Director of undergraduate studies: Moira Fradinger, 451 College Street, 432-8267,; registrar:;


Professors Dudley Andrew, Peter Brooks (Emeritus), Rüdiger Campe, Katerina Clark, Roberto González Echevarría, Martin Hägglund, Hannan Hever, Michael Holquist (Emeritus), Carol Jacobs, Rainer Nägele (Emeritus), David Quint, Katie Trumpener, Jing Tsu

Associate Professor Moira Fradinger

Assistant Professors Robyn Creswell, Marta Figlerowicz, Ayesha Ramachandran

Senior Lecturer Peter Cole

Lecturers Jan Hagens, George Syrimis

Senior Lector Candace Skorupa

Affiliated Faculty Rolena Adorno (Spanish & Portuguese), R. Howard Bloch (French), Francesco Casetti (Film & Media Studies), Kang-i Sun Chang (East Asian Languages & Literatures), Michael Denning (American Studies), Wai Chee Dimock (English), Paul Fry (English), Karsten Harries (Philosophy), Alice Kaplan (French), Tina Lu (East Asian Languages & Literatures), John MacKay (Slavic Languages & Literatures), Giuseppe Mazzotta (Italian), Christopher L. Miller (French), Joseph Roach (English), Maurice Samuels (French), Henry Sussman (German) (Visiting), Ruth Yeazell (English)

The Literature Major allows students to address fundamental questions about the nature, function, and value of literature in a broadly comparative context. Majors read and write about a wide variety of literary works across periods, genres, and national traditions. They investigate traditional and contemporary approaches to literary study, ancient and modern literary theory, and the relationship of literature to film and to other branches of the arts and sciences.

The Literature Major offers students the freedom to construct a program of study that reflects their intellectual goals. All students planning to major in Literature should register with the director of undergraduate studies, who will work with them to develop a coherent, well-focused sequence of courses suited to their individual interests.

The major offers a number of its own courses, which constitute the core of the program. Other courses are normally chosen from different language and literature programs, many of which offer courses on literature and film in translation. Among these programs are African American Studies, Classics, East Asian Languages and Literatures, English Languages and Literatures, Film and Media Studies, French, German, Italian, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Portuguese, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Spanish. Courses in film and media studies count toward the major in the same way as courses in literature. Students with a particular interest in film or in translation studies may wish to elect the film track or translation track within the Literature major, described below.

The experience of reading a foreign literature in the original language enables us to understand the nature of both language and literature more fully. Prospective Literature majors are strongly encouraged to begin the study of a foreign language as early as possible in their academic careers and to continue such study throughout their time at Yale. Students interested in graduate study in comparative literature should be aware that many programs require reading knowledge of two or three foreign languages.

Prerequisites Completion of the Yale College foreign language distributional requirement is a prerequisite for entry into the major. Prospective majors must also complete LITR 120 and one of LITR 122, 143168, 169, or 348. Students in the film track must take LITR 143 and students in the translation track must take take LITR 348.

The standard majorBeyond the prerequisites, the Literature Major requires twelve term courses. These include LITR 300, which should be taken in the sophomore or junior year. Also required are two core seminars, one pre-1800 course, one course in drama or poetry, three courses in a foreign literature with readings in the original language, three elective courses, and the senior essay. The three elective courses may be taken in any literature department and may include two courses in a related discipline that has direct bearing on the student's program in literature, such as history of art, philosophy, anthropology, music, or theater studies. One of the elective courses may be in creative writing.

Core seminars In core seminars, LITR 400–480, students focus intensively on particular texts, films, literary and cultural issues, and theoretical problems. Students are required to take at least two core seminars, preferably one in the junior and one in the senior year. The seminars provide training in literary interpretation and theory, preparing students for the senior essay.

Pre-1800 course requirement The Literature Major requires at least one course in literature before 1800. Because both genres and individual works of literature refer to, emulate, challenge, and rewrite older works and conventions, students benefit from acquiring a degree of historical perspective. Courses numbered LITR 150–199 fulfill the pre-1800 requirement; courses from other departments may also fulfill the requirement.

Poetry or drama requirement In addition to the pre-1800 course, all students must take one course in poetry or drama. The course may be one offered in a program other than Literature.

Foreign literature requirement All majors are required to take at least three additional term courses, beyond the foreign language distributional requirement, in an ancient or modern foreign literature, in which the literature is read in the original language. One or more courses can be taken at a basic literature level (normally equivalent to the third year of language study); however, at least one course must be taken at an advanced level (normally equivalent to the fourth year of language study or higher). Students are encouraged to continue developing their foreign language skills by taking advanced language courses and may, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies, substitute one language course at the L5 level for one of the three required foreign literature courses.

A literature course in translation is sometimes suitable as a foreign literature course. In such cases, Literature majors are expected to request additional assignments from their instructors that demonstrate they have engaged with the texts in the original language. They should fill out a form, signed by the instructor, attesting to their intent to do so. This form is available in the department office in Room 102, 451 College St.; students should submit it to the director of undergraduate studies along with their course schedule.

Nonnative speakers of English who are granted permission by Yale College to complete the foreign language distributional requirement by taking ENGL 114, 115, 120, 121, or 450 may take three additional English literature courses to fulfill the foreign literature requirement of the Literature Major, or they may fulfill the major requirements in a third language.

The senior essay In the senior essay, required of all majors, students develop a research topic of their choice and work closely with a faculty adviser. Normally, the essay makes use of texts in the language of their original composition. Any exceptions must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Deadlines for the prospectus, the rough draft, and the completed essay are listed in the course descriptions of the senior essay course (LITR 491 and 492, 493).

The senior essay may be written over one term (LITR 491) or over two terms (LITR 492, 493). Alternatively, students may fulfill the senior essay requirement within the context of a core seminar. Because no more than five students per seminar may elect this option, students should petition the instructor promptly at the beginning of the term. It is understood that students choosing to write the senior seminar essay in a core seminar will work closely with the instructor throughout the term and produce a substantial paper, approximately thirty pages. Students earn one course credit for the seminar in which the essay is written; no additional course credit is awarded for the essay itself.

Students with an especially well-developed project may petition to write a yearlong senior essay. Interested juniors must apply to the director of undergraduate studies by the last day of classes in the spring term. Students may count the second term of the essay as one elective course toward the total number of courses required for the major. Students expecting to graduate in May enroll in LITR 492 during the fall term and complete their essays in 493 in the spring term. December graduates enroll in 492 in the spring term and complete their essays in 493 during the following fall term. Students planning to begin their essay in the spring term should notify the director of undergraduate studies by the last day of classes in the fall term.

Credit/D/Fail For students in the Class of 2017 and previous classes, a maximum of one course taken Credit/D/Fail may count toward the major, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies. For students in the Class of 2018 and subsequent classes, a maximum of two courses taken Credit/D/Fail may count toward the major, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies.

Film track Students in the film track must fulfill the same requirements as those in the standard Literature track, with the following exceptions. Film-track students must take LITR 143 as one of the prerequisites to the major. They take two foreign literature courses rather than three; neither may be substituted with an advanced language course. In addition, students in the film track must take one course in film theory and must choose their three electives from courses in film and media studies.

Translation track Students in the translation track must fulfill the same requirements as those in the standard Literature track, with the following exceptions. Translation-track students must take as one of the prerequisites to the major LITR 348 or another course in the theory and practice of translation approved by the director of undergraduate studies. Translation-track students must also choose their three electives from courses that engage with some aspect of translation studies; the office of the director of undergraduate studies maintains a list of qualifying courses.

Intensive major Students in the intensive major complete three courses each in two non-anglophone literatures, in all of which the literature is read in the original language. Three of these courses take the place of the three electives in the non-intensive major. Intensive majors must also demonstrate proficiency at the L5 level in one of their languages and at the L4 level or above in the other. Alternatively, students taking the intensive major in three national literatures may take two courses each in two national literatures and three in a third. They must demonstrate proficiency at the L5 level in the language of their principal literature, and at the L4 level or above in the other two.

Year or term abroad The Literature Major encourages students to consider spending a summer, a term, or a year abroad. Courses taken on international programs may, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies, be applied to the Literature Major's foreign literature requirement.

Foreign literature courses The following table lists languages in which advanced literature instruction is available at Yale, specifying courses that fulfill the basic and advanced literature requirements for the major. Courses with numbers higher than those listed also normally fulfill the requirement, providing that they focus on literature (rather than language) and that the literature is read in the original language.

Language Basic Literature Course Advanced Literature Course
Arabic ARBC 150, 151 ARBC 161 or 165
Chinese CHNS 150, 151 CHNS 170 or 171
French FREN 170 Courses in French numbered 200 or higher
German Courses in German numbered 170 or higher Courses in German numbered 200 or higher
Ancient Greek GREK 131 or 141 Ancient Greek courses numbered 400 or higher
Modern Hebrew By arrangement with instructor By arrangement with instructor
Italian Courses in Italian numbered 200 or higher Courses in Italian numbered 200 or higher
Japanese JAPN 150, 151 JAPN 170 or 171
Korean KREN 150, 151 EALL 470 or 471
Latin LATN 131 or 141 Latin courses numbered 400 or higher
Persian PERS 150 PERS 150
Portuguese By arrangement with instructor By arrangement with instructor
Russian RUSS 150, 151 Courses in Russian numbered 170 or higher
Spanish SPAN 261, 262, 266, or 267 Courses in Spanish numbered 300 or higher

Other ancient and modern languages, including those from Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East, may be suitable for the Literature Major if a qualified faculty adviser is available to supervise the major.


Prerequisites All tracksLITR 120; completion of Yale College foreign lang distributional req; one of LITR 122, 143, 168, 169, or 348; Film trackLITR 143; Translation trackLITR 348 or equivalent

Number of courses 12 term courses beyond prereqs (incl senior essay)

Specific course requiredLITR 300

Distribution of courses All tracks—1 course in lit before 1800; 1 course in poetry or drama; 2 core sems; Standard track—3 courses in 1 foreign lit, as specified; 3 electives, as specified; Film track—2 courses in 1 foreign lit, as specified; 1 course in film theory; 3 electives in film & media studies; Translation track—3 courses in 1 foreign lit, as specified; 3 electives in translation studies

Substitution permitted Standard and translation tracks—1 advanced lang course for 1 of 3 req foreign lit courses, with DUS permission

Senior requirement One-term senior essay (LITR 491); or two-term senior essay (LITR 492 and 493); or 1 core sem (LITR 400–480) with senior sem essay

Intensive major 3 addtl courses in a second foreign lang in place of 3 electives; demonstrated command of languages as indicated

* LITR 011b / FREN 013b / HUMS 074b, The Major Works of Albert Camus Alice Kaplan

An exploration of the major works—fiction, theater, political essays—of French writer Albert Camus (1913–1960). Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  WR, HU

* LITR 020a / FREN 012a, French Literature in Global Context Jill Jarvis

Introduction to contemporary French fiction in a global perspective. Close readings of prizewinning novels by writers of the former French Empire—in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean—alongside key manifestos and theoretical essays that define or defy the notion of world literature. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  HU

* LITR 087b / HUMS 073b, Uncertainty in Medicine Viewed through the Humanities William Sledge and Moira Fradinger

A survey that explores the rich conversation of science and humanistic study in experiences of uncertainty in medical practice. Professional relationships between doctor and patient examined through history, sociology, anthropology, literature, music and visual arts, and medical reflections.   Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  HU

* LITR 099a / FILM 099a, Film and the Arts Dudley Andrew

A study of cinema as it developed into a significant art form, including its interactions with fiction, theater, and painting. Focus on André Bazin's reflections on cinema in response to Chaplin, Welles, and Cocteau, as well as to writers such as Faulkner, Sartre, and Malraux. Enrollment limited to freshmen. Preregistration required; see under Freshman Seminar Program.  WR, HURP

Prerequisites and Required Courses

LITR 120a, Introduction to Narrative Staff

A team-taught course that examines how narratives work and what they do. Emphasis on fictional form, the mechanics of plot, and questions of time and duration. Texts are drawn from a variety of periods and cultures, and include folktales, short stories, novels, case studies, graphic novels, and films.  WR, HU

LITR 143b / ENGL 192b / FILM 240b, World Cinema Dudley Andrew and Marta Figlerowicz

Development of ways to engage films from around the globe productively. Close analysis of a dozen complex films, with historical contextualization of their production and cultural functions. Attention to the development of critical skills. Includes weekly screenings, each followed immediately by discussion.  HU

LITR 300b / ENGL 300b, Introduction to Theory of Literature Martin Hägglund

An examination of concepts and assumptions in contemporary views of literature. Theories of meaning, interpretation, and representation. Critical analysis of formalist, psychoanalytic, structuralist, poststructuralist, Marxist, and feminist approaches to theory and to literature.  HU

The Ancient World

* LITR 154b / ENGL 395b, The Bible as Literature Leslie Brisman

Study of the Bible as a literature—a collection of works exhibiting a variety of attitudes toward the conflicting claims of tradition and originality, historicity and literariness. Pre-1800 with completion of supplementary assignments in the language of the King James Bible. If there is sufficient interest, a second section will be offered.  WR, HURP

* LITR 168a / ENGL 129a, Tragedy in the European Literary Tradition Staff

The genre of tragedy from its origins in ancient Greece and Rome through the European Renaissance to the present day. Themes of justice, religion, free will, family, gender, race, and dramaturgy. Works include Homer's Iliad and plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Shakespeare, Racine, Ibsen, Chekhov, Brecht, Beckett, and Soyinka. Focus on textual analysis and on developing the craft of persuasive argument through writing.  WR, HU

* LITR 169b / ENGL 130b, Epic in the European Literary Tradition Staff

The epic tradition traced from its foundations in ancient Greece and Rome to the modern novel. The creation of cultural values and identities; exile and homecoming; the heroic in times of war and of peace; the role of the individual within society; memory and history; politics of gender, race, and religion. Works include Homer's Odyssey, Vergil's Aeneid, Dante's Inferno, Cervantes's Don Quixote, and Joyce's Ulysses. Focus on textual analysis and on developing the craft of persuasive argument through writing.  WR, HU

Medieval and Early Modern Literature to 1800

LITR 172b / EALL 210b, Man and Nature in Chinese Literature Kang-i Sun Chang

An exploration of man and nature in traditional Chinese literature, with special attention to aesthetic and cultural meanings. Topics include the concept of nature and literature; neo-Taoist self-cultivation; poetry and Zen (Chan) Buddhism; travel in literature; loss, lament, and self-reflection in song lyrics; nature and the supernatural in classical tales; love and allusions to nature; religious pilgrimage and allegory. All readings in translation; no knowledge of Chinese required. Some Chinese texts provided for students who read Chinese. Formerly CHNS 200.   HUTr

LITR 174a / EALL 211a / WGSS 405a, Women and Literature in Traditional China Kang-i Sun Chang

A study of major women writers in traditional China, as well as representations of women by male authors. The power of women's writing; women and material culture; women in exile; courtesans; Taoist and Buddhist nuns; widow poets; cross-dressing women; the female body and its metaphors; footbinding; notions of love and death; the aesthetics of illness; women and revolution; poetry clubs; the function of memory in women's literature; problems of gender and genre. All readings in translation; no knowledge of Chinese required. Some Chinese texts provided for students who read Chinese. Formerly CHNS 201.   HU

* LITR 176b / ENGL 202b / WGSS 171b, Medieval Women's Writing Jessica Brantley and Ann Killian

This course explores writings by women in medieval Britain, with attention to questions of authorship, authority, and audience. Readings include the Lais of Marie de France, Ancrene Wisse, Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, the Showings of Julian of Norwich, The Book of Margery Kempe, the Digby Mary Magdalene play, and the Paston letters.  WR, HU

LITR 183a / HUMS 180a / ITAL 310a, Dante in Translation Christiana Purdy Moudarres

A critical reading of Dante's Divine Comedy and selections from the minor works, with an attempt to place Dante's work in the intellectual and social context of the late Middle Ages by relating literature to philosophical, theological, and political concerns. One discussion section conducted in Italian.  HUTr

* LITR 184b / ENGL 214b / HUMS 142b / WGSS 146b, Women and the Supernatural in Medieval Literature Johanna Fridriksdottir

Study of medieval texts from a wide geographic and chronological range, all of which prominently feature female characters that exhibit supernatural features or practice magic. Narratives about fairies, witches, hags, and monstrous women analyzed in order to explore intersections of gender and sexuality, Otherness, ethics, violence, fantasy, and related themes in medieval culture.  HU

LITR 197b / EALL 203b, The Tale of Genji Edward Kamens

A reading of the central work of prose fiction in the Japanese classical tradition in its entirety (in English translation) along with some examples of predecessors, parodies, and adaptations (the latter include Noh plays and twentieth-century short stories). Topics of discussion include narrative form, poetics, gendered authorship and readership, and the processes and premises that have given The Tale of Genji its place in "world literature." Attention will also be given to the text's special relationship to visual culture. No knowledge of Japanese required. A previous college-level course in the study of literary texts is recommended but not required.  WR, HU

European Literature since 1800

LITR 214b / FREN 240b / HUMS 201b, The Modern French Novel Alice Kaplan and Maurice Samuels

A survey of major French novels, considering style and story, literary and intellectual movements, and historical contexts. Writers include Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, Camus, and Sartre. Readings in translation. One section conducted in French.  HUTr

* LITR 220b / CZEC 301b / RSEE 300b, Milan Kundera: The Czech Novelist and French Thinker Karen von Kunes

Close reading of Kundera's novels, with analysis of his aesthetics and artistic development. Relationships to French, German, and Spanish literatures and to history, philosophy, music, and art. Topics include paradoxes of public and private life, the irrational in erotic behavior, the duality of body and soul, the interplay of imagination and reality, the function of literary metaphor, and the art of composition. Readings and discussion in English.  HUTr

* LITR 227a / RUSS 333a, The Living Dead in Literature Molly Brunson

A study of ghosts, vampires, cyborgs, animated artworks, and other supernatural beings in Slavic, western European, and American literature and culture. The thematic, historical, and epistemological significance of violating the border between life and death in art. Analysis of novels, short stories, folklore, visual arts, and theoretical texts. Readings and discussion in English.  HU

* LITR 233b / GMAN 415b / HUMS 370b, Büchner: Between Romantic Comedy and Modern Science Rüdiger Campe

Close reading of the work of Georg Büchner (“Woyzzeck,” “Lenz”), romantic poet and founder of anticlassical (anti-Goethe) German literature. The range of Büchner's writings includes comedy, tragedy, psychological case study, political pamphlet, and scientific paper. Particular attention to Büchner’s use of quotation from non-literary sources as means to examine the interrelation between literary, scientific, political, and philosophical discourse. Readings in English and German. Discussion in English.  HU

* LITR 239b / CLCV 216b / MGRK 216b / WGSS 209b, Dionysus in Modernity George Syrimis

Modernity's fascination with the myth of Dionysus. Questions of agency, identity and community, and psychological integrity and the modern constitution of the self. Manifestations of Dionysus in literature, anthropology, and music; the Apollonian-Dionysiac dichotomy; twentieth-century variations of these themes in psychoanalysis, surrealism, and magical realism.  HUTr

* LITR 240a / GMAN 248a / HUMS 236a, Goethe's Faust Kirk Wetters

Goethe's Faust, with special attention to Faust II and to the genesis of Faust in its various versions throughout Goethe's lifetime. Emphasis on the work in context of Goethe's time and in the later reception and criticism. Reading knowledge of German beneficial but not required.  HU

LITR 244a / GMAN 234a, German Fairy Tales Henry Sussman

The influence of German fairy tales on the genre of fiction and on the emergence of psychology, psychoanalysis, and folklore. The fairy tale's relation to romanticism; the importance of childhood sensibility to the fields of education, psychology, criticism, and cybernetics; the expansion of children's literature into new mass media.  HU

LITR 245b / RSEE 254b / RUSS 254b, Novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky Vladimir Alexandrov

Close reading of major novels by two of Russia's greatest authors. Focus on the interrelations of theme, form, and literary-cultural context. Readings and discussion in English.  HU

* LITR 246b / GMAN 376b / HUMS 242b, Twentieth-Century German Fiction Henry Sussman

Introduction to twentieth-century German fiction. Selected readings range from experimental (Walser, Kafka, Roth, Wolf) to classical (Mann, Musil) and from Austrians (Musil), Germans (Mann, Döblin, Wolf), Swiss (Walser), and Austro-Hungarians (Roth). Topics include: modernist improvisation and the turn to language; undercurrents of mystification and superstition in German thought; and radical political instability and cultural exploration under the Weimar Republic  WR, HU

LITR 284a / FREN 270a, Mad Poets of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Thomas Connolly

Nineteenth- and twentieth-century French (and some German) poetry explored through the lives and works of poets whose ways of behaving, creating, and perceiving the world might be described as insane. Authors include Hölderlin, Nerval, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Mallarmé, Lautréamont, Apollinaire, Breton, Artaud, and Celan. Lectures in English; readings available both in original language and in English translation.  WR, HU

* LITR 299a / AFAM 379a / FREN 410a, Colonial Narrative, Postcolonial Counternarrative Christopher Miller

Readings of paradigmatic, colonial era texts that have provoked responses and rewritings from postcolonial writers and filmmakers. In some cases the rewriting is explicit and direct, in other cases the response is more oblique. Both profound differences of perspective and unexpected convergences will emerge. Readings may include: Aimé Césaire’s A Tempest after Shakespeare’s Tempest, Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation after Camus’s The Stranger, and Claire Denis’s film Chocolat after Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy.

Non-European Literature since 1800

LITR 279b / ER&M 209b / VIET 220b, Introduction to Vietnamese Culture, Values, and Literature Quang Phu Van

Introduction to Vietnamese culture and values. Topics include cultural and national identity, aesthetics, the meaning of life, war, and death. Selected readings from Zen poems, folklore, autobiographies, and religious and philosophical writings. Course is taught in English and is an alternative to Western perspectives. Readings in translation. No previous knowledge of Vietnamese required.  HU

* LITR 285b / EALL 286b / HUMS 290b / PORT 360b, The Modern Novel in Brazil and Japan Seth Jacobowitz

Brazilian and Japanese novels from the late nineteenth century to the present. Representative texts from major authors are read in pairs to explore their commonalities and divergences. Topics include nineteenth-century realism and naturalism, the rise of mass culture and the avant-garde, and existentialism and postmodernism. No knowledge of Portuguese or Japanese required.  HU

LITR 286a / PORT 351a, Pessoa, Lispector, Saramago K. David Jackson

Study of works in translation by three contemporary masters in the Portuguese language, Fernando Pessoa, Clarice Lispector, and José Saramago. These authors radically experiment with prose in order to question notions of identity, existence, and meaning.   WR, HU

* LITR 287b / SPAN 387b, The Borges Effect Roberto González Echevarría

Study of the decisive influence of Jorge Luis Borges on literature and literary theory; his recognizable and often acknowledged presence in the work of novelists and short-story writers, as well as in that of philosophers and literary theorists. A Borges "effect" is studied in the works of John Barth, Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Italo Calvino, and Umberto Eco, and in Maurice Blanchot, Michel Foucault, Gérard Genette, and Jacques Derrida, among others. Class discussions in English and readings in English or the French, Spanish or Italian originals.  HU

* LITR 294a / LAST 394a / PORT 394a, World Cities and Narratives K. David Jackson

Study of world cities and selected narratives that describe, belong to, or represent them. Topics range from the rise of the urban novel in European capitals to the postcolonial fictional worlds of major Portuguese, Brazilian, and Spanish American cities. Conducted in English.  WR, HUTr

* LITR 296b / LAST 392b / PORT 392b, Brazil's Modern Art Movement K. David Jackson

A study of Brazilian modernism in literature and the arts, centered on São Paulo's "Modern Art Week" of 1922 from the perspective of the European avant-gardes (cubism, futurism, surrealism). The Cannibal Manifesto and cultural independence from Europe; avant-garde practices in literature and the arts from the 1920s to the construction of Brasília. Reading knowledge of French and Portuguese helpful but not required.  WR, HUTr

Literary Theory and Special Topics

* LITR 306a / FILM 409a / RSEE 327a / RUSS 327a, The Danube in Literature and Film Marijeta Bozovic

The Danube River in the film, art, and literature of various Danubian cultural traditions, from the late nineteenth century to the present. Geography and history of the region that includes the river's shores and watershed; physical, historical, and metaphoric uses of the Danube; the region as a contested multilingual, multicultural, and multinational space, and as a quintessential site of cross-cultural engagement. Readings and discussion in English.  WR, HUTr

* LITR 308b / ER&M 306b / JDST 353b / MMES 308, Literature at the Limit from Palestine and Israel Hannan Hever and Robyn Creswell

Readings and films from post-1948 Palestine and Israel, with special attention given to historical and political contexts. Consideration of the limit, in the geographical sense of borders and checkpoints, as well as in the existential sense of extremity and trauma.  HU

* LITR 309a / LAST 309, Latin American Intellectual Debates Moira Fradinger

Introduction to neo colonial, anti-colonial, and decolonial thought from Latin America, including the Caribbean, over the last two centuries. Study of polemics over the "Idea of America" and foundations of nation-states in nineteenth century leaders such as Bolívar, Martí, and Sarmiento; debates over movement of indigenismo; cultural heterogeneity and mestizaje; movement of negritude; and the question of modernity and postmodernity. Authors include Rodó, Vasconcelos, Zapata, Reyes, de Andrade, Mariátegui, Roumain, Césaire, Fanon, Rama, Retamar, Freire.

* LITR 315a / HUMS 257a, The Concept of Independence Edward King and Lukas Moe

Beginning with The Declaration of Independence, this course moves through the history of independence in both American and postcolonial contexts. It will situate the political meanings of the term alongside its history in art and aesthetics, asking how the concept of independence became central to definitions of art, politics, and identity. Authors include Virginia Woolf, Frantz Fanon, Emily Dickinson, Immanuel Kant, and Nina Simone.  WR, HU

LITR 318b / ENGL 191b / NELC 201b, The Arabian Nights, Then and Now Shawkat Toorawa

Exploration of Arabian Nights, a classic of world literature. Topics include antecedents, themes and later prose, and graphic and film adaptations.  HU

* LITR 319b / ENGL 230b / HUMS 402b, Selfhood, Race, Class, and Gender Ayesha Ramachandran and Marta Figlerowicz

Examination of the fundamental notion of "the self" through categories of race, class, and gender as dimensions for understanding personhood. Introduction to major philosophical frameworks for thinking about "the self" from antiquity to the present; case studies from across the world and in different media, placing contemporary debates about these issues in historical perspective.  HU

* LITR 320a / FILM 368a / HIST 275Ja / MGRK 233a, The Culture of the Cold War in Europe George Syrimis

European culture during and after the Cold War. Focus on the relation of politics and dominant ideologies to their correlative literary and cinematic aesthetics models and to popular culture. Themes include totalitarianism, Eurocommunism, decolonization, espionage, state surveillance, the nuclear threat, sports, and propaganda.  HU

* LITR 322b / ENGL 253b / JDST 341b, Jewish American Poetry Peter Cole

Consideration of American poetry written by Jews and Jewish poetry written by Americans and the relation these poems bear to other American poetry and to the poetry written by Jews elsewhere in the world. Key figures include Emma Lazarus, Gertrude Stein, Moshe Leyb-Halpern, Charles Reznikoff, Louis Zukofsky, Allen Ginsberg, Anthony Hecht, Adrienne Rich, and Harold Bloom. All readings in English.  HU

* LITR 332a / AFAM 340a / AMST 303a / ER&M 320a / LAST 320a, Narratives of Blackness in Latino and Latin America Dixa Ramirez

Focus on the cultural and literary treatments of Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latina/o subjectivity in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Latin America and in the United States through the study of literature, historical first-hand accounts, film, and scholarship produced from the 16th century to the present. Themes include slave insurrections, the plantation system, piracy and buccaneering, the black roots of several Latin American musical genres, miscegenation, and the central role of sexuality in race-based social hierarchies.  WR, HU

* LITR 341a / GMAN 337a / HUMS 240a, Literature of Travel and Tourism Kirk Wetters

A critical, historical introduction to the functions of travel narratives from the late eighteenth century to the present. Topics include travel and autobiography, fiction versus non-fiction, cosmopolitanism, travel as a means of individual experience and education, anthropology, and the contemporary culture of tourism. Focus will be on four works: Ransmayr's Atlas of an Anxious Man (2012), Sebald's ​The Rings of Saturn (1995), Goethe's Italian Journey (1813–1817) and Georg Forster's account of the Cook voyage (1772–1775). Readings and discussions in English.  WR, HUTr

* LITR 342b / JDST 356b, Jewish Literary Masterpieces Hannan Hever

Exploration of the nature of Jewish identity through a literary prism, focusing on novels, stories, poetry, and homilies. Study of texts written over a three thousand year period by Jews living in the Middle East, Europe, and America, from biblical writings through modern works composed by Franz Kafka, Philip Roth, as well as Israeli Literature. Special attention given to the role of gender, minority identities, and the idea of nationalism. Taught in translation, readings in English.  HURP

* LITR 343b / AFAM 343b / AFST 326b / ENGL 231b / JDST 325b, Literatures of Blacks and Jews from the Twentieth Century Andrew Caplan

Comparative study of representative writings by African, Caribbean, and African American authors of the past one hundred years, together with European, American, and South African Jewish authors writing in Yiddish, Hebrew, French, and English. Examination of the paradoxically central role played by minority, or marginal groups, in the creation of modern literature and the articulation of the modern experience.  HU

* LITR 348b / ENGL 456b / HUMS 427b / JDST 316b, The Practice of Literary Translation Peter Cole

Intensive readings in the history and theory of translation paired with practice in translating. Case studies from ancient languages (the Bible, Greek and Latin classics), medieval languages (classical Arabic literature), and modern languages (poetic texts).  HU

* LITR 349b / ENGL 224b / THST 317b, Tragedy and Drama of Reconciliation Jan Hagens

Close reading of dramas of reconciliation from the Western canon that have traditionally been categorized as tragedies. Ways in which the recategorization of such plays lends additional complexity and meaning to their endings and allows for new interpretations of the texts, their authors, and the history of drama.  HU


* LITR 359a / FILM 457a / ITAL 303a, Italian Film from Postwar to Postmodern Millicent Marcus

A study of important Italian films from World War II to the present. Consideration of works that typify major directors and trends. Topics include neorealism, self-reflexivity and metacinema, fascism and war, and postmodernism. Films by Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Wertmuller, Tornatore, and Moretti. Most films in Italian with English subtitles.  WR, HU

* LITR 360a / FILM 363a, Radical Cinemas of Latin America Staff

Introduction to Latin American cinema, with an emphasis on post–World War II films produced in Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Examination of each film in its historical and aesthetic aspects, and in light of questions concerning national cinema and "third cinema." Examples from both pre-1945 and contemporary films. Conducted in English; knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese helpful but not required.  HU

* LITR 361a / FILM 305a, History and Theory of Animation Staff

Survey of the history and theory of animation. Examples from around the world, from various traditions, and from different periods.  HU

* LITR 362b / FILM 346b / GMAN 225b, Intermediality in Film Brigitte Peucker

Film is a hybrid medium, the meeting point of several others. This course focuses on the relationship of film to theater, painting, and video, suggesting that where two media are in evidence, there is usually a third. Topics include space, motion, framing, color, theatricality, tableau vivant, ekphrasis, spectatorship, and new media. Readings feature art historical and film theoretical texts as well as essays pertinent to specific films. Films by Fassbinder, Bergman, von Trier, Jarman, Godard, Haneke, Antonioni, Greenaway and others.  HU

* LITR 368a / FILM 319a / GMAN 273a, The Third Reich in Postwar German Film, 1945-2007 Jan Hagens

Close study of the intersection of aesthetics and ethics with regard to how German films, since 1945, have dealt with Nazi history. Through the study of German-language films (with subtitles), produced in postwar East, West, and unified Germany through 2007, students consider and challenge perspectives on the Third Reich and postwar Germany, while learning basic categories of film studies.  HU

* LITR 380b / FILM 411b, The Films of Alfred Hitchcock Brigitte Peucker

An examination of Hitchcock's career as a filmmaker from Blackmail to Frenzy, with close attention to the wide variety of critical and theoretical approaches to his work. Topics include the status of the image; the representation of the feminine and of the body; spectatorship; painterliness and theatricality; generic and psychoanalytic issues.  HU

Core Seminars

Two seminars are required for Literature majors; nonmajors may be admitted with permission of the instructor.

* LITR 407b / ENGL 206b, Shakespeare and Tragedy David Quint

Examination of Shakespeare's depiction of tragic experience, the alienation of the tragic protagonist both from nature and from the normative ties of culture. Consideration of five major tragedies (Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra), one history (1 Henry IV, Part One), and three major romances (Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, and The Tempest). Readings also include theories of tragedy and tragic thought. Prerequisite: for English majors, ENGL 125 or 126. For Literature majors, LITR 120. The course is open to non-majors, but they will not have first priority.  WR, HU

* LITR 412b / ENGL 426b, Modernism, Empire, World Crisis Joseph Cleary

Drawing on recent scholarship on modernist studies, postcolonial studies, and literary world-systems, this seminar explores how some leading Anglophone writers produced bold new works that engaged with conceptions of European civilizational crisis, the transfer of political power and cultural capital from Europe to the United States, and a rapidly-changing world order. Readings include Pascale Casanova, Alexis de Tocqueville, Henry James, Ford Maddox Ford, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  WR, HU

* LITR 418a / JDST 339a / MMES 418a / RLST 203a, Politics of Modern Hebrew Literature Hannan Hever

Overview of the Poetics, Culture, History and Political dynamics of Modern Hebrew Literature as a national literature over the last 300 years. The course will trace the literary development of its diasporic condition in Europe through the Hebrew Literature that is created in the Israeli Jewish sovereignty. Readings in translation. No background in Jewish literature, Hebrew literature, or Jewish culture is required.  HU

* LITR 426a / ENGL 357a / WGSS 340a, Feminist and Queer Theory Marta Figlerowicz

Historical survey of feminist and queer theory from the Enlightenment to the present, with readings from key British, French, and American works. Focus on the foundations and development of contemporary theory. Shared intellectual origins and concepts, as well as divergences and conflicts, among different ways of approaching gender and sexuality.  WR, HU

* LITR 431b / GMAN 315b / HUMS 243b / PHIL 482b, Systems and Their Theory Henry Sussman

Conceptual systems that have, since the outset of modernity, furnished a format and platform for rigorous thinking at the same time that they have imposed on language the attributes of self-reflexivity, consistency, repetition, purity, and dependability. Texts by Kant, Hegel, Bergson, Kafka, Proust, and Borges.  HU

* LITR 434a / ENGL 205a / HUMS 403a, Interpretations: Versions of Shakespeare's Tempest Lawrence Manley and Emily Greenwood

A study of Shakespeare's Tempest in relation to its ancient and contemporary sources and its extensive influence on literature (poems, drama, fiction, essays), the arts (film, opera, visual arts), and cultural theory from the seventeenth century to the present.  Examples from Europe, The Americas, Africa, and Asia.  HU

* LITR 435a / ER&M 218a / JDST 349a / RLST 228a, Ethnicity, Religion, and Nationality in Modern Jewish Culture Hannan Hever and Eliyahu Stern

Conception and development of cultural identity through the category of “the Jew” in modernity. Investigation of identity politics in modern Europe, the Middle East, and America with consideration of how discourses of colonialism, science, theology, and multiculturalism have determined the perception of self and relation to others.  HUTr

* LITR 436a / GMAN 375a / HUMS 239a, Reading Late Capitalism Henry Sussman

The fate of Marxian literature in view of sociocultural history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Exploration of the parameters and dimensions of Marx's core texts, and pursuit of the fate of such major constructs as the commodity, alienation, class-conflict, and assembly-line manufacture, in the literature, cinema, and theoretical oversight of both centuries. Authors include Flaubert, Zola, Kafka, Lukács, Benjamin, Derrida, Jameson, and Piketty. Previous coursework analyzing elaborate arguments and recognizing different methodological frameworks.  WR, HU

* LITR 439b / GMAN 308b, Rilke and Yeats Carol Jacobs

Close readings of individual works by Rainer Maria Rilke and William Butler Yeats, with an eye to the theoretical implications of their writings.  HUTr

* LITR 488a or b, Directed Reading and/or Individual Research Staff

Special projects in an area of the student's particular interest set up with the help of a faculty adviser and the director of undergraduate studies. Projects must cover material not otherwise offered by the department, must terminate in at least a term paper or its equivalent, and must have the approval of the director of undergraduate studies. Enrollment limited to Literature majors.

Senior Courses

* LITR 491a or b, The Senior Essay Staff

An independent writing and research project. The senior essay is due in the office of the director of undergraduate studies according to the following schedule: (1) by September 2 (for LITR 491a) or January 20 (for LITR 491b), a three-page prospectus signed by the student's adviser; (2) by October 14 (for LITR 491a) or March 10 (for LITR 491b), a full rough draft (not notes); (3) by December 2 (for LITR 491a) or April 14 (for LITR 491b), the completed essay. The minimum length for an essay is twenty-five pages. Students are urged to arrange a topic and adviser early in the term before the term in which the essay is to be written.

* LITR 492a or b and LITR 493a or b, The Yearlong Senior Essay Staff

An extended research project. Students must petition the curriculum committee for permission to enroll by the last day of classes in the term preceding enrollment in LITR 492. For students expecting to graduate in May, the senior essay is due in the office of the director of undergraduate studies according to the following schedule: (1) by September 2, a three-page prospectus signed by the student's adviser; (2) by February 17, a full rough draft (not notes); (3) by April 14, the completed essay. December graduates should consult the director of undergraduate studies for required deadlines. The minimum length for a yearlong senior essay is forty pages.