play in media and diplomatic contexts and in war zones. Grades are based on class presentations and participation (20%), four 2-3 single-spaced response papers (20%), a mid-term exam (25%) and a final paper (35%).



497S      Shakespeare in India: Imitation, Appropriation, and Colonialism

This course will study Shakespeare plays and their adaptation into film, and in particular the case of Shakespearean film in India.  The play and film texts will be interrogated for their differing (or similar?) approaches to the questions of gender, power, and races, especially as exhibited within colonial and post-colonial contexts."



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.



593W    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.



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