FALL 2018

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: Uzoma Esonwanne
Venue: Seminar Room
Time: Fridays 1pm -3pm
Office: 715 JHB (Jackman Humanities Building)
Office Hours: (By appointment only)
Phone: (647) 233–5335


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 COL1000 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: 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% :
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.


InstructorR. Comay
Time:  Fall term, Wednesdays, 4-6
Location: Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street, room 418, 4th Floor.

This course will be devoted to a close reading of the Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin’s unfinished and posthumously published montage of fragments, quotations and aphorisms on the urban culture of Second Empire Paris – “capital of the nineteenth century. ”   Both the birthplace of consumer capitalism and the site of numerous failed revolutions, nineteenth century Paris crystallized, for Benjamin (writing during the rise of European fascism) the numerous ambiguities of modernity itself.    Many of these ambiguities were registered in disorienting new experiences of space and time.  While exploring Benjamin’s reading of the various strands of nineteenth century visual, literary and architectural culture – fashion, photography, advertising, lighting, furniture, railways, exhibitions, department stores, catacombs, museums, etc.– we will consider the implications of his approach for thinking about history, memory, and politics today. Our reading of the Arcades will be supplemented with readings from Baudelaire, Blanqui, Fourier, Marx, Adorno, Brecht, Aragon, Simmel, and Freud as well as contemporary critical theorists.

No specific background is required, but it would be helpful to have read Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire beforehand.

Assignments: will likely involve a seminar presentation, short reflection paper, and final essay.


Instructor: E. Jagoe
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 1-3

What changes are necessary in order to impede or even counteract the effects of climate change? This course argues that it is not through science and technology that a shift in our society can be enacted, but rather through an examination of who we think we are, what we think we need and want, and which of our habits and addictions are killing us and our planet. Catherine Malabou argues for what she calls “new addictions” as a way to think our relationship to history and to our actions. This course focuses on addiction as it interrogates the concept of subjectivity. Addiction undermines a neoliberal and agentic idea of the subject by putting into question ideas of self-aware freedom and consciousness. By examining critical theory, (science) fiction, essays, and visual art we will articulate a critique of self-possession and ask what addictions we need to cultivate in order to adapt to a new history. Theoretical texts will include William James, Malabou, Elizabeth Povinelli, Amitav Ghosh, and Andreas Malm. Primary texts could include Jeff Vandermeer, Rachel Kushner, Nnedi Okorafor, and various contemporary visual artists.

Collaborative Essays: 20%
Final Project: 40%
Presentation: 20%
Participation: 20%


Instructor: H. Bahoora
Time: Fall term, Thursdays, 10-12

This course critically examines the spatial, temporal, and aesthetic parameters of global literary modernism. The “global” turn in modernist studies has expanded the spatial terrain of the field and the time of modernism itself. In this course, we will read a range of modernist fictions that break our geographical and temporal expectations of what qualifies as a modernist text. Our focus will be on how interpreting modernism as a movement of multidirectional flows and exchanges has fundamentally reconstituted the traditional canon and has redrawn notions of modernist style, genre and periodization. The course’s transnational approach considers how the contact zones of the colonized “periphery” were instrumental to the making of European modernism. In our examination of global modernisms, we will focus on the relationship between anti-colonialism and modernism and the ways that colonial intellectuals repurposed modernist notions of aesthetic autonomy to agitate against colonial domination. By reading modernist texts from a range of colonial literary traditions (African, Arabic, Caribbean), we will excavate how the aesthetic qualities of modernism have been redefined to accommodate anti-colonial and post-colonial literary modernisms. Colonial writers and artists appropriated indigenous cultural forms to stylistically dissociate their aesthetic production from European art and literature. Therefore, a significant component of the course addresses how stylistic qualities traditionally associated with modernist aesthetics—self-consciousness and interiority, formal adventurousness and textual obscurity, fragmentation and ambiguity—are reconstituted and often abandoned in modernist fictions of the colony and postcolony.

Authors include: Georg Lukács, Bertolt Brecht, Raymond Williams, Fredric Jameson, Jed Esty, Susan Stanford-Friedman, Simon Gikandi, Partha Mitter, Jean Rhys, Mulk Raj Anand, Jean Toomer, Nella Larsen, Chinua Achebe, Ferdinand Oyono, Tayeb Salih, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Ghassan Kanafani.

Evaluation: Participation 20%
Presentations: 20%
Bi-Weekly Response Papers: 20%
Final Paper: 40%


InstructorW. Goetschel
Time: Fall term, Wednesdays 2-4

This course examines central theoretical issues in Critical Theory with particular attention to the role that the “Frankfurt School” and its affiliates such as Benjamin, Kracauer, Horkheimer, Adorno, and others play in the context of modern German social and cultural thought. In France, thinkers like 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, difference, and alterity.

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


InstructorA. Sakaki
Time:  Thursday, 2–4

This course concerns the way that photography, as the product and the process, and as the practice and concept, has inspired the narrative of formative questions regarding agency, temporality, and space, and has challenged—or yielded to—the narrative’s power/desire to make sense. Particular attention will be paid to rhetorical complicity and coercion of the two modes of representation which both emerged in the modern and nationalist age, and persist, in the wake of the newer media, as dominant registers of the everyday and departures from there. Participants read and discuss seminal theoretical literatures (e.g., Bal, Barthes, Batchen, Bazin, Burgin, Flusser, Hirsch, Metz, Mitchell, Sontag), photo roman (e.g., Abe, Berger, Calle, Cole, Pamuk), and narratives about photography (e.g., Calvino, Cortázar, Guibert, Horie, Kanai, Proust, Tanizaki, Vladislavic), along the theme for each session. Primarily a seminar, short lectures and students’ presentations will complement discussion sessions with materials that may not be accessible to all the members.

Evaluation: class participation 10%; oral presentation 20%; response papers (2-3 pgs) 20% (10% x2); term paper (20–30pgs) 50%



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: J. LeBlanc
Time: Spring term, Thursdays, 1-3

“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 “fictional” and “non-fictional” autobiographical 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. Marie-Claire Blais, Sophie Calle, Jacques Poulin, Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields all express an awareness of the autobiographical 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 Blais, Calle, Ondaatje, Poulin and Shields autobiographical and fictional narratives.

– Ardizzone, E. Diary of an Artist. This diary will be studied in conjunction with the artistic production of E. Ardizzone conserved at the IWM in London. Copies of images will be distributed.
– Blais, Marie-Claire. A Season in the Life of Emmanuel. The illustrated edition..
American Passages. One essay from this book will be studied: it will be distributed in class.
– Poulin, Jacques. Volkswagen Blues.
– Shields, Carol. The Stone Diaries.

* 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.


Instructor: T. Lahusen
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 12-2


This research seminar will explore methods of analyzing narratives of survival which emerged out of experiences of repression in different historical contexts, such as the Holocaust, the Soviet Gulag, the Chinese system of ?reeducation through labor,? and trauma following personal abuse in America. During the course, various theoretical and methodological approaches will be engaged to examine how diaries, memoirs, literary works, and film confront past and present.

Readings include Jacques Le Goff, History and Memory (1992), Shoshana Feldman and Dori Laub, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (1992), Trauma: Explorations in Memory, ed. Cathy Caruth (1995), Dominick LaCapra, Representing the Holocaust:  History, Theory, Trauma (1996), Bernhard Schlink, The Reader (1995), Art Spiegelman, Maus : A Survivor’s Tale (1986-1991), Thomas Lahusen, How Life Writes the Book (1997), Zhang Xianliang, Grass Soup (1995), and Dorothy Allison, Bastard out of Carolina (1993). During the course, students will also prepare and discuss their own topic of research, leading toward a final research paper.

One oral presentation 30%
One review article 30%
One final paper (20 pages) 40%



Instructor: J. Zilcosky
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 2-4

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. From here we will investigate aspects of 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 of the “talking cure” and, eventually, the “secret of dreams” (in Interpretation of Dreams [1900]); his 1900s creation of the major concepts of sexuality theory (his early case studies as well as “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”); his central writings before, during and after the First World War, from Totem and Taboo 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 key concepts of psychoanalytic theory.

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

Instructor: A. Komaromi
Time: Spring term, Thursday, 10-12

This course considers the formation of publics and public intellectuals, according to some leading theorists. We will examine the nature of a public, its constitution and elaboration through shared texts, private reading, public interventions, media and social networks. Participants will be encouraged to look critically at assumptions about public vs. private, author vs. reader, and producer vs. consumer, as we think about how autonomy and a critical stance toward power could be forged in historical contexts and in the contemporary globalized world of social networks. We will talk about how filiation and affiliation work, consider the way citizenship and membership in a community are constituted, and ask what publics might mean for the past and future of democracy.

Readings will include selections from Jurgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, Edward Said, Michael Warner, Ethan Zuckerman and Yascha Mounk, as well as from  Samuel Richardson, Laurence Sterne, Walt Whitman, George Orwell, Russian futurists and neo-futurists, and others.

Class Participation – 15%
Reading Responses – 20%
Proposal and Annotated Bibliography (for Final Essay) – 15%
Final Essay – 50%


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. GodfatherStar Wars24) 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: E. Cazdyn
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays, 1-3

Sexual predators purchase secrecy from their victims, billionaires hide obscene wealth in off-shore bank accounts, government spies conduct counter intelligence under false identities–so many dirty truths are managed today by what we might call “non disclosure acts.” But the double negative contained in the category of the “non disclosure” figures a limit to these agreements and opens up to the most pressing aesthetic, philosophical, and political questions regarding what constitutes truth and representation.  In this seminar, we will focus on the category of disclosure as a way to question such key modern binaries as public-private, exposure-concealment, knowable-unknowable, conscious-unconscious, reform-revolution, and guilt-innocence. We will study theorizations of disclosure by such thinkers as Heidegger (unconcealment), Marx (ideology critique), Derrida (deconstruction), Lacan (the real), Butler (performativity), Barad (quantum entanglement), Karatani (transcritique), Zizek (the parallax) and Badiou (truth procedures).  We will also study artistic engagements with disclosure, ranging from film and performance art to the novel and dance.

Reflection papers: 20%
Presentation: 20%
Final Project: 40%
Participation: 20%





InstructorA. Motsch
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays, 10-12

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%

Instructor: D. Obradovic
Time: Spring term, Thursday, 3-5

 1968 was a turbulent year of protest, revolution, and change that profoundly transformed philosophy, political thought, literature and cinema of the subsequent era. By focusing on certain historical flashpoints (such as the student protests and workers’ strikes in France or the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia), 1968 will act as an anchor from which the course will explore the cultural and philosophical meanings of revolution, social justice, class, and alienation. Philosophical readings by Marcuse, Bourdieu, Badiou, and the Praxis school of Marxist thought (amongst others) will be accompanied by novels and films from Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, the Soviet Union, USA, and Yugoslavia. In addition, the course will focus on readings that engage with the cultural perception and historical narrativization of this year. Political changes over the decades—not least the end of state socialism in 1989—have invariably affected the historical interpretation and memory of this crucial year, often marked by appropriation, erasure, and commodification. By looking beyond the year itself and seeking out its echoes, we will chart the shifting cultural meaning of protest and its impact on class, generational, gender, and race relations across national boundaries. Readings will be closely analysed with an eye to the broader intellectual and historical contexts.

Reflection papers: 20%
Presentation: 20%
Final essay: 45%
Participation: 15%


Updated: June 4, 2018

Updated: March 12, 2018