Courses Recommended For First Year Students

What is Comparative Literature?

Comparative Literature is a exciting interdisciplinary program that promotes the study of literatures in different languages as well as the relationship between literature and other spheres of cultural production. It also embraces broader inquiry into the relationship between literature and other disciplines and practices, such as the visual and performing arts, philosophy, history, politics, religion, and the sciences. Some critical perspectives are rhetoric and poetics, translation and reception, film theory and media studies, colonial and postcolonial studies, theories of ethnic and national identities, gender and queer theory, and psychoanalysis.

Comparative Literature majors are expected to develop competence in at least one language other than their native language, and to work with original texts in more than one language.

*In Comparative Literature higher course numbers don't mean they are advanced courses; first year students are welcome to take the higher number courses.


Course Descriptions for First Year Students

First-year students are allowed to enroll in any of our courses:

COLT 01. Read the World (F)

COLT 10.12 Race in the Middle Ages (S)

COLT 10.16 Flashes of Recognition in Modernist Literature(F)

COLT 18.03: From the Typewriter to Virtual Reality: Modern Media Theory(W)

COLT 19.01 Translation: Theory and Practice (W)

COLT 34.01 Theatre of Ideas in France, England, and the US (F)

COLT 40.01. History of the Book (F)

COLT 51.01: Masterpieces of African Literature(S)

COLT 52.02: New Latin America Cinema(S)

COLT 53.04: Rogues, Riddlers, Lovers, Liars: Love and Death in the Mediterranean (S)

COLT 57.05: Migration Stories (S)

COLT 60.01: Literature and Music (S)

COLT 61.01: Art Writing and Writers on Art (S)

COLT 63.02 The Conspiratorial Imagination (S)

COLT 64.01 Nazis, Neonazis Antifa and the Others(F)

COLT 65.04 Literature and Medicine (F)

COLT 66.02 Literature and Psychoanalysis: the Culture Legacy of Sigmund Freud (S)

COLT 72.01 Global literary Theory(F)



01. Read the World

Do you know how to read? Faces. Words. Pictures. Bodies. Games. Books. People. What are you really doing when you read the world? This course teaches comparative methods designed to confront the (mis) understandings and (mis) translations that constitute reading across the world's languages, locations, cultures, historical periods, and expressive forms. Classwork consists of hands-on exercises that engage ancient and modern myths and materials drawn from various media: text, movies, video games, anime, and digital arts.

10.16 Flashes of Recognition in Modernist Literature

Modernist literature is full of sudden moments of insight that transform the way the world is perceived. Such literary epiphanies allow writers to explore the subjective dimensions of consciousness and experiment with new modes of storytelling. The course will explore the question of how to interpret flashes of recognition and consider whether language can adequately represent them. Readings of works by Chekhov, Joyce, Proust, Woolf, Musil, Rilke, Kafka, and Beckett.

34.01 Theatre of Ideas in France, England, and the US

An exploration of the main intellectual movements, dramatic forms, and playwrights that shaped the evolution of British and French theatre in the post war period. Particular attention given to modern drama history, theory, and performance and how they relate to the wider social and political context. Writers drawn from some of the following: Osborne, Pinter, Stoppard, Churchill, Hare, Bennett, Ravenhill, Sartre, Beckett, Genet, Cixous and Mnouchkine, Koltes, Reza, and Ndiaye.

40.01. History of the Book

This course examines the book as a material and cultural object. We'll consider various practical and theoretical models for understanding the book form and investigating the materials, technologies, institutions, and practices of its production, dissemination, and reception. We'll focus primarily on the printed book in Western Europe and North America, but we'll also discuss the emergence of the codex (book), medieval manuscript books, twentieth and twenty-first century artist's books and the challenges posed by digitality to the book form. The readings for the course will be balanced by frequent use of exemplars drawn from Rauner Library and practical experience setting type in the Book Arts workshop.

64.01 Nazis, Neonazis Antifa and the Others
Why do the Nazis remain the world's epitome of evil? What did they actually do? And how specifically are they remembered, depicted, emulated, despised or ignored since the catastrophes of the mid-twentieth Century? In this course we will examine the main events connected with the Second World War, the genocide of European Jewry and Roma-Sinti, forced resettlements of various populations, and the Allied attacks on the German civilian population.  We will analyze the different stages of coming to grips with that past on the part of German and some other postwar societies, by examining together a number of controversies like those surrounding the Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Eichmann and Barbie trials, the campaign to build a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Neonazism, the Wehrmacht photo exhibition, and the current campaign to remember German civilian casualties and losses.  Approaching our topic with an interdisciplinary and comparative methodology, that is, by utilizing history, journalism, video testimony, music, literature, and art, including film, photography and architecture, students will develop their own perspectives on the formation of postwar German identity and why Nazis remain the epitome of evil. An individual midterm project will allow students to practice the skill of summarizing different sides of a debate, and a final group project will invite students to solidify what they have learned in the course about the formation of national identity by creatively staging a contemporary debate about the Nazi past.

72.01 Global literary Theory

Comparative Literature entails conscious engagements with theories of literature, language, and culture from throughout the world. This course ranges across some of the ideas that have been influential in shaping scholarly questions in a variety of languages. It also addresses the global dimensions of theory: rhetorics and ethics of comparison, world literature, and indigenous knowledges.