Comparative Literature Courses - Spring 2021

Comparative Literature Courses - Spring 2021

>Jump to Undergraduate Courses
>Jump to Graduate Courses

Undergraduate Courses

COM 001 sec 001- Major Books-Ancient World
Instructor: Colin Rankin

Description: See catalog

COM 001 sec 002 - Major Books-Ancient World
Instructor: Manas Rajagopalan

"May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, For your love is better than wine." (Song of Songs 1.2)

What does it mean to speak of Love? How is love composed? How does it manifest? In this course, we will explore some of these questions. As the most volatile of emotions, the universality of love as an emotion is complicated by its rendition in particular, and highly localized literary works. Even as we appreciate the familiarity of the emotion in all its colors, can we approach a formulation of its poetic quality? Through examination and critical reading of classic texts from the ancient world, we will attempt to articulate our own understanding(s) of how love is written and imagined. 

COM 002 sec 001 - Major Books-Mid Ages to English
Instructor: Nick Talbott

Description: See catalog

COM 002 sec 002 - Major Books-Mid Ages to English
Instructor: Tianya Wang

Description: See catalog

COM 003 sec 001 - Major Books Modern Crisis
Instructor: Ross Hernandez

Description: See catalog

COM 003 sec 002 - Major Books Modern Crisis
Instructor: Liliya Galenkova-Riggs

Description: See catalog

COM 004 sec 001 - Major Books Contemporary World
Instructor: Brian Young

Description: See catalog

COM 004 sec 002 - Major Books Contemporary World
Instructor: J. Shaarawi

Description: See catalog

COM 004 sec 003 - Major Books Contemporary World
Instructor: N. Shy

Description: See catalog

COM 004 sec 004 - Major Books Contemporary World
Instructor: Jeremy Konick-Seese

Description: See catalog

COM 005 - Fairy Tales Fable Parable (Sections 1-6)
Lecturer Miri Nakamura

This course is an introduction to the genres of fables, parables, and fairy tales. We will explore both the older folklore versions of these classic tales, as well as examine their modern adaptations, including visual culture (graphic novel, animation, and film). The main questions this course investigates are: What lessons do these tales reveal about their sociohistorical period, human psychology, gender discourse, etc.? What makes these classic tales adaptable and popular even today?

●     To introduce the genres of fables, parables, and fairy tales from various cultures and periods

●     To teach students the main theoretical approaches to these texts

●     To hone the skills of literary analysis and critical thinking

●     To teach students how to write analytical, academic writing

 GE credits:  Arts & Humanities, World Cultures, Writing Experience

COM 007 - Literature of Fantasy & Supernatural (Sections 1-6)
Prof. Stefan Uhlig

This course explores how literary texts (not least compared with other artworks) deal with subjects and experiences that are too strange to fit conventional storylines. If fiction is made up of statements that are neither true nor simply false, the realm of fantasy provides a test case for what literature can do. In other words: how can texts represent improbable, even impossible, events and still not lose our interest – let alone persuade us that they know things we do not, and that they are hence worth reading carefully? We focus on a few exceptionally imaginative texts alongside works in other media they have inspired (movies, opera, or dance). These works do not reassure us with their sense of what is real, or even plausible – instead, they ask us to rethink our ways of mapping and experiencing the world. Excerpts from works in other media will include: Max Reinhardt, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) / John Neumeier, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1977) / Dieter Dorn, Faust (1988) / Jacques Offenbach, The Tales of Hoffmann (1881) / Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo (1958) / Walt Disney, Alice in Wonderland (1951) / Peter Capaldi, Franz Kafka’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1993).


Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, ed. Peter Hunt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

E. T. A. Hoffmann, The Golden Pot and Other Tales, trans. Ritchie Robertson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: Part One, trans. David Luke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, trans. Stanley Corngold (Modern Library Classics, 2013)

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ed. Peter Holland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Dover Publications, 1993)


COM 010H - Master Authors (Sections 1 & 2)
Magnus Snaebjoernsson

COM 110 - Hong Kong Cinema (Film & Lecture)
Prof. Sheldon Lu

Weekly screening: remote.

Course Description: This course is a study of the cinema of Hong Kong, a cultural crossroads between East and West. Students examine the history, genres, styles, stars, and major directors of Hong Kong cinema in reference to the city's multi-linguistic, colonial, and postcolonial environment. The course pays special attention to Hong Kong cinema's interactions with and influences on other filmic traditions such as Hollywood and Asian cinema. Topics will include: characteristics of Hong Kong cinema as a local, regional, and global cinema; historical evolution of film genres and styles; major directors and stars; film adaptation of literary works about Hong Kong; Hong Kong cinema's international influence.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement, upper division standing or consent of instructor ( <>).

GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, Visual Literacy, World Cultures and Writing Experience.

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Film Viewing - 3 hours.

Textbooks: There are two required reading materials, each of which has their method of access listed beneath them:

1. David Bordwell, Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment [2nd Edition] (Irvington Way Institute Press, 2011)
The Bordwell text is available only as an Adobe PDF file at <>.

2. Blackwell Companion to Hong Kong Cinema, edited by Esther Cheung, Gina Marchetti and Esther Yau (Wiley Blackwell Books, 2015)
The Blackwell Companion is available as an e-book in the UC Davis library system.

COM 135 - Women Writers
Lecturer Amy Riddle

COM 144 - The Grotesque
Lecturer Brian Young

COM 154 - African Literature
Prof. Moradewun Adejunmobi

COM 156 - The Ramayana (Cross-listed with RST 158)
Prof. Archana Venkatesan

Course description: This course examines Rāmāyaṇa story traditions with a primary focus on its many literary and oral variants. We will begin with a thorough dive into the Valmiki Ramayana, and will then engage in comparative analysis, engaging literary sources in numerous languages (in translation). The course will tackle questions about ethics, law, moral behavior, gender, social hierarchies, and war.

Required text:
Valmiki's Ramayana
Translated by Arshia Sattar
ISBN-10 : 1538113686
ISBN-13 : 978-1538113684

COM 195 - Seminar: Women in Modernity
Prof. Michiko Suzuki

Advanced study of selected topics and texts in Comparative Literature, with explicit emphasis on the theoretical and interpretive approaches that define Comparative Literature as a discipline and distinguish it from other literary disciplines. Required for the major.

This course will explore texts from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (U.S., Norway, Japan, China, and Korea) that concern the “Woman Question” and emergent female identities such as the “New Woman” and “Modern Girl.” In the West as well as in East Asia at this time, one of the central questions that dominated discussions in literature as well as broader culture was the “Woman Question”—that is, what women’s roles should be as participants in modern society, and the “true nature” of women (considered essentially different from that of men, the “standard” sex). This question covered a broad range of issues from female suffrage to female sexuality; writers and scholars around the world were having discussions on similar topics and reading many of the same books as they tried to determine the “truth” of womanhood and explore new female identities associated with modernity and social change. This course will use these texts, not only to examine the topic itself, but also to consider interpretive and theoretical approaches in the field of Comparative Literature by reading intertextually and cross-culturally.


Course Prerequisites: senior standing as a Comparative Literature major or minor; or consent of instructor.

Graduate Courses

COM 210 - Topic: World Cinema
Prof. Sheldon Lu 

Course Description: This course examines "world cinema" as a concept, as a critical discourse, and above all as the practices of diverse cinematic traditions of the world. We will also tackle related categories of contemporary film studies such as “national cinema,” “transnational cinema,” “global cinema,” “third cinema,” “third-world cinema,” and postcolonial cinema. Depending on student interests and enrollment, comparative case studies will be drawn from countries and regions from around the world, such as Asia, Europe, Africa, and America. Special attention will be given to East-West cross-cultural interflows in the traveling of images, discourses, and ideas. As we look at some pivotal moments in world film history, we will also raise broad issues in current film studies such as globalization, diaspora, cinematic style, national identity, visual culture, and film industry. Students will examine the ideas, practices, and styles of a variety of filmmakers such as Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, R. W. Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Yasujiro Ozu, Gillo Pontecorvo, Wong Kar-wai, Jia Zhangke, Zhang Yimou, Ousmane Sembene, Claire Denis, and others.

Textbooks: No need to purchase textbooks. Reading materials will be available through electronic texts in the UC Davis library system.