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


InstructorS. Dowling
Time: Fall term, Thursdays, 2-4  – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

Description: 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.


  1. 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.

  1. 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., genreâcimowinrelación). 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.

  1. 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: M. Revermann
Time:  Fall term, Thursdays, 11-1 – Online

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: J. Zilcosky
Time: Fall term, Wednesdays, 1-3  – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

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, leading to his discovery of the “talking cure” and eventually the “secret of dreams” (The Interpretation of Dreams); his 1900s creation of the major concepts of sexual theory (his early case studies as well as Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality); his central writings before, during and after World War I, from Totem and Taboo and The Uncanny through to his seminal work on shell shock, repetition compulsion, and the death drive in Beyond the Pleasure Principle; and his attempts to diagnose wide-ranging pathologies of society and culture in the late 1920s and 1930s (e.g., The Future of an Illusion, Civilization and Its Discontents, and Moses and Monotheism). The goal is to present a broad critical introduction to Freud’s work and to investigate key concepts of psychoanalytic theory.

In-Class Presentation: 20%
Critical Commentary: 15%
Overall Class Participation: 15%
Final Paper: 50%

Instructor: R. Bai
Time: Spring term, Fridays, 10-12– Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

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

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

Instructor: J. Ricco
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 10-12 – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

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


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

InstructorE. Cazdyn
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 1-3 – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

This seminar will focus on the category of disclosure—”the making known of something.” This act can take a variety of different forms, from the public disclosure of classified information (as in leaking and whistleblowing) to the disclosure of a secret (a personal transgression), to the disclosure of a truth (in philosophy) or a principle (in science), or to the disclosure of the impossible (in art).  And, yet, the very category of disclosure (in all of these cases) is unstable and presupposes assumptions that require close examination. What different concepts and histories of the subject, the object, and knowing are implied in the act of disclosure? What kind of temporality is implied? And what about “non disclosure”? Is it possible to neither disclose nor not-disclose? These seminars will map out philosophical, political, and artistic traditions that attempt to construct alternative theories and practices of disclosure as well as to experiment with what we will call the non disclosure act. 

 In the course of our inquiry we might study encounters with the problem of disclosure by such thinkers as Badiou (truth procedures), Barad (quantum entanglement), Derrida (deconstruction), Heidegger (unconcealment), Isozaki (ma),  Jameson (utopia), Karatani (transcritique), Lacan (the act), Marx (ideology critique), Nishida (praxis), Weizman (forensics), and Zizek (topology). We will also study artistic experiments of disclosure and non-disclosure, ranging from film and literature to architecture, and new media.

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


InstructorE. Jagoe
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 1-3 –  Emmanuel College Room 205

In the era of the Capitalocene, we find ourselves increasingly seeking new forms through which to understand the effects of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and industrial agriculture. Many cultural producers across the globe are seeking new forms and genres to portray the scope and scale of anthropogenic climate change. This year, the course focuses on food security and agricultural systems, examining 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 fiction, solar punk, film documentary, manifesto, policy documents, memoir, lyric essay, nature writing, environmental reportage, critical and cultural theory, and visual art will be included.

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

InstructorH. Bahoora
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays, 11-1- Northrop Frye Hall, Room 009

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.

Attendance/Participation: 20%
Three Response Papers: 30%
Final paper proposal: 10%
Final Paper: 40%

Instructor: S. Dowling
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 3-5 –  Emmanuel College Room 205

“Poetics of Personhood” considers a problem raised several decades ago by Barbara Johnson, which remains under-studied: what is the relationship between the poetic person and the legal person? Students in this course will examine theories of personhood, drawing on Enlightenment and liberal accounts by John Locke, John Stuart Mill, G.W.F. Hegel, and C.B. MacPherson; and critiques of personhood leveraged within the interdisciplines of critical race theory and Black studies by Sylvia Wynter, Cheryl I. Harris, Hortense Spillers, and Alexander Weheliye. Alongside these, we will read key texts on lyric poetry that consider the place of the person within this genre: selected critics will include John Emil Vincent, Jonathan Culler, Virginia Jackson, and others. The course will culminate with three case studies of poems drawn from different national/linguistic traditions: possible texts include Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip (Tobago/Canada), Freedom & Prostitution by Cassandra Troyan (US/Sweden), and Ban en Banlieue by Bhanu Kapil (India/UK).  

Instructor: C. James
Time: Spring term, Mondays, 2-4 – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 332

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%


InstructorR. Comay
Time:  Fall term, Wednesdays, 4-6 

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 obsolescence imply for the practice of philosophy and for political practice?  We’ll look at the ways in which art, according to Hegel, stages its own undoing at every stage and in every art form (sculpture, painting, music, etc), but especially in theatre, which Hegel presents both as the “highest” art form and the scene of art’s ultimate undoing.  Why does theater occupy this privileged position?  And what comes next?  We’ll be focusing on selected portions of Hegel’s Aesthetics and the Phenomenology of Spirit, alongside other contemporary writings, such as Lessing, Schelling, and Hölderlin.  And we’ll be reading some of the plays –mostly, but not always, tragedies — they were watching (or at least reading, or imagining watching): Sophocles, Euripides, Schiller, Goethe, Diderot, Aristophanes.  And finally, we’ll consider the peculiar afterlife of theatre in philosophy – as a scene of pedagogy, a performance, and a political spectacle.  

Evaluation: Seminar presentation with follow-up written reflection  (30%); final paper (70%)

InstructorR. Comay
Time:  Spring term, Wednesdays, 4-6

Philosophy has always had a special interest in tragedy, and has often used it as either a negative or positive foil (sometimes both at once) to construct its own self-image.  Plato famously banned tragedy; Aristotle recouped it; German idealist philosophers saw in “the tragic” a mirror-image of philosophy’s own preoccupations; Nietzsche blamed philosophy for tragedy’s demise; Marx saw in tragedy’s own (tragic) slide into farce a symptom of practical-theoretical enervation.

In this semester we’ll explore the entanglement of philosophy and tragedy after Hegel, and in the light of the failed 1848 revolutions, with focused attention on how later thinkers raise the political stakes of this entanglement.  We’ll be exploring the links between tragedy and sovereignty; tragedy and revolution; tragedy and gender; the predicaments of decolonial tragedy; the relationship between genre and medium. 

Readings to include: Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit and Sophocles, Antigone; Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire; Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy; Brecht, Short Organon and selected plays; Benjamin, Origin of the German Trauerspiel and “What is Epic Theatre?”; Adorno, “Trying to Understand Endgame and Beckett’s Endgame; Eisenstein’s Notes towards his (unrealized) film version of Capital; C.L.R James, The Black Jacobins and his Toussaint Louverture (the play); Nicole Loraux, Mothers in Mourning; Judith Butler, Antigone’s Claim; Raymond Williams, Modern Tragedy.

Evaluation: Seminar presentation with follow-up written reflection  (30%); final paper (70%)

Instructor: N. Seidman
Time: Spring term, Thursdays, 10-12  – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

This course will trace the complicated history of Jewish racialization from the Spanish conception of limpieza de sangre (“the cleanness of blood”) to the “whitening” of (some) Jewish Americans and Jewish racial positioning today; we will also follow the tensions and coalitions of Jews and other racialized others, including Indigenous peoples, Palestinians, and Black, paying particular attention to Jewish-Black relations from the slave trade to the labor movement, the Women’s March, and Black Lives Matter. Alongside these historical studies, we will collaboratively build a theoretical apparatus for understanding the often-charged nexus between Jewish Studies and Critical Race Theory, reading Max Weinreich’s mobilization of the W.E.B. Du Bois’s “double consciousness”, Frantz Fanon’s dialogue with Sartre’s Anti-Semite and Jew, the controversy around Nadia Abu El-Haj’s The Genealogical Science, and Jewish responses to Frank Wilderson III’s Afropessimism. We will watch Al Jolson’s 1927 The Jazz Singer and Anna Deveare Smith’s 1992 Fires in the Mirror, and read early-twentieth-century Yiddish anti-lynching poetry, Toni Morrison’s 1977 Song of Solomon, and Philip Roth’s 2000 The Human Stain.

Other readings include selections from the following books:

Henry Goldschmidt, Race and Religion among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights (2008)

Geraldine Heng, England and the Jews: How Religion and Violence Created the First Racial State in the West (2018)

Maria Elena Martinez, Genealogical Fictions: Limpieza de Sangre, Religion, and Gender in Colonial Mexico (2008)

Noah Tamarkin, Genetic Afterlives: Black Jewish Indigeneity in South Africa (2020)

Frank Wilderson III, Afropessimism (2020)

one course presentation 10%
— a literature review (2-3 pages): 20%
— Written assignment (ca. 20 pages) 60%
— Overall assessment 10%

Instructor: A. Motsch
Time: Spring term, Tuesdays, 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: B. Havercroft
Time: Fall term, Tuesdays, 3-5 – Online 

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%

InstructorJ. LeBlanc
Time: Spring term, Thursdays, 12-2 –  Emmanuel College Room 205

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, Annie Ernaux, Frida Kahlo 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, Ernaux, Kahlo 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.

Ernaux, Annie. The years. Translation of Les années. Fragments of her photographic diary published in Écrire la vie will enhance our study of Ernaux’s expansive use of photographic ekphrasis within her memoire.

Kahlo, Frida. Intimate Diary. English translation of her personal diary initially published in Spanish. This illustrated life-narrative will be studied in conjunction with Kahlo’s numerous painted self-portraits.

Poulin, Jacques. Volkswagen Blues. This illustrated text will be studied through historical documents pertaining to indigenous cultures referenced by Poulin

*As a precautionary measure I have also ordered R. Barthe’s illustrated autobiographical narrative: Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, should one of the four other texts not be available. Please do not purchase this text.


* 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, 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.  However, a comparative study including one of the primary texts listed (Ardizzone, Ernaux, Kahlo, Poulin and Barthes) should be used if one choses to use another text which is not featured in our list of primary texts.

Instructor: S. Drouin
Time: Spring term, Thursday, 2-4 – Northrop Frye Hall, Room 008

According to many rhetoric theoreticians of the Antiquity, allegory is an « extended metaphor ». However, allegory does not consist solely in a ‘figure of thought’. It also refers to a hermeneutical process called ‘allegorism’. Allegorism studies myths, but also, for instance, biblical exegesis. Allegory and allegorism are key concepts for understanding fine arts, religion and literature in Western culture from Quintilian to Walter Benjamin, Northrop Frye, Paul de Man, Craig Owen and Umberto Eco. A figure constantly criticized for its coldness, and at the same time a venerable interpretive process often mocked for its arbitrariness, allegory allows us to study hermeneutics with regard to notions of literal and figurative meaning.

At the end of the course, students will be able to discuss major Western texts on allegory and to understand their role in the history of literary theory. Students will be able to recognize and to analyze allegorical representations in literature and in fine arts.

Analytical Bibliography (15 entries): 25%
Oral Presentation: 25%
Research Essay: 40%
Participation: 10%

AUERBACH, Figura, ‘Figura’, in Scenes from the Drama of European Literature, New York, Meridian Book, 1959, p. 11-41.
BENJAMIN, Walter, The Origins of German Tragic Drama, John Osborne (transl.), NLB, 1977. (1 chapter).
DE LUBACH, Henri, Medieval Exegesis : The Four Senses of Scripture, Mark Seban (transl.) Grand Rapids, W.B Eerdmans, 1998, vol. 1. (1 chapter).
DE MAN, Paul, Allegories of reading : Figural language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1979. (1 chapter).
ECO, Umberto, Interpretation and Overinterpretation, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992. (1 chapter).
FRYE, Northrop, The Great Code : the Bible and literature, Toronto, Penguin Canada, with an introduction by Alvin A. Lee, 2007. (1 chapter).
PANOFSKY, Erwin, Studies in Iconology : Humanistic themes in the art of Renaissance, New York/Oxford Univesity Press, 1939. (1 chapter).
OWENS, Craig, ‘The allegorical Impulse : Toward a Theory of Posmodernism’, October, vol. 12, Spring 1980, p. 67-86.
SEZNEC, Jean, The survival of the pagan gods : the mythological tradition and its place in Renaissance humanism and art, New York, Pantheon Books, Barbara F. Sessions (transl.), 1953. (1 chapter).

BAUDELAIRE, Charles, Salon de 1859, Paris, Honoré Champion, Wolfgang Drost and Ulrike Riechers (eds), 2006. (Excerpts).
DIDEROT, Denis, Salons, Oxford, Clarendon Press, Jean Seznec and Jean Adhémar (eds), 1947-1967.
GRACIÁN, Baltasar, Arte de ingenio, tradado de la agudeza, Madrid, Cátedra, Emilio Blanco (ed.), 1998. (Excerpts)
RIPA, Cesare, Iconologia o Descrizione di diverse imagii cavate dall’antichità e di propria invenzione, Roma, G. Gilioti, 1593. (Excerpts)
VIGENÈRE, Blaise de, Les images, ou Tableaux de platte peinture de Philostrate Lemnien, Paris, Abel Langelier, 1597. (Excerpts).
WINCKELMANN, Johann Joachim, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums. Walther, Dresden, 1764. (Excerpts)

Cahiers de l’Association internationale des études françaises, L’allégorie, n°28, 1975.
-Romantisme. Revue du dix-neuvième siècle. L’allégorie, n°152, 2011/2.
-Revue d’histoire littéraire de France. L’allégorie de la Renaissance au Symbolisme, vol. 112, 2012/2.
CARMAN, Garner, B., « Natalis Comes and the mythological tradition », Journal of Warburg and Courtaud Institute, n° 33, 1970, p. 264-290.
COHEN, Josh, Spectacular allegories : postmodern American writing and the politics of seing, London, Pluto Press, 1998.
DILTHEY, Wilhelm , « Origines et développement de l’herméneutique », Le monde de l’esprit, Paris, Aubier, 1947, t. I.
FLETCHER Angus, Allegory. The theory of a symbolic mode, Cornell University Press, 1964.
KELLEY, Theresa, Reinventing allegory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
LABARTHE, Patrick, Baudelaire et la tradition de l’allégorie, Genève, Droz, 1999.
MADSEN, Deborah, Rereading allegory : a narrative approach to genre, Houndmills, Macmillan, 1995.
MASSON André, L’Allégorie, PUF, coll. « Que sais-je ? », 1974.
PÉPIN, Jean, Mythe et allégorie. Les origines grecques et les contestations judéo-chrétiennes, Paris, Aubier-Montaigne, [1958] 1976.
RICOEUR, Paul, La métaphore vive, Paris, Le Seuil, coll. « Points », [1975], 1997.
TODOROV, Tzvetan, « On linguistic symbolism », New literary history, 1974, vol. VI, p. 111-134.
WITMAN, Jon, Allegory : The dynamics of an ancient and medieval technique, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1987.

Instructor: J. Noyes (Toronto), L. Switzky (Toronto), J. Taylor (U Western Cape, South Africa). 
Time: online and in personThe course will take place twice weekly from November 2 to December 9, 10am-12pm in the first week and thereafter 9-11am*  Please contact Prof. Noyes for more details.

This is an experimental course that brings graduate students at the University of Toronto into dialogue with their peers at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. It is taught by colleagues at the two universities who share an interest in practical and theoretical problems associated with puppetry and the limits of the human. Our aim is to establish a dialogue to investigate a single practical and theoretical problem from the point of view of students and researchers living and working in two very different societies. More information to follow soon…

*The course will take place twice weekly from November 2 to December 9, 10am-12pm in the first week and thereafter 9-11am*


Cappelletto, Chiara, “The Puppet’s Paradox: an organic prosthesis,” RES 59/60 (2011), 325-336.
Damasio, Antonio and Hanna Damasio, “Minding the Body,” Daedalus 135/3 (2006), 15-22.
Dennett, Daniel, “When HAL Kills, Who’s to Blame?” (1997)
Derrida, Jacques, The Beast and the Sovereign (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2009), Seventh Session, February 13, 2002, 187-205.
Gross, Kenneth “Puppet. An Essay on Uncanny Life.” (2011).
Hoffmann, E. T. A., “The Sandman” (1819)
Hoffmann, E. T. A., “Automata” (1814)
Kafka, Franz, “The Cares of a Family Man” (1914-1917)
Kleist, Heinrich v, “On the Marionette Theatre,” 1810
Silvio, Teri, “Animation: The new performance?”
Butler, Judith, Odradek and Capitalism
Rimini Protokoll 2018

InstructorW. Goetschel
Time: Spring term, Wednesdays 2-4, Victoria College, Room 215

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%).

Instructor: K. Yu
Time: Spring term, Thursday, 4-6; Room LI205

This course takes a long-range view of Greek literary thought by focussing on orality and textuality as modes of discourse. Equally fundamental will be the concept of hypertextuality — the obsession and overproduction of text as exemplified by the profusion of specialist compendia, encyclopedia, and commentaries of the Imperial Greek period. Rather than approach orality, textuality, and hypertextuality teleologically, we explore their interdynamics, their potentialities and limits, the social and intellectual institutions and practices undergirding them, as well as the distinct forms of authority inherent in each mode. Some guiding questions include: How does occasional performed poetry already intimate the textual? Why do inscriptions and technical scholarly texts routinely take recourse to aspects of orality? Indeed, how do we purport to access Greek oral tradition when the evidence is largely, if not entirely, mediated by the textual? What happens to the speaking voice when rendered textual?

We will read representative original Greek texts (not only selection of archaic poetry, historiography, philosophy, and public inscriptions and sacred laws, but also inscribed hymns, Totenpässe, curses and prayers recorded on various materials, and written oracles) to recover how the Greeks themselves theorized the oral, textual, and hypertextual. We will integrate into our discussions pertinent secondary scholarship from comparative literature, linguistics, anthropology, and the sociology of knowledge (e.g., Goody, Vansina, Ong, Havelock, Rosalind Thomas, Benveniste, Certeau, and Latour).

Course requirements:

  1. Class participation: all students should come prepared to discuss assigned readings on the basis of careful preparation. Starting in Week 2, each student will submit a short (c. 200-250 word) written response to the reading, raising a point for discussion in class, to be sent via email to the instructor by noon of the day before each class. Each student will also be responsible for at least one presentation addressing an ancient or modern text (20 mins.)
  2. Written work: paper (ca. 5000 words, about 15-20 pp. double-spaced) on a topic approved beforehand by the instructor.
  3. Grading: Final grades will be based 40% on class participation and 60% on written work.


Instructor: S. Rupp
Time: Spring term, Mondays, 10-12–  Emmanuel College Room 205

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

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

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

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

Instructors: John Paul Ricco (University of Toronto) ands Patricia Hayes (University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)
Time: Winter, Wednesday, 9-11am.

Course Description:
Working at the juncture of Art & Visual History and Philosophies of the Image and marshalling a set of critical-theoretical approaches to address the politics and aesthetics of sociality and community, this seminar investigates the role that photography and the field of photo studies together might play in imagining and creating collective futures, afterlives, and other lives. The course will be taught be Professors Patricia Hayes and John Paul Ricco, two internationally recognized historians and theorists of photography in Africa, and photography and ecology, respectively. The seminar will provide a unique transcontinental focus on photography in relation to Africa, Europe, and the Americas; ecology, and species extinction; postcolonial and decolonial histories; and race and temporality—including their heretofore unexplored intersections.

In addition to reading key texts in the field—including two new major edited collections on photography in which the faculty are involved, Hayes as co-editor and contributor of Ambivalent: Photography and Visibility in African History, (Ohio University Press, 2019); and Ricco as contributing author to Capitalism and the Camera (Verso, 2021)—students will have ample opportunity to engage in sustained and focused discussions, and to learn from several invited guest scholars.

The course is offered through the University of Toronto’s Global Classroom Initiative, a project that supports international collaborative learning across continents and oceans, by bringing together students from the U of T and, in the case of this seminar, the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. The two groups will meet jointly over the course of the Winter 2022 semester.

Outcomes for Students:
Through this Global Classroom initiative—and its specific focus on the role of photography and its histories in the ongoing struggles and concerns described above—students will be provided with a unique opportunity to think and envision the future of organized human societies, their futures, and their collective lives, afterlives, and other lives. Including in ways that can account for the in-human, the non-human, the inanimate and inorganic, as well as the unforeseeable and unlivable.

Students will develop a deeper understanding of the role that photography and related technologies of vision, visuality, and image-making have played and might continue to play, in addressing the many global challenges facing humanity today. Students will be able to approach these questions from multiple perspectives, based upon the knowledge they will acquire of the different social-political contexts, as these are globally tied to trans-national, trans-continental, and trans-oceanic networks.

Students will also develop the skills necessary to undertake collaborative research, especially via online and digital technologies of communication, dissemination, and archival preservation. In this respect, the initiative aligns with many of the fundamental tenets and goals of digital humanities research. Finally, through peer-to-peer learning as well as one-on-one mentoring and advising with the faculty, students will develop their writing skills and learn how to solicit academic or more general publication venues for their work.

Updated: July 24, 2021