Fall 2023 Courses

Fall 2023 Courses

 Undergraduate Courses


COM 001—Major Works of the Ancient World

COM 002—Major Works of the Medieval & Early Modern World

COM 003—Major Works of the Modern World

COM 004—Major Works of the Contemporary World

COM 005—Fairy Tales, Fables, & Parables
Noah Guynn

COM 007—Literature of Fantasy and Supernatural
Stefan H. Uhlig


COM 100—World Cinema (Chinese Cinema)
Professor Sheldon Lu
Course Description:
In 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 individual films as well as the evolution of entire film industries. We discuss representative directors and internationally renowned filmmakers such as Wu Yonggang, Xie Jin, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Ang Lee, Feng Xiaogang, Jia Zhangke, and Jiang Wen. 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
GE credit: Arts & Humanities, Visual Literacy, World Cultures and Writing Experience.
Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Film Viewing - 3 hours.
No need to purchase textbooks.  Students will read relevant book chapters and journal articles via the online resources of the UC Davis library. Reading materials include chapters from the anthology Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender edited by Sheldon Lu; Contemporary Chinese Cinema and Visual Culture: Envisioning the Nation (2021) written by Sheldon Lu; and more.

COM 141—Intro to Critical Theory
Joshua Clover

COM 146—Myth in Literature
Cheryl Ross

COM 156—The Ramayana
Archana Venkatesan

COM 158—Detective Fiction
Timothy Parrish

COM 159—Women in Literature
Michiko Suzuki

COM 166—Literatures of the Modern Middle East
Michiko Suzuki

Graduate Courses

COM 210—East/West Literary Relations, Comparative Poetics, Cross-Cultural Modernity
Sheldon Lu

This seminar tackles a set of three interrelated issues: East-West Literary Relations, Comparative Poetics, and Cross-Cultural Modernity.  We begin with the cultural encounter between East and West and their changing perceptions of each other since the 18th century, the Enlightenment, and European Romanticism.  We look at how comparative poetics has become an important field of East-West comparative literature and examine the methodology and feasibility of such comparison.  At the same time, we conduct a comparative study of discourses of modernity between East and West and from around the world. We look at how theoretical discourses and aesthetic practices in the West appropriate and build upon non-Western traditions; how Asia and other cultures offer alternative narratives of modernity in a global framework.

Case studies of cross-cultural creative “misunderstandings” may include Ezra Pound’s appropriation of the Chinese ideogram in launching modernist American poetry (Imagism); French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s use of the Chinese ideogram in his deconstructive critique of Western logocentrism; German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s appropriation of the Chinese theater for alienation-effects in the epic theater; Louis Althusser’s structuralist, non-Hegelian Marxism via a reading Mao’s theory of contradiction; global Maoism as alternative socialism; discourse of (alternative) East Asian modernity; Fredric Jameson’s reading of Lu Xun’s stories for a theory of Third World literature; Orientalism vs Occidentalism; world-systems theory and world literature.  Students may also read portions of Asian literary works such as Dream of the Red Chamber (The Story of the Stone) for descriptions and scenes of cross-cultural encounters in early modernity in the 18th century.  Students are welcome to bring in their own cultural traditions for reading and discussion.

COM 210—German Literary Worlds
(same course as GER 297)
Stefan Uhlig 

This course focuses on how German theory and literary practice have engaged with other languages and cultures from the later eighteenth century to recent times. The question is of interest for German studies and beyond because the notion of a German literary culture was, compared to other European cases, both especially complex and belated. German-speaking territories were politically disunified until the 1880s. German authors were acutely conscious that their language had become a viable vernacular for literary and intellectual purposes far later than Italian, Spanish, French, or English. One of the key ironies we will explore is that some thinkers in the decades around 1800 turned this painful sense of inferiority into an argument for the transcultural leverage of German writing. Since they had studiously read the foreign writings they had hoped would help them to catch up, were German authors not much better placed than their established European peers to enter into dialogue with other languages and cultures? This presumption was in many ways the starting point for a long history of fraught engagements between German writers and the wider world. Readings will be available in German and in English translation, and will include:

—Johann Gottfried Herder on historical and cultural difference
—The Schlegel brothers, Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Johann Wolfgang Goethe on foreignizing translation
—Christoph Martin Wieland and Immanuel Kant on cosmopolitanism
—Alexander von Humboldt on South American art and culture
—Friedrich Nietzsche on the future of Europe
—Franz Kafka, Amerika
—Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
—Thomas Mann, Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man
—Uwe Johnson, Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl [excerpts] and Patrick Wright, The Sea View Has Me Again: Uwe Johnson in Sheerness

COM 255—Comparative Literature: Past, Present, Future
Stefan Uhlig

This course provides an introduction to the disciplinary parameters and opportunities of comparative literary studies. We will review the origins and famously self-critical construction of the field, and look at current arguments and new technologies that may define the future. 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 on questions ranging 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 made them rethink their current dissertation plans. 

COM 392—Teaching Internship
Cheryl Ross