Fall 2021

Undergraduate Courses

COM 001, sec 001-003 Major Works of the Ancient World
Lecture/Discussion—4 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). Introduction, through class discussion and frequent written assignments, to some of the major works of the ancient world (up to 5th century CE) such as The Odyssey, the Bible, Augustine's Confessions, and works by Plato and Confucius. Examined genres include religious texts, the epic, philosophy, drama, poetry. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 002, sec 001-003 Major Works of the Medieval & Early Modern World

Lecture/Discussion—4 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). Introduction, through class discussion and frequent written assignments, to some of the major works of the medieval and early modern worlds (6th century to the mid-17th century) such as Dante’s Comedy, 1001 Nights, The Tale of Genji, and Elizabethan/Jacobean plays. Examined genres include framed narratives, courtly literature, and early modern drama. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

Instructor: Tianya Wang
sec. 001

Instructor: Jeremy Konick-Seese
sec. 002

Instructor: Manasvin Rajagopalan
sec. 003: Vernacularizing Imaginations

In this course, we will explore the topic of vernacularization, not just as a linguistic shift from classical or dominant languages, but as a defining feature of late medieval and early modern literary production . We will read texts across genres and languages in translation, and ask what vernacular imaginations are capable of, and how they are manifested by authors and audiences alike. Additionally, we will extend our critical eye towards the question of adaptation and retelling as a form of vernacularization— the emergence of a localized and linguistically specific form of literature— in its own right. 

The course will include a research component in addition to the regular writing requirement, and students will be expected to regularly consult with the instructor about their assignments.

COM 003, sec 001-002 Major Works of the Modern World

Lecture/Discussion—4 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). Introduction, through class discussion and frequent written assignments, to some of the major works of the modern world (mid-17th to the mid-20th centuries) such as those by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Flaubert, Woolf, Lu Xun, Borges and Yeats. Examined genres include realist fiction, modernist fiction, and modernist poetry. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 004, sec 001-004 Major Works of the Contemporary World

Lecture/Discussion—4 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR). Comparative study of selected major Western and non-Western texts composed in the period from 1945 to the present. Intensive focus on writing about these texts, with frequent papers written about these works. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 005, sec A01-A06 Fairy Tales, Fables
Prof. Noah Guynn

Lecture—3 hour(s); Discussion—1 hour(s). Introduction to fairy tales, fables, and parables as recurrent forms in literature, with such readings as tales from Aesop & Grimm, Chaucer & Shakespeare, Kafka & Borges, Buddhist & Taoist parables, the Arabian Nights, and African American folklore. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 006, sec A01-A06 Myths and Legends
Prof. Cheri Ross

Lecture—3 hour(s); Discussion—1 hour(s). Introduction to the comparative study of myths and legends, with readings selected from Near Eastern, Teutonic, Celtic, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, African and Native American literary sources. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 011 Travel & Modern World (Cross-listed with GER 011)
Instructor: TBA

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Extensive Writing. Examination of travel as a quintessential human activity and experience of global modernity and cross-cultural encounters from the 18th to the 21st century with an emphasis on German-speaking culture. Travelogues, literature, art, memoirs, and films in English translation. (Same course as GER 011.) GE credit: AH, VL, WC, WE.

COM 100 World Cinema
Prof. Noha Radwan

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Film Viewing—3 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR), upper division standing, or consent of instructor. Comparative, cross-cultural study of a topic, theme, or movement in world cinema beyond the boundary of a single national tradition. Topics may include "postsocialist cinemas in East Europe and Asia," "cinema and globalization," and "popular Asian cinemas." May be repeated up to 3 Time(s) when topic differs. GE credit: AH, VL, WC, WE.

COM 112 Japanese Cinema
Prof. Michiko Suzuki

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Film Viewing—3 hour(s). Prerequisite(s): consent of instructor, or upper-division standing. Introduction to Japanese cinema from early silent films to the present. Explores important directors, genres, stars, themes and techniques in relation to specific historical and cultural contexts. Lectures and readings in English. Films in Japanese with English subtitles. GE credit: AH, VL, WC, WE.

COM 135 Women Writers
Prof. Noha Radwan

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Exploration of women's differing views of self and society as revealed in major works by female authors of various times and cultures. Readings, principally of fiction, will include such writers as Lady Murasaki, Mme de Lafayette, and Charlotte Bronte. GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 147 Modern Jewish
Professor Timothy Parrish

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).

“The epithet American-Jewish writer has no meaning to me,” the modern American Jewish writer Philip Roth once said. “If I’m not American, I’m nothing.” Roth’s famous assertion neatly poses Jewish identity against American identity, but in this class we will be exploring how Judaic tradition and thinking informs, shapes, and is challenged by the writers we will be reading. Consequently, we will begin with what we might call modern Jewish fiction’s ur-text, Job, and his challenge to affirm G-d despite being beset with all manners of tragedy. If Job seems a long way from modern Jewish American writing, then the Holocaust tragically made his story contemporary even for writers, such as Roth, who considered themselves to be primarily secular. As we shall see, in their stories about Americans Jewish-American writers such as Nobel Prize winners Saul Bellow and I. B. Singer, Cynthia Ozick, Henry Roth, and Rebecca Goldstein respond both to the Holocaust and the Judaic tradition that precedes it. Along with contextualizing these American writers within a Jewish tradition older than America, we will also explore how their confrontation with this heritage engages and contrasts with the work of European Jewish writers such as Franz Kafka, Clarice Lispector, and Imre Kertesz (Nobel winner) whose concerns they share. Students from all backgrounds welcome. Two essay exams, one longish paper, lively class discussion. It’s a literature class—so our goal is to have as much fun as possible reading these amazing works. Two essay-exams, one longish paper.

GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 164D What's Wrong With the Enlightenment?
Prof. Stefan Uhlig

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Prerequisite(s): Completion of Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR).

The term Enlightenment describes a complex period in eighteenth-century European intellectual and literary history. Its basic sense is to encourage the reflective exercise of reason as opposed to prejudice, mere faith, or superstition. But this effort to shed light on knowledge-making has been, from the outset, criticized as flawed and incomplete. In fact, excessive faith in rationality and universal norms has in itself seemed like a form of bias, exercised by privileged elites at the expense of lived experience and fulfillment, the natural environment, cultural difference, or identity. Enlightenment may therefore best be thought of as a tenuous process and ongoing work-in-progress rather than a triumph that encapsulates the age. If eighteenth-century arguments were, even in the period, critiqued as overreaching, practically inept, and morally insensitive, what kind of legacy does the Enlightenment present for us? Was its attack on orthodoxy in religion, scientific method, anthropology, or politics a triumph over prejudice and ill-thought-out consensus? Or did contradictory and partial (that is sexist and routinely racist) efforts by an early class of experts leave a darker burden with their segregated faith in reason and utility? The question is especially pressing at our present time when democratic sovereignty contends with bigotry and fellow citizens, in the US no less than Europe, have abandoned knowledge-making for self-serving and, indeed, identitarian conspiracies. We will explore key readings from the European eighteenth century alongside influential counter-arguments. There is no textbook for this course, and all readings will be posted as pdfs on Canvas.

GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

COM 166A The Epic
Prof. Ralph Hexter

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Study of various forms of epic poetry in both the oral and literary traditions. May be repeated for credit in different subject area.

What is “the epic”? The adjective “epic” is often used to describe any work of grand scope, ambition, and power. Epic as a literary genre has a distinct history and includes some of the most significant and influential works of ancient, medieval, and early modern cultures. In this course we will begin by studying the most consequential epics of ancient Greece and Rome, the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer and the Aeneid of Virgil, initially in their immediate historical contexts – in the case of the Homeric epics, emerging from a vibrant oral tradition and opening windows on the ancient Near East and a deeper bronze age past more generally, in the case of the Aeneid, the Rome of Augustus at the twilight of the republic and the dawn of empire. The course will then consider how these epics cast long shadows on the subsequent literary traditions of Europe and, in some cases, beyond. As examples of the reception of the epics in literature, we will look briefly at an early epic of the European conquest of the Western hemisphere and then at Omeros by Nobel-Prize winning Caribbean poet Derek Walcott. (Walcott wrote in English; all other texts are read in English translation, translation itself an instance and vehicle of reception.) To sample the reception of this epic tradition in other modes, we will view and reflect upon select cinematic and operatic representations of the men and women of Homer’s poems followed by two films dealing with U.S. engagement in the Vietnam War and its aftermath. These juxtapositions reveal continuities and discontinuities in narrative styles as well as in the ways we think about the meaning and purpose of human life, as individuals and as members of a community. Reflecting on both similarities and differences across cultures and even millennia enhances our understanding and appreciation of each of the works, whether ancient or modern.

GE credit: AH, WC, WE.

Graduate Courses

COM 210 Topics & Themes in Comparative Literature: Aesthetic Value
Prof. Stefan Uhlig

Discussion—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing in Comparative Literature, English, or a foreign-language literature, or consent of instructor.

This course explores the status of aesthetic value in the European tradition by examining major theoretical texts alongside diverse aesthetic practices. We will read and discuss substantial excerpts from Kant’s Critique of Judgement (1790), Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics (1835), and Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory (1970). Aside from the intrinsic interest of these texts, the aim will be to test such philosophical accounts against a range of different and more or less emphatically aesthetic practices – including painting, music, poetry, the novel, pottery, wigs, coins, and so on (my examples of such practices are drawn predominantly from the eighteenth through the middle of the twentieth century). Overall, one major question that this course seeks to address is how resistant, or susceptible, the Western model of aesthetic theorizing may be to diversity, both in the making of aesthetically invested objects and in their reception.

COM 255 Proseminar: Comparative Literature: Past, Present, Future: Intro to Comp Lit
Prof. Amy Motlagh

Lecture/Discussion—3 hour(s); Term Paper. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing. Restricted to graduate students. History, theory, and methodology of comparative literature. Issues of national literature, world literature, and comparative literature. Relation of comparative literature to other disciplines and diverse expressions. Discussion of current problems in teaching and research in comparative literature. Required of M.A. and Ph.D. candidates.

COM 298 Forms of Professional Writing

Prof. Archana Vekatesan

CRN 27145 W 2-3:30 in 822 Sproul

This course will train graduate students in different genres of professional writing with a focus on book reviews, public scholarship, and grant writing. We will also work on students’ CV-s. The course will involve peer-review and workshopping of drafts. At the end of the quarter, students will have produced one book review, one piece of public scholarship, and completed one grant proposal. We will also discuss how to place articles, reviews, and items of public scholarship, and the venues available for publication.

This is a two-unit course. Students will register for this course as COM 298: Directed Group Study.

COM 392 Teaching Internship
Prof. Cheri Ross

Discussion—2 hour(s). Restricted to graduate students. Regular consultations between the student instructor teaching Comparative Literature courses and a supervisor. Specifically designed for first-time TAs in COM 005, COM 006, COM 007, and COM 010. Instruction in the teaching of writing in a literature course, grading of papers, leading discussions. (S/U grading only.)