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
Time: Fall, Tuesday, 1-3

COL1000H is a general introduction to comparative literature, and to contemporary theory and criticism. Its purpose is to offer all incoming M.A. and Ph.D. students exposure to key issues in the discipline. Organized around the broad theme of “Bases for Comparison,” each of our meetings will explore a particular issue or problem addressed in contemporary scholarship. After briefly reviewing the history of the discipline, we will interrogate a number of the categories foundational to it: language, literature, aesthetics, theory, humanity/humanities, relation, and comparison. We will conclude by reading some exemplary new work in comparative literature, through which we will chart possible directions for our own scholarship, and new challenges for the field.

Participation: For every meeting of our course, please prepare the following: briefly outline and respond to the biggest question the author is asking in each of our texts, as well as one or two of the smaller/more local/resultant questions that the author asks. Comment on how and when these questions are posed; how/whether/to what extent they are answered; how these questions are positioned in relation to the works of other thinkers; and how the author demonstrates their relevance or importance. Because the theme of our course is “Bases for Comparison,” I recommend that you make a note of anything the text says about comparison, as well as about the kinds of comparisons it makes, and/or anything it says about comparative literature. Include any significant quotations in your document (with page numbers). Prepare this outline in writing and bring it to class every week. You will use this document for your own reference during class discussions—I will evaluate participation based on quality, not quantity. While I understand that life is complicated, please be aware of the general expectation that graduate students attend all meetings of all their courses. If you find it challenging to contribute orally or if extraordinary circumstances prevent you from attending class, you can email your document to me immediately afterwards.
Outline for class contributions: ~1-2 pages, point-form.
20% of total grade.

Keyword Essay: Choose one important critical term from our readings (e.g., freedom, human, queer, form), or a significant/interesting term from a language that you are hoping to work with during your graduate studies (e.g., genre, âcimowin, relación). Write a short essay that synthesizes about three different uses/meanings of this term in order ask a question relevant for literary scholarship. What debates, problems, or important ideas cluster around this term? What do the different meanings of this term help us to see that we otherwise might not? How has the meaning of this term shifted over time, and what might these changes tell us? Are there any issues/problems in translating this term? If so, what do these difficulties indicate? How does this term help you to understand a theoretical issue in a new way? I will offer you an array of keyword essays to consult as you are writing this paper, and you will each meet with me (at least) once during the writing process.
6-7 pages double-spaced, in Times New Roman, MLA citation style.
30% of total grade.

Seminar Paper: Your seminar paper will analyze a text of your choosing (poem, story, novel, film, artwork, etc.). The goal of your seminar paper will be to show how this text addresses or exposes a particular problem or idea discussed in critical theory. Your paper should show how the text asks its readers/viewers to consider this theoretical problem in a new or interesting way. This is a research paper: survey the existing scholarship on the text you have chosen and contextualize your analysis within this ongoing conversation. Your analysis of the text should demonstrate that the existing conversation about the text is, in some significant way, incomplete. Your paper should show how our understanding of the text is improved through your approach. In addition, please also try to show how the existing theoretical conversation could be improved by attending to texts such as the one you are analyzing. In what ways does a text like yours offer its readers/viewers a new way to think about a significant issue? You are invited to use your keyword essay as work toward your seminar paper. Each of you will meet with me (at least) once during the writing process.
20 pages double-spaced, in Times New Roman, MLA citation style.
50% of total grade.

Instructor: Pia Kleber
Time: Fall, Monday, 10-12. Location:  Robarts Library, Media Commons, Room RL3025

Bertolt Brecht played a specific role in the paradigm shift of the art which began at the end of the 19th century. He advanced this change by trying to connect art to its social and political functions and structure with the positive acceptance of the industrial revolution and by trying to transform it with the help of the new technological media.

The goals of this course are:

1. to introduce students to Brecht’s theory and demonstrate how he connected art and politics.

2. to study productions directed byBertolt Brecht, Robert Wilson and Robert Lepage and to see if they follow in Brecht’s footsteps or if they deviate from his concepts.

3. The following productions will be analyzed:

Mother Courage, written and directed by Bertolt Brecht
The Good Person of Szechwan, by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Benno Besson
The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Robert Wilson
The Busker’s Opera by John Gay and Robert Lepage, directed by Robert Lepage

Every student has to give at least one class presentation.
Those introducing a seminar should prepare a brief outline (no more than a page or two) and provide copies to all the students at the outset.
Each student has to send me a one page evaluation about the videos we are going to study.
The subject of the research essay should be discussed and approved by the instructor.



Bertolt The Threepenny Opera
Mother Courage and Her Children
The Good Person of Szechwan
The Mother
The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Drums in the Night

Gay, John The Beggar’s Opera

Class seminars 30%
Evaluation of Videos 10%
Research Essay 45%
Class participation 15%

Instructor: A. Sakaki
Time: Fall, Tuesday, 10-12

This course explores sports as participatory and spectatorial events in terms of: translation between physical and textual practices; the temporality, spatiality, and agency in the acts of playing and watching of sports; the body, tools, and environment in sport activities; the sporting events and local/global communities; sports for the promotion of ideologies; sports in bildungsroman; homosociality and gender bending; the sports media and fan culture; and the relationship between the grammar of the narrative and the rules of the game in various sports. We read theories (Adorno, Barthes, Baudrillard, Bourdieu, Caillois, Conner, Eco, Gumbrecht, Sartre, Serres, Young) as well as theoretically informed critical works in mobility studies, disability studies, environmental studies, space studies, studies of affordance and prostheses, phenomenology, rhythmanalysis, sound studies, gender studies, and studies of the empire and colonialism. The sessions are thematically arranged and aligned with literary and cinematic sources on sports, by various authors (e.g., Beckett, Bolaño, Cole, Coover, Groff, Hornby, Ishikawa, Murakami, Natsume, O’Brien, Sillitoe, Twain, Vargas Llosa, Vladislavic, Wallace, Wells) and directors (e.g., Chandha, Eastwood, Gordon and Parreno, Hudson, Marshall, Yates).

Participation: 20%
Presentation: 20%
Session Reviews: 20%
Term Paper: 40%

Instructor: J. Ricco
Time: Fall, Thursday, 10-12

This seminar reads a series of contemporary novels and short stories by women authors in the context of current discussions and debates on intimacy and violence; misogyny; desire, fantasy, and the pornographic. The course will consider the ambiguity of desire and pleasure’s contradictions; transgression and consent; rape; female friendship; sex talk; the stories of young women; and readership and audience. African-American, Indigenous, Canadian, Irish, Moroccan, and American authors will be read: Roxanne Gay, Kathleen Collins, Katherena Vermette, Miriam Toews, Eimear McBride, Leila Slimani, Diane Williams, Jamie Quatro, and Mary Gaitskill, amongst others. The focus will be on stories that are intentionally unsettling and operate without clear moral lessons. What is it that fiction can do, that non-fiction cannot, precisely when absent of general accusation, but instead is filled with detailed observations of the “inconsistencies and incoherence” of sex?

Weekly Preparation and Participation: 25%
First Paper: 25%
Final Paper: 50%

Instructor: C. James
Time: Fall, Thursday, 1-3

Blood, both as subject and method, provides highly productive opportunities for reading the Caribbean. Blood, bloodlines, bloodshed and bloodwork are indispensable as conceptual conduits through which to explore the complex histories and intricate cultural processes which constitute the Caribbean. Working with blood as the principal investigate strategy, this course will examine the pivotal role that questions of genealogy and violence occupy in the literatures of the English, French and Spanish Caribbean. We will also study Caribbean literary responses to imperialist medical discourses and colonialist approaches to epidemiology which located the Caribbean of the nineteenth century as a pernicious site of disease, a locus of bad blood. Reading the Caribbean through blood invites comparative reflection on other societies within the global south whose literatures bear witness to similar histories of cultural or political violence. Additionally, this method facilitates reading connections between wider experiences of conflict and the restorative potential of cultural production. The course will focus on specific Caribbean histories, but it will also engage with a wide range of related fields such as memory studies, peace studies, trauma studies and the medical humanities. Alongside the main literary texts, we will read essays by scholars such as Frantz Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Hannah Arednt and Hortense Spillers. Key texts to be studied include Abeng, (Michelle Cliff), Sweet Diamond Dust (Roasario Ferré), The Book of Night Women (Marlon James), The Drifting of Spirits (Gisèle Pineau), Love, Anger, Madness (Marie Vieux-Chauvet) and Cecilia Valdés (Cirilo Villaverde) [trans. by Helen Lane].

Class Participation: 20%
Seminar Presentation: 20%
Final Paper: 60%

Instructor: J. Zilcosky
Time: Fall, Monday, 3-5

Why do humans engage in combat sports? And why was wrestling our first sport, followed quickly by boxing? Scholars of antiquity claim that this was to honor the gods. Experts on today’s professional wrestling contend that it satisfies our need for melodrama. In this course, we will examine fighting’s historical arc, asking ourselves why its delirious mixture of violence, competition, and sex has captured our imagination since the beginning of time. When ancient cultures made grappling their first sport, they aimed to stage and contain their most primitive urges: two people embraced aggressively yet did not try to kill or rape the other. The strangeness of this attracted observers and explains why wrestling to this day still draws crowds – and participants – from across humanity.

We will analyze historical artefacts, literature, and visual art – beginning with accounts of hand-to-hand combat among the world’s major gods and heroes: Gilgamesh, Heracles, Odysseus, Krishna, and Muhammad. We will discuss Jacob’s wrestling in the Bible, as well as Socrates, Plato, and the most famous protagonists of medieval literature: Beowulf and Siegfried. Even the Miller in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is known for his “wrastlynge.” We will engage with indigenous traditions and African literature and study the female fighters who have subverted the masculinist stereotype: Atalanta, Palaistra (the Greek goddess of wrestling), the mighty Brunhild, and today’s women’s MMA and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). Theoretical texts by Plato, Roland Barthes, and Jennifer Doyle will augment our analyses. The aim is to catalyze new thinking about sport, combat, and civilization itself.


  1. Class Participation: 15%
  2. Analysis and contextualization of one artefact, image, or text/film excerpt: 15%:
  3. In-Class Presentation: 20%
  4. Final Paper: 50%

Instructor: B. Havercroft
Time: Fall, Tuesdays, 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, Wednesday, 12-2

This course examines the interrelationship of concepts and practices of what we may term “revolutionary womanhood” and “revolutionary culture” (in the spheres of literature, cinema, arts, mass print media, and cultural associations and institutions) in different modern national, anti-imperialist, and socialist movements of the early to mid 20th c across East Asia. “Revolution” and “woman” were key terms, representing “new” subjectivities, collectivities, and arenas for imagining/enacting the transformation of the political, social and cultural realms in China, Japan and Korea.  When brought together under different frameworks of “revolutionary womanhood” what new possibilities emerged for these imagined and real transformations? We will explore the expressions and meanings of “revolutionary womanhood” in different cultural genres and media, examine the historical contexts of each revolutionary moment/movement, and engage with scholarship on the intersections between ideas and practices of revolution, culture, and gender. While attentive to particular local contexts, we will also explore the intra-regional circulation of concepts of “revolution”, “culture” and “woman” and their changing meanings across the period in East Asia. We will also engage in further comparative analysis with other revolutionary cultures transnationally, including but not limited to pre and post 1917 Russia, Europe and the U.S., with which ideas and practices of “revolution” and “new womanhood” in East Asia had deep practical and imagined connections. In this sense, we will explore the transnational (or internationalist) dimensions and visions of revolutionary women’s cultures in East Asia.

All primary works will be in English translation, but students with knowledge of Chinese, Japanese and Korean are encouraged to read works in the original languages. Students whose research interests include histories of 19th and 20th c revolutionary movements and cultures and questions of gender outside of East Asia are very welcome to join the course.

Evaluation:  Participation in discussions (15%); Two short analysis papers in first half of course (20%); In-class leading of a discussion (10%); Final research project, including proposal and annotated bibliography, first draft, oral presentation and final paper (55%)


Instructor: R. Comay
Time:  Spring, Thursday, 1-3

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: R. Bai
Time: Spring, Thursday, 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%)

H. Bahoora
Time: Spring, Tuesday, 1-3

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, and how interrogations of discourses of primitivism have been central to the project of “globalizing” modernist studies. In our examination of non-European 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: Raymond Williams, Fredric Jameson, James Clifford, Jed Esty, Susan Stanford-Friedman, Simon Gikandi, Partha Mitter, Olive Schreiner, Karel Čapek, Mulk Raj Anand, Chinua Achebe, Tayeb Salih, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra.

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

Instructor: E. Cazdyn
Time: Spring, Wednesday, 1-3

The Palliative, in medicine, is generally understood as that period of time after a person is no longer searching for medical interventions to extend life and before the patient dies. The question we will consider in this seminar is what radical possibilities can come between death and dying? However, we will not restrict ourselves to thinking about this question in terms of a human life, but extend the question to all forms of “endings”—other species, a language, a cultural form, a town, an economic system, a planet, a poem. We will consider what the palliation of everyday life might look and feel like and how might it function as a model for radical politics and art.

Many queer theorists have been asking similar questions, such as Jack Halberstam in The Queer Art of Failure and Lee Edelman in No Future. In addition to this, Buddhist Philosophy also touches on this question of the formlessness of death. As does recent work in Afro-Pessimisms, such as Fred Moten’s work that mobilizes the Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro.

In addition to these above-mentioned works in Queer Theory, Buddhism, and Japanese Philosophy students could expect to encounter current palliative and “end-of-life” debates within medicine. In terms of the aesthetic, novels, films and other cultural works that specifically confront their own ends would also be assigned, such as Roberto Bolano’s novels and films by JL Godard, who was a palliative artist par excellence in the way he repeatedly killed off his own works, not to mention the very field called cinema itself.


Instructor: M. Revermann
Time: Spring, Friday, 12-2

This seminar examines past and present interactions between the sciences and the theatre from two different yet complementary angles. The first analyses how scientists continue to theatricalize themselves and their modes of inquiry in order to communicate with the societies around them. The second focuses on how ‘science plays’ (and operas) re-shape and respond to science and scientists: their methods, their value systems and their insights. We will also inquire to what extent strategies of theatricalization are necessary, especially when scientific results require broad societal consensus if they are to have any transformative impact (e.g. as regards climate change or matters of public health).

A wide range of periods and fields of knowledge will be visited. To mention but some: Foucault’s pendulum experiment; practices of autopsy; the discovery of DNA and its double-helix structure; the (very recent) discovery of gravitational waves; environmental sciences; and exploring implications of the growth of AI.  Historical figures of interest will include Socrates, Galileo, Gaust, Oppenheimer and Rosalind Franklin. Theatre works discussed will feature canonical plays and operas (e.g. by Aristophanes, Marlowe, Goethe, Brecht, Capek, Dürrenmatt, Glass, Adams etc.) but also more recent work by Edson (W;T), Ziegler (Photograph 51) and Soutar (The Watershed). Outside researchers, including scientists, may be invited for select sessions.

40% Research paper
30% Participation
30% In-class presentations (including the “journal”, i.e. written statements on the set weekly ‘lead questions’ and engagement with one or two own lead questions)

Instructor: Z. Mian
Time: Spring, Monday, 11-1

This course will trace the emergence of World Literature as an integral subfield of contemporary literary studies, from the mid-20th century to the present. Contentiously depicted as either the antithesis or ideal of comparative scholarship, World Literature evokes less a singular approach than it does fecund questions concerning literary institutions, circulation, translation, and pedagogy. We will train a literary-sociological lens on the metropolitan production of World Literature while attending to new approaches that stress the latter’s subjective constitution.

COL5152H will acquaint graduate students with key debates in the study of World Literature. We will compare early models offered by Damrosch, Moretti, and Casanova with new work by Hayot, Beecroft, and others. How does a “literary ecology” differ from the “world republic of letters,” and what intellectual commitments configure the world in terms of “significant geographies” rather than as one “literary world system”? We will work through such macro-concepts by foregrounding specific historical debates. We will, for example, reappraise the Ngugi-Achebe debate on the language of African literature through recent work by Jeyifo and Mukoma. Paraliterary institutions such as UNESCO and the university will form significant sites of inquiry as we turn to Brouillette, English, Huggan, Shapiro, and others. The question of translation and the pedagogical stakes of world literature will be brought into focus through Spivak, Venuti, and Apter. We will conclude this comprehensive overview by engaging the contemporary emergence of Global Englishes through scholarship by Anjaria, Joshi, Walkowitz, and Saxena. Students will leave this course acquainted with the full range of methods and debates shaping the study of World Literature today. They will also have developed a considerable appreciation of the long-term constitution of the field.

Research paper: 35%
Research Proposal: 15%
Participation: 25%
Review presentation: 25%

Instructor: A. Motsch
Time: Spring, Wednesday, 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: W. Goetschel
Time: Spring, Wednesday, 3-5

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 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.

Instructor: K. Holland
Time: Spring, Tuesday, 10-12

This course examines the development of theories of the novel in Europe and North America throughout the twentieth century. Why has the novel been such a central object of study for so many different theoretical traditions? What is at stake in these theoretical traditions that centre on the novel? Just as novel theorists historicize the novelistic form, we will historicize those theories, interrogating and deconstructing their conflicting assumptions. Organized chronologically and thematically, covering theorists from Russia, France, Central Europe and North America, the course will include topics such as: the historicization of form; novelistic narrative; the search for masterplots and master narratives; time and space; the novel and the self; the place of the novel in theories of world literature; close reading and distant reading. Readings include Shklovsky, Tynianov, Bakhtin, Lukacs, Frye, Barthes, Robert, Girard, Genette, Booth, Brooks, Jameson, Miller, Moretti, Cohn, as well as Balzac, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Flaubert and others.

Class participation: 15%
Response papers: 30%
Presentation: 10%
Final paper: 45%

Updated: March 17, 2023