Comparative Literature

Humanities Quadrangle, 3rd floor, 203.432.2760
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D.

Martin Hägglund

Director of Graduate Studies
Robyn Creswell

Professors Rüdiger Campe, Katerina Clark, Martin Hägglund, Hannan Hever, Pericles Lewis, Shawkat Toorawa, Katie Trumpener, Jing Tsu, Jane Tylus, Jesús Velasco

Associate Professors Robyn Creswell, Marta Figlerowicz, Moira Fradinger, Ayesha Ramachandran

Assistant Professor Samuel Hodgkin

Lecturer Peter Cole

Emeritus Dudley Andrew, Peter Brooks, Peter Demetz, Carol Jacobs, Rainer Nägele, David Quint

Affiliated faculty R. Howard Bloch (French), Francesco Casetti (Film and Media Studies), Michael Denning (American Studies), Alice Kaplan (French), Tina Lu (East Asian Languages and Literatures), John MacKay (Slavic Languages and Literatures), Maurice Samuels (French), Ruth Bernard Yeazell (English)

Fields of Study

The Department of Comparative Literature introduces students to the study and understanding of literature beyond linguistic or national boundaries; the theory, interpretation, and criticism of literature; and its interactions with adjacent fields like visual and material culture, linguistics, film, psychology, law, and philosophy. The comparative perspective invites the exploration of such transnational phenomena as literary or cultural periods and trends (Renaissance, Romanticism, Modernism, postcolonialism) or genres and modes of discourse. Students may specialize in any cultures or languages, to the extent that they are sufficiently covered at Yale. The Ph.D. degree qualifies candidates to teach comparative literature as well as the national literature(s) of their specialization.

Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

Students must successfully complete fourteen term courses, including the departmental proseminar (CPLT 515) and at least six further courses listed under the departmental heading. The student’s overall schedule must fulfill the following requirements: (1) at least one course in medieval or classical European literature, philology, or linguistics (or their equivalents in other cultures); one course in the Renaissance or Baroque (or equivalents); and one course in the modern period; (2) three courses in literary theory or methodology; (3) at least one course each in poetry, narrative fiction, and drama; (4) course work that deals with texts from three literatures, one of which may be English or American; and (5) a substantive focus on one or two national or language-based literatures. Any course may be counted for several requirements simultaneously.

In their fourth term, students must submit a revised seminar paper, selected in consultation with the DGS, no later than April 1. These papers will be circulated to all members of the faculty. The DGS will assign the paper to one faculty member who will write a short evaluation, shared with the student, focused on the questions of whether it shows an ability to: (a) write clearly; (b) conduct independent research at a high level; and (c) develop coherent scholarly arguments.

Languages Literary proficiency in four languages (including English, at least one other modern language, and one classical or ancient language, such as Latin, Greek, Biblical Hebrew, Classical Arabic, Classical Chinese, Provençal). The fulfillment of this requirement will be demonstrated by a written exam consisting of a translation of a literary or critical text, to be held by the end of the sixth term; or by an equivalent level in the student’s course work.

Orals An oral examination to be taken in the third year of studies, demonstrating both the breadth and specialization as well as the comparative scope of the student’s acquired knowledge. The examination consists of six topics that include texts from at least three national literatures and several historical periods (at least one modern and one before the Renaissance). The texts discussed should also include representatives of the three traditional literary genres (poetry, drama, narrative fiction).

Having passed the orals, the student will identify a dissertation committee of three members, at least one of whom must belong to the department’s core or affiliate faculty.

Prospectus The dissertation prospectus will be submitted to the DGS by April 1 of the student’s sixth term, after having been reviewed and approved by the student’s dissertation committee. A standing faculty committee will hold a conference with the student before the end of the term. Any revisions required by that committee must be submitted before the beginning of the student’s fourth year.

Ph.D. dissertation After submission of the prospectus, the student’s time is devoted mainly to the dissertation, which completes the degree. It is expected that students will periodically pass their work along to members of their dissertation committee. The first chapter must be submitted to the committee by February 1 of the fourth year of study, followed by a chapter conference before the end of that year.

Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. is granted after six terms of residence and the completion of all requirements (courses, languages, orals, prospectus) except the dissertation and teaching.

Teaching Training in teaching, through teaching fellowships, is an important part of every student’s program. Normally students will teach in their third and fourth years.

Combined Ph.D. Programs

Comparative Literature and Classics

Coursework Students concentrating in Comparative Literature and
 Classics are required to complete fourteen graduate term courses (including the proseminars in Classics and in Comparative Literature). In Classics, at least seven courses, including the Classics proseminar, four courses (two yearlong sequences) in the history of Greek and Latin literature (usually taken in successive years, each to be followed by the respective oral in that field), and two 800-level Classics seminars. In Comparative Literature, the departmental proseminar and at least five further Comparative Literature courses, including at least four courses in postclassical European literature. The course work across the two programs should also include at least two courses in literary theory or methodology, and at least one course each in poetry, narrative fiction, and drama. At least two courses, excluding directed readings, need to receive the grade of Honors. At least twelve of the fourteen required courses are to be taken in the first two years; the last two, which must be Classics 800-level seminars, are to be taken in the third year, normally one in each term, as necessary.

Languages To assess each student’s proficiency and progress in both key languages, two diagnostic sight translation examinations each in Greek and Latin are to be taken before the beginning of the first and third terms. Literary proficiency in German and one other modern language must be passed by the end of the second year. Literary proficiency in English, Greek, and Latin must be demonstrated by course work.

Orals Classics: oral examinations in Greek and Latin literature, based on the Classics Ph.D. reading list. These are to be taken closely following the surveys in the respective literatures, as follows: the first, at the end of the second term (May of the first year), the second at the end of the fourth term (May of the second year). By the end of the fifth term, translation examinations in Greek and Latin literature, based on the Classics Ph.D. reading list. Comparative Literature: oral examination (six topics appropriate to both disciplines, balancing a range of kinds of topics and including poetry, narrative fiction, and drama, and at least one significant cluster of postclassical texts), to be taken by the middle of the sixth term, usually in mid-January. Lists will be worked out with individual examiners, primarily under the guidance of the Comparative Literature DGS, but also with the approval of the Classics DGS, and must be submitted by the end of the fourth term. One of the topics studied will be relevant to the student’s planned dissertation topic.

Prospectus and dissertation The prospectus must be approved by the DGS in each department (and by the Comparative Literature prospectus committee) by the end of the sixth term in residence. At least one dissertation director must come from the Comparative Literature core faculty. At the end of each term, each dissertation student will presubmit, then discuss their work in progress in a Classics “chapter colloquium” discussion with interested faculty.

Comparative Literature and Early Modern Studies

The Department of Comparative Literature offers, in conjunction with the Early Modern Studies Program, a combined Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Early Modern Studies. For further details, see Early Modern Studies.

Comparative Literature and Film and Media Studies

Applicants to the combined program must indicate on their application that they are applying both to the program in Film and Media Studies and to Comparative Literature. All documentation within the application should include this information.

Coursework Students in the combined program are required to complete fifteen graduate term courses. In Comparative Literature, the proseminar and at least five further courses, including at least one course in literary theory or methodology beyond the pro­seminar; at least one course each in poetry, narrative fiction, and drama; two courses before 1900, including at least one before 1800; a wide range of courses with a focus on one or two national or language-based literatures; and at least two courses with the grade of Honors. In Film and Media Studies, two core seminars (FILM 601 and FILM 603) and four additional seminars.

Languages At least two languages (besides English) with excellent reading ability (normally one of these languages is French).

Orals By October 1 of the third year, students must have fulfilled an assignment related to foundational texts and films. During this third year they must also pass the six-field Comparative Literature oral examination, with at least one examiner from the core Comparative Literature faculty; at least three fields involving literary topics, and readings including poetry, fiction, and drama; the other topics may be on film or film-related subjects; some lists may combine film and literature.

Prospectus and dissertation At least one dissertation director must be from Comparative Literature and at least one from Film and Media Studies (in some cases, a single adviser may fulfill both roles). The prospectus must be approved by the Comparative Literature subcommittee and ratified by the Film and Media Studies Executive Committee. The dissertation must pass a presubmission defense of method (with at least one examiner from the graduate Film and Media Studies committee, and at least one member from Comparative Literature).

Master’s Degrees

M.Phil. See Degree Requirements under Policies and Regulations.

M.A. Students who withdraw from the Ph.D. program may be eligible to receive the M.A. degree if they have met the requirements and have not already received the M.Phil. degree. For the M.A., students must successfully complete ten courses with at least two grades of Honors and a maximum of three grades of Pass and the demonstration of proficiency in two of the languages, ancient or modern, through course work or departmental examinations. Candidates in combined programs will be awarded the M.A. only when the master’s degree requirements for both programs have been met.

Program materials are available upon request to the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Comparative Literature, Yale University, PO Box 208251, New Haven CT 06520-8251, or


CPLT 504a, Proseminar in Translation StudiesMarijeta Bozovic

This graduate proseminar combines a historically minded introduction to Translation Studies as a field with a survey of its interdisciplinary possibilities. The proseminar is composed of several units (Histories of Translation; Geographies of Translation; Scandals of Translation), each with a different approach or set of concerns, affording the students multiple points of entry to the field. The Translation Studies coordinator provides the intellectual through-line from week to week, while incorporating a number of guest lectures by Yale faculty and other invited speakers to expose students to current research and practice in different disciplines. The capstone project is a conference paper-length contribution of original academic research. Additional assignments throughout the term include active participation in and contributions to intellectual programming in the Translation Initiative.
Th 9:25am-11:15am

CPLT 510a / GMAN 604a, The Mortality of the Soul: From Aristotle to HeideggerMartin Hagglund

This course explores fundamental philosophical questions of the relation between matter and form, life and spirit, necessity and freedom, by proceeding from Aristotle’s analysis of the soul in De Anima and his notion of practical agency in the Nicomachean Ethics. We study Aristotle in conjunction with seminal works by contemporary neo-Aristotelian philosophers (Korsgaard, Nussbaum, Brague, and McDowell). We in turn pursue the implications of Aristotle’s notion of life by engaging with contemporary philosophical discussions of death that take their point of departure in Epicurus (Nagel, Williams, Scheffler). We conclude by analyzing Heidegger’s notion of constitutive mortality, in order to make explicit what is implicit in the form of the soul in Aristotle.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 525b / EALL 530b / EAST 542b, Poetry and Ethics Amidst Imperial CollapseLucas Bender

Du Fu has for the last millennium been considered China’s greatest poet. Close study of nearly one-sixth of his complete works, contextualized by selections from the tradition that defined the art in his age. Exploration of the roles literature plays in interpreting human lives and the ways different traditional forms shape different ethical orientation. Poetry as a vehicle for moral reflection. All readings are in English.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 547a / GMAN 515a, Zählen und Erzählen: On the Relation Between Mathematics and LiteratureAnja LEMKE

Mathematical and literary practices of signs have numerous connections, and despite current debates on digital humanities, algorithm and the “end of the book”, the relation between calculus and writing can be traced back to around 3000 BC, when the graphé was split up into figure and character. The seminar explores this relationship by focusing on four different fields, which can be discussed separately but do exhibit numerous overlappings: a) Leibniz’ invention of infinitesimal calculus and its relation to the idea of narration from the Baroque to romanticism through to the twentieth century novel, (b) the relation between probability calculus, statistics, and novel writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, (c) the role of cypher for aesthetic and poetic questions starting with Schiller’s Letters on the esthetic education of men, to Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, and Jenny Erpenpeck’s The old child, and (d) the economic impact of computation on poetic concepts, e.g. the role of double entry bookkeeping or models of circulation in romantic theories of money and signs. We discuss Leibniz’ Theodizee, texts on the infinitesimal calculus and his concept of an ars combinatoria, novels like The Fortunatus, Novalis’s Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Stifter’s “The gentle law”, Gustav Freiytag’s Debit and Credit, and Musil’s Man without content, Novalis’s notes on mathematical questions of his time, and economic texts such as Adam Müller’s Attempt on a theory of money.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 549a / RUSS 609a, Memory and Memoir in Russian CultureJinyi Chu

How do we remember and forget? How does memory transform into narrative? Why do we read and write memoirs and autobiography? What can they tell us about the past? How do we analyze the roles of the narrator, the author, and the protagonist? How should we understand the ideological tensions between official historiography and personal reminiscences, especially in twentieth-century Russia? This course aims to answer these questions through close readings of a few cultural celebrities’ memoirs and autobiographical writings that are also widely acknowledged as the best representatives of twentieth-century Russian prose. Along the way, we read literary texts in dialogue with theories of memory, historiography, and narratology. Students acquire the theoretical apparatus that will enable them to analyze the complex ideas, e.g., cultural memory and trauma, historicity and narrativity, and fiction and nonfiction. Students acquire an in-depth knowledge of the major themes of twentieth-century Russian history—e.g., empire, revolution, war, Stalinism, and exilic experience—as well as increased skills in the analysis of literary texts. Students with knowledge of Russian are encouraged to read in the original. All readings are available in English.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 555a / ENGL 535a / MDVL 535a, Postcolonial Middle AgesMarcel Elias

This course explores the intersections and points of friction between postcolonial studies and medieval studies. We discuss key debates in postcolonialism and medievalists’ contributions to those debates. We also consider postcolonial scholarship that has remained outside the purview of medieval studies. The overall aim is for students, in their written and oral contributions, to expand the parameters of medieval postcolonialism. Works by critics including Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, Leela Gandhi, Lisa Lowe, Robert Young, and Priyamvada Gopal are read alongside medieval romances, crusade and jihād poetry, travel literature, and chronicles.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 606a / FREN 945a / SPAN 845a, Introduction to Digital Humanities I: Architectures of KnowledgeAlexander Gil Fuentes

The cultural record of humanity is undergoing a massive and epochal transformation into shared analog and digital realities. While we are vaguely familiar with the history and realities of the analog record—libraries, archives, historical artifacts—the digital cultural record remains largely unexamined and relatively mysterious to humanities scholars. In this course students are introduced to the broad field of digital humanities, theory and practice, through a stepwise exploration of the new architectures and genres of scholarly and humanistic production and reproduction in the twenty-first century. The course combines a seminar, preceded by a brief lecture, and a digital studio. Every week we move through our discussions in tandem with hands-on exercises that serve to illuminate our readings and help students gain a measure of computational proficiency useful in humanities scholarship. Students learn about the basics of plain text, file and operating systems, data structures and internet infrastructure. Students also learn to understand, produce, and evaluate a few popular genres of digital humanities, including, digital editions of literary or historical texts, collections and exhibits of primary sources and interactive maps. Finally, and perhaps the most important lesson of the term, students learn to collaborate with each other on a common research project. No prior experience is required.
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 610a / GMAN 701a / PLSC 601a / SOCY 701a, Theories of Freedom: Schelling and HegelPaul North

In 1764 Immanuel Kant noted in the margin of one of his published books that evil was “the subjection of one being under the will of another,” a sign that good was coming to mean freedom. But what is freedom? Starting with early reference to Kant, we study two major texts on freedom in post-Kantian German Idealism, Schelling's 1809 Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom and Related Objects and Hegel's 1820 Elements of the Philosophy of Right.
M 3:30pm-6:30pm

CPLT 612a / EALL 588a / EAST 616a / RSEE 605a / RUSS 605a, Socialist '80s: Aesthetics of Reform in China and the Soviet UnionJinyi Chu

This course offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of the complex cultural and political paradigms of late socialism from a transnational perspective by focusing on the literature, cinema, and popular culture of the Soviet Union and China in 1980s. How were intellectual and everyday life in the Soviet Union and China distinct from and similar to that of the West of the same era? How do we parse “the cultural logic of late socialism?” What can today’s America learn from it? Examining two major socialist cultures together in a global context, this course queries the ethnographic, ideological, and socio-economic constituents of late socialism. Students analyze cultural materials in the context of Soviet and Chinese history. Along the way, we explore themes of identity, nationalism, globalization, capitalism, and the Cold War. Students with knowledge of Russian and Chinese are encouraged to read in original. All readings are available in English.
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 617a / GMAN 531a, The Short Spring of German TheoryKirk Wetters

Reconsideration of the intellectual microclimate of German academia 1945–1968. A German prelude to the internationalization effected by French theory, often in dialogue with German sources. Following Philipp Felsch's The Summer of Theory (English 2022): Theory as hybrid and successor to philosophy and sociology. Theory as the genre of the philosophy of history and grand narratives (e.g. secularization). Theory as the basis of academic interdisciplinarity and cultural-political practice. The canonization and aging of theoretical classics. Critical reflection on academia now and then. Legacies of the inter-War period and the Nazi past: M. Weber, Heidegger, Husserl, Benjamin, Kracauer, Adorno, Jaspers. New voices of the 1950s and 1960s: Arendt, Blumenberg, Gadamer, Habermas, Jauss, Koselleck, Szondi, Taubes. German reading and some prior familiarity with European intellectual history will be helpful but not essential.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 622a / AMST 622a and AMST 623b, Working Group on Globalization and CultureMichael Denning

A continuing yearlong collective research project, a cultural studies “laboratory.” The group, drawing on several disciplines, meets regularly to discuss common readings, develop collective and individual research projects, and present that research publicly. The general theme for the working group is globalization and culture, with three principal aspects: (1) the globalization of cultural industries and goods, and its consequences for patterns of everyday life as well as for forms of fiction, film, broadcasting, and music; (2) the trajectories of social movements and their relation to patterns of migration, the rise of global cities, the transformation of labor processes, and forms of ethnic, class, and gender conflict; (3) the emergence of and debates within transnational social and cultural theory. The specific focus, projects, and directions of the working group are determined by the interests, expertise, and ambitions of the members of the group, and change as its members change. The working group is open to doctoral students in their second year and beyond. Graduate students interested in participating should contact
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 632a / FILM 861a, Literature and Film of World War II: Homefront NarrativesKatie Trumpener

Taking a pan-European perspective, this course examines quotidian, civilian experiences of war, during a conflict of unusual scope and duration. Considering key works of wartime and postwar fiction and film alongside verbal and visual diaries, memoirs, documentaries, and video testimonies, we will explore the kinds of literary and filmic reflection war occasioned, how civilians experienced the relationship between history and everyday life (both during and after the war), women’s and children's experience of war, and the ways that home front, occupation and Holocaust memories shaped postwar avant-garde aesthetics.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm, M 7pm-10pm

CPLT 644a / JDST 862a, The Betrayal of the IntellectualsHannan Hever

The target of the seminar is to clarify the concept of the intellectual and its political and literary uses during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The point of departure is Julien Benda’s influential book, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals (1927). Benda defines two kinds of intellectuals: the particularists, who are specifically committed to country, party, and economic issues—later thought of as the arena of “identity politics”—and the universalists, committed to more general humanist values. What makes one an intellectual? Does becoming an intellectual depend on specific historical, social, cultural, literary, and political conditions? Is being an intellectual a matter of “talking truth to power” in accordance with universalist values? The course looks at a variety of definitions of what constitutes an intellectual, based on approaches such as Benda’s notion of the betrayal of the particularist intellectual, or postcolonial intellectualism. The course then looks at the specificity of intellectualism as it appears in certain contexts through readings from Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jean-Paul Sartre, George Orwell, Naguib Mahfouz, Frantz Fanon, Eleanor Roosevelt, James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Martin Buber, Edward Said, Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Toni Morrison. Open to undergraduates with permission of the instructor.
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 646a / EMST 546a / ENGL 723a / GMAN 646a, Rise of the European NovelRudiger Campe and Katie Trumpener

In the eighteenth century, the novel became a popular literary form in many parts of Europe. Yet now-standard narratives of its “rise” often offer a temporally and linguistically foreshortened view. This seminar examines key early modern novels in a range of European languages, centered on the dialogue between highly influential eighteenth-century British and French novels (Montesquieu, Defoe, Sterne, Diderot, Laclos, Edgeworth). We begin by considering a sixteenth-century Spanish picaresque life history (Lazarillo de Tormes) and Madame de Lafayette’s seventeenth-century secret history of French court intrigue; contemplate a key sentimental Goethe novella; and end with Romantic fiction (an Austen novel, a Kleist novella, Pushkin’s historical novel fragment). These works raise important issues about cultural identity and historical experience, the status of women (including as readers and writers), the nature of society, the vicissitudes of knowledge—and novelistic form. We also examine several major literary-historical accounts of the novel’s generic evolution, audiences, timing, and social function, and historiographical debates about the novel’s rise (contrasting English-language accounts stressing the novel’s putatively British genesis, and alternative accounts sketching a larger European perspective). The course gives special emphasis to the improvisatory, experimental character of early modern novels, as they work to reground fiction in the details and reality of contemporary life. Many epistolary, philosophical, sentimental, and Gothic novels present themselves as collections of “documents”—letters, diaries, travelogues, confessions—carefully assembled, impartially edited, and only incidentally conveying stories as well as information. The seminar explores these novels’ documentary ambitions; their attempt to touch, challenge, and change their readers; and their paradoxical influence on “realist” conventions (from the emergence of omniscient, impersonal narrators to techniques for describing time and place).
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 660a / NELC 618a, Writing MuslimsShawkat Toorawa

We read and enjoy the works of Leila Aboulela, Nadia Davids, Aisha Gawad, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Manzu Islam, Sorayya Khan, Laila Lalami, Hisham Matar and others, and such films as My Beautiful Laundrette, Surviving Sabu, and Ae Fond Kiss, paying special attention to articulations of displacement, faith, history, identity, and memory. We try to develop an understanding of how the “diasporic” or “expatriate” Muslim writes herself, her world, and her condition. All material in English.  Prerequisite: Undergraduates need instructor's permission to register for this course.
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 689a / E&RS 629a / RSEE 613a / RUSS 613a / SLAV 613a, Art and Resistance in Belarus, Russia, and UkraineStaff

This interdisciplinary seminar is devoted to the study of protest art as part of the struggle of society against authoritarianism and totalitarianism. It focuses on the example of the Soviet and post-Soviet transformation of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. The period under discussion begins after the death of Stalin in 1953 and ends with the art of protest against the modern post-Soviet dictatorships of Alexander Lukashenka in Belarus and Vladimir Putin in Russia, the protest art of the Ukrainian Maidan, and the anti-war movement of artists against the Russian-Ukrainian war. The course begins by looking at the influence of the “Khrushchev Thaw” on literature and cinema, which opened the way for protest art to a wide Soviet audience. We explore different approaches to protest art in conditions of political unfreedom: “nonconformism,” “dissidence,” “mimicry,” “rebellion.” The course investigates the existential conflict of artistic freedom and the political machine of authoritarianism. These themes are explored at different levels through specific examples from the works and biographies of artists. Students immerse themselves in works of different genres: films, songs, performances, plays, and literary works.
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 802b / EALL 804b / ENGL 804b, Transpacific Performance in the Cold WarRosa van Hensbergen

During the Cold War, interdisciplinary artists were crisscrossing the pacific between Japan and the US, presenting their works in exhibitions, participating in performance festivals, and engaging in experimental collaborations. These crossings and crossovers took place with varying degrees of state involvement as the US government worked to promote its version of American culture abroad. In this course, we discover a series of transpacific performances and events against the backdrop of Cold War cultural politics, from collaborations between Japanese modern dancers and American jazz musicians in the early 60s to immersive works of Japanese video art presented in New York in the 90s. The rare archival and print materials that form an essential component of this course are made available in English. Japanese and other relevant language specialisms are welcome though not required, as are comparative and creative approaches. An aim of this course is to work closely together to produce a publishable or performable piece of work—critical or creative—related to your future research and career ambitions. For those wishing to work with Japanese-language materials, please contact the instructor directly to organize additional Japanese-language workshops.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 822b / AMST 623b, Working Group on Globalization and CultureMichael Denning

A continuing yearlong collective research project, a cultural studies “laboratory.” The group, drawing on several disciplines, meets regularly to discuss common readings, develop collective and individual research projects, and present that research publicly. The general theme for the working group is globalization and culture, with three principal aspects: (1) the globalization of cultural industries and goods, and its consequences for patterns of everyday life as well as for forms of fiction, film, broadcasting, and music; (2) the trajectories of social movements and their relation to patterns of migration, the rise of global cities, the transformation of labor processes, and forms of ethnic, class, and gender conflict; (3) the emergence of and debates within transnational social and cultural theory. The specific focus, projects, and directions of the working group are determined by the interests, expertise, and ambitions of the members of the group, and change as its members change. There are a small number of openings for second-year graduate students. Students interested in participating should contact
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 889a / AFST 889a / ENGL 889a, Postcolonial EcologiesCajetan Iheka

This seminar examines the intersections of postcolonialism and ecocriticism as well as the tensions between these conceptual nodes, with readings drawn from across the global South. Topics of discussion include colonialism, development, resource extraction, globalization, ecological degradation, nonhuman agency, and indigenous cosmologies. The course is concerned with the narrative strategies affording the illumination of environmental ideas. We begin by engaging with the questions of postcolonial and world literature and return to these throughout the semester as we read primary texts, drawn from Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. We consider African ecologies in their complexity from colonial through post-colonial times. In the unit on the Caribbean, we take up the transformations of the landscape from slavery, through colonialism, and the contemporary era. Turning to Asian spaces, the seminar explores changes brought about by modernity and globalization as well as the effects on both humans and nonhumans. Readings include the writings of Zakes Mda, Aminatta Forna, Helon Habila, Derek Walcott, Jamaica Kincaid, Ishimure Michiko, and Amitav Ghosh. The course prepares students to respond to key issues in postcolonial ecocriticism and the environmental humanities, analyze the work of the major thinkers in the fields, and examine literary texts and other cultural productions from a postcolonial perspective. Course participants have the option of selecting from a variety of final projects. Students can craft an original essay that analyzes primary text from a postcolonial and/or ecocritical perspective. Such work should aim at producing new insight on a theoretical concept and/or the cultural text. They can also produce an undergraduate syllabus for a course at the intersection of postcolonialism and environmentalism or write a review essay discussing three recent monographs focused on postcolonial ecocriticism.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

CPLT 899b / FREN 893b, Realism and NaturalismMaurice Samuels

This seminar interrogates the nineteenth-century French Realist and Naturalist novel in light of various efforts to define its practice. How does critical theory constitute Realism as a category? How does Realism articulate the aims of theory? And how do nineteenth-century Realist and Naturalist novels intersect with other discourses besides the literary? In addition to several works by Balzac, novels to be studied include Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir, Sand’s Indiana, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Zola’s Nana. Some attention also paid to Realist painting. Reading knowledge of French required.
Th 9:25am-11:15am

CPLT 904a / FILM 617a / FREN 875a / GMAN 617a / SPAN 901a, Psychoanalysis: Key Conceptual Differences between Freud and Lacan IMoira Fradinger

This is the first section of a year-long seminar (second section: CPLT 914) designed to introduce the discipline of psychoanalysis through primary sources, mainly from the Freudian and Lacanian corpuses but including late twentieth-century commentators and contemporary interdisciplinary conversations. We rigorously examine key psychoanalytic concepts that students have heard about but never had the chance to study. Students gain proficiency in what has been called “the language of psychoanalysis,” as well as tools for critical practice in disciplines such as literary criticism, political theory, film studies, gender studies, theory of ideology, psychology medical humanities, etc. We study concepts such as the unconscious, identification, the drive, repetition, the imaginary, fantasy, the symbolic, the real, and jouissance. A central goal of the seminar is to disambiguate Freud's corpus from Lacan's reinvention of it. We do not come to the “rescue” of Freud. We revisit essays that are relevant for contemporary conversations within the international psychoanalytic community. We include only a handful of materials from the Anglophone schools of psychoanalysis developed in England and the US. This section pays special attention to Freud's “three” (the ego, superego, and id) in comparison to Lacan's “three” (the imaginary, the symbolic, and the real). CPLT 914 devotes, depending on the interests expressed by the group, the last six weeks to special psychoanalytic topics such as sexuation, perversion, psychosis, anti-asylum movements, conversations between psychoanalysis and neurosciences and artificial intelligence, the current pharmacological model of mental health, and/or to specific uses of psychoanalysis in disciplines such as film theory, political philosophy, and the critique of ideology. Apart from Freud and Lacan, we will read work by Georges Canguilhem, Roman Jakobson, Victor Tausk, Émile Benveniste, Valentin Volosinov, Guy Le Gaufey, Jean Laplanche, Étienne Balibar, Roberto Esposito, Wilfred Bion, Félix Guattari, Markos Zafiropoulos, Franco Bifo Berardi, Barbara Cassin, Renata Salecl, Maurice Godelier, Alenka Zupančič, Juliet Mitchell, Jacqueline Rose, Norbert Wiener, Alan Turing, Eric Kandel, and Lera Boroditsky among others. No previous knowledge of psychoanalysis is needed. Starting out from basic questions, we study how psychoanalysis, arguably, changed the way we think of human subjectivity. Graduate students from all departments and schools on campus are welcome. The final assignment is due by the end of the spring term and need not necessarily take the form of a twenty-page paper. Taught in English. Materials can be provided to cover the linguistic range of the group.
T 3:30pm-5:20pm

CPLT 917a / ENGL 920a / FILM 601a, Foundations of Film and MediaJohn MacKay

The course sets in place some undergirding for students who want to anchor their film interest to the professional discourse of this field. A coordinated set of topics in film theory is interrupted first by the often discordant voice of history and second by the obtuseness of the films examined each week. Films themselves take the lead in our discussions.
M 9:25am-11:15am, M 7pm-10pm

CPLT 925b, The Practice of Literary TranslationPeter 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).
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

CPLT 929b / ENGL 929 / FILM 651b, Film and Fiction in InteractionDudley Andrew

Beyond adaptations of complex fiction (Henry James, James Joyce) literature may underlie “original” film masterpieces (Rules of the Game, Voyage to Italy). What about the reverse? Famous novelists moonlighted in the film world (Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene). Others developed styles in contact with cinema (Marguerite Duras, Eileen Chang, Kazuo Ishiguro). Today are these art forms evolving in parallel and in parity under new cultural conditions?

CPLT 958a / AFAM 867a / EMST 667a / ER&M 677a / SPAN 867a, Black Iberia: Then and NowNicholas Jones

This graduate seminar examines the variety of artistic, cultural, historical, and literary representations of black Africans and their descendants—both enslaved and free—across the vast stretches of the Luso-Hispanic world and the United States. Taking a chronological frame, the course begins its study of Blackness in medieval and early modern Iberia and its colonial kingdoms. From there, we examine the status of Blackness conceptually and ideologically in Asia, the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. Toward the end of the semester, we concentrate on black Africans by focusing on Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan African immigration in present-day Portugal and Spain, and the politics of Afro-Latinx culture and its identity politics in the United States. Throughout the term, we interrogate the following topics in order to guide our class discussions and readings: bondage and enslavement, fugitivity and maroonage, animal imageries and human-animal studies, geography and maps, Black Feminism and Black Queer Studies, material and visual cultures (e.g., beauty ads, clothing, cosmetics, food, Blackface performance, royal portraiture, reality TV, and music videos), the Inquisition and African diasporic religions, and dispossession and immigration. Our challenging task remains the following: to see how Blackness conceptually and experientially is subversively fluid and performative, yet deceptive and paradoxical. This course will be taught in English, with all materials available in the original (English, Portuguese, Spanish) and in English translation.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm