Core Courses

Courses offered in the past four years. Courses offered currently are as noted.

Course Description

Introduction to World Literature
This course is an introduction to the critical analysis of imaginative literature of the world, the dissemination of themes and myths, and the role of translation as the medium for reaching different cultures. Through the careful reading of selected classic texts from a range of Western and non-Western cultures, students will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the particular texts under consideration, while developing a critical vocabulary with which to discuss and write about these texts, both as unique artistic achievements of individual and empathetic imagination and as works affected by, but also transcending their historical periods. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

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Course Description

The Experience of Tragedy
For over two millennia tragedy has raised ethical questions and represented conflicts between the divine and the mortal, nature and culture, household and polity, individual and society. What is tragedy? What led to its production and what impact did it have, in ancient times? Why was it reborn in Shakespeare's time? How has tragedy shaped, and been shaped by, gender, class, religion, and nationality? We will address these questions and explore how tragedy continues to influence our literary expectations and experience. Authors may include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Thucydides, Aristotle, Seneca, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Goethe, Nietzsche, O'Neill, Beckett, Kennedy, and Kushner. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Adventures in Literary Romance
In this course we will explore the literary genre of romance. Today, “romance” often refers to courtship—only one aspect of this ancient genre. Other aspects include adventure, magic, wonder, multiple plots, multiple authors, an affinity for sequels. Romance’s associations with every genre—tragedy, comedy, epic, novel, lyric poetry—and its reputation for escapism have made it an epitome of the very idea of literature, as conceived by attackers and defenders. Its welcoming of female readers and protagonists and its marketing of the exotic have raised issues of gender and ethnicity. We will discuss all such aspects and implications of romance, and we may also explore how romance has shaped modern television and film. No papers or exams; there will be quizzes daily on the reading, and students will be expected to participate thoughtfully in class discussions. Readings from texts such as: Daphnis and Chloe, Ethiopian Romance, The Gospel of Luke, The Golden Ass, Arthurian romances by various authors, Orlando Inamorato, Orlando Furioso, The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, Don Quixote,/ Waverly/, Madame Bovary, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Time Quintet. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

LIT

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Course Description

Greek and Roman Epic Poetry
Would Achilles and Hector have risked their lives and sacred honor had they understood human life and the Olympian gods as Homer portrays them in the Iliad? Why do those gods decide to withdraw from men altogether following the Trojan War, and why is Odysseus the man Athena chooses to help her carry out that project? And why, according to the Roman poet Vergil, do these gods command Aeneas, a defeated Trojan, to found an Italian town that will ultimately conquer the Greek cities that conquered Troy, replacing the Greek polis with a universal empire that will end all wars of human freedom? Through close study of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, and Vergil's Aeneid, we explore how the epic tradition helped shape Greece and Rome, and define their contributions to European civilization. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, EUR, LIT, PHL

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Course Description

Greek and Roman Comedy
A survey of the comic playwrights of Greece (Aristophanes and Menander) and Rome (Plautus and Terence) in light of their ancient social, political, and religious contexts as well as modern theoretical approaches to laughter (including psychoanalysis and structural anthropology). We will trace enduring aspects of the comic tradition that can be found in both Greece and Rome and also look forward to Renaissance and modern comedy. These include: the nature of the comic hero; the patterns of comic plots; the dependence of comedy on language; the comic poet's concern with questions of freedom and slavery, desire and repression. (formerly CLAS 0160) 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Once Upon A Time ... Folk Fairy Tales Of The World
Tell me a story! We will examine the complex, inter-connected fairy tale traditions found in every society. Comparing fairy tale variants from around the world-including Japan, China, India, Near East, Africa-we will explore their convoluted and fertile relationships as observed in the rise of fairy tale collections in 15th-century Europe, reaching a culmination in the Brothers Grimm collection, often synonymous with the fairy tale itself. To attain a more dispassionate critical perspective we will explore theoretical approaches to the fairy tales through authors such as Zipes, Bottigheimer, Tatar, and Rölleke, and conclude by examining modern variants in prose, poetry, and film. (not open to students who have taken FYSE 1511) 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Winter 2021, Spring 2022, Winter 2023

Requirements

CMP, LIT

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Course Description

The Fictions of Science and Science Fiction: Technological Fantasies in Global Context
In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt refers to science fiction as “a vehicle for mass sentiments and mass desires” that bears witness to the fact that “science has realized and affirmed what men anticipated in dreams that were neither wild nor idle.” Drawing on a wide range of literary, cinematic, and philosophical texts from Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, in this course we will examine how cultural specificity informs and responds to the demands of technological fantasy, and investigate the challenges and opportunities posed to the concept of “the human” in an age dominated by technology. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CMP, LIT

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Course Description

Introduction to Contemporary Literary Theory
In this course we will introduce several major schools of contemporary literary theory. By reading theoretical texts in close conjunction with works of literature, we will illuminate the ways in which these theoretical stances can produce multiple interpretations of a given literary work. The approaches covered may include New Criticism, Psychoanalysis, Marxism and Cultural Criticism, Race Theory and Multicultural Criticism, Feminism, Post-Colonial Criticism, Queer Studies, Eco-Criticism, Post-Structuralism, and others. These theories will be applied to various works of fiction, poetry, and drama. The goal will be to make students critically aware of the fundamental literary, cultural, political, and moral assumptions underlying every act of interpretation they perform. 3 hrs. lect/disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Modern Arabic Literature
This course is a survey of the most important moments in the development of Modern Arabic Literature from the end of 19th century to the present. We will map the developments, achievements, and innovations by Arab writers against a double background of rising nationalism, decolonization, and wars on the one hand and the idea and experiences of modernity and the west on the other. We will examine works of fiction by both male and female writers including novels, short stories, and drama, as well as poetry representing several different Arab countries. Students are encouraged to read in advance Albert Hourani's A History of the Arab People. (Open to all, no previous knowledge of Arabic is required). 3 hrs. Sem

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

AAL, LIT, MDE

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Course Description

Literature and the Mystical Experience
In this course we will explore how narrative art articulates spiritual perception by examining selected works of 20th century writers such as Miguel De Unamuno, Nikos Kazantzakis, J. D. Salinger, Charles Williams, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Merton, Alice Munroe, Marilynne Robinson, and Annie Dillard. Drawing on theology and philosophy as an interpretative mode, we will consider the following questions: How does literature illuminate selfhood and interiority? How do contemplation and ascetic practice guide the self to divine knowledge and cosmic unification? How do language, imagery and symbols shape the unitive experience as a tool for empathy and understanding of the other? 3 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, LIT, PHL

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Course Description

Human Rights and World Literature
In this course we will explore the idiom of human rights in law, literature, and political culture. We will place literary representations of human rights violations (genocide, torture, detention and forced labor, environmental devastation, police violence) in dialogue with official human rights treaties and declarations in order to historicize and critique the assumptions of human rights discourse. Who qualifies as a “human” deserving of humanitarian intervention? How do human rights rehearse a colonial dynamic based on racial and geo-political privilege? To answer these questions we will turn to some of the most controversial voices in global fiction and poetry. 3 hrs. lect. (not open to students who have taken ENAM 0230)
(Diversity)/

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2023

Requirements

CMP, LIT, SOC

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Course Description

Representation in Modern Hebrew Literature: Nation and Identities
Modern Hebrew literature, in its relatively short history, presents exceptional richness. In this course we will explore the theme of nation and identity in modern Hebrew literature: we will visit the personal lyricism of Bialik and his circle, the encyclopedic prose of Agnon, the troubled stream of consciousness of Gnessin, the stark realism of Brenner, the symbolism of Alterman, and the deliberately thin post-modern prose of Keret. We will meet modern Hebrew literature’s remarkable achievements as well as its points of crisis. We will also explore its deep historical roots which make modern Hebrew literature so unique. All readings in the course will be in English. 3 hrs. lect./disc

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AAL, CMP, LIT, MDE

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Course Description

Magical Realism(s)
Novels that juxtapose the marvelous with the everyday have shadowed (and mocked) mainstream realism for the better part of two centuries, and have proliferated in recent years to the point where they may constitute the predominant genre of our globalized culture. Why should such strange mélanges of the quotidian and the supernatural strike so many authors as the perfect vehicle to express 20th and 21st century anxieties and possibilities? We will explore examples of these boundary-defying fictions across several decades and various national literatures. Authors to be studied will include Woolf, Kafka, Calvino, Morrison, Pynchon, Rushdie, and Garcia-Marquez.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CMP, LIT

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Course Description

Philosophy & Literature
In this course we will explore the border both separating and joining philosophy and literature. How does literature evoke philosophical problems, and how do philosophers interpret such works? How does fiction create meaning? Beginning with Greek tragedy, we investigate Plato’s “quarrel” with, and Aristotle’s defense of, poetry. Then we will turn to modern works, mostly European, on topics such as: tragedy and ethics; style and rhetoric; author and reader; time and temporality; mood and emotion; existence and mortality. Literary readings after Sophocles will be selected from Borges, Calvino, Camus, Kafka, Tolstoy, and Woolf. Philosophical readings after Plato and Aristotle will be selected from Bergson, Danto, Freud, Murdoch, Ricoeur, and Nussbaum. Not open to students who have taken PHIL/CMLT 1014.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT, PHL

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Course Description

Literary Feasts: Representations of Food in Modern Narrative (in English)
This course will consider food and eating practices within specific cultural and historical contexts. We will analyze realistic, symbolic, religious, erotic, and political functions surrounding the preparation and consumption of food. Readings will be drawn from several national traditions, with a focus on Europe. Authors will include, among others, I. Dinesen, L. Esquivel, J. Harris, E. Hemingway, T. Lampedusa, P. Levi, C. Petrini, M. Pollan, E. Vittorini, and B. Yoshimoto. Viewing of several films where food and eating play an important role will supplement class discussion.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2021

Requirements

EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Contemporary Literature
In this course we will explore seminal works of the post-World War II literature written in English. In the course of our readings we will move through the cultural and social transformations beginning with the paranoia and alienation of the Cold War, and continuing with the Civil Rights era, the national crisis of Vietnam, the rise of multiculturalism and the culture wars in the 1980s, the wide ranging effects of the information revolution, the profits and perils of globalization, and the profound anxiety of the war on terror. Writers studied will include Thomas Pynchon, Vladimir Nabokov, Don DeLillo, Donald Barthelme, William S. Burroughs, Toni Morrison, Ishmael Reed, Ana Castillo, and Art Spiegelman. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, LIT, NOR

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Course Description

Representing the Unthinkable: The Holocaust in Literature (in English)
Can the Holocaust be described in words? Can images represent the horrors of Auschwitz? In this seminar we will explore the literary and artistic representations of the Shoah and its legacies, their mechanisms, tensions, and challenges. We will approach the issues of Holocaust representations by considering a significant array of texts that span genres, national literatures, time, narrative and poetic styles, and historical situations. Readings will include texts on witnessing, memory, post-memory, and trauma by authors such as Bernhard Schlink, Art Spiegelman, Hans J. Massaquoi, Primo Levi, Ruth Klüger, Nora Krug, Paul Celan, Sherman Alexie, and Hannah Arendt. 3hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CMP, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

God and Love in the Ancient World: India and Israel
Are loving god and loving a person the same thing? Do people use the same forms of expression for human and divine love? Lovers of all kinds have been asking these questions since the second millennium, BCE. In this course we will explore these questions and others by reading poetry, narrative, prayer, and epic from two ancient classical civilizations: Brahmanical India and Biblical Israel. We will read Indian texts of the Rg Veda, the Bhagavad Gita, and devotional hymns to the classical Hindu gods and goddesses. We will compare these texts with those from the Hebrew Bible, including well-known narratives of royalty, the psalms and the Song of Songs. (At least one RELI course required; courses in the study of literature preferred but not required). 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CMP, LIT, PHL, SOA

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Course Description

Poetics of Translation
In this course we will explore the philosophical and linguistic questions raised by translingual discourse [with an emphasis on poetic writing] by surveying the most important theoretical writings on translation as we compare selections of poetry in multiple translations. Selections will include both “classic” texts such as the Psalms, the Illiad, Catullus, Li Bo, Rumi, Clément Marot, and/ Eugene Onenin/ as well as new experimental translingual poetry. We will discuss such questions as: How does language shape thought? How does culture shape language? Is poetry “untranslatable” by definition? What are the challenges of translating sacred or “exotic” poetry? 3 hrs. lect/disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

AAL, CMP, LIT, NOA

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Course Description

Tang Poetry / American Poetry
Amy Lowell and Ezra Pound, rival founders of the Imagist poetry movement a century ago, both published influential translations of Tang-dynasty lyrics, even though neither one knew a word of Chinese. In this course, we will not only study their accomplishments in context, but go a step further to begin learning how to read and write the most commonly used characters in Tang poetry so that we can parse a selection of the best poems in the original as we explore such topics as the differences between Chinese and European poetics, theories of translation and intercultural adaptation, and Orientalist fantasies of the ideogram. No knowledge of Chinese is necessary. 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

CMP, LIT

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Course Description

Postcolonial Literature City
In this course we will examine a number of novels from the 20th and 21st centuries that are about life in the city, taking a global and trans-national approach. We will explore formations of urban life alongside transformations in the novel as a genre. We will put these novels of city life in dialogue with critical theory—that is, theories of culture and society that have as their aim human emancipation (for example, Marxism, feminism, critical race studies, and postcolonial studies). The novels we read will reflect important literary movements such as realism, modernism, and postmodernism. (Not open to students who have taken ENAM 0447)

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020

Requirements

CMP, LIT, SOC

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Course Description

Colonial Discourse and the “Lusophone World”
In this course we will analyze how European colonialism and imperial endeavors produced meaning, particularly in the interconnected realms of culture, race, language, gender, sexuality, and place. In addition to studying the colonial period, we will pay particular attention to the role and manifestations of colonial discourse more contemporarily in the contexts of nationhood, globalization, sports, and cultural consumption. In doing so, we will address the problematics of the concept of “Lusophone,” starting with the historical legacies and cultural implications of such a transnational entity. Course materials will include critical theory, literary texts, primary historical sources, visual media, and music from Brazil, Lusophone Africa, Lusophone Asia, and Portugal. (PGSE 0215 or equivalent) 3 hrs. lect./disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Fall 2020

Requirements

AAL, CMP, LNG, SOC

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Course Description

Exploring Orientalist Adventures in the Americas
In this class we will study 20th and 21st century adventure narratives from the Americas to explore how artists have struggled to represent Asian or Middle East cultures within or against Western imperialist ideologies. We will use Edward Said’s seminal work Orientalism as a theoretical framework and study how racist narratives are predominant within our industrial mass media (radio, serials, films, comic books, social media, and streaming services). Furthermore, we will explore how new gender and race paradigms have provided space for adventure narratives that attempt to dismantle the biases against Asian citizens in the Americas. This class will cover from Martial Arts narratives in the United States to Mexican Geisha comic books to Argentinean adventures in the Middle East.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, LIT, LNG

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Course Description

History of Classical Literature
A comprehensive overview of the major literary, historical, and philosophical works of Greece and Rome. Greek authors studied include Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Herodotus, Aristophanes, Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle. Roman authors include Lucretius, Cicero, Livy, Vergil, Petronius, and Tacitus. Required of senior majors in Classics/Classical Studies (see CLAS 0701) and open to all interested students with some background in Greek and Roman literature, history, or philosophy. 3 hrs. lect.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

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Course Description

The Novels of J.M. Coetzee: Ethics and Empire
Coetzee, whose novels engage questions of institutional racism, state-sponsored violence, patriarchal privilege, environmental degradation, animal rights, and how to ethically approach cultural Others, manages to speak of specific historical circumstances—such as South Africa’s apartheid regime—while simultaneously addressing universal dilemmas of our contemporary human condition. Having received both the Booker (twice) and Nobel Prizes for literature, Coetzee is recognized as the living heir of both Kafka and Beckett, and as a writer whose searing prose and formal experimentation both extend and transform the novel’s traditional role as our culture’s most skeptical self-inquisitor. Depicting every act of writing as either a confrontation or an evasion, Coetzee both reveres and rebukes the literary traditions he warily embraces. We will read his strongest and most globally recognized works, from Waiting for the Barbarians through Disgrace.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

LIT

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Course Description

Independent Study
Approval Required

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Senior Thesis
A senior thesis is normally completed over two semesters. During Fall and Winter terms, or Winter and Spring terms, students will write a 35-page (article length) comparative essay, firmly situated in literary analysis. Students are responsible for identifying and arranging to work with their primary language and secondary language readers, and consulting with the program director before completing the CMLT Thesis Declaration form. (Approval required.)

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

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Course Description

Modern Philosophy & Literature
In this course, focused on close, intensive readings of key texts, we will explore the border that both separates and joins philosophy and literature. How does literature evoke philosophical problems, and how do philosophers interpret such works? How does fiction create meaning?  We will explore philosophical literature and literary philosophy in 20th Century works, mainly European and North American, on topics such as: style and rhetoric; author and reader; time and temporality; mood and emotion; existence and mortality. Literary readings will be selected from Borges, Calvino, Camus, Kafka, Morrison, and Woolf. Philosophical readings will be selected from Bergson, Danto, Freud, Murdoch, Nussbaum and Ricoeur. (Previous course in PHIL or CMLT or waiver) (Not open to students who have taken PHIL/CMLT 0286)

Terms Taught

Winter 2019

Requirements

EUR, LIT, PHL, WTR

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Approved non-CMLT electives

  • ITAL/LITS 0290 - Dante in English
  • ENAM/GSFS 0302 - Unquiet Minds: Gender & Madness
  • ARBC 0220 - Arab Women’s Literature in Translation