Contacts | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | Grading | Honors | Advising | Courses

Department Website:

The major in Comparative Literature leads to a BA 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 other than 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.

Program Requirements

The aim of the following guidelines is to help students develop a balanced and coherent plan of study. The Director of Undergraduate Studies in Comparative Literature is available to discuss these guidelines with students who are interested in comparative literature.

  1. In addition to the thirteen courses counted toward the major, students must complete a second-year sequence in a language other than English or demonstrate language ability of an equivalent skill through accreditation. Students should have completed this requirement, or be well on their way to its completion, by the time they apply to the program, typically the end of their second year. See Participation in the Program below for further details.
  2. Six courses in a primary field, or in closely integrated subject areas in more than one field, are required.
  3. Four courses in a secondary field, or in closely integrated subject areas in more than one field, are required.
  4. All students will be asked to take two quarters of a sequence that introduces the theoretical, scholarly, and critical practices relevant to comparative literature. The first quarter, taught by a Comparative Literature faculty member, will be CMLT 29701 Introduction to Comparative Literature I: Problems, Methods, Precedents. The second quarter will be a free-standing but related course taught by an advanced graduate student. Students are expected to take both courses in the same year. Critical methods classes taken prior to the 2012–13 inauguration of this sequence may count as the equivalents to one or both of the two new required courses.
  5. Students who are majoring in Comparative Literature are required to complete a BA project. 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 preceptor for all BA projects through the BA workshop, moderating discussions, working with students on the mechanics of writing, and providing tutorial assistance. For details, see the following information on the BA workshop and the BA paper.
  6. As part of the process of writing the BA paper, fourth-year students are required to register for CMLT 29801 BA Project and Workshop: Comparative Literature and attend its meetings. The workshop begins in Autumn Quarter with readings and discussion of themes and methods in Comparative Literature. It continues through the middle of the Spring Quarter with workshops in which students provide written and oral feedback on each other's work in progress toward the BA project. While the BA workshop meets in all three quarters, it counts as a one-quarter course credit. Students may register for the course in any of the three quarters of their fourth year. A grade for the course will be assigned in the Spring Quarter based partly on participation in the workshop and partly on the quality of the BA paper.

Summary of Requirements

6 primary field courses600
4 secondary field courses400
2 critical/intellectual methods courses200
CMLT 29801BA Project and Workshop: Comparative Literature100
Total Units1300

The department encourages students to pursue further language study by taking courses in a second or third language. NOTE: Those language courses will be approved for use in the major only if they are at an intermediate or advanced level; elementary-level courses cannot be counted toward the total number of courses needed to complete the major.

Additional courses in critical/intellectual methods may be counted toward the six courses in the primary field or toward four courses in the secondary field if their materials are appropriate for those purposes, but the total number of courses presented for the major must total thirteen.

A student wishing to work in two literatures (one of which can be English) might choose two literatures as the primary and secondary fields. A student interested in literary study across national boundaries with a focus on generic and transnational questions might create a primary field along generic lines (e.g., film, the epic, the novel, poetry, drama, opera); the secondary 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 primary or secondary 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 Interdisciplinary 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, 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 as well.

Participation in the Program

Students should express their interest in the major as soon as possible, typically 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
  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 languages needed to meet the goals of the intended course of study. Students will be notified by email of their acceptance to the program.

Comparative Literature majors 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. 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.

BA Project

One obvious choice for a BA 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. Visit for details on the BA project.

This program may accept a BA paper or project used to satisfy the same requirement in another major if certain conditions are met and with the consent of the other program chair. Approval from both program chairs is required. Students should consult with the chairs by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of third year, when neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available from the College adviser. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.


All courses to be used in the major, except for CMLT 29801 BA Project and Workshop: Comparative Literature, must be taken for a quality grade, which must be a B- or higher. CMLT 29801 is graded on a Pass/Fail basis.


To be eligible for honors in Comparative Literature, students must earn an overall cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher, and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major. They must also complete a BA essay or project that is judged exceptional in intellectual and/or creative merit by the first and second readers.


In addition to their College adviser, students should consult on an ongoing basis with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Further advice and counseling will be available from the preceptor for the program and from the faculty member who supervises the student's BA project.

Comparative Literature Courses

CMLT 20109. Comparative Methods in the Humanities. 100 Units.

This course introduces the models of comparative analysis across national literatures, genres, and media. The texts to be discussed include Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” and Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan”; Benjamin’s “The Storyteller,” Kafka’s “Josephine the Mouse Singer,” Deleuze and Guattari, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, and Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Storyteller; Victor Segalen’s Stèles; Fenollosa and Pound’s “The Chinese Character as a Medium of Poetry” and Eliot Weinberger’s Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei; Mérimée, “Carmen,” Bizet, Carmen, and the film adaptation U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha (South Africa, 2005); Gorky’s and Kurosawa’s “Lower Depths;” Molière, Tartuffe, Dostoevsky, The Village Stepanchikovo and its Inhabitants, and Bakhtin, “Discourse in the Novel”; Gogol, The Overcoat, and Boris Eikhenbaum, “How Gogol’s Overcoat Is Made.”

Instructor(s): Olga Solovieva     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): REES 29813,ENGL 28918

CMLT 20226. Jewish Literature in a Century of Transformation: 1880-1980. 100 Units.

A survey of Jewish Literature written by Jews around the globe in different languages (including Hebrew, Yiddish, Arabic, Russian, English, Polish, German) in an era of upheaval and transformation. We will discuss the literary representation of phenomena such as: the national movement and the foundation of the State of Israel; persecutions, pogroms, and the Holocaust; waves of migration, acculturation, and assimilation; the involvement of Jews in political movements, such as communism and anarchism; changing gender roles and changing ideas about the Jewish family. And we will ask: How have these events—and the modern era that they are a part of—influenced ideas about literary representation and the relationship between literature and history?

Instructor(s): Na'ama Rokem     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course may be used to fulfill the general education requirement in civilization studies.
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 30226,NEHC 20226,NEHC 30226,JWSC 20226

CMLT 20231. Modern Israeli Literature and Culture. 100 Units.

This course invites students to explore major themes in modern Israeli literature and to examine how these themes are linked to the social and cultural dynamics of Israeli history and contemporary life. Some of the themes we will address are: the making of an “old-new” language (or: Hebrew vs. “Israeli”); the fashioning of a new national identity; Holocaust and remembrance; encountering ‘the Arab’; reading Biblical episodes in a new light; the Israeli “at home” (with a focus on urban and kibbutz life). All texts assignments (prose and poetry) will be provided in English translation. Textual analysis and discussions will be accompanied by visual material.

Instructor(s): Anat Feinberg (Patinkin visiting professor)     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): NEHC 30475,CMLT 30231,JWSC 20231

CMLT 20505. Monstrosity and the Monstrous. 100 Units.

This course centers on the relationship between literature and science by focusing on the figure of the monster. The human imagination can produce the most outlandish forms: we will call this the monstrous. Natural philosophy and science, on the other hand, have to deal with the deformed, the organically distorted, the preternatural: we will call this monstrosity. Both concepts can spark thrilling debates on identity and difference, divine providence and chance, fear and lust, gender, race, and more. In a journey that takes us from antiquity to the 21st century, we will be looking at ancient history and literature, Medieval bestiaries, Renaissance scientific treatises, plays, nineteen and twentieth-century novels, evolutionary biology, theory, philosophy, and film.

Instructor(s): Pablo Maurette     Terms Offered: Spring

CMLT 20510. Translation and Translation Theory. 100 Units.

Translation is one of the central mechanisms of literary creativity. This course will consider translation both concretely and theoretically. Topics to be discussed will include semantic and grammatical interference, loss and gain, the production of difference, pidgin, translationese, bilingualism, self-translation, code-switching, translation as metaphor, foreignization vs. nativization, and distinct histories of translation.

Instructor(s): Haun Saussy     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): For advanced undergraduates and graduate students. 20 student cap. Instructor consent not required.

CMLT 21101. Roman Elegy. 100 Units.

This course examines the development of the Latin elegy from Catullus to Ovid. Our major themes are the use of motifs and topics and their relationship to the problem of poetic persona.

Instructor(s): David Wray     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 31101,LATN 31100,LATN 21100

CMLT 21202. Decolonizing Drama and Performance in Africa. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: TBD

CMLT 21702. Nowhere Lands: Utopia, Dystopia, and Afterlife of Empire. 100 Units.

Otherworldly, fantastic, and futuristic spaces often offer a forum for social critique or a window into the formation of systems of knowledge. This course examines the ways in which the experiences of empire, revolution, and globalization produced utopian and dystopian spaces that challenged the boundaries of the human and society. While utopia has a long history in European literature and thought, this course will focus on the ways in which space is constructed outside of the imperial centers of the West, including a selection of novels and films from Eastern Europe, Central/West Asia, and the Middle East.

Instructor(s): Leah Feldman     Terms Offered: Autumn

CMLT 21703. The Politics of Hybridity. 100 Units.

This course will explore the construct of hybridity through the development of anticolonial and postcolonial theory. In nuancing the distinction between these intellectual traditions and their respective formations in the contexts of decolonization, the Cold War, and the US academy, we will consider the work of Fanon, Césaire, C. L. R. James, Said, Spivak, Young, Bhabha, Glissant, Khatibi, and others.

Instructor(s): Leah Feldman     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 31703

CMLT 21815. Zhuangzi: Literature, Philosophy, or Something Else. 100 Units.

The early Chinese book attributed to Master Zhuang seems to be a patchwork of fables, polemical discussions, arguments, examples, riddles, and lyrical utterances. Although it has been central to the development of both religious Daoism and Buddhism, the book is alien to both traditions. This course offers a careful reading of the work with some of its early commentaries.

Instructor(s): Haun Saussy     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Classical Chinese.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 22309

CMLT 22301. War and Peace. 100 Units.

Tolstoy’s novel is at once a national epic, a treatise on history, a spiritual meditation, and a masterpiece of realism. This course presents a close reading of one of the world’s great novels, and of the criticism that has been devoted to it, including landmark works by Victor Shklovsky, Boris Eikhenbaum, Isaiah Berlin, and George Steiner. (B, G)

Instructor(s): William Nickell     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): REES 30001,CMLT 32301,FNDL 27103,ENGL 28912,HIST 23704,ENGL 32302,REES 20001

CMLT 22400-22500. History of International Cinema I-II.

This sequence is required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies. Taking these courses in sequence is strongly recommended but not required.

CMLT 22400. History of International Cinema I: Silent Era. 100 Units.

This course introduces 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.

Instructor(s): T. Gunning     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): This is the first part of a two-quarter course.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28500,ARTH 38500,ARTV 26500,ARTV 36500,CMLT 32400,CMST 48500,ENGL 29300,ENGL 48700,MAPH 36000,CMST 28500

CMLT 22500. History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960. 100 Units.

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

Instructor(s): D. Morgan     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Prior or concurrent registration in CMST 10100 required. Required of students majoring in Cinema and Media Studies.
Note(s): CMST 28500/48500 strongly recommended
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 28600,ARTH 38600,ARTV 26600,CMLT 32500,CMST 48600,ENGL 29600,ENGL 48900,MAPH 33700,CMST 28600

CMLT 23201. Returning the Gaze: The Balkans and Western Europe. 100 Units.

Aware of being observed. And judged. Inferior... Abject… Angry... Proud… This course provides insight into identity dynamics between the “West,” as the center of economic power and self-proclaimed normative humanity, and the “Rest,” as the poor, backward, volatile periphery. We investigate the relationship between South East European self-representations and the imagined Western gaze. Inherent in the act of looking at oneself through the eyes of another is the privileging of that other’s standard. We will contemplate the responses to this existential position of identifying symbolically with a normative site outside of oneself—self-consciousness, defiance, arrogance, self-exoticization—and consider how these responses have been incorporated in the texture of the national, gender, and social identities in the region. Orhan Pamuk, Ivo Andrić, Nikos Kazantzakis, Aleko Konstantinov, Emir Kusturica, Milcho Manchevski.

Instructor(s): Angelina Ilieva     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): REES 39012,CMLT 33201,NEHC 20885,NEHC 30885,REES 29012

CMLT 23301. Balkan Folklore. 100 Units.

Vampires, fire-breathing dragons, vengeful mountain nymphs. 7/8 and other uneven dance beats, heart-rending laments, and a living epic tradition. This course is an overview of Balkan folklore from historical, political, and anthropological perspectives. We seek to understand folk tradition as a dynamic process and consider the function of different folklore genres in the imagining and maintenance of community and the socialization of the individual. We also experience this living tradition firsthand through visits of a Chicago-based folk dance ensemble, “Balkan Dance.”

Instructor(s): A. Ilieva     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): ANTH 25908,ANTH 35908,CMLT 33301,NEHC 20568,NEHC 30568,REES 39009,REES 29009

CMLT 23702. Making a Scene. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: TBD

CMLT 24017. Fact and Fiction: Hoaxes and Misunderstandings. 100 Units.

This course will focus on fictional texts that readers have misrecognized as factual accounts, as well as the less frequent case of factual texts misidentified as fictional. Students will study the rhetorical strategies or historical and cultural circumstances responsible for these “errors of pragmatic framing” (O. Caïra) by investigating the contexts governing the production or reception of works such as Apuleius’ The Golden AssLes Lettres d’une religieuse portugaise, Denis Diderot’s La Religieuse, Wolfgang Hildesheimer’s Marbot: A Biography, and Orson Welles’ adaptation of The War of the Worlds, among others. 

Instructor(s): Françoise Lavocat     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): FREN 24017,CMLT 34017,SCTH 34017,FREN 34017

CMLT 25001. Foucault and The History of Sexuality. 100 Units.

This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.

Instructor(s): A. Davidson     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended. Students should register via discussion section.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 22001,GNSE 23100,HIPS 24300,KNOW 27002,PHIL 24800

CMLT 25014. Writing towards Freedom: Slave Narratives and Emergent Black Writing. 100 Units.

In the late 18th and 19th centuries, slave narratives were authored to convince Europeans of the injustices of slavery as an institution and the humanity of enslaved black Africans. However, these texts were more representative of anti-slavery rhetoric and conventional morals than the voices of enslaved men and women. In this course we will investigate many of the central slave narratives of the 18th and 19th centuries in order to understand how these texts worked to redefine concepts of the human. We will also examine the ways slave narratives relied upon and bolstered norms of gender, family, and religion. Using comparative methods, this course will investigate why the overwhelming majority of slave narratives come from the Anglophone world. We will compare American and British narratives, and examine the genres used in the Francophone and Hispanophone worlds to demonstrate the rights of the enslaved, particularly law. Major texts to be examined will include The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano; The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave; My Bondage, My Freedom by Frederick Douglass; Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs; and Autobiography of a Slave by Juan Francisco Manzano. Shorter readings would include excerpts from Saidiya Hartman, Michel Rolph Trouillot, The Memoires of Toussaint Louverture, and The Haitian Constitutions of 1801 and 1805.

Instructor(s): Mollie McFee     Terms Offered: Autumn

CMLT 25017. Islams and Modernities. 100 Units.

This course explores the topic of political Islam in Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia with an eye on the emergence of similar discourses globally through historical, anthropological, and literary works produced both by contemporary scholars of Islam (Fazlur Rahman, Olivier Roy, Talal Asad) scholars of Islam in the Russian empire (Adeeb Khaled, Alexandre Benningsen, Ayse-Azade Rorlich) as well as nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers (Ismail Gasprinsky, Sultan Galiev) alongside literary and artistic works (the satirical journal Molla Nasreddin, Umm El-Banine Assadoulaeff, Chingiz Aitmatov, Hamid Ismailov). The course focuses on the ways in which these works problematize the relationship between the representation of ethno-linguistic discourses of Muslim identity (including Pan-Turkism, Pan-Islamism, Jadidism) to national and supranational discourses of modernity and women's rights formulated both during the formation of the Soviet Union and the post-Soviet national republics. Reading knowledge of Russian, French or Azeri Turkic is encouraged but not required.

Instructor(s): Leah Feldman     Terms Offered: Winter

CMLT 25102. Problems Around Foucault. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: TBD

CMLT 25103. Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers. 100 Units.

Thomas Mann’s novel Joseph and His Brothers, a modern rewriting of the biblical story, was written over sixteen years (1926 - 1943) that shook German and European history through the assumption of power by the National Socialist party and the Second World War. Mann began the novel under the Weimar Republic and continued working on the novel in exile. The writer himself saw his novel as an act of resistance to his country’s anti-Semitic policies. In this course, we will closely read the novel, explore its relation to its biblical and other sources, learn about the history of its writing and publication and contextualize its genesis in Mann’s complicated involvement with German and world politics.

Instructor(s): O. Solovieva     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 25117,RLST 28215,JWSC 23402,FNDL 25100

CMLT 25801. Machiavelli and Machiavellism. 100 Units.

This course is a comprehensive introduction to Machiavelli’s The Prince in light of his vast and varied literary corpus and European reception. The course includes discussion of Machiavelli as playwright (The Mandrake), fiction writer (Belfagor, The Golden Ass), and historian (Discourses, Florentine Histories). We will also closely investigate the emergence of myths surrounding Machiavelli (Machiavellism and anti-Machiavellism) in Italy (Guicciardini, Botero, Boccalini), France (Bodin and Gentillet), Spain (Ribadeneyra), and Northern Europe (Hobbes, Grotius, Spinoza) during the Counter Reformation and beyond.

Instructor(s): R. Rubini     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Course conducted in English. Those seeking Italian credit will do all work in Italian.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 21603,LLSO 21603,CMLT 35801,ITAL 23000

CMLT 26106. The Medieval Persian Romance: Gorgani's Vis and Ramin. 100 Units.

This class is an inquiry into the medieval romance genre through the close and comparative reading of one of its oldest extant representatives, Gorgâni’s Vis & Râmin (c. 1050). With roots that go back to Late Antiquity, this romance is a valuable interlocutor between the Greek novel and the Ovidian erotic tradition, Arabic love theory and poetics, and well-known European romances like Tristan, Lancelot, and Cligès: a sustained exploration of psychological turmoil and moral indecision, and a vivid dramatization of the many contradictions inherent in erotic theory, most starkly by the lovers' faithful adultery. By reading Vis & Râmin alongside some of its generic neighbors (Kallirrhoe, Leukippe, Tristan, Cligès), as well as the love-theories of writers like Plato, Ovid, Avicenna, Jâhiz, Ibn Hazm, and Andreas Cappellanus, we will map out the various kinds of literary work the romance is called upon to do, and investigate the myriad and shifting conceptions of romantic love as performance, subjectivity, and moral practice. An optional section introducing selections from the original text in Persian will be available if there is sufficient student interest.

Instructor(s): C. Cross     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): GNSE 26106,NEHC 26016,RLLT 26106,FNDL 26106

CMLT 26301. The Literature of Disgust, Rabelais to Nausea. 100 Units.

This course will survey a range of literary works which take the disgusting as their principle aesthetic focus, while also providing students with an introduction to core issues and concepts in the history of aesthetic theory, such as the beautiful and the sublime, disinterested judgment and purposive purposelessness, taste and distaste. At the same time, our readings will allow us to explore the ways in which the disgusting has historically been utilized as a way of producing socially critical literature, by representing that which a culture categorically attempts to marginalize, exclude, and expel. Readings will engage with the variety of aesthetic functions that the disgusting has been afforded throughout modern literary history, including the carnivalesque and grotesque in Rabelais and the bawdy and satirical in Swift; revolted Victorian realism and gruesome Zolaesque naturalism; and Sartre’s existential nausea and Kafka’s anxious repulsion; as well as Thomas Bernhard’s experiments with contempt and William Burroughs’ hallucinogenic inversions of pleasure and disgust. Prerequisite: Strong stomach. (F, G, H)

Instructor(s): Z. Samalin     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 26300

CMLT 26400. Introduction to the Renaissance. 100 Units.

The Renaissance, which first and foremost flourished in Italy, founded our modern concept of the self. The way we see ourselves, the values we cherish, derive from the Renaissance. Modernity is a product of the Renaissance. This course emphasizes the importance of introspection in Renaissance culture, poetry, and philosophy. The books I have selected have a strong autobiographical element. However, they also illuminate how the Renaissance theorizes the relationship between the individual and society. We will read, in Italian, passages from major Italian texts in prose, such as Castiglione's Il cortigiano, Machiavelli's Discorsi, Campanella's Città del Sole, and poetry by Michelangelo, Monsignor della Casa, and numerous women poets, such as Veronica Franco, Vittoria Colonna, and Veronica Gambara.

Instructor(s): A. Maggi     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Taught in Italian.
Equivalent Course(s): ITAL 22200

CMLT 26600. Ren/Lit Imagination. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: TBD

CMLT 26700. Renaissance and Baroque Fairytales and Their Modern Rewritings. 100 Units.

We study the distinctions between myth and fairy tale, and then focus on collections of modern Western European fairy tales, including those by Straparola, Basile, and Perrault, in light of their contemporary rewritings of classics (Angela Carter, Calvino, Anne Sexton). We analyze this genre from diverse critical standpoints (e.g., historical, structuralist, psychoanalytic, feminist) through the works of Croce, Propp, Bettelheim, and Marie-Louise Von Franz.

Instructor(s): A. Maggi     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Class conducted in English.
Equivalent Course(s): ITAL 36200,CMLT 36700,REMS 36200,ITAL 26200

CMLT 26902. Strangers to Ourselves: Émigré Lit from Russia and SE Europe. 100 Units.

“Being alienated from myself, as painful as that may be, provides me with that exquisite distance within which perverse pleasure begins, as well as the possibility of my imagining and thinking,” writes Julia Kristeva in "Strangers to Ourselves," the book from which this course takes its title. The authors whose works we are going to examine often alternate between nostalgia and the exhilaration of being set free into the breathless possibilities of new lives. Leaving home does not simply mean movement in space. Separated from the sensory boundaries that defined their old selves, immigrants inhabit a warped, fragmentary, disjointed time. Immigrant writers struggle for breath—speech, language, voice, the very stuff of their craft resounds somewhere else. Join us as we explore the pain, the struggle, the failure, and the triumph of emigration and exile. Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Brodsky, Marina Tsvetaeva, Nina Berberova, Julia Kristeva, Alexander Hemon, Dubravka Ugrešić, Norman Manea, Miroslav Penkov, Ilija Trojanow, Tea Obreht.

Instructor(s): Angelina Ilieva     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): REES 39010,CMLT 36902,REES 29010

CMLT 27003. Woman/Native. 100 Units.

This course reads works of postcolonial literature and theory in order to consider the entanglements of the figures of “women” and “natives” in colonial as well as postcolonial discourse. We will discuss topics such as the persistent feminization of the profane, degraded, and contagious bodies of colonized natives; representations of women as both the keepers and the victims of “authentic” native culture; the status (symbolic and otherwise) of women in anti-colonial resistance and insurgency; and the psychic pathologies (particularly nervous conditions of anxiety, hysteria, and madness) that appear repeatedly in these works as states to which women and/as natives are especially susceptible. And we will ask whether a theoretical concept such as écriture feminine, which identifies forms of literary production that register the specific traces of female difference, is meaningful in the context of embodied experience that is raced as well as gendered. (B, H)

Instructor(s): S. Thakkar     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 27013,GNSE 27013,ENGL 27003

CMLT 27114. Faust, Myth of the Modern World. 100 Units.

In this course, we will consider three renderings of the Faust myth: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, Part One, Heinrich Heine’s “dance poem” Faust, and Friedrich Murnau’s expressionist film Faust. In addition to these core readings/viewings, we will study the origins of the Faust myth in sixteenth-century Germany and survey its many transformations across art, literature, and music. This course is an excellent introduction to the history of German literature and culture.

Instructor(s): David Wellbery     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): All readings and class discussions will be in German.
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 27114

CMLT 27402. Contemporary Chinese Writers and the Literary Field. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: TBD

CMLT 27451. Imagining the Hermit in Chinese Literature and Art. 100 Units.

Throughout Chinese history, writers from Tao Qian to Matteo Ricci have fashioned themselves as hermits. This course will explore the shifting meanings attributed to the performance of withdrawal. We will begin by examining the emergence of different approaches to reclusion in early classical literature, before considering how these archetypes were transformed amid the profound political and social upheavals of the early modern period. The act of reclusion came to be associated with a wide range of cultural practices from alchemy to the appreciation of chrysanthemums, yet our main focus throughout this course will be on the close relationship between the guise of the hermit and the construction of a self through art. We will work closely with major texts of classical prose and poetry, yet an important theme of the class will be looking at the transfer of ideas and images across different artistic media (including the visual and decorative arts). Throughout, we will examine how our sources reflect broader concerns with gender, property, and the environment. We will ask how works devoted to the figure of the recluse explore and interrogate the limits of transgressive behavior and political dissent.

Instructor(s): T. Kelly     Terms Offered: Winter

CMLT 27517. Metaphysics, Morbidity, & Modernity: Mann’s The Magic Mountain. 100 Units.

Our main task in this course is to explore in detail one of the most significant novels of the twentieth century, Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. But this novel is also a window onto the entirety of modern European thought, and it provides, at the same time, a telling perspective of the crisis of European culture prior to and following on World War I. It is, in Thomas Mann’s formulation, a time-novel: a novel about its time, but also a novel about human being in time. For anyone interested in the configuration of European intellectual life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Mann’s great (and challenging) novel is indispensible reading. Lectures will relate Mann’s novel to its great European counterparts (e.g., Proust, Joyce, Musil), to the traditions of European thought from Voltaire to Georg Lukacs, from Schopenhauer to Heidegger, from Marx to Max Weber.

Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): This is a LECTURE course with discussion sections. All readings in English.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 27517,GRMN 27517

CMLT 28240. Beautiful Souls, Adventurers, and Rogues. 100 Units.

Full title: Beautiful Souls, Adventurers, and Rogues. The European 18th Century Novel. The course will examine several major 18th-century novels, including Manon Lescaut by Prevost, Pamela and fragments from Clarissa by Richardson, Shamela and fragments from Joseph Andrews by Fielding, Jacques le Fataliste by Diderot, and The Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe. The course is taught in English. A biweekly session in French will be held for majors and graduate students in French and Comparative Literature.

Instructor(s): T. Pavel     Terms Offered: Winter 28240/38240

CMLT 28610. The German Romantic Lied. 100 Units.

In the romantic genre of the German Lied, music and poetry meet with a precision, complexity, and affective intensity unheard of since the times of medieval Minnesang. At the center of this undergraduate seminar is the relationship of Robert Schumann and Heinrich Heine and their cycle “Dichterliebe,” supplemented by Schumann’s rendering of other poets’ work (for example, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Joseph von Eichendorff). The larger context of Lied-making the class also seeks to explore is formed by pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and Johannes Brahms. Readings and discussions in German.

Instructor(s): F. Klinger     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): GRMN 25013

CMLT 28900. Health Care and the Limits of State Action. 100 Units.

In a time of great human mobility and weakening state frontiers, epidemic disease is able to travel fast and far, mutate in response to treatment, and defy the institutions invented to keep it under control: quarantine, the cordon sanitaire, immunization, and the management of populations. Public health services in many countries find themselves at a loss in dealing with these outbreaks of disease, a deficiency to which NGOs emerge as a response (an imperfect one to be sure). Through a series of readings in anthropology, sociology, ethics, medicine, and political science, we will attempt to reach an understanding of this crisis of both epidemiological technique and state legitimacy, and to sketch out options.

Instructor(s): E. Lyon, H. Saussy     Terms Offered: Spring 2018
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological sciences major.
Equivalent Course(s): BPRO 28600,HMRT 28602,BIOS 29323

CMLT 29101. Pascal and Simone Weil. 100 Units.

The course will examine two major French existential thinkers, Blaise Pascal and Simone Weil, focusing on their intellectual background, their strong originality, and their religious perspective.

Instructor(s): T. Pavel     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing. Instructor consent required for first- and second-year undergraduates.
Note(s): Taught in English, with a special weekly session in French for students seeking French credit.
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 39101,FREN 39100,SCTH 38201,RLST 24910,FNDL 21812,FREN 29100

CMLT 29700. Reading Course. 100 Units.

No description available.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. Must be taken for a quality grade. This course does not satisfy distribution requirements for students who are majoring in CMLT unless an exception is made by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

CMLT 29701. Introduction to Comparative Literature I: Problems, Methods, Precedents. 100 Units.

As the study of relations among the world's literary and other expressive traditions, comparative literature confronts a host of questions. What do works from different times and places have in common? How can we meaningfully assess their differences? How do we account for systematic and extra-systemic features of literature? Is translation ever adequate? This course offers consideration of these and related issues through influential critical examples. This course is the first of a two-quarter sequence required for all majors in Comparative Literature.

Terms Offered: Autumn

CMLT 29705. Introduction to Comparative Literature II: Case Study: Davidismo. 100 Units.

This course will examine the story of David in 1 and 2 Samuel in combination with some of its myriad literary and artistic afterlives in order to explore the nature of biblical narrative and (biblical) rewriting. The narrative’s familial drama, political intrigue, subtle characterization, and philological challenges have inspired a wide variety of reinterpretations in disparate literary traditions and historical periods, providing fertile ground for comparative analysis. Students will initially gain some of the skills and perspectives needed to approach the biblical text in translation as a literary artifact as well as an appreciation of the difficulties inherent in such a task. Subsequently, students will engage with literary reworkings of the narrative organized around such issues as gender, political power, and Jewish/Christian identity-formation and accompanied by select theoretical works treating rewriting and intertextuality. Why has this story— and David himself—had such lasting resonance? How do later works from different periods and linguistic traditions both capitalize on certain aspects of the ‘original’ and redefine it in important ways? What role do rewritings play in literature, and what does it mean to read these distinct interpretations together? The David Story offers rich opportunities for thinking through these and other comparative literary questions. Literary works will include plays and novels by Tirso de Molina, Gide, Faulkner, Heym, Weil, and Kalisky, as well as selections from NBC’s critically acclaimed 2009 drama, Kings; theorists may include Curtius, Warburg, Tynianov, Genette, Ben-Porat, and Rabau, among others.

Instructor(s): Chloe Blackshear     Terms Offered: Winter

CMLT 29801. BA Project and Workshop: Comparative Literature. 100 Units.

This workshop begins in Autumn Quarter and continues through the middle of Spring Quarter. While the BA workshop meets in all three quarters, it counts as a one-quarter course credit. Students may register for the course in any of the three quarters of their fourth year. A grade for the course is assigned in the Spring Quarter, based partly on participation in the workshop and partly on the quality of the BA paper. Attendance at each class section required.

Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, Spring
Note(s): Required of fourth-year students who are majoring in CMLT.


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Leah Feldman


Administrative Contact

Department Administrator
Ingrid Sagor