FALL 2016

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.

Coordinator: U. Esonwanne
Time: Fall term, Fridays, 1.15 pm–3.45 pm
Syllabus: please click here

Description: COL1000 is a general introduction to Comparative Literature, to contemporary theory, and to criticism. Its purpose is to offer all incoming MA and PhD students with some exposure to key issues in the discipline. Organized around the broad theme of “Bases for Comparison,” each weekly seminar will explore a subtheme over two sessions. In the first session, we will examine issues raised in an essay selected for that week. In the second session, participating faculty will join us in the exploration of issues pertaining to comparison across different media, disciplines, and literary genres and traditions.

Participation: 20% (includes attendance and contribution to discussions)
Position papers: 40% (2 papers, 4–5 pages each; the first is due Friday, October 14, the second Friday, November 18; please submit by email as MSWord document).
Research essay: 40% (due Friday, January 17, 2017; in 5000–7000 words, critically explore an issue that arose from the themes covered in the course; please use MLA Documentation and submit by email as MSWord document).

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]).  English translation : Intimate Journal, or, Here’s a Manuscript; followed by Works of Flesh and Metonymies (Toronto : Mercury Press, 2004).

Ernaux, Annie.  La Honte (Paris : Gallimard, 1997).  English translation : Shame, trans. Tanya Leslie (New York : Seven Stories Press, 1998).

Guibert, Hervé.  À l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie (Paris : Gallimard, 1990).  English translation : To The Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, trans. Linda Coverdale (London : Quartet Books, 1991).

Wolf, Christa.  Kindheitsmuster (Berlin/Weimar : Aufbau Verlag, 1976).  Two English translations exist : 1) Patterns of Childhood, trans. Ursule Molinaro and Hedwig Rappolt (New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984; and 2) A Model Childhood, trans. U. Molinaro and H. Rappolt (New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980).

N.B. The original German edition and English translations of Kindheitsmuster are available in the University of Toronto libraries, or you may order your own copy.  English translations of Ernaux’s, Brossard’s and Guibert’s texts are available in the U. of Toronto libraries, or you may order your own copies.  See the course schedule document (to be distributed at the first meeting of the class) for further details.

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.

Written Response to a Theoretical Article: 15%
Oral presentation  (30 minutes) :  25%
Research paper (20 pages max.) : 50% : DEADLINE : Monday Dec. 12, 2016
Participation in class :                   10%

N.B. The participation mark will be based not only on regular attendance at the seminar, but also on ACTIVE participation in class discussions.




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: 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 and The Use of Bodies among others) in relation to examples drawn from literature (Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener” and Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians) 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: A. Sakaki
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 10-12

This course will look at six metropoles (Berlin, London, Paris, New York, St. Petersburg, Shanghai) from the perspectives of Japanese visitors such as Mori, Natsume, Nagai, Yokomitsu, Tanizaki, Gotô, Tawada, and Horie, and from those of natives and immigrants (e.g., Benjamin, Döblin, Nabokov, Woolf, Conrad, Rilke, Pushkin, Gogol, Shi). 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 sensations. 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., Apter, Atget, Benjamin, Brandt, Brassaï, Burgin, de Certeau, Doisneau, Gleber, Maeda, Ronis, Walker) shall define a conceptual framework for each session.

Class Participation 10% (each week’s performance shall be assessed accumulatively)
Response Papers 20%
Oral Presentation 10% (once during the semester)
Term Paper 60%


Instructor: R. Bai
Time: Fall term, Thursdays, 11-1

This course examines new forms of textualities and textual practices that are emerging in the digital era. It highlights an understudied dimension of the text, i.e. the medium that forms its material and technological infrastructure such as scroll, codex, book, CD, e-book, the Internet, and smartphone. The course starts with a historical investigation into the printed text and print culture. Then it moves on to the question of how digital technologies shape reading and writing as well as other text-based cultural practices. While the course revolves around the mediality of the text, it distances itself from technological determinism by stressing the facts that digital technologies are always embedded in and shaped by historically specific political, social, and cultural conditions. This course is designed for students who are interested in questions and issues related to literary production in the digital era and more generally the materiality of the text. Theoretical and scholarly works we will engage with in this course include, but not limited to, Understanding Media: Extensions of Man (McLuhan, 1964), The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Adrian Johns, 2000), Writing Machines (N. Katherine Hayles, 2002), Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print (Jay David Bolter, 2001), Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media (Mark Hansen, 2006), The Interface Effect (Alexander R. Galloway), The Language of New Media (Lev Manovich, 2002), Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies (Noah Wardrip-Fruin, 2009).


Class participation (15%)
Discussion leader (15%)
Response Essay 1 (35%)
Response Essay 2 (35%)

Instructor: A. Komaromi
Time: Fall term, Fridays, 11-1

This course considers the role of literature in the formation of publics and public intellectuals, according to some leading theorists. The nature of a public, its constitution and elaboration through literary works, private reading, public interventions and media will be considered. We will subject to critical scrutiny the belief in autonomy, the distinction between public and private, and the literary or poetic character of publics in varied historical and contemporary, globalized contexts.

Readings from (not limited to):
Bourdieu, The Field of Art
Venedikt Erofeev
Nancy Fraser
Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere.
George Orwell
Michael Warner

Class Participation (including leading discussion on a rotating basis) – 15%
Reading Response – 15%
Proposal and Annotated Bibliography (for Final Essay) – 20%
Final Essay – 50%

Instructor: J. Ricco
Time: Fall term, Thursdays,2-4

This course examines recent work in Queer Theory, Philosophy, Literature, and Visual Culture, in which questions of ethics and aesthetics are of principal concern in thinking about friendship; sexual pleasure; intimacy; decision; anonymity and identity; social encounters and relations. We will read works by: Leo Bersani, Tom Roach, Tim Dean, William Haver, Michel Foucault, Herve Guibert, Jean-Luc Nancy, Lauren Berlant, and others.


  • Preparation for and Participation in Weekly Seminar. 25%. Students are expected to thoroughly prepare for each week’s seminar by closely reading all of the assigned texts; developing critical responses to the readings; and formulating questions or statements to be raised during class. The weekly seminars are structured as group conversations, and students are expected to make every effort to contribute to the discussion.
  • 3 Response Papers:  Critical/Analytical responses to the readings from three separate weeks in the course. 30%
  • Research Paper Proposal/Abstract is due by the fourth week of the term.
  • Final Paper: Approximately 8,000 words, fully annotated with bibliography.
    45%. Due the final week of the term.


Instructor: A. Motsch
Time: Fall term, Mondays,2-4

This course analyzes the link between contact literature (travel literature, discovery literature, colonial literature) and the establishment of modernity and its discourses of knowledge. Taking into account the philosophical and political debates between the 16th and 18th century, the course seeks to account for the European expansion, in particular the colonization of the Americas, and the emergence of discourses of knowledge about other cultures.

Two aspects ought to be singled out here: the knowledge produced about «others» and the new consciousness of Europe’s own identity which was profoundly transformed in this very contact. The course follows the hypothesis that the philosophical and modern definition of modern Man is itself a result of the contact between Europe and its others. The discussions of the texts privilege epistemological aspects and anthropological and political thought. More precisely, the goal is to trace the various ways the emergence of the modern subject is tied to its construction of alterity. Literary texts for example will therefore be questioned about their social and political dimensions within the episteme of the time.

A prominent issue will be the intercultural dynamic between the 16th and 18th centuries between Europe and the rest of the globe, but also within Europe itself. The development of new discourses of knowledge will involve texts of very different nature : literary, ethnographic, political, philosophical, historical, etc. Other aspects to be discussed are the issue of literary genres and canon formation, the conditions which make anthropological writing possible and the conceptualization of the «other» (ethnicity, race, religion, gender, etc.)

These texts to be studied could include the following ones. A final selection will be announced at the beginning of class and take into consideration particular interests of the students. This being said, suggestions are welcome and changes will happen, especially in the secondary literature which will reflect the latest scholarship. Texts discussed in class will be available in English translations.

Primary texts:
— Montaigne, Essais (Des cannibales, Des coches)
— José de Acosta, Historia natural y moral des las Indias
—  Bernardino de Sahagun, Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Espana
— Robert Beverley, The History and Present State of Virginia
— Walter Raleigh, The Discovery of Guiana
— Jean de Léry, Histoire d’un voyage faict en la terre du Brésil
— André Thévet, Singularitez de la France antarctique
— Johanes Boemus, Omnium gentium mores leges et ritus…
— Jesuit Relations (Lejeune, Brébeuf)
— Lafitau, Mœurs des sauvages amériquains comparées aux mœurs des premiers temps
— Lahontan, Dialogues du baron de Lahontan…
— Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine de l’inégalité entre les hommes
— Fontenelle, Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes
— Montesquieu, De l’esprit (extraits)
— Immanuel Kant, Anthropolgie in pragmatischer Hinsicht

Secondary texts:
— Joan-Pau Rubiés & J. Elsner,  Voyages and Visions
— James Axtell, After Columbus, Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America
— Marie Louise Pratt “Arts of the contact zone”
— Klaus Vogel, “Cultural variety in a Renaissance Perspective: Johannes Boemus on “The manners, laws an cusoms of all people”
— Michel de Certeau, The writing of History (L’écriture de l’histoire (extraits)
— Joan-Pau Rubiés, “The concept of cultural dialogue…”
— Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions
— Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other
— Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters
— Anthony Pagden, The Fall of Nartural Man
— José Rabasa, Inventing America: Spanish Historiography and the Formation of Eurocentrism

Required work:
—  one course presentation  10%
—  a literature review (3-5 pages):  20%
—  Written assignment (ca. 25 pages)   60%
—  Overall assessment   10%



 SPRING 2017

 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.



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

Books and readers are constant preoccupations in Cervantine fiction. This seminar will examine such issues in detail, with a specific focus on Don Quixote. Our point of departure will be a sequential reading of key episodes from both parts of the novel, centering on the literary genres that inform and shape Cervantes’s writing (chivalric and Greek romance, pastoral, epic, picaresque fiction, Renaissance lyric) and on the representation of readers and the reading process in the text. Attention will also be given to literary techniques closely associated with Cervantes: generic mixing, the interplay of narratives and narrative voices, literary parody, the various kinds and uses of irony. Some readings will be drawn from other works of Cervantes, particularly the Exemplary Stories. The interrelated practices of reading and story-telling will be central to our scrutiny of Cervantes’s fiction. Students will be encouraged to consider modern authors as readers of
Cervantes and as contributors to the novelistic tradition that he initiates.

Each student will be expected to participate in class discussion and to undertake a limited research project on a topic to be selected in consultation with the instructor, leading to a brief seminar presentation (15 minutes) and to a final essay (12-15 pages).

Core Text:
Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quijote. Trans. Burton Raffel, ed. Diana de Armas Wilson. New York and London: Norton, 1999.
—. Exemplary Stories. Trans. C. A. Jones. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972.

Class participation 15%
Research proposal and bibliography 10%
Seminar presentation 15%
Final essay 60%



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. Jagoe
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays, 10-12

In experimental critical writing, generic distinctions between poetry, essay, manifesto, and philosophical query are blurred. In this course we will attend to form and to writerliness in the work of contemporary critics and thinkers that write on the edge of institutional and disciplinary constraints; e.g., Fred Moten, Claudia Rankine, Christina Crosby, Maggie Nelson, Anne Carson, Wayne Koestenbaum, Denise Riley. But reading takes second place to writing in different forms and genres. You will engage in writing exercises around voice, genre, collaboration, multimedia, and image as you articulate your own critical voice. Each week, you will submit a 750-1300 word assignment to the class, and the bulk of class time will be devoted to workshopping each other’s writing.

Class participation and weekly writing 60%
Final Portfolio 40%


Instructor: J. Zilcosky
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays, 1-3

In this seminar, we will examine the writings of Sigmund Freud in their historical context, starting with the intellectual and political milieu of fin de siècle Vienna that set the stage for the invention of psychoanalysis. We will investigate Freud’s entire career, grouped roughly in four stages: his early 1890s writings on hysteria and his experiments with hypnosis, which led to his discovery through trial and error of the “talking cure”; his 1900s creation of the major concepts of sexuality theory (in his early case studies as well as his “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”); his central writings before, during and after the First World War, from Totem and Taboo, “Mourning and Melancholia,” and “The Uncanny” through to his seminal work on shell shock, repetition compulsion and the death drive (Beyond the Pleasure Principle); and his attempts to diagnose wide-ranging pathologies of society and culture in late 1920s and 1930s (e.g., The Future of an Illusion,Civilization and Its Discontents, and Moses and Monotheism). The goal of the course is to present a broad critical introduction to Freud’s work and to the key concepts of psychoanalytic theory.

In-class Presentations: 25%
Critical Commentary: 15%
Research Paper: 45%:
Class Participation: 15%


Instructor: M. Revermann
Time: Spring term, Fridays, 12-3

Ever since its creation in classical Athens, tragedy has been more than ‘just’ theatre: it has been a template that proved to be extraordinarily ‘good to think with’, from Plato and Aristotle through, for instance, German Classicism and Romanticism (Schiller, Nietzsche, Wagner) and 19th-century Naturalism (Strindberg, Ibsen) to 20th-century artists working in high-brow culture (Brecht, Beckett, Miller, Sarah Kane) and in the Hollywood machine (Francis Coppola, George Lucas and the collectives creating shows like ‘24’ or ‘Breaking Bad’). What exactly has constituted this persistent allure of tragedy to artists working in disparate media across cultures and centuries? What is there to learn about them (and for us) from their modes of engagement with tragedy?  And what does the comparatist method contribute to our understanding of these dynamics which other, more isolated approaches would not be able to deliver?

For the pursuit of these questions this course will follow a tripartite structure. ‘Foundations’ will centre on a close reading of the foundational text for thinking about tragedy, Aristotle’s Poetics (including critical responses to it such as Brecht’s Small Organon for the Theatre or Arthur Miller’s Tragedy and the Common Man). The module ‘Instantiations’ will scrutinize select works of art/theoretical writings from theatre, philosophy and opera, including Strindberg Miss Julie, Nietzsche Birth of Tragedy, selections from Schiller’s theoretical writings as well as Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, Bizet’s Carmen, Enescu’s Oedipe and Weill/Brecht Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The final module ‘Challenges and survivals’ looks at modes of resistance to tragedy (e.g. Brecht The Good Person of Sezuan, Glass/Wilson Einstein on the Beach) or other noteworthy 20th/21st-century appropriations in cinematic popular culture (e.g. Godfather, Star Wars, 24) and in theatrical high culture (e.g. Beckett Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame, Sarah Kane 4.48 Psychosis and Phaedra’s Love, and performance art responses to the 9/11 terror attacks).

This course should be of interest not just to comparatists but to participants from a wide range of philologies, theatre studies, cinema studies, philosophy and music. Ample opportunity will be given to course participants to integrate own interests both into the course work and the mandatory research paper.

40% research paper
30% participation
30% in-class presentations and written responses to weekly lead questions


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

Many theorists and critics of illustrated autobiographical narratives (Adams, Butler, Didier, Egan, Gusdorf, Gilmore, Hirsch, Heddon Lejeune, Perrault, Simonet-Tenant, Olney, Rugg, Watson, etc.,) have proposed that the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century be perceived as an age of testimony, an age of “bearing witness or testifying” (Heddon). This is perhaps best epitomized by the proliferation of auto-biographical narratives (diaries, mémoires, notebooks, autobiographies) published in the past century and the rise of extremely diverse theories for the study of life narratives (structuralist, historical, visual, feminist, genetic, etc.). What Suzanna Egan calls testimonial culture is part of and related to a more general memory boom, itself indebted to the “transformation of the personal into the political” [1]. My seminar will be dedicated to personal testimonials and to the study of the performative qualities of identity construction in self-representational photographic and painted narratives marked by subjective experiences and political convictions. Testimonial culture is marked by the political upheavals that have marked the 20th and 21st century. Many writers and artists have focused their visual self-representational acts on political historical events (WWI, WWII, the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, War in Iraq) becoming performative witnesses to tragic sociopolitical events. In the process of “imagining” and “imaging” these worlds, the visual auto-biographical narratives studied in our seminar simultaneously challenge generic conventions, the mimetic and referential nature of images, the role of readership and spectatorship in the intellectualization of these descriptive, culturally and politically charged visual self-representational narratives. More importantly, these texts flaunt the fact that they are visual cultural constructions deeply involved with human societies, ethics, politics and the epistemology of “seeing and being seen” (Mitchell, What do pictures want? p. 341). Various theories of performativity (Austin, Carlson, Hirsch, Kadar, Langford, Récanati, Smith, etc.) will be at the core of our study of Blais, Calle, Findley, Kahlo and Salomon’s personal and political testimonials.

15% participation; 20% Oral presentation; 65% Final Term Essay.

Primary texts :
Blais, M-C. American Notebooks. Our focus will be on the  political commentary regarding the Vietnam War.
—. American Passages.
Calle, Sophie. Double Game.
Findley, T. The Wars.
—. Findley’s unpublished Personal Notebooks and manucripts (including his uncle’s unpublished WWI correspondance) pertaining to the genesis of the Wars will also be examined.
Kahlo, Frida. Painted Diary.
(We will also study her numerous self-portraits and their political/cultural meanings).
Salomon, Charlotte. Life ? or Theater.

Bibliography :
Photography and Autobiography: a “selection”
Mirzoeff, N. The Visual Cultural Reader. London: Routledge, 2005.
Mitchell, W. (Ed.) The Language of images. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974.
Taylor, J. Body Horror. Photojournalism. Catastrophe and War. Manchester: 1998.
Adams, Timothy Dow. Light Writing and Life Writing: photography in autobiography. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.
Fauvel, Maryse. “Photographie et autobiographie”, Romance Notes, vol. 34, no 2, 1993, p. 193-202.
Méaux, Danièle (dir.). Traces photographiques, Traces autobiographiques. Paris: Broché, 2004.
Melera, Mariella. “Photographics/Autobiographics: Felix Nadar and the Face of Resemblance,” French Cultural Studies, vol. 8, no 2 (1997): 180-193.
Paraye, Catherine. “Photographie et autobiographie: comment raconter le traumatisme?”, Texte, revue critique et de théorie littéraire, vol. 41-42, 2007, p. 63-80.
Ruchel-Stockmans, Katarzyna. “Impossible self-representation”, Image & Narrative: Painting/Portrait, vol. 14, July 2006.
Rugg, Linda Haverty. Picturing Ourselves. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Painting: a “selection
Fossi, Gloria. Le Portrait. Paris: Grund, 1998.
Garcia, Tristan. L’Image. France, Atlande, 2007.
Genette, G. L’œuvre d’art. La relation esthétique. Paris: Seuil, 1997.
Game, J. (ed.) Porous Boundaries. Texts and Images. Oxford: Oxford Press, 2007.
Ricci, F. Painting with Words, Writing with Pictures. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.
Vouilloux, B. La peinture dans le texte. Paris: CNRS, 1994.
Weisberg, G. “Painting as Autobiography” Arts Magazine, vol 63, no 9 (1989): 48-55.
Felman, S and Laub, D. (Eds.) Testimony: Contemporary Performance and Force Entertainment. London: Routledge, 1999.
Gusdorf, Georges. “Conditions et limites de l’autobiographie.” Formen der Selbstdarstellung. Berlin: Duncker und Humboldt, 1956.
—.  “De l’autobiographie initiatique à l’autobiographie genre littéraire.” Revue d’histoire littéraire de la France, no 6, November-December (1975): 957-1002.
—. Auto-bio-graphie. Lignes de vie 2. Paris: Editions Odile Jacob, 1991.
Heddon, Deirdre. Autobiography and Performance. New York: Palgrave, 2008.
Kazin, Alfred. “Autobiography as Narrative.” The Michigan Quartely Review. Vol III, no 1 (1964): 210- 216.
Lejeune, Philippe. L’Autobiographie en France. Paris: Armand Colin, 1971.
—. Moi aussi. Paris: Seuil, 1986.
Olney, James (Ed). Studies in Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
Parker, A. and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (Eds.) Performativity and Performance. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Ramon, Fernandez. “L’Autobiographie et le roman.” Messages. Paris: Gallimard, 1926.

Feminist Theories of Autobiography: “selection”
Didier, Béatrice. L’Écriture-femme. Paris: Gallimard, 1981.
Garcia, Irma. Promenade femmilière: recherches sur l’écriture féminine. Paris: Éditions des Femmes, 1981.
Gilmore, Leigh. Autobiographies: A Feminist Theory of Women’s Self-Representation. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994.
Smith, S/ and J. Watson. (Eds.). Interfaces. women/Autobiography/Image/Performance. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2002.
Stanton, Donna (Ed.). The Female Autograph. New York: New York Literary Forum, 1984.

Theories of Performativity: “selection”
Austin, J. L. How to Do Things with Words.
Carlson, Marvin. “Invisible presences – performance intertextuality. (Performance Analysis)”. Theatre Research International no 19, Summer 1994.
Halfter, Joy. Performatives: What They Are and What they Mean.
Kadar, Marlene. Tracing the autobiographical.  Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005.
Langford, Martha. Suspended conversations: the afterlife of memory in photographic albums.  McCord Museum of Canadian History, Illustrated Edition. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 2010.
Récanati, F. Meaning and Force: the Pragmatics of Performative Utterances.
Smith, S/ and J. Watson. (Eds.). Interfaces. women/Autobiography/Image/Performance. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

[1] S. Egan and G. Helms, “Autobiography and Changing Identities: Introduction,” Biography, 24, 1 (Winter 2001), p.IX.

Instructor: W. Goetschel
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays 3-5
Location: Odette hall OH323

This course examines central theoretical issues in contemporary thought with particular attention to the role that the “Frankfurt School” and its affiliates such as Benjamin, Kracauer, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas and others play in the context of modern German social and cultural thought. In France, thinkers like Levinas, Foucault, and Derrida respond to this tradition and enrich it. The course explores in which way the continuing dialogue between these thinkers informs current critical approaches to rethinking issues and concerns such as theorizing modernity, culture, secularization, multiculturalism, and the vital role of cultural difference.

Evaluation:term paper (90%) and class participation/presentation in class (10%).



 Instructor: T. Lahusen
Time: April 21 – June 9, 2017

 The Centre for Comparative Literature (COL) is organizing an eight-week non-credit course for researchers and students who wish to go beyond text and get training in documentary filmmaking. The number of participants is limited to 12. Signing up for the course starts on January 5, 2017, by e-mail sent to Prof. Jill Ross, director of COL ( Preference will be given to participants who have the possibility of including a film or other media-related creative component in their graduate thesis. The course is open to students and faculty from other units if there is enough space.

The seminar is funded in part by a grant from the Centre for Comparative Literature and will be hosted by Hart House. Participants will have to purchase a Hart House “Film Board membership” ($25/year for students), which will give them access to the excellent film equipment of the Film Board.

The seminar is directed by a group of documentary filmmakers who have worked in China, Central Asia, Iran, Russia, and other countries and will share their practical and technical experience with the participants.  All sessions will be held at Hart House, except the first session.

Organizer and instructor:
Prof. Thomas Lahusen, Department of History and Centre for Comparative Literature. Documentary filmmaker and co-director of Chemodan Films (www.chemodanfil, Films shot in China, Central Asia, France, Japan, Poland, and Russia.

Other instructors:

Rozette Ghadery, cinematographer and experimental filmmaker. B.A. in Cinema from the Art University in Tehran, Iran and MFA in Film Production from York University. She has shot more than 300 documentary films around the globe, including 3D films. Grants received from the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK.

Gulzat Egemberdieva, journalist and documentary filmmaker. B.A. in Journalism from the Bishkek University for the Humanities, Kyrgyzstan and M.A. from the Centre of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, University of Toronto. Grants from the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council for a film project on gender issues in Central Asia.

Invited speakers include:

Philip Hoffman. “One of the few contemporary filmmakers whose work provides a bridge to the classical themes of death, diaspora, memory, and finally, transcendence.” (Martha Rosler). He has been honored with more than a dozen retrospectives of his work. In 2001 the publication Landscape with Shipwreck: First Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman, was released comprising some 25 essays. He has received numerous awards including the San Francisco International Film Festival’s Golden Gate Award and the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s Gus Van Sant Award. In 2016 he received the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. Hoffman currently teaches at York University, and since 1994, has been the Artistic Director of the Independent Imaging Retreat (Film Farm).

John Greyson. Toronto video artist/filmmaker whose features, shorts and installations include Fig Trees (Best Documentary Teddy, Berlin Film Festival, 2009), Proteus (Diversity Award, Barcelona Gay Lesbian Film Festival, 2004), Lilies (Best Film ‘Genie’, 1996), Zero Patience (1993 – Best Canadian Film, Sudbury Film Festival), The Making of Monsters (1991 – Best Canadian Short, Toronto Film Festival) ,and Urinal (1988 – Best Feature Teddy, Berlin Film Festival). An associate professor in Film at York University, he was awarded the 2007 Bell Canada Award in Video Art.



Are you planning to do fieldwork for an oral history or cultural anthropology project? Or do you wish to complete the book or the paper you are writing by a visual documentary report? Then this seminar is for you. You will acquire not only the basics of filmmaking, but, by participating in this seminar and developing your own project, you will be exposed to some of the specificities of documentary filmmaking: ethical, social, psychological and political issues related to video observation and interview.

This program introduces students to the principles and techniques of digital documentary filmmaking and essay film. Topics include the important keys for documentary script, the use of reenactment in documentary films, directing, videography, digital editing techniques and a short introduction for color correction. Hands-on instruction is provided for various types of cameras and recent versions of Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro. This seminar course also covers key aspects of an independent documentary development.

By the end of the course, students should be able to identify the basic rules and principles of digital documentary filmmaking to produce a short documentary video.



Week 1- Introduction
Friday April 21: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room, Comparative Literature, Isabel Bader Theatre, 3rd floor.
Guest speaker: Philip Hoffman.

General introduction to the seminar. Proposals by participants of research/film ideas. Discussions on how to develop each of these proposals into a filming plan. Instructors will also show their own work, and discuss their own approaches and experience. Presentations of well-known examples of documentary filmmaking (Chris Marker, Joris Ivens, Haroun Farocki, Abbas Kiarostami).

In addition, further discussion can be carried around sample works from Russian, Iranian, Chinese cinema, etc.

Week 2 Visual Storytelling
Friday April 28: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room.
Guest speaker: John Greyson.

This class will cover the principles in visual storytelling and how they are applied in documentary filmmaking. Topics include: plot development, dramatic question, character development, intention of each scene, the main elements of the narrative and experimental documentary.

Week 3 Preproduction I
Friday May 5: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Hart House, Room TBA

Important topics in preproduction will be covered, including financing, budget, equipment preparation, crew development, etc. Basics in film directing and language will also be covered in this class.
A few topics will also be covered targeting academic research-oriented documentary projects. These topics include: solving ethical issues, acquisition of archival footage, ethnographical issues in approaching the subjects, etc.


Week 4 Preproduction II
Friday May 12: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Hart House, Room TBA

The following topics will be covered on the filming practice in small crew.
Cinematography basics: understanding the image, basics of digital photography, composition, exposure, aspect ratios and shot sizes.
Basics in sound recording will be covered, including the following topics: relation between sound and image; diegetic and non-diegetic sound, microphone types—directional vs. non-directional, microphone placement, boom operation, background noise, sound levels, use of various microphones in interviews, how to use external microphone with HD video camera, sound collection—stereo vs. mono, etc.
In-class demonstration will be given on the use of typical low-budget documentary filming and sound equipment.

Week 5 Production I
Friday May 19: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Hart House, Room XXXX

Class will be divided into groups of 3-4 to carry out the shoot of in-class projects. Within each group, members will rotate among the roles of director, cinematographer, sound recordist, etc. The filming will be done under the assistance of the instructors.

Week 6 Production II
Friday May 26: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Hart House, Room TBA
To continue the in-class project filming.


Week 7 Post Production, Editing
Friday June 2: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Hart House, Room TBA

After introducing the principles and techniques of digital video editing, topics include editing basics, parallel editing, various types of transitions (cut, jump cut, fade in/out, dissolve, wipe), reaction shots, Kuleshov effect, etc; hands-on instruction of Premiere Pro and Apple Final Cut Pro will be provided.
Elements of colour correction & sound mix.
Individuals will be editing their own project.


Week 8 Group project presentation
Friday June 9: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room.

Each group will present the end product of a 5 min film, which will be critiqued by other groups, the instructors, and faculty. This session is opened for a general public, involving faculty and students from COL and other units and a larger discussion around how to produce creative work that will be an integral part of a critical project in Comparative Literature.


Suggested book list:

Directing Actors: Creating Memorable Performances for Film & Television
The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age
Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video
The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media
Cutting Rhythms: Shaping the Film Edit

How to Build a Great Screenplay: A Master Class in Storytelling for Film
Elements of Screenwriting: A Guide for Film and Television Writing
The Screenwriter’s Bible: A Complete Guide to Writing, Formatting, and Selling Your Script (6th Edition. Expanded & Updated)

The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video
The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age

In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing
On Film Editing: An Introduction to the Art of Film Construction
Grammar of the Edit
The Focal Easy Guide to Final Cut Pro 7
The Technique of Film and Video Editing: History, Theory, and Practice
The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film
Fine cuts: the art of European film editing
The Technique of Film Editing
High Definition Postproduction: Editing and Delivering HD Video.
Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video
The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers: A Legal Toolkit for Independent Producers

Sound Design
Producing Great Sound for Film and Video: Expert Tips from Preproduction to Final Mix
A Practical Guide to Video and Audio Compression: from Sprockets            
and Rasters to Macroblocks

Critical Focus: An Introduction to Film
All You Need to Know About the Movie and TV Business
The Major Film Theories: An Introduction
The Kid Stays in the Picture: A Notorious Life