Fall 2019: Expanded Course Descriptions

For day, time, room, and TA information, see our schedule page here
 Or the course search tool: https://registrar-apps.ucdavis.edu/courses/search/index.cfm.

Comparative Literature 001. Major Works of the Ancient World (4 units)

Course Description: An introduction, through class discussion and frequent written assignments, to some of the great books of western civilization from The Epic of Gilgamesh to St. Augustine's The Confessions. This course may be counted toward satisfaction of the English Composition Requirement in all three undergraduate colleges. Limited to 25 students per section; pre-enrollment is strongly advised. Emphasis is on classroom discussion of the readings, supplemented by occasional lectures. Students write papers and take a final examination.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement.

GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures and Writing Experience.
(Note: This course cannot be used to satisfy a college or university composition requirement and GE writing experience simultaneously).

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 4 hours.

Sample Readings (vary from section to section):
The New Oxford Annotated Bible; Homer, The Odyssey; Virgil, The Aeneid; Plato, The SymposiumThe Epic of Gilgamesh; St. Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions; Sophocles, Antigone; Salvatore Alloso, A Short Handbook for Writing Essays about Literature.

SECTION 3, Instructor: Manasvin Rajagopalan

Songs of the Dead: Glory and Lament in the Ancient World

The idea of the glorious death on the battlefield has long been a staple of the literary material we consume. We are invested in narratives of martyrdom, of fictional characters dying for some greater good. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games, this fascination with a glorious or magnificent death has a powerful hold upon us. Yet, this is not a new phenomenon, but is a legacy that has endured since antiquity. In this course, we will explore the dimensions of grief and lamentation, of death and its commemoration in ancient literary works. Why is the glorious death so important? What motivates often fatal actions and choices? These questions will initiate us into thinking about loss and death in the ancient world. Additionally, we will critically examine the figures at the periphery of such eulogistic narratives- be it Hecuba and the rest of the Trojan Women, or Gandhari and the wives of the slain in The Mahabharata. By highlighting instances of alterity that challenge monolithic ideas of eulogy and glory, we will focus on the poetics of loss that dominate these expressions of human experience, both in individual and shared capacity. GE credit: AH, WC, WE (4 units).

Textbooks:

Aristotle, Poetics, trans. Kenny (Oxford World’s Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0199608362

Euripides, The Trojan Women and Other Plays, trans. Morwood (Oxford World’s Classics) ISBN-13: 978-0199538812

Homer, The Iliad, trans. Lattimore (University of Chicago Press) ISBN-13: 978-0226470498

M. Atwood, The Penelopiad (Canongate US) ISBN-13: 978-1841957982


 Comparative Literature 002. Major Works of the Medieval and Early Modern World (4 units)

Course Description: An introduction to some major works from the medieval period to the "Enlightenment"; close readings and discussion, supplemented with short lectures to provide cultural and generic contexts. May be counted toward satisfaction of the English Composition requirement in all three undergraduate colleges. Limited to 25 students per section; pre-enrollment is strongly advised. Emphasis is on classroom discussion of the readings, supplemented by occasional lectures. Students write short papers and take a final examination.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement.

GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures and Writing Experience.
(Note: This course cannot be used to satisfy a college or university composition requirement and GE writing experience simultaneously).

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 4 hours.

Sample Readings (vary from section to section):
Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote; Rene Descartes, Discourse on Method; William Shakespeare, Othello; Dante, The InfernoBeowulf ; Salvatore Alloso, A Short Handbook for Writing Essays about Literature.

SECTION 2, Instructor: Young Hui

Medieval Encounters

This course will examine the literary output emerging from centuries of the interaction between the West and the East starting from the medieval period, from the 6th century to the beginning of the 17th century, focusing on the literature of the Crusades (Richard Coer de Lyon); the imprint of Arab culture (The Arabian Nights), conquest and trade upon southern Europe (Othello); the impetus towards missionizing (The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck), describing and imagining the East that culminated in routes to the New World (The Book of Marvels and Travels); and the West from the imagination of the Far East (Monkey: Folk Novel of China). Along the way, our aim will be not only to examine a defined body of critical literature, and also to read and discuss some classics of the literary tradition. Materials will be drawn from popular literature, and historical records. Assignments will be limited to papers, presentation, and a final term paper. No previous knowledge of foreign languages required. All readings will be in English. GE credit: AH, WC, WE (4 units).

Textbooks:

The Poem of the Cid (Penguin Classics) A Bilingual Edition with Parallel Text; ISBN-13: 978-0140444469. 

The Book of Marvels and Travels – Sir John Mandeville (Oxford World’s Classics); ISBN-13: 978-0199600601.

The Arabian Nights (New Deluxe Edition); ISBN-13: 978-0393331660.

Monkey: Folk Novel of China; ISBN-13: 978-0802130860. 

The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck: His Journey to the Court of the Great Khan Möngke, 1235-1255 (Hackett Classics); ISBN-13: 978-0872209817.


Comparative Literature 003. Major Works of the Modern World (4 units)

Course Description: An introduction, through class discussion and the writing of short papers, to some of the great books of the modern age, from Goethe's Faust to Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Limited to 25 students per section; pre-enrollment is strongly advised. Emphasis is on classroom discussion of the readings, supplemented by occasional lectures. Students write short papers and take a final examination.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement.

GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures and Writing Experience.
(Note: This course cannot be used to satisfy a college or university composition requirement and GE writing experience simultaneously).

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 4 hours.

Sample Readings (vary from section to section):
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (Part One); Sigmund Freud, Civilization and its Discontents; Franz Kafka, The Trial; Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment ; Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own; Salvatore Alloso, A Short Handbook for Writing Essays about Literature.


Comparative Literature 004. Major Works of the Contemporary World (4 units)

Course Description: Comparative study of selected major Western and non-Western texts composed in the period from 1945 to the present. Limited to 25 students per section; pre-enrollment is strongly advised. Emphasis is on classroom discussion of the readings, supplemented by occasional lectures. Students write short papers and take a final examination.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement.

GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, Visual Literacy, World Cultures and Writing Experience.
(Note: This course cannot be used to satisfy a college or university composition requirement and GE writing experience simultaneously).

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 4 hours.

Sample Readings (vary from section to section):
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Jhumpa Lahari, The Namesake; J.M. Coetzee, Foe: A Novel; Elfriede Jelinek, Women As Lovers; Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North; Jose Saramago, The Cave; Alice Notley, Descent of Alette.


Comparative Literature 005. Fairy Tales, Fables and Parables (4 units)

Jocelyn Sharlet

Course Description: This course investigates fables, fairy tales, and parables that have circulated widely in world culture from ancient to modern times. We will explore the dynamics of each type of story using examples from a range of cultures. We will examine how fairy tales portray individual development in the context of the family, fables depict social hierarchy and resistance to it, and parables transform one’s perspective. The course will also consider how storytellers combine different types of tales. All texts are in English translation.

Texts will be available on Canvas.

Texts will include fables by Aesop, fables of West Africa and North America, and stories from Kalila and Dimna; Basile’s Pentamerone (European fairy tales), Arabian Nights, “The Firebird,” “Cupid and Psyche,” and related tales from China, Japan, and Indonesia; and parables by Plato, Chuang Tzu, Nizami, and Rumi.

Two short essays, a midterm, and a final exam.

Prerequisite: None.

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

Format: Lecture - 3 hours; Discussion - 1 hour.

Textbooks:

  • See course description.

Comparative Literature 006. Myths and Legends (4 units)

Cheri Ross

Course Description: Myths and legends are the most ancient and yet most influential stories worldwide. In different ways, myths and legends express ideas about being human in relationship to phenomena and experiences higher and greater than the mundane: connecting everyday experience both to metaphysical realms and to the natural world.  Myths and legends also express deep thought about the complexities of human experience: moral values and obligations (often conflicting ones), insiders and outsiders, individual and community. These stories have inspired countless adaptations of literature and visual arts (and, more recently, film). In this course we will investigate a selection of myths and legends along with some later reworkings of these stories. We will also explore some major analytic approaches to such texts and practice our own interpretive and argumentative skills on these compelling, foundational works.

Prerequisite: None.

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

Format: Lecture - 3 hours; Discussion - 1 hour.

Textbooks:

  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein  (Penguin Classics, 2003)
  • Gilgamesh: A New English Version, translated by Stephen Mitchell  (Atria Books, 2006)
  • William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night  (Signet Classics, 1998)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by W.S. Merwin  (Knopf Publishing, 2004)

Comparative Literature 100. World Cinema: "Chinese Cinema" (4 units)

Sheldon Lu

Course Description: This quarter we focus on the rich cinematic traditions of China. We begin with early Chinese cinema and move all the way to the twenty-first century. Students will explore the themes, styles, aesthetics, stars, and socio-political contexts of particular films as well as the evolution of entire film industries. Representative directors and internationally renowned filmmakers will be discussed, such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, Feng Xiaogang, Jia Zhangke, and Peter Chan (Chen Kexin).  We examine Chinese cinema as an outgrowth of indigenous, national roots as well as a necessary response to international film culture. We look at how films engage in social critique and cultural reflection, and how film artists react to the conditions and forces of socialist politics, capitalist economy, tradition, modernization, and globalization in Chinese-speaking regions.

Prerequisite: Upper division standing or consent of instructor (shlu@ucdavis.edu).

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

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

Textbooks:

  • Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu, Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender  (University of Hawaii Press, 1997)


Comparative Literature 141. Introduction to Comparative Critical Theory (4 units)

[Cross-listed with CRI 101]

 

Stefan Uhlig

Course Description: This course provides an introduction to the history and recent place of critical theory in comparative literary studies. We begin by asking what led critics in the 60s and 70s to borrow methods from adjacent disciplines like linguistics, anthropology, or continental philosophy. We pursue this process until the discovery of Paul de Man’s wartime writings seemingly confirmed suspicions about deconstruction. In between, we study questions raised by psychoanalysis, structuralism, Derridean difference, Foucault’s discursive histories, de Manian deconstruction, race, and gender. We conclude this course by testing how our thinking about literary texts, images, and movies may have changed as a result of what we have discussed and read.

Prerequisite: One upper division literature course or consent of instructor (shuhlig@ucdavis.edu).

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

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper.

Textbooks:

  • All readings will be posted on Canvas


Comparative Literature 151. Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (4 units)

Neil Larsen

Course Description: A literary introduction to the cultural issues of colonialism and postcolonialism through reading, discussing and writing on narratives which articulate diverse points of view.

Prerequisite: Completion of Entry-Level Writing (formerly Subject A) Requirement.

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

Format: Lecture - 3 hours; Term Paper.

Textbooks:

  • TBA


Comparative Literature 158. The Detective Story as Literature (4 units)

Timothy Parrish

Course Description: We will be focusing on the literary and intellectual origins of the detective novel and reading from many different national traditions, including French, German, Italian, Russian, and American. Two exams, one paper.

Prerequisite: None.

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

Format: Lecture and discussion; Two exams and a paper.

Textbooks:

  • TBA

Graduate Courses


Comparative Literature 210, Section 001. Aristotle's Poetics and its Afterlives (4 units)

Stefan Uhlig and Carey Seal

Course Description: This course will address the extended history of thinking with, or against, Aristotle’s Poetics in Western literary studies. Focal points include representation, affect/emotion, performance, literary education, genre, the task of criticism, and the political function of drama. We will use Stephen Halliwell’s translation and edition of Aristotle’s Poetics. Other readings from a range of (pre)modern debates will be posted on Canvas.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Comparative Literature, English, or a foreign-language literature, or consent of instructor (shuhlig@ucdavis.edu or cseal@ucdavis.edu).

Format: Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper.

Textbooks:

  • Students are instructed to purchase their own copy of Stephen Halliwell's translation of Aristotle's Poetics. It will not be stocked at the UC Davis Book Store.

Comparative Literature 210, Section 002. Topics in Comparative Literature (4 units)

Sven-Erik Rose

Course Description: TBA

Prerequisite: Graduate standing in Comparative Literature, English, or a foreign-language literature, or consent of instructor (serose@ucdavis.edu).

Format: Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper.

Textbooks:

  • TBA 

Comparative Literature 255. Proseminar: Comparative Literature: Past, Present, Future (4 units)

Stefan Uhlig

Course Description: This colloquium provides an introduction to the challenges and opportunities of comparative literary studies. We will review the origins and famously self-critical construction of the field, and look at arguments about the future of the discipline. Sessions on the history and theory of comparative literature will alternate with readings focused around basic media and literary forms (narrative, poetics, performance, photography and film). Along the way, we will discuss exemplary comparative scholarship whose questions range from Greece and Rome, via the Latin middle ages, to the literatures of South Asia, India, China, and Japan. The goal will be to think about what makes some research questions (perhaps necessarily) comparative, and how to find the methods that will best address them. Participants will write an eight- to ten-page paper on how what they have read/discussed helps them rethink their current dissertation plans.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing. Restricted to graduate students.

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper.

Textbooks:

  • All readings will be posted on Canvas.