Comparative Literature

2023-2024 Courses

Fall 2023

Pizer Spring 2023

CPLT 7120: Theories of the Aesthetic Sublime from Antiquity to the Present Day

Instructor: John Pizer

Time: MW 1:30-2:50 p.m.

Common to almost all definitions of the aesthetic sublime is that it refers to a feeling of awe and veneration triggered by a work of art. However, what brings about this sentiment has been the subject of widely divergent arguments. Longinus was the most famous figure from Antiquity to deal with this issue. He argued that the sublime was a feeling evoked by outstanding writing or discourse which makes careful use of rhetoric. Kant believed that the awe inspired by the sublime is rooted in a feeling of terror, but a terror experienced in quiet contemplation. Burke believed that a sublime work of art must be rooted in obscured perception, as in a painting where exalted natural objects are portrayed from a great distance or at least somewhat shrouded. More recent work focuses on the phenomenology and psychology of sublime sentiment. Our class will examine theories of the sublime from Antiquity to the present day and on multiple continents. The grade will be based on the conducting of one class by each student and a term research paper of some 20 pages. The two required texts are an anthology of writing on the sublime and a work which provides a broad historical overview of this subject.

flyer russo

CPLT 7020: History of Literary Theory and Criticism from Romanticism to the Present

Instructor: Adelaide Russo

Time: M 3:00-5:50 p.m.

Course Objectives: 1) To study the history of Western Literary Criticism and Theory from the late Nineteenth Century to the Present, considering the changes in literary thought resulting from an increasingly global cultural perspective; 2) To develop students’ research and writing skills and help them understand the conventions and requirements of academic discourse on literature: 3) To facilitate students’ cultivation of their talents as creative readers and writers. 

Topics Addressed in Modern and Contemporary Schools and Movements: The Canon; Formalism; Structuralism, Poetry; Narrative Theory; Media, Culture and Post-Modernism; Deconstruction and Post-Structuralism; Feminism, Gender Studies and Queer Theory; Marxism, New Historicism and Literary History; Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, and Reader-Response Theory; Postcolonial Theory and Criticism; Race and Ethnicity; Psychoanalysis and its Critics; Ideology and Hegemony; Anthropological Approaches to Literature; Popular Culture; Media Studies; Digital Humanities. 

Euba course

CPLT 7130/THTR 7920-01: Drama of the African Diaspora

Instructor: Femi Euba

Time: T-TH 10:30-12:00 p.m.

A study of the dramatic and theatrical expressions of the black cultures of the New World (North and South America, and the Caribbean), identifying, where possible, comparable connections with African counterparts. Works include those by August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks, Aime Cesaire, Abdias do Nascimento, and Derek Walcott.  

Spieth Fall 2023

CPLT 7140 (Section 5): 20th-Century European Art

Instructor: Darius Spieth

Time: MWF 11:30-12:20 p.m.

This course surveys the development of twentieth-century European art through the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s. The first part of the course will retrace the evolution of various avant-garde movements until the outbreak of WWII. The second half will focus on the increasingly pluralistic art world that evolved in Europe since 1945 under the influence of American art movements and the post-war political environment. This course encourages you not only to get acquainted with the most important European twentieth-century artists and their works, but also to think about the relationship of the art presented with notions such as literary modernism, abstraction, the avant-garde, and postmodernism.

methodologyCPLT 7170: Methodology for Teaching World Literature

Instructor: Dr. Dorota Heneghan        

Time: TH 3:00-6:00

The goal of this course is twofold: 1) introduce students to current and past debates about questions of method, purpose, and challenges to teach world literature 2) explore a set of pedagogical techniques to create syllabi related to the selected theme in a variety of texts and films spanning the chronological periods to which the current undergraduate courses: CPLT 2201/ ENGL 2001, CPLT 2202 / ENGL 2202 and CPLT 2203 / SCRN 2203 correspond. In addition to surveying comparative literature’s history and approaches to teaching world literature and global cinema, students will examine methods for using secondary sources for original interpretation and presentation of selected texts and films, selection and development of teaching materials, observations of classes and reflective self-assessment.

Meghan Fall 2023

CPLT 2202: Global Perspectives on the Spanish Empire

Instructor: Meghan Hodges

Time: MWF 11:30-12:30 p.m.

Throughout this course, we will view and/or read a variety of texts from regions around the globe. Beginning with the Age of Exploration and ending with the colonial conflicts of the twentieth century, this course is designed to investigate the creation, flourishment, decline, and collapse of the Spanish Empire. We will make inquiry into the conditions of counter-colonial movements and peoples from colonized territories, Spain, and other nations who merely observed the collapse.

Alex Fall 2023

CPLT/ENG 2201: Masterpieces from Eastern, Near-Eastern, and Western Literatures

Instructor: Alexander Schmid

Time: MWF 1:30 - 2:20 p.m.

Join me on an epic quest through several masterpieces of Western and Near-Eastern Literature. This Fall, we will begin our exploration in the cradle of civilization with Gilgamesh and Enkidu. We will then proceed through Archaic Greece on an Odyssey with Homer to the isle of Lesbos to visit the poet Sappho. From those high seas, we will make the narrow crossing across the Ionian Sea to visit Rome, and there we will learn from Virgil's Aeneid the epic roots of the Roman Empire. From Rome, we will venture still west to the land of King Arthur, and there we will encounter the tale of Beowulf and the terrible Grendel. From the lonely island, we will voyage to Murasaki Shikibu’s 11th century Japan, and selections from her The Tale of Genji. We then sojourn back west to Syria, and there we will encounter Scheherazade and her Thousand and One Nights. We will conclude with short selections from four final masterpieces: Dante’s Divine Comedy, Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies, Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale (from The Canterbury Tales), and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. 

During our junket, we will be guided by the following overarching questions: (1) What makes a piece of literature a masterpiece? (2) How does a masterpiece relate to the genre of Epic in the ancient, medieval, and Early Modern worlds? (3) What does it mean for a work of literature to be a masterpiece of world literature? (4) How does the concept of world literature differ from a specific national literature, like Italian literature or Japanese literature? (5) What does it mean to read literature in translation?

Required Texts:

  1. Anonymous. The Epic of Gilgamesh: the Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. Trans. Arthur George. Penguin Books, 2020. ISBN: 978-0140449198
  2. Homer. The Odyssey of Homer. trans. Richmond Lattimore. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2007. ISBN: 978-0060904791
  3. Virgil. The Aeneid of Virgil. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum, Bantam Classics; Revised Ed., 1981. ISBN: 978-0553210415
  4. Anonymous. Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney, 1st ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2001. ISBN: 978-0393320978
  5. Anonymous. The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. Translated by J.C. Mardrus and Powys Mathers, 1st ed., II, Routledge, 1990. ISBN: 978-0415045407
  6. Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Edited by Gordon Teskey, 2nd ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2020. ISBN: 978-0393617085

midhat courseCPLT/ENGL 2201 (Section 2): Introduction to World Literary Traditions

Instructor: Midhat Shah

Time: MWF 2:30-3:20 p.m.

Divine love or عشق is a motif that has influenced writers throughout the ages, from every culture to every tradition since the dawn of time. Themes of passion, devotion, displacement, separation, and self-discovery, along with spiritual quests, and immortality have blossomed into texts of unsurpassed depth and complexity. Whether it is an ancient heroic and romantic epic or didactic poetry, these writers have entertained, sustained and comforted audiences and readers through their aural, visual or textual reception of their works.

This module will examine a range of genres and forms and will provide students with insight into the motif and interpretation of divine love, loss, and longing by looking at a specific selection of texts in English translation (in poetry and prose) by different authors from across the regions of Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia and Europe, from Antiquity to Renaissance. This course will take us through the works of a variety of writers, ranging from Meister Eckhart to Maulana Rumi to Hadewijch to Mira to Lalla Dyad, interpreting and critically analyzing a wide range of texts and engaging with a variety of critical approaches when we read specific texts in their cultural, intercultural, and historical contexts.

leslie flyer

CPLT/ENGL 2202: Introduction to Modern World Literature

Instructor: Leslie Quezada

Time: T-TH 12-1:20 p.m.

This course focuses on representative works of modern and contemporary world literature by authors such as Chikamatsu Monzaemon, Henrik Ibsen, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Frederick Douglass, and Wole Soyinka. From Journey to the West to The Metamorphosis, we will investigate representations of identity and culture, which will help guide our reading and analysis. We will begin our journey in the 14th century with early modern East Asian literature, traveling through places and time, ending with 21st century contemporary literature. The goal of this course is to introduce students to cultural diversity in a variety of literary traditions and genres, including novels, short-stories, film, poetry, and semi-autobiographical fiction. This course will also introduce foundational concepts and theories of world literature as an exciting field of study.