Summer 2022

Summer 2022 Comparative Literature Courses 

Summer Session I (Jun 21 - Jul 29)

COM 001 Major Works of the Ancient World
Instructor: Colin Rankin

In ancient Greek literature, ongoing tensions between gods and humans generate foundational ideas about human possibilities and limitations, as well as what makes the ‘best’ life. At times, the gods are seen as benevolent, guiding forces. At others, their ill-tempered, vengeful behavior seems to be the cause of suffering and an obstacle to happiness. As the Greeks begin to examine themselves independently from the gods, they wrestle with methods of philosophical inquiry and artistic representation that express new ideas about Truth and Virtue. By examining texts that span from the earliest, epic adventures, through tragic dramas, and into moral philosophy, we will address evolving conceptions of the individual and ‘The Good’ as the Greeks shift away from deference to the gods and towards ideas of rational self-determination.

Summer Session II (Aug 1 - Sep 9)

COM 002 Major Works of the Medieval & Early Modern World
Instructor: Leonardo Giorgetti

What is Hell? Where is it, and how do you get there? What is its theological and political function? What is the meaning of human life? Is it a journey toward a supernatural destination or rather an illusion eliciting madness? What is the nature of justice? What is its role in human life? Can it help explain the continuous manifestations of evil in the world? In this course, we will address these and other existential questions, still relevant to our contemporary society, as we survey four major books of medieval and early modern literature, from Dante Alighieri’s Inferno (1314) and Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) to Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605-1615) and Voltaire’s Candide (1759). While analyzing these books, now belonging to a world republic of letters, within their historical context, we will read them critically from a comparative, transnational perspective that would elucidate the ways they reformulate pivotal themes and motifs of world literature, such as the hero’s journey, the sacred, the representation of otherness, the formation of individual identity against the backdrop of social, political, and moral values. While exploring some significant examples of literary and filmic adaptations of these books, you will also be expected to write two major analytical essays, as well as several preparatory informal writing assignments in order to satisfy the University Lower Division Writing Requirement (about 6,000 words totally). Class participation will also require group presentations, pair- or group-discussion activities as well as peer editing of each other’s papers. Your intellectual curiosity and personal commitment will, therefore, play a vital role in building a collaborative learning environment both inside and outside the classroom.