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Course List

Courses offered for 2020 - 2021 Academic Year

CO120: Literature, Power, and Identities:

An examination of literature as a venue of explorations of power and identities, particularly of how identities are constructed as well as of how literary texts (re)present and can work to deconstruct identities. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

CO121: Literature, Place, and the World:

An examination of the literature as a venue for understanding the rich diversity of global humanity and perspectives, with special attention to how "place" informs literary settings as well as sites of composition and sites of consumption. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

Block 8 : Greek Characters

Helen of Troy, Achilles, Antigone, Medea, Socrates, the physician Hippocrates, the sculptor Praxiteles, the sprinter Atalanta, Coroebus of Elis the first Olympic hero, and the original "Boy" meets "Girl" of romantic comedy. Some you may know, others you may not. This class surveys Greek literature and culture that permeates and shapes so many aspects of contemporary life. Centering on characters, real and imagined, from various literary genres such as epic, comedy, tragedy, and lyric poetry we explore enduring questions like freedom and authority; the human body and athletic excellence; democracy and resistance; and romantic love and relationships. (also listed as EN280)


Summer Block A: World of Odysseus

The ancient geographer Eratosthenes was not optimistic about finding Odysseus' footsteps, saying, "You will find the scene of Odysseus's wanderings when you find the cobbler who sewed up the bag of winds." Classical archaeologists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, brought the mythical world into the historical realm with the discovery of pre-historic sites scattered throughout the Mediterranean world-in what is now Europe, Africa, and Asia. Occurring at the intersection of history and myth, the poem serves as a repository of cultural memory and a map of the known world. In this class we will study the three Bronze Age cultures of this region-Cycladic, Minoan, and Mycenean. Upon their fall, the Mediterranean world entered a stunning period of migrations and repopulations, as depicted in the poem. Using Homer's Odyssey as a guide for understanding the lively and diverse worlds that shared this seascape for thousands of years, we will visit the breathtaking remains of Minoan civilizations on the islands of Crete and Santorini, as well as the Mycenean center of the Greek mainland. Prerequisite: Consent of Instructor. All-College Requirement: Historical Perspectives or Analysis and Interpretation of Meaning (also listed as HY200)

Hughes and Sarchett, in Greece

CO130: Literature and Contemporary Issues:
An examination of the intersections of contemporary issues and the aesthetics and production of literature in the world today. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.
Block 4: Reading the World Through Contemporary Literature

This course will examine how twentieth and twenty-first century authors have taken the experience of the broader world as their theme, demonstrating the various cultural, historical and global realities and issues that have impacted the production, circulation and reception of literary texts from around the globe in what is now called, World Literature. We will explore in a comparative manner how texts from China, Japan, India, Turkey, South and North Africa and the Arab world have traveled through time and space to become part of the great shelves of Western Europe and the contemporary global literary market. Of particular interest to our study in this class will be questions about the practice of reading, translation and comparison in conjugation with the challenges and realities of the contemporary world, including migratory displacements, civil wars and populous revolt, environmental degradation and the rising spread of global pandemics.


CO131: Literature, Texts, and Media:

An examination of the intersections between literary texts and other forms of media and textuality, in an international context. Emphasis on close reading of texts as well as on critical analysis and writing. 1 unit.

Block 3: Greek Myth and the World Cinema

How do ancient Greek myths help us frame and conceptualize enduring questions of the human condition with the understanding that we've always lived in a global world? Homer's Odyssey was composed in the context of astonishing and perhaps unprecedented global migrations. The Trojan War and the figure of Medea, in particular, appear repeatedly in Greek myth in the context of an expanding world and cultural encounters between what we now construct as "East" and "West." In this course students will explore the intersections of these myths and world cinema, perhaps the most effective mythmaking medium of modernity. Through shared traditions as well as their own cultural lenses, filmmakers rework such mythic issues as love, family, politics, identity, and death--putting on them their own imprint which locates them in time and place. Listening to important voices from "East" and "West" we will examine their styles and come to understand how they create their effects. We will engage the debate about what is meant by "world cinema" as we study some of the most visually intelligent and stylish films ever made in Hollywood, Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe. Putting the study of antiquity into dialogue with these modern films allows them to mutually enrich each other. (also listed as FM205)

Hughes and Sarchett

Block 6: Romantic Encounters

In this course we will examine connections between literature and music of the Romantic period (late 18th through the mid 19th century), with a focus on German-speaking Europe (there was no "Germany" at the time), which is where Romanticism largely begins. As we will see, one hallmark of this cultural movement was a close connection between poetry and music. We will try to gain some understanding of what is meant by "romantic" poetry and music, but more specifically we will strive to better comprehend ways in which these two artistic forms functioned together. Assignments will involve listening to music, reading poetry, and writing. It is an introductory course that does not require prior knowledge of literature or music. (also listed as GR220, GR320, MU228)

Davis and Grace

CO200: Topics in Comparative Literature:

Consideration of literature in a comparative context. Comparisons may take place across languages, cultures, periods, genres, or disciplines. (May be taught as a January half-block.) .5 or 1 unit.

Block 2: Indigenous Peoples of North America and the Russian North
This course will introduce students to the history and contemporary concerns of Indigenous peoples of two geographically opposite regions - North America and the Russian North. Cross cultural comparative study of various Indigenous groups will focus on traditional lifeways, cosmologies, artistic expression, the role of language in culture, and the consequences of globalization on Indigenous livelihoods. (also listed as AN208, RS200, RM200, SW200)
Khan and Leza
Winter J Block: Life of the Soul
Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching into the nature of the soul, its life and its meanings. Starting from the Greeks, this course seeks to discover how the concept of "soul" is understood, and how its life is conceived. We will explore the roots of these questions in ancient Greek epic, drama and philosophy, how these answers transform in medieval and renaissance literature, and how modernity offers strikingly new answers to them.

Dobson and Riker
Winter J Block: Berlin in Film
For most of the 20th century, and perhaps even more so in recent decades, Berlin has been a popular filming location. Starting with the iconic Filmstudio Babelsberg, the oldest large-scale film studio in the world that produced legendary Weimar films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) and Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel (1930), but also, more recently, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009) or Terence Malick's A Hidden Life (2019), to the rubble of the Second World War, the landscapes of German division, the wasteland of the Berlin Wall, the counterculture scene of Kreuzberg, or the imposing skyscrapers of the new Potsdamer Platz, Berlin has remained a backdrop for countless films and shows set in the city. In this course we will take a closer look at Berlin's history after 1945. After a short introduction to film analysis and the relationship between film and the city, we will explore a selection of German and non-German productions and co-productions thematizing various aspects of Berlin's ever-changing identity. Through seminar discussions, close reading of scenes, and critical writing reflections, students will examine the aesthetic qualities and cultural significance of each film and compare the various ways the city is portrayed. This will help them gain a greater understanding of the city and how film has engaged with its complex history. (also listed as GR220, GR320, FM205)
Block 5: Myth and Meaning
Religion and myth of ancient Greece and Rome in relation to that of the ancient Mediterranean (Akkadian, Hittite, Sumerian, Egyptian). Female presence in art, literature and religion compared to treatment of women in their respective cultures. Theoretical approaches to the understanding of myth (Comparative, Jungian, Structuralist) in relation to myths as they are encoded in their specific cultures. Students may trace a myth through Medieval, Renaissance and modern transformations in art, music, poetry and film, or study myth in other cultures (e.g. Norse and Celtic). (also listed as CL220, FG220)

Block 6: Discovering the Unconscious: Psychoanaylsis and Psychotherapy
Major psychoanalytic perspectives of the late 19th and 20th centuries on the concept of the unconscious in theory, case studies, and fiction. Emphasis on unconscious processes as they relate to the formation of identity. Readings from such authors as Freud, Jung, Klein, Winnicott, Kohut, and Yalom. (also listed as PH262)
Block 7: Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Theory and Practice
An introductory study of Freud and Kohut and the transformation of their theories in contemporary psychoanalysis. Students will read the works of and meet with distinguished psychoanalysts who will present new approaches to understanding psychoanalytic theory and therapeutic action. We will also explore how psychoanalysis can be used in the interpretation of culture, especially art and theater. Taught in part in Chicago at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. (also listed as PH263)
Dobson and Riker
Block 7: Shakespeare's Political Wisdom
This course will explore Shakespeare's dramas as political philosophy. In his plays, Shakespeare often immerses the audience in richly detailed political situations that give rise to profound political and moral dilemmas which human beings continue to confront to this day. The class will pursue the moral and political education that thoughtful and prudent political men and women had for generations found in so many of Shakespeare's dramas. (also listed as PS235)

J. Grace
Block 8: Psyche, Symbol, Dream. C.G. Jung and Archetypal Psychology
An introduction to the depth psychology of C.G. Jung, including his notions of the structure of the personal and collective unconscious, the function of archetypes and dreams in development and healing, and the transcendent function as it relates to the individuation process. Contemporary advances in Jungian work in such areas as ecopsychology, soul psychology and Jungian feminist thought will also be considered. (also listed as PH203, HS218)
Block 8: Introduction to Post-Colonial Literature
What is postcolonial literature? Is it just a name for a distinct body of literature or does it also signal a particular method of reading literary texts? In this course we will familiarize ourselves with the field of postcolonial studies focusing primarily on Anglophone literatures by writers from formerly colonized nations in Africa, islands in the Caribbean and India. Through careful consideration of a variety of compelling novels, short stories, films, and theoretical works, we will discuss the ways in which postcolonial literature represents the historical milieu of colonial expansion, anti-colonial resistance and the growth of radical politics. We will pay attention to the centrality of race and gender to discourses of colonialism and postcolonialism, and explore themes of otherness and civilization, metropolis and periphery, migration and diaspora, among others. Furthermore, we will have occasion to reflect on the efficacy of the team "postcolonial" and whether it is a relevant category of analysis in our contemporary moment of globalization. This course is illuminative for anyone interested in the relationship between literature and politics as well as for those who want to familiarize themselves with a variety of through provoking texts about the history of British colonialism in different parts of the world.(also listed as EN280)

CO250: Introduction to Literary Theory
Introduction to the major twentieth-century theories of literature, including such approaches as formalism and structuralism, hermeneutics, reception theory, feminist theory, psychoanalytic approaches, post-structuralism and new historicism. Study of important theoretical texts as well as literary works from a variety of language traditions, exploring the ways in which theory informs possibilities of interpretation. 1 unit. (also listed as EN250)

CO255: World Literature/Comparative Literature
What is Comparative Literature? What is world Literature? Examination of the history, methods, conceptual frameworks, canonical thinkers, critics, current issues, and debates in these interrelated fields and how they shape our reading of literature. Emphasis on close ready of both theoretical and literary texts, critical analysis, and writing in a comparative context. 1 unit.

CO300: Topics in Comparative Literature:

Consideration of literature in a comparative context. Comparisons may take place across languages, cultures, periods, genres, or disciplines. No prerequisite. (May be taught as a January half-block) .5 or 1 unit.

Block 2: Literature and Film

Analysis of several novels and screenplays of different periods in comparison with their film versions in order to examine various modes of interpretation of the two media. Conducted inEnglish. Students wishing to obtain credit for the French major or minor mist consult with the instructor at the beginning of the course. For majors, novels must be read and papers must be written in French. No prerequisite. (also listed as FR310, FM200)


Block 3: Come to Hell: Dante & His World/Our World

Dante Alighieri is the author of poems in the "Dolce Stil Novo" style, political essays, and reflections on the use of the vernacular. He is mostly known for The Divine Comedy, the story of a journey through the budello of the Inferno, the enormous mountain of the Purgatorio, and the infinity of Paradiso. Through vivid images and memorable verses, the vicissitudes of the pilgrim Dante offer endless insight, and severe critiques, on virtually every aspect of Medieval culture (politics, religion, theology, love, philosophy, geography, medicine, and more). Some parts of this extraordinary work remain valuable even in today's world. What makes Dante a literary giant, still worth reading? What did he read, which themes interested him, and why? How did he discuss them? What is the system of punishment and reward he created in The Comedy? And what would Dante write about today? Through a mix of seminar and brief lectures, we will discuss these and many more questions, relatively to The Comedy, as well as to some of Dante other works. Together, we will also look for contemporary references to Dante, in Italy and beyond, for instance in novels, comic books, music, theater-dance, and documentaries. Class is in English but discussion in Italian is possible and encouraged. (also listed as IT320, EN381)


Block 3: Samual Beckett
In one of his final works, Beckett encapsulates his artistic approach: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." His oeuvre attests to his constant experimentation with fiction, the essay, media, and theatre. Accordingly, the course explores representative examples of Beckett's work in each of these genres, from all stages of his career, both those originally written in English and those originally written in French. We will try, fail, try again, fail again, and fail better to answer the question, what does Beckettian mean? (also listed as TH200)
Block 3: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales: The Continental Connection
Introduction to Middle English and close reading of selections from The Canterbury Tales. Prerequisite: English 221 or 250 or consent of instructor. (also listed as EN311)
Block 5: Frankenstein and The Hunchback of Notre Dame
This course will examine two pivotal nineteenth-century Gothic novels, Mary Shelley's masterpiece, Frankenstein (1818) and Victor Hugo's magisterial Notre-Dame de Paris (1831), as historical, cultural, and literary phenomena through a wide range of generic iterations over two centuries. Beginning with key Enlightenment texts, we will examine the political and social contexts of Shelley's and Hugo's works with regard to scientific exploration, race, colonialism, disability, radicalism, feminism, slavery, ethics, and aesthetics. Significant time may be given to exploring the ways in which these novels have been reimagined through other media such as theatre, cinema, and digital media. (also listed as EN370, FR316)
Richman and Tallent
Block 5: Anglophone-Arab & Arab Literature in the Diaspora

An introductory course to the rich literary heritage produced by Arab authors writing in English from the nineteenth century to the present, what is now called Anglophone-Arab literature. The course will trace the developments, achievements and trajectories of this emergent literature by examining the works of Arab authors residing in the Western world. We will explore the new forms of belonging these writers forge today and further investigate how race, religion, ethnicity and migration complicate the question of nationalism and identity-formation. Close attention will be paid to the transnational and migratory articulations of home and belonging Arab writers have initiated in the 21st century. (also listed as AR320, RM200)


Block 6: Activism, Violence and Resistance in the Middle East and North Africa
When does Art become a Weapon? This course examines the ways various forms of activism and resistance in the Middle East and North Africa have transformed the political and socio-cultural fabric of many Arab countries. Students will explore the explosion of artistic production in the Arab world during the so-called Arab Spring by focusing on literature, music, theatre, and graffiti and related visual arts. (also listed as AR320)
Block 6: Caribbean Voices
Built on the histories of colonialism, slavery and indentureship, the Caribbean region has been at the heart of global movements of people and commodities for centuries now. This course will introduce students to the remarkable history of the region through close engagement with literary and cultural productions about it. We will read works by authors from African, Indian and Chinese heritages that call these islands home. In doing so, we will also think more expansively about the idea of Caribbean voices and consider what we stand to learn about the shared histories, experiences and legacies of colonial trauma when we consider these voices together. Our discussions will be organized around themes of empire, labor migration, racial intimacies, contemporary travel and tourism and finally, modes of narrativizing collective histories that Caribbean authors have developed.(also listed as EN380)

Block 6: Theatre and the Politics of Action
The course is a contemplation of theatre as a voice of the dispossessed and oppressed, focusing on the development of various performance aesthetics as a response to sociopolitical subjugation. The course will utilize both national and international performances and texts. Special attention will be paid to Brecht/s epic theatre as a laboratory of socioeconomic inequality, Boal's concept of theatre as an agitprop tool, and Wilson's notions of social boundaries, expressionism, and the ethical territories of the dispossessed. (also listed as TH328)
Block 7: The Pastoral Tradition: Shakespeare to Mamma Mia!
From Shakespeare to Mamma Mia!,islands, forests, and the countryside in general have persisted in the English speaking imagination as a site for retreat from the city. The pastoral impulse in literature started out - in Homer, Theokritos, and others- as a preference for the simple world of shepherds and goatherds over the corrupt city, but now we see it also in our longing for authenticity in food, wine, art, and relationships. Taught in English, the course will look at and compare pastoral texts from a variety of traditions, cultures, and historical perspectives. The course is designed to promote sophisticated textual analysis, refined perception of literary issues and clarity in writing about them. Texts include ancient Greek myth, Shakespeare'sThe Tempest, Midsummer Night's Dream, Cather's My Antonia, Brokeback Mountain(2006) and Mamma Mia!(2008). (also listed as EN380)
Hughes and Sarchett
Block 7: Race and Gender in Medieval Romance
Medieval Romance often performs white, cisgender narratives that camouflage more complex workings of race and gender. Students in this advanced seminar will consider how medieval constructions of race and gender interweave the biopolitical and sociocultural in the various subgenres of Middle English and Continental romance (chivalric and Arthurian narratives; chronicles and fabulous histories; narratives of national identity and empire; family and saints' legends) to articulate systems of power. We'll explore marginalized cultures and animal-human hybrid bodies, nation-building agendas, antisemitic blood libel narratives, faux conversions to Islam, gender-bending protagonists to understand how fantasy, monstrosity, and cannibalism can be deployed as narrative tools to create what Geraldine Heng describes as "strategic essentialisms . . . a structural relationship for the articulation and management of human differences" (The Invention of Race in the Middle Ages 24, 27). We'll ground our discussions in the most recent critical work of medievalists who frame their readings of romance through critical race theory, post-colonial lenses, and gender theory. We'll contextualize their readings through Homi Bhabha's and Judith Butler's work to provide you with theoretical tools that will translate to more recent literature you're reading. (also listed as EN310)
Block 8: David Foster Wallace
Described by The New York Times as a "writer of virtuosic talents who can seemingly do anything," novelist, short-story writer, and essayist David Foster Wallace dramatically changed the face of contemporary fiction. In this course, we will explore Wallace's fiction and non-fiction, focusing both on his use of language and on the philosophical ideas that inform his writing. We will also critically examine Wallace's often problematic depictions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in his works. (also listed as EN280)

Summer Block C: Calling for Change: Literary activism and Social Movements in the Global Present

What is "literary activism"? And what does it mean to "call for change"? How does the relationship between "words and deeds," "literature and activism," and "social movements and action" challenge our understanding of art as an agent of change in the global present?

Beginning with readings from the Green Belt Movement in Africa, the Nation of Islam in Chicago, to the Civil Rights Movement and Hashtag Black Lives Matter in the US, and other reform movements from the Middle East and North Africa, this course explores the understudied relationship between literary writing and social movements that expose multiple systems of oppression and discrimination. Using a comparative lens of analysis, the course investigates how reform literature from various transcultural traditions illuminate the global incentives and underpinnings of contemporary social movements and the reasons behind their global rise or regional demise. Students will be exploring how literature operates as a form of civic engagement in response to inequities of race, gender, class and ethnicity.


CO390: Translation: Theory and Practice

Practical experience of translating literary texts paired with reading and discussion in the rich field of translation studies. Exploration of the questions that translation raises about language, literature, authority, and power, both through readings and through exercises in translation and in translation criticism. Translation workshops and discussion of the more practical issues of translation. Discussions of translations themselves as a cultural force and individual research projects on translation. (not offered 2020-2021)

CO391: Advanced Literary Theory:

Close examination of specific topics or issues in literary and cultural theory. Includes in-depth work with theoretical ideas and movements as well as practice with the application of theory to the analysis of literary and other cultural texts. Prerequisite: CO250 or EN250 or consent of instructor. 1 unit.

Winter Block J: Post-critique and the Return to Literary Form

Key issues in literary interpretation. Cultural criticism, Marxism, structuralism and deconstruction, feminist theory, ethnic criticism, psychoanalysis, hermeneutics, rhetorical criticism, etc. Prerequisite: 221 or 250 or consent of instructor. (also listed as EN306)


CO430: Thesis Preparation

Preliminary work on the senior thesis: identification of a compelling research question; training in how to conduct research; creation of an outline; creation of a preliminary bibliography; creation of a timeline for completion; and beginning of the writing of the thesis. Opportunities for students to discuss their work, the work of their colleagues, and theoretical texts of common interest in a workshop setting. 1 unit.


CO431: Senior Thesis

Thesis subject chosen by student and approved by Comparative Literature Program Director. Choice of subject, research, outline and writing completed in this course. Prerequisite: CO255 and CO430, required for majors. 1 unit.


Report an issue - Last updated: 12/17/2020