Winter 2024 Courses

Winter 2024 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
Jocelyn Sharlet

This course investigates how communal storytellers, writers, and collectors of stories create and explore ideas about social, emotional, ethical, and devotional aspects of experience in fairy tales, fables, and parables. We will consider how fairy tales use magic and transformation, fables feature animal characters and deceit, and parables disrupt conventional understanding of ordinary life to deliver a spiritual or ethical message. Students will analyze and compare stories to demonstrate how they offer commentary on hierarchy, authority, and resistance.

Arabian Nights, ed. Muhsin Mahdi tr. Husain Haddawy, Norton
Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ,
Kalilah and Dimnah: Fables of Virtue and Vice, tr. Fishbein and Montgomery, Library of Arabic Literature NYU

Selections from other texts:

Basile, Pentamerone (European fairy tales in a frame tale)
Jataka Tales
Mustard seed parables
Rumi, Masnavi tr. J. Mojaddedi

COM 006—Myths & Legends
Cheryl Ross


COM 110—Hong Kong Cinema
Sheldon Lu

Lecture: 1:40 – 3:00 pm, Tuesday & Thursday, TCL 2010
Evening screening: 5:10 – 8 pm, Wednesday, TLC 2010

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 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 adaption of literary works about Hong Kong; Hong Kong cinema’s international influence.  The class will watch and discuss films involving directors, actors, and actresses such as Wong Kar-wai, John Woo, Stephen Chow, Ann Hui, Peter Chan, Fruit Chan, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat, Tony Leung, Andy Lau, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, and many others.

Upper-division standing.  The class is conducted in English, and all films are subtitled in English.

The course fulfills the following General Education requirements: Arts & Humanities, Visual Literacy, World Cultures, and Writing Experience.

COM 147—Modern Jewish Writers
Timothy Parrish

COM 146—Myth in Literature
Cheryl Ross

COM 153—Asian Literature
Sheldon Lu

Description: For this quarter, the course focuses on modern Chinese literature from the beginning of the 20th century to the present time.  Students will read short stories, excerpts of novels and novellas, poems, and essays written by leading Chinese writers.  Relevant films will be selected to be shown and discussed in conjunction with literary texts.  The class will analyze recurrent themes and topics such as love, death, revolution, war, tradition, modernization, westernization, and globalization.  Literary developments in modern China will be examined in broad international contexts.  Students are expected to gain a better understanding of the cultural and literary tradition of China as well as important social issues that confront Chinese people in modern times as reflected in literature. 

The course fulfills the requirements of Arts and Humanities, World Cultures, and Writing.

Format: Mandatory class attendance, weekly reading assignments, participation in class discussion, class presentation, midterm paper, and final paper.


Joseph S. M. Lau and Howard Goldblatt, eds.  The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature.  Columbia University Press, 2007.  Available in Canvas course site.

Yunte Huang, ed.  The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature: Writings from the Mainland in the Long Twentieth Century.  Norton, 2016.  Paperback.

Students will also read selected journal essays that can be accessed online in the UC Library System.  pdf files or handouts of relevant writings will be provided as well.

COM 161B—Comedy
Zachary Scovel

This course will provide students a framework for discussing what makes us laugh. We will interrogate what it means to laugh and why we do it. Moreover, we will ask ourselves what our laughter indicates about what we see, hear, or understand about the world around us. In doing so, we will closely examine various theatrical comedies throughout the centuries and contemporary American cinema. We will approach these works by engaging in discussion about the sociocultural elements at stake, such as gender, sex, marriage, and class, and how they situate themselves into the comedic aspects of each work. We will also interrogate the overall aesthetics of theatrical and cinematic comedy by examining practical elements of performance, such as casting, blocking (staging), and audience response through laughter. These perspectives will allow us, ultimately, to discuss what is means to laugh and what it says about us and our perceptions of society. We may ask ourselves: “What’s so funny about this?” “Why is this still funny today?” And, of course, “What does it mean if I laugh at this?”

Graduate Courses

COM 210—Topics/Themes in Comparative Literature
Michael Subialka

This graduate seminar will focus on an oft-underestimated area of literary production, one which is often treated as “genre” fiction and thus not considered with the same critical weight as more “respected” literary forms. In contrast, this course posits that fantasy should be seen as far from marginal. In literature and the arts, the self-aware thematization of creative fantasy is a recurrant, even central trope, and one that we will examine to develop a notion of how certain writers recognize their task as one of fantastic world production. Likewise, in theory, fantasy dovetails with considerations of the creative imagination as a productive force that shapes, critiques, and re-envisions reality, on the one hand, while also contributing to an understanding of the (critical, evolutionary, formative…) functions of fictional creation on the other. Fantasy, in other words, merits full critical attention both as a powerful mode of artistic self-awareness and as a category that can contribute to debates on the theory of literature and what literature does. 

The seminar will be structured around topical units, and in each we will investigate a key conceptual nexus by reading primary works of fantasy literature (with focus on texts that are interested in thematizing or even theorizing fantasy in a self-reflexive sense) together with theoretical works on fantasy/imagination/creativity. These readings will in turn be paired with secondary works of criticism. The goal will be to provide students a solid foundation to engage in emerging scholarly debates over fantasy, as well as a corpus of primary works on which they can draw in their teaching and research.  

COM 210—Topics/Themes in Comparative Literature
COM 210 Creation and creativity
Jocelyn Sharlet
Winter 2024
Thursday 2:10-5 Sproul 822

In this seminar, we will investigate how writers and poets explore ideas about creation and creativity before the modern concept of literature. We will examine how discourses of religion, historiography, literary criticism, philosophy, erotic desire, politics, law, trade, fantasy, and folklore overlap with and contradict one another to produce new ideas about creativity in genres of prose and poetry. Readings in English translation from Arabic and Persian from West Asia, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Iberian Peninsula will be placed in the context of their connections to earlier or later genres of writing in Sanskrit, Greek, Middle Persian, Latin, Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, French, German, English, Ottoman Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi.
1 al-Suli, The Life and Times of Abu Tammam, NYU Library of Arabic Literature, selections; dedicated lyric poetry in Arabic and Persian
2 Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, Kalilah and Dimnah: Fables of Virtue and Vice NYU LAL
3 al-Tanukhi, Stories of Piety and Prayer: Deliverance follows Adversity NYU LAL
4 al-Tawhidi and Miskawayh, The Philosopher Responds: An Intellectual Correspondence from the 10th Century and al-Hariri, Impostures, selections
5 Ibn Hazm, The Dove’s Neck Ring Martino Fine Books and al-Shabushti, The Book of Monasteries NYU LAL, selections; undedicated lyric poetry in Arabic and Persian
6 al-Sirafi, Accounts of India and China and Ibn Fadlan, Mission to the Volga NYU LAL, selections
7 The Arabian Nights and Sindbad and Other Stories from the Arabian Nights ed. Mushin Mahdi tr. Hussain Haddawy Norton, selections
8 Nizami, Majnun Layla Penguin Classics
9 Rumi, Masnavi Oxford World Classics

Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic Princeton
Lara Harb, Arabic Poetics: Aesthetic Experience in Classical Arabic Literature Cambridge
Thomas Bauer, A Culture of Ambiguity: An Alternative History of Islam tr. from German Columbia
Shahzad Bashir, Sufi Bodies: Religion and Society in Medieval Islam Columbia