FALL 2019

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.  …


Instructor: S. Dowling
Location: Seminar Room
Time: Fridays 2-4

Description: COL1000H 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.

Conduct of the course
COL1000H is a weekly, two–hour faculty seminar. Meetings will consist of open and collegial discussions of readings assigned for each session and issues related to or arising from such material. Note: COL1000H is a professional seminar. Consequently, participants are expected to attend all sessions punctually. Breaches of professional etiquette will be directed to the Graduate Coordinator, and all responsibility for explaining them punctually and with necessary documentation rests with the participants.

PLEASE NOTE: AS a physical or psychological condition, disability may affect participation in the course. In COL1000H we will try to accommodate anyone afflicted by a disability and diagnosed by an accredited physician officially recognized by the University of Toronto. Such accommodations would be in accordance to guidelines provided by the Centre and by Accessibility Services. Students whose access to the classroom, to course materials, and to technology, or whose ability to participate fully in and contribute meaningfully to course activities is hindered by a physical or psychological disability, should contact Accessibility Services (www.accessibility.utoronto.ca) and complete and submit a Letter of Accommodation to the instructor in the first week of the course. They should note that such letters are meant to serve as advisories, the purpose of which is to prompt a discussion with the instructor on how best to meet the student’s needs.


1. Conduct in the course (Value 20%): Participation, attendance, etc.:
2. Position papers (Value 40%): Two 4–5 page papers, 20% each. Research not required. The first is due Friday, October 5, and the second Friday, November 2, both at 11.59 pm. Please submit by email as MSWord document (Times New Roman 12) only.
3. Research essay (Value 40%): Length: 5000–7000 words maximum; Due: Friday, December 28, 11.59 pm. This should be a well–researched and critical exploration of a problem of comparison arising from the material covered in the course and subsequent discussions of such material or from the participant’s own readings of material that are directly relevant to one of the key themes of the course. The problem addressed may be conceptual or theoretical. It may also have to do with the methodology of comparison or with challenges arising from historical, cultural, political contexts and dynamics of comparison. To succeed, the argument advanced should be based on close reading of the material (essay, novel, film, play, etc.) in which the problem occurs. The essay should also meet the minimum standards of critical scholarship expected of articles submitted for publication in academic journals. In other words, they should be composed in readable prose and offer readers an original insight about the issue being addressed. Documentation must be in accordance with the Modern Languages Association of America (MLA) convention. Although students are expected to formulate their own essay topics, they may consult the instructor in doing so if they wish. All essays, prepared as MS Word documents (Time New Roman 12) only, should be submitted as email attachment. Penalties: a) papers that do not meet the length requirement will lose 10% of the assignment value; b) papers submitted late (that is, submitted after the due date) will lose 5% per day for a maximum of five days (weekends and holidays included). Thereafter, they will receive an “F” (0%).


Instructor: S. Rupp
Time: Fall term, Thursday, 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: E. Jagoe
Time:Monday, 1-3

This course will examine theories and representations of affinity in order to ask questions about community, collectivity, love, family, friendship, intimacy, belonging, responsibility, and social change. Forms of mediation always shape how we relate to one another, imagine ourselves as parts of groups, and constitute communities, and thus the course will investigate the different ways in which we experience the proximity of bodies, sentiments, and ideas, so as to ask questions about what it means to live politically with others. How does the community that we create in the classroom function as a template for investigating the processes and outcomes of relationality and affective associations? In the first half of the course, different forms of collectivity, whether practiced or imagined or theorized, will be investigated. The second half will analyze contemporary problematics that force us to reconsider traditional forms of affinity. What is a “normal” relationship or range of affective connections? To what extent are our intimacies segmented, remote-controlled, and apportioned, and can we redefine these distributions without lapsing into a nostalgic primitivism? What are the politics of shaping oneself in relation to others, and what does this imply for social change? Possible authors that we will read include Ursula LeGuin, Amitav Ghosh, Lauren Berlant, Mary Gaitskill, Nick Flynn, and Jodi Dean. Possible topics/treatments include Joan of Arc and Jim Jones.

Collaborative Essay: 20%
Pecha Kucha: 20%
Class Participation: 20%
Essay: 40%



Instructor: U. Esonwanne
Time: Tuesdays, 11-1

To compare” is to think relationally (Felski and Friedman 2). But who thinks thus, and from what epistemological vantage point does she do so? Is she indifferent to or implicated in her relational thinking? If the latter, how might she think “the human,” understood as a universal category rather than as a being defined by sets of distinguishing particularities? How might a comparative analysis of works of art that is based on relational thinking address scepticism about the universality of the human that is now endemic in discourses of difference (“the English working class,” etc.)? Would it enhance or impair the efforts of scholars and artists who, three centuries after the French and Haitian revolutions, still conspire for a universal “‘human race’” (Buck–Morss 107)? To answer these questions, we will engage the instability of comparison they convey as the very condition of possibility of comparative literary scholarship today. Readings will include the volumes referenced above and selected writings by Glissant, Melville, Lloyd, Morton, Camus, Ishiguro, Menchu, Allende, Alloula, Said, Forster, and Rushdie. Classes will consist of weekly two-hour seminars, and evaluation will be based on presentations and a research essay.

Readings (depending on availability and other unforeseen considerations)

Battle of Algiers
Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem
Isabella Allende, Island Beneath the Sea
Kazuo Ishiguro, Remains of the Day
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Rigoberta Menchu, I, Rigoberta
Edward W. Said, After the Last Sky
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
Salman Rushdie, The Golden House

Benedict Anderson, Specters of Comparison. Verso 1988
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition. Chicago 1958.
Susan Buck–Morss, Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History. Pittsburgh 2009
Pheng Cheah and Jonathan Culler, Grounds of Comparison. Routledge 2003
Pheng Cheah, Inhuman Conditions. Harvard 2006
Marcel Detienne, Comparing the Incomparable. Stanford 2008
Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks. Grove Press, 1967
Rita Felski and Susan Stanford Friedman, Comparison. Johns Hopkins 2013
Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended.” Picador 2003
Nicola Onyett, Comparing Texts. Routledge 2005
George Steiner, What is Comparative Literature? Oxford 1995
Ming Xie, Conditions of Comparison. Continuum 2011
Aram A. Yengoyan, Modes of Comparison. Michigan 2006

Evaluation: Method of Evaluation: Participation (20%), Oral Presentation (30%), Research Essay (50%)



Instructor: E. Cazdyn
Time: Thursdays, 11-1

This seminar will be dedicated to one philosopher and to one artist from different national situations and different historical generations. We will carefully work through the corpus of each figure and experiment with creating unlikely connections. In the process, we will question the boundaries of philosophy/theory and art/literature as well as the limits and possibilities of comparison. For Fall, 2019 we will focus on the philosopher Nishida Kitaro (Japan, 1870-1945) and the filmmaker Chris Marker (France, 1921-2012). Nishida, the most influential philosopher of Modern Japan, is known for combining German thought (Hegel, Marx, Heidegger) with Zen Buddhism, with an emphasis on praxis…or the production of radical change. Marker (photographer, film director, multimedia artist, film essayist and novelist) is a one-of-a-kinder, the creator of La Jetée and other genre-defying masterpieces, but also—and perhaps more importantly—the inspiration for artists the world-over who wish to combine aesthetics and politics while keeping things small, non-didactic, and utopian.

Evaluation: Evaluation:
One Research Paper (approximately fifteen double-spaced pages): 40%;
One Class Presentation and Write-up (write-up due the week after presentation): 40%;
Class Participation and Weekly Responses*: 20%.


Instructor: E. Jagoe
Time: Monday, 1-3

In the era of the Anthropocene, we find ourselves increasingly seeking new forms through which to understand the effects of climate change. The climate nowadays not only indexes the atmosphere, but in fact all of human history. Because of this, the question of how to represent the climate has become more urgent. Many cultural producers across the globe are seeking new forms and genres to portray the scope and scale of anthropogenic climate change. In this course, we will examine various genres from different geographic locations in order to discuss the limits and possibilities of communication, knowledge dissemination, affective response, prescription, or witnessing that each one affords. Genres such as climate fiction, solar punk, indigenous literature, documentary, IPCC reports, papal encylicals, scientific popular prose, policy documents, memoir, lyric essay, environmental reportage, critical and cultural theory, and visual art will be included.

Participation: 20%
Group Project: 20%
Critical Responses: 20%
Final Project: 40%




Instructor: H. Bahoora
Time: Wednesday, 1-3

This seminar provides an overview of scholarship in the spatial humanities, with a focus on the ways that theorizations of space and place have informed aesthetics, culture, and politics. The “spatial turn” in critical theory designates an increased focus on space, place and spatiality across various disciplines to emphasize a geographic dimension as an essential aspect of the production of culture and experience. In the first half of the course, we will read seminal theorists of space whose work reinserted spatiality as essential to the discursive constructions of the categories of modernity and postmodernity. We will then examine how their challenges to historicism transformed understandings of the space-time experience of global capitalism and provided frameworks for expanded and revised theorizations of colonialism and imperialism, gender and sexuality, urbanization and architectural history, geocriticism and ecocriticism, and literary studies. We will investigate how the spatial turn has in recent decades resulted in attempts to map new historical geographies of literary production, and we will consider the methodological implications the spatial turn has had on the transformation of theoretical interventions in literary studies, particularly in postcolonial theory. Authors will include Gaston Bachelard, Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Frantz Fanon, David Harvey, Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, Jean Rhys, Tayeb Salih, Nuruddin Farah, Amitav Ghosh, Assia Djebar, and Mahasweta Devi.



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

This course will examine the complex and controversial relationship between feminism and postmodernism, as this encounter is staged in both theoretical and fictional writings. While many of the «canonical» theoretical texts on postmodernism were penned by male scholars (Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo, Hassan, Scarpetta, etc.), who largely ignored questions of feminism, gender, and women’s artistic practices, feminist critics (Jardine, Butler, Suleiman, Nicholson, Yeatman, and others) soon intervened in the debate. As these latter theoreticians demonstrated, many of the notions characterizing postmodern theories and literary texts were in fact concerns common to feminist thought : the crisis of patriarchal master narratives and the ensuing emphasis on localized, small narratives; the criticism of binary, hierarchical oppositions (center/margin, life /art, culture /nature, mind/body, masculine/feminine); the endeavour to privilege the heterogeneous, the plural, and the hybrid; and the problematization of the subject, of representation, and of language. Doubtful as to whether disseminated subjects are capable of agency and effective political action, other feminist scholars (di Stefano, Hartsock) still question the possibilities of constructive intersections between feminism and postmodernism. Drawing on the principal feminist theories in the postmodern debate, we will study the contentious theoretical issues outlined above, before turning to an analysis of an international corpus of postmodern literary narratives written by women, which construct « strategic subjectivities » (Kaplan) and « forms of common action » (Mouffe), combining ethical perspectives and aesthetic experimentation. Our close readings of these texts will pay careful attention to textual devices typical of postmodern texts (see Hutcheon), such as the extensive use of intertextuality, the recycling and rewriting of mythological, religious, and historical figures and events, the questioning of major binary oppositions underpinning Western thought, genre hybridity, the representation of the author in the text, and so on.

Since this course will deal with feminist theories of postmodernism, as well as with feminist supplements to and criticisms of postmodern thought, it would be most helpful for students to have some prior knowledge of « male » theories of postmodernism (see certain references listed below) before beginning the course, although this is not a prerequisite.

Blais, Marie-Claire. Soifs. Montréal : Boréal, 1995. (English translation if required : These Festive Nights, Concord, Ont. : House of Anansi Press, 1997).
Brossard, Nicole. Baroque d’aube. Montréal : l’Hexagone, 1995. (English translation if required : Baroque at Dawn, Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1997).
Carter, Angela. The Passion of New Eve. London : Gollanczy, 1977. Cixous, Hélène. Le livre de Promethea. Paris : Gallimard, 1983. (English translation if required : The Book of Promethea, Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1991).
Wolf, Christa. « Selbstversuch : Traktat zu einem Protokoll », in C. Wolf, Drei unwahrscheinliche Geschichten. Berlin : Aufbau Verlag, 1974. (The English translation, « Self-Experiment : Appendix to a Report », will be provided .)

The complete list of theoretical texts, as well as extensive bibliographies on feminism and postmodernism, will be distributed at the first meeting of the seminar. Students are advised to prepare for the course by doing some preliminary readings :
Bertens, Hans. The Idea of Postmodernism : A History. London/New York : Routledge, 1995.
Boisvert, Yves. Le Postmodernisme. Montréal : Boréal, 1995.
Butler, Judith. « Contingent Foundations : Feminism and the Question of ‘Postmodernism’ », in J. Butler and Joan Scott (eds.), Feminists Theorize the Political. New York : Routledge, 1992, pp. 3-21.
Jardine, Alice A. Gynesis : Configurations of Woman and Modernity. Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1985.
Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism : History, Theory, Fiction. New York : Routledge, 1988.
Lyotard, Jean-François. La condition postmoderne. Paris : Minuit, 1979.
Lyotard, Jean-François. Le postmoderne expliqué aux enfants. Paris : Galilée, 1988.
Michael, Magali Cormier. Feminism and the Postmodern Impulse : Post-World War II Fiction. Albany : SUNY Press, 1996.
Nicholson, Linda (ed.). Feminism/Postmodernism. New York : Routledge, 1990.
Paterson, Janet. Moments postmodernes dans le roman québécois. Ottawa : Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, 2e édition, 1993.
Waugh, Patricia. Feminine Fictions : Revisiting the Postmodern. London/New York : Routledge, 1989.

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

Instructor: A. Grewal
Time: Fall term, Tuesday, 1-3


Evaluation: TBA


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.

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: A. Komaromi
Time: Spring term, Thursday, 11-1

Peter Burger described the avant-garde in terms of the destruction of bourgeois aestheticism and the attempt to bring art into life for a radical transformation of society. What do Burger and other theoreticians have to say about the survival of the avant-garde impulse after its heroic historical moment in the early 20th century? How did artists and writers then and later pioneer radically new ways of representing the world and engaging the audience? We will consider the historical positions and sustaining contradictions of work dubbed “avant-garde” through landmark developments including Abstraction, Conceptualism, Constructivism and Surrealism. Seminar discussions will engage the work of major figures in the history of the avant-garde, such as Malevich and Maiakovskii, Picasso and Duchamp, Breton, Cage, Pollack and Prigov.

Participants will be encouraged to consider the usefulness of translating analysis associated with the avant-garde to contexts beyond the one defined by Burger.

Class participation 15%
Assigned presentations 20%
First paper 25%
Final paper 40%



Instructor: M. Revermann
Time:  Spring term, Fridays 12-2

Translation Studies is a young field that has gained considerable momentum over the past 20 or so years (especially with the emergence of Postcolonial Studies). Comparatist by nature, translation is a good a gateway as any into the discipline of Comparative Literature and some of its principal concerns.

This course will combine the historical, theoretical and pragmatic dimension of translation (all of which overlap to a certain extent). On the historical side, there will be detailed and historically contextualized study of some main reflections on the problem of translation (including texts by Schleiermacher, Benjamin, Venuti and Apter) as well as specific broader case studies of the translation history of certain works (including the Bible, Virgil and Sophocles). For the theoretical dimension Munday (2008) will serve as a guide to a critical discussion of particular approaches and models developed by current Translation Studies. The litmus test will be the pragmatic dimension: hands-on, detailed and theoretically informed analyses of specific translations (usually short passages), mostly to be chosen and presented by the seminar participants themselves.

50% Research paper
20% Participation
30% In-class presentations (including the “journal”, i.e. written statements on the set weekly ‘lead questions’ and written engagement with one or two own lead questions).



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

This course explores theoretical and literary texts on and of sports as participatory and spectatorial events in terms of translation between physical and textual practices, the temporality, spatiality and agency in playing and watching of sports, the body, tools and environment in sport activities, the instrumentality of sports to the promotion of ideologies, the engagement of sports in bildungsroman, the media and fan culture, and the relationship between narrative modes and the rules of the game in various sports. Both theoretical (e.g., Adorno, Barthes, Bourdieu, Derrida, Eco) and literary (e.g., Hornby, Murakami, Ogawa) readings will be available in English.




Instructor: R. Comay
Time: Spring term, Wednesday, 4-6

This seminar will explore the constellation of dialectics, theatre, and politics in (and in the wake of) Hegel.  We’ll be thinking about some repercussions of Hegel’s infamous pronouncement of the “end of art.”   Why does Hegel say that art “no longer counts” as the expression of truth, and what does this imply for the practice of philosophy and for political practice?  We’ll look at the ways in which art stages (literally) its own undoing in theatre and the peculiar afterlife of theatre in philosophy as a scene of pedagogy, a performance, and a political spectacle. The first part of the course will focus on selected portions of Hegel’s Aesthetics and the Phenomenology of Spirit.  We’ll then consider Marx’s deployment of the Hegelian dialectic in the Eighteenth Brumaire as he searches (in vain?) for a new revolutionary subject amidst the “farce” of the post-1848 counterrevolution.  Finally, we’ll consider some surprising reverberations in Beckett’s Endgame.  While the main authors will be Hegel, Marx, and Beckett, we’ll also have occasion to think about other writers (including C.L.R. James, Adorno, Benjamin, Badiou, Karatani,).

Evaluation: TBA



Instructor: M. Nyquist
Time: Spring term, Monday, 10-1


Until pseudo-scientific discourses began to emerge in the late eighteenth century, “race” generally signified some form of inheritance, whether lineal or geopolitical. It could be used of non-human animals, economic-cultural status, or ethnic and (proto-) national groups. With European colonialism, racialized practices are integrated into systems of domination and oppression in ways that continue to operate and to be contested. We will begin by examining classical Greek conceptions of “barbarism,” one of the precursors to early modern and later racialist discourses and practices, and will then look at the category of “savagery” as it is deployed in connection with New World Amerindigenes. One of the questions to be asked in this course is what these earlier constructions of “race” have in common with the biologically based discourses that emerge later in Euro-American imperialism. Another question involves how “intersectionality” affects the study of race and racism or, more generally, the “critical race theory” that arose in the last decades of the twentieth century. We will also enter current debates concerning the language of racialized degradation such as “dehumanization” or “animalization,” and will explore possible interconnections among anti-racism, decolonization, and environmental justice. Because “critical race theory” is historically associated with the social sciences, we will want to explore the possibilities it does or does not open up for the study of literature, philosophy, and the arts. Primary texts may include Euripides’ Medea; Shakespeare’s Othello; von Kleist’s “Die Verlobung in St. Domingo”; Fanon’s Peau Noire, Masques Blancs; and Césaire’s Discours sur le colonialisme, Secondary readings will include numerous articles on the historical vicissitudes of racism as it is interconnected with the rise of capitalism, Atlantic slavery, settler colonialism, and other aspects of Euro-American imperialism. Participants will be asked to select some of the literary texts and films to complement assigned readings.

Course Work:
Seminar facilitations (20%); Participation (20%); Reports (20%) Final Essay (40%)

Secondary Materials:
Readings from a number of different monographs and collections, including Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge, eds. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic; Goldberg, Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning; Hall, The Invention of Barbarism; Race in Early Modern England, eds. Ania Loomba and Jonathan Burton; Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism.


Instructor: A. Mostch
Time: Spring term, TBA

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 AmerikaHalle, 1752-53.


Instructor: J. LeBlanc
Time: Spring term, Thursday, 3-5

In my view, text and image complement, rather than supplement, each other; since reference is not secure in either, neither can compensate for lack of stability in the other. Because both media are located on the border between fact and fiction, they often undercut just as easily as they reinforce each other.”(T. Adams).

In the autobiographical and historiographic narratives chosen to explore the various ways in which text and image can interact with and reflect on each other, the writers use a highly metalinguistic discourse to discuss the problems of self-referentiality in language and in images and to reflect on the use of paintings and photographs in their visualizations and articulations of selfhood. Edward Ardizzone, Roland Barthes, Marie-Claire Blais and Jacques Poulin, all express an awareness of the auto-bio-graphical self as decentered, multiple, fragmented and divided against itself in the act of observing and being. The use of paintings and photographic images (portraits and self-portraits), operate as visual supplements (illustrations) and corroboration (verification) of the autobiographical subjects and their narratives. The introduction of images (paintings, photographs, drawings) in autobiographical and fictional autobiographical texts problematizes the status of the autobiographical genre, referentiality, representation, the relationship between self-images and life-writings, etc. The study of theoretical texts pertaining to autobiography, painting, photography and the relationship between words and images will serve as a basis for our analysis of Ardizzone, Barthes, Blais and Poulin autobiographical and historiographic narratives.

Ardizzone, Ed. Diary of a War Artist. Fragments of this illustrated diary will be distributed in class. It will be studied in conjunction with the artistic production of E. Ardizzone conserved at the IWM in London. Copies of images will be distributed.
Barthes, R. Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. This photographic auto-bio-graphic narrative will also be studied using Barthe’s own theoretical texts on photography, images and autobiography.

Blais, Marie-Claire. American Passages. One essay from this book will be studied: it will be distributed in class. It will be read in conjunction with numerous photographic images taken by award winning photographers which are the subject of ekphrasis in Blais’s literary production.

-Several short stories related to American Passages will be distributed.

– Fragments of her unpublished illustrated diaries (National Library of Canada) will be studied as they relate to American Passages and her short-stories.
Poulin, Jacques. Volkswagen Blues. This illustrated text will be studied through historical documents pertaining to indigenous cultures referenced by Poulin.
* A more detailed theoretical bibliography will be provided.
– Adams, Timothy D. Light Writing and Life Writing. Photography in Autobiography. University of North Carolina Press, 1992.
– Doy, Gen. Picturing the Self: changing views of the subject in visual culture. London: I.B.Tauris, 2005.
– Gombrich, E. H. Art and Illusion: A Study of the Psychology of Pictorial Representation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.
– Hughs, Alex and Andrea Noble. Phototextualities: Intersections of Photography and Narrative. Albuquerque : University of New Mexico, 2003.
– Kim, Yeon-Soo. The Family Album. Bucknell University Press, 2005.
– Lejeune, Philippe. Je est un autre. Paris: Seuil, 1980.
– Louvel, L. (Jean-Pierre Montier, et.al.) Littérature et photographie. Rennes, PUR, 2008.
– Mitchell, W.J.T. The Languages of Images. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.
– Olney, James. Studies in Autobiography. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
–  Sontag, S. On Photography. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1977.

One essay: 65%
One presentation: 20%
Participation: 15%

* Please note that students are invited to work on a corpus of their choice for their final essay and presentation.  Students are not limited to the primary texts which are listed.




JLE5034H PASSAGE FROM HISTORY TO FICTION (primarily postcolonial)
Instructor: N. Kortenaar
Time: Spring term, Monday, 1-3

This course will examine the intertextual movement of people from non-fiction (primarily history books and the news) to fiction. When do people who become characters in fiction keep their names? Migrants from history to fiction acquire interiorities and the characteristics that mark verisimilitude. When is such fictionalization permissible? Are there ethical constraints? When is the reader aware of the changes? How have the ethical and aesthetic rules changed in the last two decades? What difference does it make if the history and the fiction that people move between are postcolonial and not Western canonical?

To understand the movement from history to fiction, we will compare it to a similar but not identical migration: of people from history books and the news to cinema, specifically to the biopic. In this migration names are more likely to remain the same but narrative events and their sequence are more likely to be changed. Film, it seems, has its own constraints, different from prose fiction’s, that it must accommodate history to.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course students will

  1. Have an increased understanding of the narrative nature of written history
  2. Have an increased understanding of the historical constraints on the literary imagination and the historical claims made by fiction and cinema
  3. Better understand the nature of historical memory and cultural literacy that both history-writing and fiction contribute to and rely upon
  4. Know more about the past than they did but also have doubts about the nature of that knowledge. Those doubts are also valuable knowledge.

Potential Texts:
Marlon James             A Brief History of Seven Killings (about Bob Marley)
Narcos (TV miniseries about Pablo Escobar)
Laurie Gunst              Born Fi Dead (James’s non-fictional source)
Mario Vargas Llosa   Feast of the Goat (about Rafael Trujillo)
Bernard Diederich    Trujillo: The Death of the Goat (Vargas Llosa’s source)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez        The General in his Labyrinth (about Bolivar)
Salman Rushdie         Midnight’s Children (where Indira Gandhi appears as a character)
Gandhi (film dir. David Lean))
Laurent Binet             HHhH (about Reinhard Heydrich)
Hilary Mantel             A Place of Greater Safety (about Robespierre, Danton, Desmoulins)
Mantel                        “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher”
Dave Eggers               What is the What (the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng)
Giles Foden                The Last King of Scotland (about Idi Amin)
Ryszard Kapuscinski The Emperor (about Haile Selassie)
Anchee Min                Madame Mao
Hanif Kureishi           The Last Word (about V.S. Naipaul)


Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Class Participation: 20% (including weekly preparation)
Presentation: 10%
Essays: 70%

Option 1:
First Essay (3000 words: due Mar 14): 35%
Second Essay on different topic (3000 words: due April 20): 35%

Option 2:
First Essay (3000 words: due Mar 14): 20%
Second Essay building on first (6000 words: due April 20): 50%




Updated: December 7, 2018