Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature: Françoise Meltzer,
HM E688, 702-8474
Director of Undergraduate Studies: David Bevington, G-B 510, 702-9899
Departmental Office and Secretary: JoAnn Baum, Wb 232, 702-8486
The concentration in Comparative Literature leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree. This program is designed to attract students who wish to pursue an interdisciplinary plan of course work focused on the study of literature as written in various languages and in various parts of the world.
Such a student might come to the University with a strong background in languages in addition to English, and want to work in two or more literatures (one of which can be English). Another student might have a strong interest in literary study and wish to address general, generic, and/or transnational questions that go beyond the boundaries of national literature offered by English and other literature departments. Or a student might wish to pursue an in-depth study of the interrelationship of literature and culture, as well as issues that transcend the traditional demarcations of national literary history and area studies.
These descriptions of academic interest are not mutually exclusive. Each student will design a plan of course work that will suit his or her individual goals and that will take advantage of the rich offerings of this university.
The aim of the following guidelines is to help
students develop a balanced and coherent plan for their study. The
Director of Undergraduate Studies in Comparative Literature is available
to discuss these guidelines with students who are interested in
1. Students must complete a second-year sequence
in a language other than English, or demonstrate language ability
of an equivalent skill. Students should have completed this requirement,
or be well on their way to its completion, by the time of application
to the program, normally the end of their second year. See "Participation
in the Program" below for further details.
2. Six courses in a major field, or in closely
integrated subject areas in more than one field, are required.
3. Four courses in a minor field, or in closely
integrated subject areas in more than one field, are required.
4. Two courses that emphasize critical and intellectual
methods in comparative literature are required, one of which must
be an introduction to the study of comparative literature. See,
for example, Comparative Literature 25900 below under "Courses."
5. One directed study course must be devoted
to the preparation of the B.A. project (Comparative Literature 29900).
The project will be supervised by a faculty member of the student's
choice, with that faculty member's consent and the approval of the
Director of Undergraduate Studies; that faculty member may be, but
need not be, on the faculty of Comparative Literature. A graduate
student in Comparative Literature will serve as a tutor or preceptor
for all B.A. projects, working with students on the mechanics of
writing and providing tutorial assistance.
Summary of Requirements
6 major field courses
4 minor field courses
2 critical/intellectual methods courses
1 B.A. project (CMLT 29900)
Beyond the thirteen courses required for the concentration,
the department encourages its students to pursue further language
study. Elementary courses in second or third languages cannot, however,
be counted toward the total needed to complete the concentration.
The courses in critical/intellectual methods may
be counted toward the fulfillment of six courses in the major field
or toward four courses in the minor field if their materials are
appropriate for those purposes, but the total number of courses
presented for the concentration or major must total thirteen.
A typical student wishing to work in two literatures
(one of which can be English) might choose two literatures as the
major and minor fields. A student interested in literary study across
national boundaries with a focus on generic and transnational questions
might create a major field along generic lines (e.g., film, the
epic, the novel, poetry, drama, or opera); the minor field might
be a particular national literature or a portion of such a literature.
A student interested in literary and cultural theory might choose
theory as either a major or minor field, paired with another field
designed along generic lines or those of one or more national literatures.
Courses in the various literature departments and
in General Studies in the Humanities are obviously germane to the
building of any individual program. A student is likely to find
courses in the Humanities Collegiate Division and in the Department
of History that extend beyond the usual definitions of literature
(e.g., film, art, music, and history) to be appropriate to her or
his individual program of study. Study abroad offers an attractive
means of fulfilling various aims of this program.
Participation in the Program. Students should
express their interest in the concentration as soon as possible,
normally before the end of their second year. The first step is
to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to consult about
a program of study. Thereafter, students are required to submit
a written proposal of about one thousand words in length that consists
of two parts: (1) a statement explaining how the proposed plan of
study will take advantage of existing College offerings and meet
departmental requirements; and (2) a list of proposed courses (as
well as alternates) and indications of how they will fulfill the
department's requirements. Applicants must also submit a list of
completed courses and a list of courses in which they are currently
registered. Special mention should be made of language courses or
other language training that affirms a student's level of language
proficiency. Each proposal will be evaluated on the basis of the
interest of the student and his or her achievement in the study
of languages needed to meet the goals of the intended course of
Concentrators should demonstrate proficiency in
a literary language (other than English) that is relevant to their
proposed course of study (as indicated in requirement number one
above). This requirement must be met at the time of application
or shortly thereafter. Such proficiency is measured by the completion
of a second-year sequence in the language, or by demonstration of
an equivalent skill. By the time of graduation, concentrators should
also achieve the level of language study needed to obtain a Second
Language Proficiency Certificate from the College. This requirement
is intended to underscore the program's commitment to the study
of foreign languages, and to encourage and facilitate study abroad
as a part of the course of study. Language ability is essential
to work in comparative literature of whatever sort. The Department
of Comparative Literature takes language preparation into consideration
when evaluating applications, but it will also help students achieve
their individual goals by suggesting programs of study that will
add to their language expertise as appropriate.
B.A. Project. One obvious choice for a B.A.
project is a substantial essay in comparative literary study. This
option should not, however, rule out other possibilities. Two examples
might be a translation from a foreign literature with accompanying
commentary, or a written project based on research done abroad in
another language and culture relating to comparative interests.
Students are urged to base their project on comparative concepts,
and to make use of the language proficiency that they will develop
as they meet the program's requirements.
Grading. All courses to be used in the concentration
must be taken for a letter grade, which must be a B- or higher.
Special Honors. To be eligible for special
honors, students must earn an overall cumulative grade point average
of 3.25 or higher, and a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in
the concentration. They must also complete a B.A. essay or project
that is judged exceptional in intellectual and/or creative merit
by the first and second readers.
Advising. In addition to their College adviser,
concentrators should consult on an ongoing basis with the Director
of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Comparative Literature.
Further advice and counseling will be available from the preceptor
for the program and from the faculty member who supervises the student's
David Bevington, Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities and Departments of Comparative Literature and English Language & Literature, and the College
Loren Kruger, Professor, Departments of English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature, Committee on African & African-American Studies, and the College
Saree Makdisi, Associate Professor, Departments of Comparative Literature and English Language & Literature, and the College
Françoise Meltzer, Professor, Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, the Divinity School, and the College; Chair, Department of Comparative Literature
Michael J. Murrin, David B. and Clara E. Stern Professor in the Humanities, Departments of English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature, the Divinity School, and the College
THOMAS PAVEL, Professor, Departments of Romance Languages & Literature and Comparative Literature, and the College
Lawrence Rothfield, Associate Professor, Departments of English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature, and the College
Joshua Scodel, Associate Professor, Departments of English Language & Literature and Comparative Literature, Committee on General Studies in the Humanities, and the College
Katie Trumpener, Professor, Departments of Germanic Studies, Comparative Literature, and English Language & Literature, and Committee on General Studies in the Humanities, and the College
YURI TSIVIAN, Professor, Departments of Art History, Slavic Languages & Literatures, Comparative Literature, and Cinema & Media Studies, and the College
Robert von Hallberg, Professor, Departments of Germanic Studies, English Language & Literature, and Comparative Literature, and the College
Anthony C. Yu, Carl Darling Buck Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities and the Divinity School, Departments of Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages & Civilizations, and English Language & Literature, and Committee on Social Thought
For a description of the numbering guidelines for the following courses, consult the section on reading the catalog on page 15.
20500/30500. History and Theory of Drama I (=ANST
21200, CLAS 31200, CMLT 20500/30500, ENGL 13800/31000, GSHU 24200/34200).
May be taken in sequence with CMLT 20600/30600 or individually.
This course is a survey of major trends and theatrical accomplishments
in Western drama from the ancient Greeks through the Renaissance:
Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, medieval religious
drama, Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson, along with some consideration
of dramatic theory by Aristotle, Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, and
Dryden. The goal is not to develop acting skill but, rather, to
discover what is at work in the scene, and to write up that process
in a somewhat informal report. Students have the option of writing
essays or putting on short scenes in cooperation with other members
of the class. End-of-week workshops, in which individual scenes
are read aloud dramatically and discussed, are optional but highly
recommended. D. Bevington, D. N. Rudall. Autumn.
20600/30600. History and Theory of Drama
II (=CMLT 20600/30600, ENGL 13900/31100, GSHU 24300/34300). May
be taken in sequence with CMLT 20500/30500 or individually. This
course is a survey of major trends and theatrical accomplishments
in Western drama from the late seventeenth century into the twentieth:
Molière, Goldsmith, Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, Wilde, Shaw,
Brecht, Beckett, and Stoppard. Attention is also paid to theorists
of the drama, including Stanislavsky, Artaud, and Grotowski. The
goal is not to develop acting skill but, rather, to discover what
is at work in the scene, and to write up that process in a somewhat
informal report. Students have the option of writing essays or putting
on short scenes in cooperation with some other members of the class.
End-of-week workshops, in which individual scenes are read aloud
dramatically and discussed, are optional but highly recommended.
D. Bevington, D. N. Rudall. Winter.
21300. Theories of Narrative (=CMLT 21300MAPH
35100). In this class, we discuss literary "ways of telling"
and recent critical methods of understanding and analyzing narrative.
Late nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels were the basis, as
well as the focus, for much of twentieth-century narrative theory.
We analyze these theories while reading and thinking through a wider
range of narratives stretching from the Renaissance to the twentieth
century. J. Phillips. Winter.
21400. Postcolonial Art and Theory (=CMLT 21400,
MAPH 34100). This course examines the art and theory of postcoloniality.
It includes readings by such notable critics of colonialism and
postcolonialism as Homi Bhabha, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Jean-Paul
Sartre, and Gayatri Spivak. These authors illuminate our discussion
of specific literary texts, films, and pieces of contemporary art.
We focus on questions of culture, violence, and the ethics or social
responsibility of the reader/spectator, critic, and artist. The
debates surrounding the 1989 uproar around Salman Rushdie's The
Satanic Verses is a central concern of the class. We attempt to
make sense of the contradictions between cultural and political
rights, and between individual and collective rights. We also examine
questions involving art and violence: violence as a formal technique
and the act of violence due to art. T Fernando. Winter.
22400/32400. History of International Cinema
I: Silent Era (=ARTH 28500/38500, CMLT 22400/32400, CMST 28500/48500,
COVA 26500, ENGL 29300/48700, MAPH 33600). This is the first
part of a two-quarter course. The two parts may be taken individually,
but taking them in sequence is helpful. The aim of this course
is to introduce students to what was singular about the art and
craft of silent film. Its general outline is chronological; we also
discuss main national schools and international trends of filmmaking.
Y. Tsivian. Autumn.
24400/34400. Lost Illusions by Balzac
(=CMLT 24400/34400, FNDL 21200, FREN 31200). PQ: Open only
to concentrators in Fundamentals and Comparative Literature and
to graduate students in Romance Languages and Literatures. Concentrators
in Comparative Literature must have completed that department's
language requirement. This course studies Balzac's masterpiece
Lost Illusions in the context of this author's oeuvre. We
address issues such as the rise of the modern individual, the tensions
between talent and social pressures, and the struggle between the
urge to succeed and moral responsibility. We also examine the question
of literary realism and idealism, and Balzac's place in the history
of the modern novel. T. Pavel. Spring.
24500/34500. Kierkegaard (=CMLT 24500/34500,
GRMN 25200/35200, MAPH 35000, SCTH 41400). The Danish philosopher
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55), a relatively obscure figure
in his own times, made a tremendous impact on twentieth-century
philosophy. This course seeks to work out Kierkegaard's significance
for modern thought by locating his aesthetics, ethics, and theology
within the general context of the erosion of romantic-idealistic
discursive networks in the 1840s. The focus is on the most productive
period of his philosophical thinking from The Concept of Irony
(1841) to the Postscript (1846). Students interested in
reading Kierkegaard in the original will have the opportunity to
receive instruction in the Danish language after each seminar session.
C. Tang. Spring.
24600. The Politics of Adultery (=CMLT 24600,
GNDR 25500, SPAN 25500). This course examines sexual and textual
promiscuity in the nineteenth-century European novel. Reading major
examples of the novel of adultery (i.e., Flaubert's Madame Bovary
and Clarín's La Regenta), we attempt to understand
why the plot of female infidelity came to dominate the novel of
this period. Placing the works side by side, we explore how Clarín
put Flaubert's adultery novel into dialogue with other texts and
genres (e.g., the Bildungsroman, the prostitute's tale, and
melodrama) to draw out its social and political implications. Secondary
readings may include essays by Roland Barthes, Jules de Gaultier,
Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, Sigmund Freud, René Girard,
Fredric Jameson, Barbara Johnson, Georg Lukács, Jeffrey Mehlman,
Franco Moretti, Ronald Paulson, Tony Tanner, and Slavoj Zizek. Classes
conducted in English. E. Amann. Autumn.
25900/35900. Medieval Epic (=CMLT 25900/35900,
ENGL 15800/35800). In 2001-02, this course fulfills the requirement
for one of the two critical/intellectual methods courses for CMLT
concentrators. Major works such as Beowulf, The Song of Roland,
The Cid, and II Pergerio are examined. Attention is also
given to poems such as the alliterative Morte d'Arthur. M. Murrin.
29100/39100. Renaissance Epic (=CMLT 29100/39100,
ENGL 16300/36300, RLIT 30900). The emphasis of this class is
on the neoclassical epic, its theory, and its connections with history.
We read Camoe's Lusiads, the epic about the first European
voyage around Africa to India; Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, the
epic about the First Crusade that influenced The Faerie Queene;
plus his Discourses on the Art of Poetry, in which he sets
up a theory of neoclassical epic that also affected Milton. Finally,
we read Milton's Paradise Lost. M. Murrin. Winter.
29700. Reading Course. PQ: Consent of
instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students are required
to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Must be
taken for a letter grade. This course cannot normally satisfy
distribution requirements for CMLT concentrators; if a special case
can be made, apply to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for
permission. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.
29900. B.A. Project: Comparative Literature.
PQ. Consent of instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research
Course Form. In consultation with a faculty member, students
devote the equivalent of a one-quarter course to the preparation
of a B.A. project. Staff. Autumn, Winter, Spring.
31300. Theory of Literature: The Classical Background
(=CMLT 31300, RLIT 37100). PQ: Consent of instructor.
A close reading of texts by Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus,
Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Boccaccio, Dante, selected theorists
of the Italian Renaissance, Sidney, and Dryden, for the purpose
of providing resources for current work in literary theory and religious
criticism. A. Yu. Autumn.
32900. Mythologies of Evil (=CMLT 32900,
HREL 40400, RLIT 40400). PQ: Consent of instructor.
Lectures and discussions on representative religious and literary
texts, including a film or two on the myths of the evil West and
the evil non-West. W. Doniger, A. Yu. Winter.