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Comparative Literature Courses

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: International Fantasy  (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.

236: Digital Culture

An introduction to digital culture, with emphasis on the study of digital works of art (hyperfiction, computer art, electronic music, virtual dance, digital cinema, etc.) with some attention to the broader social and intellectual implications of the digital revolution. (ASI)

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 interdisciplinarity 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.

330: Translation, Cross-cultural Communication, and the Media (Gen Ed ALG)

Introduction to translation studies in the framework of cross-cultural and international communication. Students explore the practice of intra-lingual, inter-lingual, and inter-semiotic translation in the age of global communication in a variety of media, including literary texts, songs, news media, film, radio, TV, Internet, blogs, and video games. Discussion seminars include practical exercises allowing students to experiment with translation and translation theory. Students are expected to do oral presentations and written projects. Knowledge of one language other than English helpful but not necessary.

340: Mystical Literature (Gen Ed ALG)

This class will explore mystical literature of various traditions, both religious and secular. Reading these texts as literary expressions of union or contact with the transcendent, we will analyze the ways in which they seek to capture what is usually considered to be an inexpressible, non-verbal experience. Readings will draw from the mystical traditions of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism, as well as European Romanticism and other, less easily categorized, attempts to articulate communion with something beyond the everyday.

355: Modern African Literature (Gen Ed ALG) 

This course will introduce you to recent works by writers and filmmakers from Senegal, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria. Throughout the semester, we will explore the diverse ways in which African writers from across the continent address the major challenges of the 21st century: ethnic conflict, political corruption, the colonial legacy, modernity, nationalism, globalism, economic disparity, religious fundamentalism, and terrorism. We will pay close attention to the interplay between narrative and history, as well as to the ways in which African writers stage issues pertaining to human rights.

383: Narrative Avant-Garde Film (Gen Ed AT)

Lecture and Discussion. Explores the 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.

391CA: On Cannibalism 

The question we will address in this course is not so much whether cannibalism as a practice really existed (or still exists), but the fascination this topic has exerted on people's minds. The purpose of the course is twofold: first, to introduce the student to the study of the textual and iconographic representations of American cannibalism from the 16th century until the present: chronicles, literature, legal discourses on the one hand, and map sheets, single drawings, book illustrations and films on the other. The second objective will be to discuss the research produced by literary critics, anthropologists and within colonial/postcolonial studies during the last two decades on cannibalism as a trope and as a discursive practice within colonialist discourse.

391CT: Images of the City: Istanbul

At the geographical, cultural, religious and political crossroads, imperial capital for centuries, Istanbul has always been a space of displacement. In the light of the imagery of the bridge that is associated with the city, this course will move across genres, time periods, and forms of expression in an attempt to understand how the definitions of the "self" and the "other" have evolved. Looking at examples from literature, art, architecture, film and music we will study the various representations of the city, its inhabitants and visitors. Alongside the prominent figures of the city we will also address those that have remained in the periphery.

391J: Global Tempests

An introduction to comparative approaches to literature: plays, films, poems, novels, manifestos, theory. Topics include the migration of Shakespeare's Tempest from Renaissance London to modern Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa; Pocahontas and the construction of American nationalism; Robinson Crusoe and cultural representation of modernity. Texts include: Shakespeare's The Tempest and Cesaire's Tempest, Ngugi's "The Language of African Literature," Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and Coetzee's Foe.

391SF: International Science Fiction Cinema

This course provides an introduction to science fiction cinema from the end of the nineteenth century to today. Beginning with the experiments of the Melies Brothers and the importance of German Expressionist films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the course considers technological prognostication from Destination Moon to 2001: A Space Odyssey, adventure and science fiction in films like Forbidden Planet and Star Wars, and the dystopian imagination from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to District 9. The course will also highlight the roles of women writers and directors from Thea von Harbou to Kathryn Bigelow, and technological cinematic advances from matte painting and process shots to CGI.

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 LechMajewski. 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.

393D: Native American Narrative Art

This course provides an introductory survey of Native American Indian artistic and pictorial traditions that were intimately bound to stories and histories of nations and families, religious and mythological traditions, autobiographical narratives or aesthetic and philosophical reflections. More than mnemonic devices, these visual traditions are inseparable from culture and performance, community and nation, human life and the physical world. The visual and tactile media that will be encompassed in the course include pictorial manuscripts, ceramics, bead and shell work, and textiles. Visual and verbal or artistic, cultural, aesthetic and literary elements that were originally unified have usually been divided into printed texts and reproduced images identified with different disciplines or are as of study. The course will be interdisciplinary, with each unit including readings of narratives or texts, analysis of visual materials, and will also include readings on aesthetics and translation, as well as cultural and literary criticism as appropriate.

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.

581: Introduction to Interpreting and Translation Research and Practice I 

Comp Lit 581 is the first part of a two-semester certificate course in the study of interpreting and translation; students who enroll are not required to take the second course unless they are interested in receiving the Certificate in Translation and Interpreting Studies. This course is open to upper level undergraduates and graduate students. While no prior experience in interpreting or translation is necessary, students must have a strong command of English and at least one other language. The course will introduce students to research in the field of interpreting and translation studies and to a number of practical skills required of professional interpreters and translators. Interpreting and translation will be viewed throughout the course as socio-cultural activities as well as linguistic ones. The social, cultural and ethical complexities of the role of interpreters and translators will therefore be an important focus of the course. Students will work with written and spoken texts to develop an understanding of micro-textual elements and macro-textual structures and patterns and understand how to analyze both written and spoken texts. They will begin to develop consecutive and simultaneous interpreting skills using recorded spoken texts in the language lab. Role plays will be conducted to familiarize students with the triadic nature of interpreted communication. For students in the MA in Translation Studies, this is a required course. 

582: Interpreting and Translation: Research and Practice II

This course is structured around six social and professional domains in which interpreting and translation play a significant role (Healthcare, Business, Court/Police, Refugee/Asylum, Human Rights Commissions, and the Military). Students will work on understanding the institutional structures and discursive practices of these particular domains, gain relevant vocabulary, and continue to practice translating, sight translating and interpreting relevant texts. By midpoint in the semester, students will decide on a topic for a small research project (individual or if appropriate working in pairs or small groups) in a domain of their choosing. The project will involve gathering information about the role of interpreting and/or translation in a particular domain using a variety of research methods. These might include: exploring the extent of translated materials or interpreter services available at particular institutions; exploring the extent to which a business, public service institution or NGO recognize the role that translation or interpreting in enabling them to function through a careful examination of their websites and other sources of informational, public relations, etc. materials; or developing and administering questionnaires, conducting interviews, or doing site observations at local schools, hospitals, police stations, courtrooms, etc. All projects will involve some additional reading of relevant literature. Successful completion of this course is a requirement for the Certificate in Translation and Interpreting Studies.

591G: Global Modernisms

Working outward from the tools and techniques used by modernist novelists in Europe and the Americas, this course explores the intersection of engagement and global modernism.  The course focuses on the ways that novelists move beyond social realism, using formalist methods to create engaged narratives that serve the purposes of social critique and national building in the tradition of Joyce, Faulkner, Garc a Marquez, and Morrison. Questions to be explored include the implied readership, boundaries between modernism and postmodernism, and the porous genre boundaries of the novel internationally. Reading will include Soseki, I am a Cat; Le Sueur, The Girl; Emecheta, The Joys of Motherhood; Sidwa, Cracking India; Roy, The God of Small Things; Pamuk, My Name is Red; Grenville, The Secret River; and Okri, The Famished Road.