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Current Courses

Fall 2017


Three-stage proseminar in world literature, criticism, and theory:

CMLIT 501: Comparative Method in Literary Studies Seminar:  Mondays, 2:30 p.m.- 5:30 p.m.

(Tom Beebee/ Bob Edwards/ Nergis Ertűrk)

These three one-credit micro-seminars (or one aggregate 3-credit seminar) introduce students to crucial aspects of literary study and  praxis.  While based on the discipline of comparative literature, these five-week seminars also explore interdisciplinary topics and methods of interest to students in other literary fields. Unit 1 focuses on research method and design, unit 2 on close reading, and unit 3 on genres of academic writing.

Three-credit seminars in comparative literature and theory:

CMLIT 570: (Forces in Contemporary Lit) “Debating Cosmopolitanism and World Literature” Tuesdays 6:00-9:00p.m.

(Shuang Shen)

Recent interests in cosmopolitanism emerged in the 1990s in various disciplines including philosophy, political science, anthropology, cultural studies, and literature. From the beginning of this discussion, cosmopolitanism has been a contested term, evoking diametrically oppositional reactions that align this term simultaneously with universalism or the critique of it, global capitalism or its opposition, elitism or anti-elitism. One of the slipperiest terms in literary studies today, cosmopolitanism as a problematic has nevertheless inspired a large amount of critical scholarship that engages with the ethical dimensions of literature or seeks to define and uncover alternative “universals” or “internationals” by tracing neglected transnational political or cultural affiliations. This seminar explores the intersection of recent discourses of cosmopolitanism with the theories of postcolonialism, nationalism, race and ethnicity, diaspora and the global city. In particular, the seminar employs the problematic of world literature to evaluate whether specific conceptualizations of the world, literariness, the canon, circulation and translation would forward the ethical and political goals of cosmopolitanism, and how specific projects of literary cosmopolitanism fare in the contemporary context of globalization.

CMLIT 597.002: (Pedagogy)  Thursdays 3:30p.m.-6:30p.m.

(Carey Eckhardt)

The standard pedagogy course for all CMLIT graduate students, offered each fall. The course can be taken in year 1 (required if you are teaching) or in year 2 (if you are not teaching in your first year).

CMLIT 597.003: (Arab/ic Literature and Criticism) Wednesdays 2:30-5:30pm.

(Hoda El Shakry)

This seminar offers an overview of modern Arab/ic literature within a comparative framework. By examining the critical interventions and concerns that have shaped Arab cultural production up until our present moment, it highlights the manifold ways that this literature engages the major theoretical paradigms of global literary studies. In so doing, it de-provincializes Arab/ic literature and criticism beyond ethno-linguistic, philological, or geopolitical divisions. We will subsequently consider the repercussions of these debates for narrative, aesthetic, theoretical, and pedagogical questions across the study of Comparative Literature. Students will read a wide variety of literary texts in English translation, spanning a range of genres and geopolitical contexts.  Alongside these works, they will engage with relevant critical and philosophical writings on topics such as: (post)colonialism, globalization, aesthetic theory, literary commitment, gender and sexuality, eco-criticism, diglossia, and literary modernity.  Select readings will be made available in the original Arabic for interested students.

CMLIT 597.004: (Race, Performance, and Possession in the Americas) Thursdays 6:00-9:00pm.

(Sara Townsend) This course will run concurrently with SPAN 597.

This course will take a hemispheric approach to examining the connections between race, performance, and “possession”— both in the sense of property ownership to spirit possession. We will explore the complexities of this term and ask what it can tell us about the equally complex notions of “race” and “performance” by studying theater, performance art, films, literature, historical documents, music, etc. from throughout the Americas. Possible topics include: the exhibition of racially   marked bodies and “scenes of subjection”; examples of racial impersonation such as blackface performance; slaves as objects of conspicuous consumption and the racialization of conspicuous consumption in the present; Haitian vodou, and links between zombies and whiteness in recent popular culture; avant-garde engagements with ritual practices of trance; struggles over copyright and cultural appropriation; and the politics of archives and museum collections.

NB: CMLIT seminars for SP18 will likely include CMLIT 503 (modern & contemporary theory survey), CMLIT 577 (global Sinophone literatures), CMLIT 523 (sub-Saharan African literatures), and CMLIT 510 (translation theory & praxis).