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Fall 2013

Comp. Lit. 71000 – History and Literature in Early Modern England and Ireland
GC: M, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Profs. Carroll/Covington

Comp. Lit. 80100 – The Faust Legend
GC: Th, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Oppenheimer

Comp. Lit. 80100 – Anxieties of Modernist Representation
GC:  W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Caws (crosslisted with Eng. 80200)

Comp. Lit. 80900 – Violence, Crime and Madness Between History and Literature in Early Modern Europe
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Calabritto

Comp. Lit. 80900 – Cervantes and the Crisis in European Fiction
GC: Th, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Schwartz

Comp. Lit. 85000 -- Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
GC: T, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Aciman

Comp. Lit. 88500 -- Postmodernism: Italy and Beyond
GC: T, 2:00-4:00 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Lombardi

Comp. Lit. 89000 -- Modernity and Belief
GC: W, 4:15-6:15 p.m.,4 cr., Prof. Brenkman

Comp. Lit. 89100 -- History of Literary Theory and Criticism I
GC: M, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Elsky

Comp. Lit.89400 -- Theory and Practice of Translation
GC: W, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 4 cr., Prof. Bettina Lerner

Comp. Lit. 90000 - Dissertation Supervision
GC: 1 cr., Staff

See Also:
Span. 87100 – Special Topics in Spanish-American Literature: Hispanic Jewish Literature and Cinema of the Diaspora
GC: T, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 cr., Prof. Glickman

Course Descriptions

CL 71000 -- History and Literature in Early Modern England and Ireland
Profs. Carroll/Covington

We will examine the possibilities and the limitations of disciplinary boundaries regarding the interpretation of sixteenth and seventeenth century writing We will give special consideration to the rhetorical and narrative aspects of historical documents (such as the state papers, letters, and depositions) and the historical dimensions of literary works. Discussion will focus on texts written at moments of particular crisis in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when England and Ireland were undergoing episodes of extreme political upheaval and armed conflict –the Nine Years’ War (“The Blood of the English Crying Out of the Earth for Revenge,” Spenser’s A View, Shakespeare’s Henry V, bardic poetry), the War of the Three Kingdoms (the 1641 Depositions, John Temple’s Irish Rebellion, the pamphlet wars, Milton’s prose works, Cromwell’s letters, lyric poetry, and its aftermath, (William Petty’s Political Arithmetic, Marvell’s “Horatian Ode”). Readings will also include historiographical, theoretical and critical texts by Nicholas Canny, Andrew Hadfield, John Pocock, James Shapiro, Nigel Smith, Hayden White

CL 80100 – The Faust Legend
Prof. Oppenheimer

Few figures in Western literature have attracted as much continuous interest from as many important writers, artists, composers and film-makers as that of Doctor Faustus, the mysterious sixteenth-century physician and necromancer whose legendary pact with the devil granted him superhuman powers. Starting with the earliest published version of the story, the famous Faust Book dating from 1587 in Frankfurt (also available in translation), the course will explore strikingly different treatments of Faust's career by Christopher Marlowe, Goethe, and Thomas Mann, and the conflicting views of humanity's relations to nature and the divine implied by their masterpieces. Also investigated will be the influence of the Faust story on writers as diverse as Byron, Carlyle, Dostoyevski, Pushkin, Hawthorne, Paul Valéry, and Lawrence Durrell. Films such as Mephisto, Hanusen, and Bedazzled, which approach the story and its motif of the devil pact in modern ways, will be considered and, where possible, shown; operatic and other musical treatments will be considered, along with the Faust legend's impact on painting.--One brief in-class presentation. One research paper.

CL 80100 -- Anxieties of Modernist Representation
Prof. Caws
This seminar takes as its principle that anxiety and uncertainty provoke our thinking and seeing more effectively than pre-established categories, and that initial confusion can clarify more interestingly than straightforward structure. Among the kinds of problems that might be entailed in the visual and verbal interpretation are: how figure relates to ground, foreground to background, abstract to figural, detail to overall or global, the relation of romantic and contemporary wandering line in character and in art to the stroll of  the flaneur and the  flaneuse, the singular to the series and to the collective (it might be fun to bring in the fascinations and frictions of writers’ and artists’ colonies here), the regular to the irregular, the miniature to the epic, the expected to the extremes of landscape, seascape, and cityscape, and, above all and always, how do we relate our interpretation of reading to that of seeing.

The overall notion is that the unresolved and problematic – on the part of the creator and the observer-participant -  is more gripping than the resolved, an idea determined in itself to be modestly provoking, without rewarding itself the optimistic label of the provocative. Which issues we will finally work on will be determined in relation to the interests of the gathered group.
Certain of the artists and writers joining us, among others, are likely to inhabit a stretch from  Mallarmé and Manet to Meret Oppenheim, from Gertrude Stein to Sartre,  from Artaud to Beckett and Breton, from Paula Modersohn-Becker to Rilke, from Claude Cahun and Unica Zurn to Virginia Woolf, Francesca Woodman and Joseph Cornell, modernists all.

Comp. Lit. 80900 – Violence, Crime and Madness Between History and Literature in Early Modern Europe
Prof. Calabritto

How are violent crimes and odd, “mad” behaviors described and interpreted in early modern narratives in Italy, France and England? The course will include both historical and narrative texts--chronicles, historiography, private letters, tragedies, romance epic, novellas and _romanzi_--and will lay the foundations for the interpretation of the primary sources with an in-depth theoretical discussion of the notions of horror, voyeurism, empathy and value judgment.

CL 80900 – Cervantes and the Crisis in European Fiction
Prof. Schwartz

This course will focus on the study of Cervantes’s Don Quijote (1605-1615) as a text that recreates early modern literary forms, while questioning the writing of fiction, from the perspective of Aristotle’s Poetics and related Italian theories of the novel. Cervantes’s work will be also analyzed in relation to its literary models - romances of chivalry, pastoral, picaresque and Moorish novels, Boccaccio’s Decameron and other stories of adventures – and their philosophical contexts. The function of madness as a fictional device will be also examined in connection with Erasmus’s The Praise of Folly. Other aspects of this complex narrative to be considered include its rhetorical and ethical background, as well as the treatment of popular discourses and of classical adages. Among the works to be read, in addition to Don Quijote, are Sannazaro’s Arcadia, Lazarillo de Tormes, The Praise of Folly, and some novelle of the Decameron.

CL 85000 – Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time
Prof. Aciman

On the centennial of Marcel Proust’s publication of Swann’s Way in 1913, Comparative Literature is pleased to offer a seminar on Proust. Proust’s epic novel In Search of Time Lost tells of an elaborate, internal journey, at the end of which the narrator joyfully discovers the unifying pattern of his life both as writer and human being. Famed for its style and its distinctive view of love, art, and memory, Proust's epic remains a dominant and innovative voice in the literature of intimacy and introspection. This seminar, designed for students who wish to understand the complex relationship between memory and the modern novel, will examine how Proust's epic has challenged and redefined not just the art of writing, but the art of reading as well. The course will be taught in translation, but students able to read French are encouraged to read Proust in the original.

CL 88500 – Postmodernism: Italy and Beyond
Prof. Lombardi

“Postmodernism”, a word used and misused in countless disciplines, is the name given to current cultural practices characterized by major paradoxes of form and ideology. This course will investigate the poetics of postmodernism as drawn from those contradicting practices. Special emphasis will be placed on “historiographic metafiction” and on postmodern reconfigurations of narrative, reference, subjectivity, and intertextuality. The study of seminal works by Italo Calvino, Antonio Tabucchi, Umberto Eco, and Carlo Emilio Gadda will thus be contextualized within a larger framework, which will include fictional works by William Faulkner, Thomas Pynchon, Paul Auster, Doris Lessing, Alain Robbe Grillet, Georges Perec, Raymond Queneau, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, and Fernando Pessoa, as well as theoretical writings by Fredric James, Jean Francois Lyotard, Linda Hutcheon, and Hayden White.

Comp. Lit. 89000 – Modernity and Belief
Prof. Brenkman

In an arc that goes from Pascal to Nietzsche, modern thought confronts the question of religious belief in relation to the supposition of a possible nihilism. Nihilism can take the form of an abject fear of nothingness after death (Pascal) or an ambiguous power of values to destroy themselves (Nietzsche). Modernist thinkers and writers plumb the relation between nihilism and belief is a variety of forms. In the seminar, we will set the stage with Pascal’s Pensées and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and then examine the aesthetic and philosophical questions posed in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the plays of Paul Claudel, T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, and Emmanuel Lévinas’s Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures.

Comp. Lit. 89100 – History of Literary Theory and Criticism I
Prof. Elsky

A study of the development of thought about literature in the classical, medieval, and early modern periods. The course will focus on issues related to the nature of literary representation. Topics will include mimesis and imitation; literary truth and beauty; genre and structure; figurative language; affectivity; and the impact of religious, philosophical, and political thought on literary categories. Classical readings will include Plato, Aristotle, and Horace; medieval readings will include Augustine and Dante; Renaissance and Early Modern readings will include Valla, Tasso, Sidney, and Milton.

Comp. Lit. 89400 -- Theory and Practice of Translation
Prof. Bettina Lerner

This seminar explores the history and theory of literary translation in the West. We will read and discuss major theoretical texts that have delineated the field of translation studies from Cicero and St. Augustine to Du Bellay, Dolet, Schleiermacher, Goethe, Benjamin, Jakobson, Borges, Nida, Derrida, Berman, Spivak and Apter in order to work our way through the various aesthetic, ethical and political questions raised by the practice of translation. We will also compare different translations of literary texts in order to examine how the linguistic and stylistic choices that translators must make carry ideological weight. At the end of the term, each student will prepare either a literary or theoretical analysis or an original translation accompanied by a critical introduction. The class will be taught in English, but participants should have working knowledge of at least one language other than English.