Graduate Courses

From the recent Andalusian play, “Clytemnestra. Una mujer.” Faculty expert, Kathleen L. Komar. Banner image: John Locke. Faculty expert, Kirstie McClure.

Winter 2019

Comparative Literature 200B: Methodology of Comparative Literature

Instructor: Michael Rothberg

Study of methodology of comparative literature, with emphasis on its history.

Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 1): Contemporary Theories of Criticism: Cosmopolitanism & Exile

Instructor: Aamir R. Mufti

Consideration of seminal texts of two thought traditions in modern West: cosmopolitanism and exilic thinking. Consideration of how these traditions have developed intellectual and affective orientations in tension with each other, but also how they overlap and intersect. Western discourse on cosmopolitanism has its origins in classical thought and owes modern renewal to Kant. Its more recent revival has been accompanied rise of so-called global talk, widely distributed discourse about emergence of interconnected world. Examination of antinomies of this discourse–norm versus reality, scales of perception and vision, thinking versus feeling, empire versus cosmopolis–and consideration of implications for thinking about structure of contemporary world. Examination of leading works of exilic imagination, forms of thinking and feeling linked to forms of mobility–often coerced and collective–that cannot quite be subsumed under rubric of cosmopolitan.

Spring 2019

Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 1): Contemporary Theories of Criticism: Digital Africa and the World

Instructor: Stephanie Bosch Santana

Africa is digitizing faster than anywhere in the world, with significant consequences for African social, economic, and political formations. How do online interactions on a variety of platforms change how people relate to themselves and the world and challenge our very notion of the human? What new “imagined communities” do digital forms give rise to and how do they intersect with and alter concepts of nation, diaspora, and world? While many writers, journalists, and cultural producers use digital media to challenge oppressive governments, institutions, and other gatekeepers, the digital space has also given rise to new (often less locatable) forms of domination, such as the neo-imperialism of multinational corporations like Google and Facebook. Consideration of these questions primarily through the lens of digital literary and cultural production, including “new media novels” like Adichie’s Americanah. Students will have the opportunity to compare examples from the African context to their own areas of expertise.

Comparative Literature 290 (Seminar 2): Contemporary Theories of Criticism: Fictions of Human Rights: Literature, History, Theory

Instructor: Michael Rothberg

In recent decades, the idea of human rights has emerged as one of the most prominent, if contested, frameworks for engaging with violence, displacement, and injustice. Historians such as Lynn Hunt and Samuel Moyn have debated the origins of human rights ideals and practices, and many scholars have weighed in on the politics of rights claims. This seminar will consider literary, cinematic, historical, and theoretical work that engages critically with the implications of contemporary cultures of human rights. Among the topics we will explore are: refugees and the “right to have rights”; the status of the “human” in human rights; and the relation of writing to human rights (testimony, narrative form, “refugee style”). In addition to Hunt and Moyn, we will read scholarly works by Hannah Arendt, Didier Fassin, Joseph Slaughter, Lyndsey Stonebridge, and others, as well as the collective volume The Right to Have Rights. Literary and cinematic works will be taken from contexts in Israel/Palestine, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere. On two occasions our seminar will attend relevant lectures sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies: on the first day of class, April 4, Lyndsey Stonebridge, “Hannah Arendt’s Message of Ill-Tidings,” and on May 9, Shirli Gilbert, “South African Jews, the Holocaust, and Apartheid.” On those occasions, please expect to remain on campus until at least 5:30 pm.