Most Comparative Literature courses are taught at the Centre for Comparative Literature, Isabel Bader Theatre, 3rd floor, Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room (BT319) unless indicated otherwise below. Please click on courses’ codes to see their descriptions.


FALL 2014

Coordinator: N. ten Kortenaar
Time: Fall term, Fridays, 2-4:30
Location: Northrop Frye Building, NF235

This course is a general introduction to the field of comparative literature, to contemporary theory, and to modern approaches to literary texts. It involves the participation of Comparative Literature faculty, discussing their experience comparing different literatures or researching across disciplines or across media. It is taken by all MA and all first-year PhD students and is meant to provide guidance for more advanced work in specific critical domains.

Class Participation…..15% (includes attendance)
Weekly response paper…35% (one double-spaced page every week; submitted every week but then 10 of them resubmitted as a file at the end)
Essay……………….50% (3000 words, due January 3)
The paper should address either an issue involving comparison that came up during the course or the comparative implications of the student’s own research project. Each class will involve the participation of Comparative Literature faculty.



Instructor: B. Havercroft
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 3-5

In this course, we will focus on issues that are situated at the intersection of four major trends in contemporary feminist literary studies : 1) the unprecedented interest in autobiographical writings, sparked by a profusion of the actual publication of such texts and by the development of a large body of criticism dealing with the numerous forms of life writing; 2) the rapid evolution of specifically feminist theories of autobiography (Gilmore, Smith, Watson) over the past twenty years; 3) current feminist theories of agency and subjectivity (Butler, Druxes, Mann); 4) the recent theoretical inquiry into the category of gender (Butler, Robinson, Scott), especially as it is represented in the literary text.

The seminar will begin with a critical study and problematization of the principal concepts outlined in these four theoretical groupings. We will then proceed with close readings of several works of contemporary life writing, drawn from the French, Québécois and German literary contexts, emphasizing the diverse textual strategies by which female autobiographical subjects are constructed and, in turn, make a claim to agency. In many instances, textual subjects merge both fact and fiction in an effort to become subjects-in-process, subjects with multiple facets that challenge androcentric theories of the supposedly unified, sovereign autobiographical subject ( Gusdorf ), while juxtaposing the personal, the political and the social in their texts. Notions such as the relational self, the writing of trauma and illness, performativity in autobiographical writing, the « death » of the subject and the author, and the problematics of memory (personal, historical, cultural, etc.) will be examined. While the focus will be on various forms of women’s life writing, we will also analyze one male author’s AIDS diary, not simply to further investigate the gendered basis of all writing, but also to examine the particular forms of agency mobilized in autobiographical accounts of illness.

Brossard, Nicole. Journal intime ou voilà donc un manuscrit (Montréal : Les Herbes Rouges, 1998 [1984]).
Desautels, Denise. Ce fauve, le Bonheur (Montréal : L’Hexagone, 1998).
de Duve, Pascal. Cargo vie (Paris : Éditions Jean-Claude Lattès, Le livre de poche, 1993).
Ernaux, Annie. La Honte (Paris : Gallimard, 1997). (English translation : Shame).
Wolf, Christa. Kindheitsmuster (Berlin/Weimar : Aufbau Verlag, 1976). (English translation : Patterns of Childhood).

A series of complete bibliographies dealing with the various different theories to be analyzed in this course will be distributed at the first
meeting of the seminar. Students are advised to prepare for the course by doing some preliminary readings :
Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble : Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York : Routledge, 1990).
———. Bodies That Matter : On the Discursive Limits of « Sex » (New York : Routledge, 1993).
———. Excitable Speech : A Politics of the Performative (New York : Routledge, 1997).
Druxes, Helga. Resisting Bodies : The Negociation of Female Agency in Twentieth-Century Women’s Fiction (Detroit : Wayne State University Press, 1996).
Eakin, Paul John. How Our Lives Become Stories : Making Selves (Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1999).
Felski, Rita. Beyond Feminist Aesthetics : Feminist Literature and Social Change (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1989).
Gilmore, Leigh. Autobiographics : A Feminist Theory of Women’s Self-Representation (Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994).
Gusdorf, Georges. « Conditions et limites de l’autobiographie », in Günter Reichenkron and Erich Haase (eds.), Formen der Selbstdarstellung : Analekten zu einer Geschichte des literarischen Selbstporträts (Berlin : Duncker and Humblot, 1956) : 105-123. (English translation in James Olney, 1980).
Lejeune, Philippe. Le pacte autobiographique (nouvelle edition augmentée) (Paris : Seuil, 1996 [1975]).
Mann, Patricia. Micro-Politics : Agency in a Postfeminist Era (Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1994).
Olney, James (ed.). Autobiography : Essays Theoretical and Critical (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1980).
Smith, Sidonie. A Poetics of Women’s Autobiography : Marginality and the Fictions of Self-Representation (Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1987).
——. « Performativity, Autobiographical Practice, Resistance », a/b : Auto/Biography Studies, Vol. 10, no. 1 (spring 1995) : 17-33.
Smith, Sidonie and Julia Watson (eds.). Women, Autobiography, Theory : A Reader (Madison : The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998).
Watson, Julia. « Toward An Anti-Metaphysics of Autobiography », in Robert Folkenflik (ed.), The Culture of Autobiography : Constructions of Self-Representation (Stanford : Stanford University Press, 1993) : 57-79.

Oral presentation: 30%
Research paper: 60%
Participation: 10%



Instructor: V. Ambros
Time: Fall term, Wednesdays, 9-12 . Syllabus

This class will examine a variety of theoretical approaches to literary cityscapes and apply them to the myth of Magic Prague as launched by A. Ripellino and others and questioned by P. Demetz. A number of aspects connected with Prague will be studied based on texts by Guillaume Apollinaire, Jorge Luis Borges, Bruce Chatwin, Jaroslav Hašek, Bohumil Hrabal, Franz Kafka, Milan Kundera, Gustav Meyrink, Jan Neruda, and
Rainer Maria Rilke. Readings in English and the original.

Barthes, Roland “Semiology and Urbanism” in The Semiotic Challenge. Richard Howard (trans.) New York: Hill and Wang, 1988 <1985>: 191-201.
Benjamin, Walter. “Paris, die Hauptstadt des XIX Jahrhunderts” Illuminationen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1977: 170-184.
Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. London: Picador, 1979.
Demetz, Peter. Prague in Black and Gold. Scenes from the Life of a European City. New York: Hill and Wang, 1997.
Ellul, Jacques. The Meaning of the City. Grand Rapids Mich: Eerdmans, 1970.
Gelley, Alexander. “City Texts: Representation, Semiology, Urbanism.” In Politics, Theory and Contemporary Culture. New York: Columbia UP, 1993.
Ripellino, Angelo Mario. Magic Prague. Trans. David Newton Marinelli. Ed. M.H.Heim. Berkeley: U of California P, 1994.
Sayer, Derek. The Coasts of Bohemia. A Czech History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998.
Squier, Susan Merill. Women Writers and the City. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984

Oral presentation (20 minutes): 30%
Research paper (20 pages): 60%
Participation: 10%



Instructor: J. LeBlanc
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 11-1

This course will examine the fascinating interrelationships between photographic images and text, portraits and self-portraits, autobiography and biography, cinematic adaptations and biopics. An examination of the complementarities and antipathies between photographs and auto-biographical narratives will not only deepen our understanding of the complex artifactuality of these apparently referential media, but also put life-writing in a revealing new light. Photographs may serve to document auto-biographical texts, to strengthen their rhetorical value, to enhance their truth status and to complement their political reliability. However, as the literary texts studied in this course will show, the introduction of photographic images within specific auto-biographical narratives also serves to complexity and confounds the historiographic and referential status of these texts. The study of theoretical texts pertaining to autobiography, biography, photography and the relationship between words and images will serve as a basis for our analysis of Barthes, Findley, Kahlo and Shield’s auto-biographical narratives.

Primary Texts:

Barthes, Roland. Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. (English translation).

Findley, Timothy. The Wars.
—. Findley’s unpublished Notebooks, family photographs and photographic archives from the National Library will also be examined as they pertain to the genesis of The Wars.

Kahlo, Frida. Intimate Diary. (translated into English).
—. Documentary of her life; “biographical” feature film, self-portraits. These visual representations of Frida’s life will be viewed and distributed in class. Our study of Kahlo’s life narratives will bring a new perspective on visual auto-biographical narratives, pictural representations of one’s life as it will turn to cinema, documentaries and Kahlo’s series of self-portraits to study how narrative, autobiography, visual (cinematic) and painted image are also instrumental in telling people’s lives.
—. Documentary: Frida
—. Biopic. Frida Kahlo.

Shields, Carol. The Stone Diaries.

One essay 70% .  One presentation: 20% . Overall assessment: 10%


Instructor: J. Ross
Time: Fall term, Mondays, 2-4

This course will examine the dynamics of cultural exchange between Muslims, Jews and Christians in medieval Iberia as manifested in the literatures produced by each group. Beginning with an introduction to theories of alterity and postcolonialism and their relevance to the medieval past, the course, through readings of Hebrew (in translation), Arabic (in translation) and Castilian literary sources will consider the way ‘others’ are represented, as well as the ways in which cultures come into contact in these texts through adaptation or hybrid literary forms. The course will move from Islamic Spain where cultural cross-fertilization produced such innovative, hybrid forms of poetry as the muwashshahat in Arabic with their accompanying Romance jarchas, and Jewish poets like Todros Abulafia who struggled to define himself and his writing within the dominant Arabic literary culture, to Christian Spain where the complex models of literary translation and transmission placed Arabic models at the centre of European intellectual culture. The course will follow the trajectory of Spanish history as Muslims and Jews were assimilated, converted or expelled by exploring the dynamics of conversion in poetry written by converted Jews in the 15th century and the domestication of the ‘other’ in such 16th-century Castilian texts as the Abencerraje. In addition to texts already mentioned, other readings may include Shem Tov’s Moral Proverbs, selections from the romances, and Juan Manuel’s El conde Lucanor. A reading knowledge of Spanish is required.

This course explores the cross-fertilization of cultures and literatures in medieval Iberia, a focus that is central to the mandate of Comparative Literature. The study of Hebrew, Arabic, Castilian and Latin literatures in the Spanish Middle Ages is more usually carried out in separate departments of Spanish, Near and Middle Eastern Studies or Medieval Studies. The offering of this course through Comparative Literature enables a much fuller and richer exploration of medieval Iberian literary culture.

Seminar participation: 20%
Response Notes: 30%
Presentation: 15%
Final Essay: 35%



Instructor: V. Li
Time: Fall term, Wednesdays, 1-3

The writings of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben have, in recent years, been widely cited and discussed by literary, social and political theorists. At once erudite and provocative, Agamben’s work calls for a profound reassessment of such fundamental concepts as the human, language, sovereignty, and the politics of life and death. Critical of those forms of decision and definition that lead to lethal states of exception as exemplified in the figure of the homo sacer (the person who can be killed without legal consequences) and the concentration camp, Agamben is alert to the task of keeping open what he calls “potentiality,” the state of non-actualization that is also the modality of the not-yet that holds out the possibility of creativity and hope. This course will examine Agamben’s influential work (The Coming Community, Homo Sacer, State of Exception, The Open among others) in relation to examples drawn from literature (Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace) and our contemporary world (the “war on terror” and the pervasiveness of biopolitics in all facets of life).

Seminar participation and weekly responses: 20%
Seminar presentation and write-up: 30%
Final essay: 50%



Instructor: R. Comay
Time: Fall term, Wednesdays, 3-5
Location: Emmanuel College, room EM 108

This course will be devoted to reading Freud’s case histories. We’ll be paying close attention to the unstable relationship between the theoretical and the clinical registers in Freud’s text, with particular emphasis on the psychoanalytic concepts of transference, resistance, repetition, working-through, “construction in analysis,” and the end-of-analysis. In addition to the major case studies — Dora, Anna O, Little Hans, Schreber, Wolfman, Ratman –we will also consider the snippets of Freud’s own auto-analysis (e.g. the “specimen dream” in the Interpretation of Dreams, the Autobiographical Fragment, and other first-person texts, including Freud’s early correspondence with Fliess). Our reading of the primary texts will be accompanied by recent theoretical and critical engagements with the case histories, including Jacques Lacan, Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, Jacques Derrida, Jacqueline Rose, and Eric Santner.

Evaluation: Class presentation with write-up 30%, participation 10%, final paper 60%




Instructor: S. Rupp
Time: Spring term, Mondays, 1-3

A critical reading of Don Quixote, with particular attention to the text’s engagement with the thought and institutions of Renaissance humanism. Class discussion will focus first on Cervantes’s response to the ethical critique of imaginative literature, and proceed to his treatment of such topics as the theory of war and peace, the education of princes, and the duties of the good governor. Selected episodes from Don Quixote, will be studied in conjunction with readings from influential Renaissance authors (Castiglione, Erasmus, Vitoria, Machiavelli).

Class participation: 15%
Research proposal and bibliography (3- 4 pp.): 15%
Final essay (10-12pp.): 70%


Instructor: V. Ambros
Time: Spring term, Thursdays, 10-12

Contemporary literary science owes much to the ideas of Russian formalists and Prague Linguistic Circle. To trace the imprint of Russian Formalism and Czech Structuralism on current scholarship this course will examine general aesthetic concepts of both schools such as aesthetic communication, functions of language, poetic devices, application of Saussure’s linguistic theory to literature, questions of literary history as well as selected topics of semiotics of drama and theater. We will discuss the theoretical treatment of poetry, prose, drama and cinema as presented by the most important scholars such as Mikhail Bakhtin, Roman Jakobson, Yuri Tynianov, Boris Eikhenbaum, Osip Brik, Vladimir Propp, Viktor Shklovsky, Petr Bogatyrev, and Jan Mukarovský.

When appropriate, text analysis of primary texts will assist in the investigation of theoretical writings. The scope of the primary texts ranges from avant-garde poetry (Xlebnikov, Mayakovsky) to fairy-tales, plays (Karel Capek, Ostrovski), novels (Sterne, Dostoevsky), films (Eisenstein, Kuleshov, Chaplin) and short stories (Doyle, Gogol, Hardy).

Required texts:
Important articles and some of the primary texts will be made available to
the students as a course reader.
Doležel, Lubomír. Occidental Poetics. Tradition and Progress. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.
Erlich, Victor. Russian Formalism. History – Doctrine.‘s-Gravenhage: Mouton & Co, 1955.
Galan, František. Historic Structures: The Prague School Project, 1928-1946. Austin: U of Texas, 1984.
Holquist, Michael. Dialogism. Bakhtin and his World. London:Routledge, 1990.
Quinn, M. The Semiotic Stage. New York: Peter Lang, 1995
Steiner, Peter. Russian Formalism: A Metapoetics. Ithaca: NY, 1984.
Striedter, Jurij. Literary Structure, Evolution and Value. Russian Formalism and Czech Structuralism Reconsidered. Cambridge MA.: Harvard UniversityPress, 1989

Class participation (10%), each term an oral class presentation (20%) and one essay (3000 words), on a topic consulted with the instructor (please double sided; 50%), reading responses and glossary (20 %). The style of the written assignments has to follow the general rules set out by the MLA  Style guide. Readings will be both in English and in the original for the specialists.

Instructor: T. Lahusen
Time: Spring term,, Tuesdays 1-3

The course examines the notion of “displacement,” signifying processes of change in and among places of dwelling, flight, production, and exchange through works of fiction, film, literary/cultural theory, and history. Recent theoretical works on place, space, cultural geography, literary and cinematographic archaeology will be examined through novels, films, and scholarly monographs. Starting with the reading of Marshall Berman’s chapter 2 “Petersburg: The Modernism of Underdevelopment” in his All That’s Is Solid Melts Into Air (1982), our journey moves to a series of texts displaying urban and rural spaces in Russia, China, Europe, and North America. Following Andrei Bely’s Petersburg (1913-14), we will explore the spaces of some utopian/dystopian landscapes of post-revolutionary Russia; the Paris of Benjamin’s Arcades project; the post-socialist space of a Romanian village; and end in the polycentric and fragmented urban space of Los Angeles. Further course material includes the following films: Chen Kaige’s 1984 Yellow Earth and Jia Zhangke’s 24 City (2008). The former is a post-Mao cinematic reflection on the foundational space of Chinese socialism, the latter presents its recent “modernization.” The film Outskirts (Okraina), by the late Petr Lutsik (1998) is a violent and dystopian meditation on post-Soviet “decollectivization,” whereas Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down (1993) showcases a case of post-modern homelessness in present-day Los Angeles through the violent rampage of a man at the end of his rope. The course is designed for students of comparative literature, history, film studies, and cultural geography.

The grade is based on class participation (10%) presentations (25%), reaction papers (25%), and a final research paper (40%).


Instructor: E. Cazdyn
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays, 1-3
Location: Northrop Frye Building, Room NF231

What is the relation, if any, between the radical transformation of an individual and the radical transformation of a social formation?  Or the logic of global capitalism and the limits and possibilities of the various subjectivities who live through it? This course will return to the old saw of Marx-Freud by moving carefully through Lacan and then shaking things up by zeroing in on the psycho-political symptoms of our current run-for-cover moment. What are the possibilities of the psychoanalytic clinic today, at a moment when psychoanalysis’ stock seems to have bottomed out and the accessibility of a long term, “inefficient and wasteful” treatment runs counter to every capitalist principle? What is the relation between thinking about psychoanalysis and politics (in the university seminar room and, in particular, the Comparative Literature one) and practicing psychoanalysis and politics? Can psychoanalysis be of service to radical politics, or is it destined to “only” manage our symptoms and placate our suffering while the stakes go up and the ship goes down?

After establishing this basic problematic of what will be called the worldly clinic, we will begin by examining the various techniques and concepts that Lacan mobilized in the psychoanalytic clinic: listening, the act, interpretation and anti-interpretation, the analytic relationship, scanding.  We will explore these categories by focusing on Lacan’s early and late Seminars (always with an eye on continuities and discontinuities with Freud). This will then prepare us for the second half of the seminar when we examine the worldly dimension of the clinic today.  For example, we might explore new experiments in psycho-political care, queer temporality and alternative futurities, Lacanian influences in Asia and South America, and the clinical turn in aesthetics and philosophy.  In a question: might psychoanalytic treatment (or Lacan’s idea of interrogating the Real) teach us anything about radical political change today?  And vice-versa.

We will read from Lacan’s Seminars 1, 2, 15, 17, 23 as well as work by Sigmund Freud, D.W. Winnicot, Bruce Fink, Collette Soler, Alain Badiou, Elisabeth Roudinesco, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Yannis Stravrakakis, Juliet Flower MacCannell, Slavoj Zizek, Hara Kazuyuki, Willy Apollon, Bernard Steigler and others.

One Research Paper 40%
One Class Presentation and Write-up 40%
Class Participation and Weekly Responses 20%.

Instructor: E. Jagoe
Time: Spring term, Thursdays, 12-2

This course considers critical writing that problematizes the demarcations of genre and of private and public discourses, performance and praxis. We will read and discuss a variety of critical texts that seem to demand, because of their generic ambiguity, an attention to form and to writerliness. These texts will be in the form of blogs, online magazines, essays, manifestoes, and books. The seminar will allow graduate students, engaged in a vital search for their own professional writerly voice, a forum in which to analyse the motivations, effects, discomfort, and excitement engendered by such critics and their work. This will be an intensive writing course, with short weekly assignments and various kinds of writing exercises tightly framed around questions of voice, genre, critical intervention, and formal innovation. Writers that we will read may include Lauren Berlant, Kathleen Stewart, Patricia Williams, Alison Krauss, Jennifer Doyle, Lauren Slater.

Weekly writing assignments 60%
Class participation in workshopping and discussion 40%



Instructor: A. Sakaki
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 10-12

This course will look at six metropoles (Berlin, London, New York, Shanghai, St. Petersburg, Paris) from the perspectives of Japanese visitors such as Mori, Natsume, Nagai, Yokomitsu, Gotô, Horie, and from those of natives and immigrants (Benjamin, Conrad, Wharton, Shi, Gogol, Rilke). Those writers’ accounts of cities in the span of time between the late nineteenth century and late twentieth century are inflected by the itineraries of their movement before and after their experience of the cities and by their peripatetic as well as optical experience of urban spaces of varied historical, social, material and geopolitical conditions. They reveal cities not as cartographical spots but as sites in the traffic of bodies and gazes. The readings (all assigned are available in English, with additional materials to be introduced by the instructor) shall be arranged in such a way that participants can compare each city’s literary mediations by variably invested observers. Accompanying theoretical, critical and photographic texts (e.g., Atget, Benjamin, Brandt, Brassaï, Burgin, de Certeau, Doisneau, Maeda, Ronis, Walker) shall define a conceptual framework for each session.

Class Participation 10% (each week’s performance shall be assessed accumulatively)
Response Papers 15% (the 1st due February 14 or earlier, 5%; the 2nd due March 21 or earlier, 10%)
Oral Presentation 15% (once during the semester)
Term Paper 60% (due April 28)



Instructor: M. Nyquist
Time: Wednesdays, 1-3

This course will reflect on representations of acts of revenge and resistance that are produced in historical contexts that privilege law’s rule. How is revenge — or its more civil counterpart, “retribution” — related to or differentiated from resistance, whether personal or political, individual or collective? If either revenge or resistance is disparaged, how is its objectionable character established? In what contexts and by what means is resistance represented as legitimate or even positive? We will explore questions such as these by discussing relations among revenge, resistance, and race (in the earlier sense of “people” or “nation” as well as in more current senses) as they appear in a variety of literary texts from three distinct pre-modern eras: ancient Athens and Rome; early modern England, France and Spain (the latter in connection with the Ottoman empire); and the age of Revolutions. Of interest will be the rezeptions geschichte of texts —or, in the case of the Haitian Revolution, events —in which relations among revenge, resistance and race are unstable, have frequently been revisioned, or have been interpreted in radically different terms.

Texts will include: Aeschylus’s Eumenides, Euripides’ Medea and Hecuba, and Livy’s narrative of Rome’s founding in History of Rome; variants of the tale of Rodrigo and La Cava, related to Islam’s conquest of Spain, selected essays by Montaigne, Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece, Richard III, and Hamlet, and Milton’s Paradise Lost (selected books); von Kleist’s  Amphitryon, The Earthquake in Chile, Betrothal in Santo Domingo, P. Shelley’s Defense of Poetry and M. Shelley’s Frankenstein, and both poetry and prose written in response to the Haitian revolution. Throughout, we will also discuss relevant cinematic representations of both revenge and resistance.

Texts will be ordered by the Bob Miller Bookroom, 180 Bloor St. West, Lower Concourse. Some will be made available on Blackboard.

Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on seminar facilitations (20%) and participation (20%), two shorter (10%) each and one longer (40%) essay….

Instructor: U. Esonwanne
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 3-5
Location Room 715 Jackman Humanities Centre.

Much as his work is widely read in the Humanities and he is celebrated as a public intellectual in the academy and out, Edward W. Said’s Beginnings: Intention and Method is rarely given critical attention. Unfortunately, this oversight also applies to comparative literature, the discipline to which he contributed his most seminal works. “Said: Beginning with Beginnings“ is an attempt to redress this oversight by undertaking a rigorous study of the itinerary of the concept in four texts that represent the arc of his progress in and out of the academy: Beginnings; The World, the Text, and the Critic; Out of Place; and On Late Style.

With the publication of Beginnings: Intention and Method (1975), Edward W. Said consolidated his reputation as the foremost secular comparatist of the twentieth century. The path to secular comparatism runs through his opposition of “beginning,” which he aligns with history, to “origin,” which he aligns with the “divine.” Today, secular cultural analysis is dominant. However, one could argue that because we give little attention to Beginnings, we have lost sight of the role that his exploration of foundational concepts (for example, filiation/affiliation, authority, and worldliness) in that work play in his elaboration of secular criticism.

Participation: 10%
Seminar Presentation: 20%
Short Essay: 20%
Research Essay: 50%

Instructor: A. Mostch
Time: Spring term, Mondays, 11-1

1500-1800 is the first period of modern globalization by the West, of the foundation of colonial empires and of the economic but also scientific exploration of foreign lands.  This seminar deals with the intersection of the “encyclopedic movement” and geographical expansions, more particularly the knowledge produced and disseminated about other cultures and “ethnography” in particular. The course seeks to show how the new anthropological knowledge becomes a point of public interest and political disputes and how this development is supported and accompanied by a dynamic book market.

The new ideas and ideals emerging between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment period and their reception are closely linked to the invention of the printing press, the progress in literacy within society, the emergence of a public sphere, and thus the development of an ever increasing market for printed materials and books. Due to political and religious censorship, but also economic considerations, the publishing history and the book trade of the time constitute a quite complex field of inquiry. Books were written  in one country, often enough printed in another, only to reappear clandestinely in legitimate or pirated copies on the marketplace for which they were intended, while their authors, editors and printers were censored, went  into exile or even to prison. Many works found their readers far away, across political, geographical and ideological divides in copied, translated or abstracted form. The changing worldview of this period is the result of new epistemological forces which seek to establish new paradigms and increasingly attempt to portray the world in encyclopedias, histories, dictionaries as well as other collections of knowledge (curio cabinets and museums). It is this worldview and its epistemological foundation which gives rise to philosophical and political modernity.

Oral presentation/Literature review:  20%
Final Essay (3500-5000 words): 70%
Overall evaluation:  10%


— This list is for information purposes only. A final selection will be made at the beginning of the seminar in accordance with the interest and the linguistic competence of the participants.

— The primary and secondary literature is in various languages from the start as travel literature is written in many languages (Latin, Spanish, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, etc.) We will work as much as possible with original sources and where necessary with translations. It is possible to work in English only, but competence in other languages is an asset and at times crucial in light of some secondary literature in this field of research and we will take advantage of students’ competences in other languages as much as possible. All texts will be available in the original version and in translation. Written assignments can be in English, French, Spanish or German according to the rules of the home departments.

José de Acosta, Historia natural y moral des las Indias, 1590
Robert Beverley, The History and Present State of Virginia, 1705.
Johannes Boemus, Omnium gentium mores, Leges et Ritus …. (published in Latin, German, French, English, Italian and Spanish), 1520-)
Théodore de Bry, Les Grands Voyages, (published in Latin, French, English and German), Francfort 1569-1640).
Théodore de Bry, Les Petits Voyages, Théodore de Bry (published in German and Latin), Frankfurt, 1597-1633
Charlevoix, Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle-France, Paris, 1744
Charlevoix, Histoire et description générale du Japon, 1736
[Collective], Les lettres édifiantes (translated into French, published in French and subsequently translated in many other languages), Paris, 1702-1776.
[Collective], Les relations jésuites (translated into French, published in French and subsequently translated in many other languages)
Diderot et d’Alembert L’Encyclopédie
Earl of Oxford, A Collection  of Voyages and Travels …, London 1745
Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, and Discoveries of the English Nation London, 1589-.
Joseph-François Lafitau, Mœurs des sauvages amériquains comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps, Lafitau, Paris, 1724 (translated into Dutch and German)
Bruzen de La Martinière, Introduction à l’histoire de l’Asie, de l’Afrique et de l’Amérique. Amsterdam : Z. Chatelain, 1735.
Giovanni Ramusio, Navigationi et viaggi…, 1563-.
Bernard Picart, Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde, Amsterdam, Jean-Frederic Bernard, 7 vol 1723-1736 (translated into and published in French, then translated into German, Dutch and English)
Abbé Prévost, Histoire générale des voyages…, Paris, 1746-1747.
Johann Friedrich Schröter, Allgemeine Geschichte der Länder und Völker von Amerika Halle, 1752-53.

Updated Jan 5th, 2015