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Spring 2017 | Graduate Courses

Courses Originating in the Comparative Literature Department

Please refer to Albert for room assignments.

 Course Name
CreditsCourse Number

Topics: Desire in Poetry: Rilke & Anne Carson

COLIT-GA 2645.001
GERM-GA 1860.001
ENGL-GA 2927.001
POET-GA 2002

Culture and Critique: Mediterraneanism in Literature and Culture (Seminar)


COLIT-GA 1951.001
MEIS-GA 1770.002
DRAP-GA 1949.001
Advanced Writing Seminar

4.0COLIT-GA 2000.001Dopico
Seminar in Russian Lit: Historicism

4.0COLIT-GA 1092.001Iampolski

Paranoia: Genealogies and Futures

4.0COLIT-GA 2122.001
ENGL-GA 2957.001

Topics: The Technology of Devotion: (Early) Modernity, Ecstasy, and the Lyric

4.0COLIT-GA 2978.001
ENGL-GA 2957.002

Topics in Feminism/Sexual Politics: Philosophy and the Gendered Body


COLIT-GA 2956.001


Hegel's Phenomenology: Death, Sovereignty, Theater

COLIT-GA 2991.002
Independent Study (permission of DGS Required)

4.0COLIT-GA 2991    
Academic Internship (permission of DGS required)

4.0COLIT-GA 2992 
Thesis Research (permission of DGS Required)e

4.0COLIT-GA 3991    
Directed Research I (permission of DGS Required)

4.0COLIT-GA 3998       
Directed Research II (permission of DGS Required)

4.0COLIT-GA 3999       

Prof. Baer
Topics: Desire in Poetry: Rilke & Anne Carson
COLIT-GA 2645.001

A study of the theme of desire in the writings of Rainer Maria Rilke and Anne Carson, especially how desire (and its satisfaction, overcoming, sublimation, denial etc.) is not simply a subject matter but a modulation of life. With particular emphasis on: Rilke’s Duino Elegies, The Sonnets to Orpheus, love poems, Rilke’s letters on art, letters of condolence, writings on women mystics; Carson’s Eros: The Bittersweet, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, The Beauty of the Husband. Knowledge of languages other than English not required but useful. We will also read theoretical texts by Freud, Blanchot, Heidegger, Deleuze, Lacan, etc.

Prof. Halim
Culture and Critique: Mediterraneanism in Literature and Culture (Seminar)
COLIT-GA 1951.001

The Mediterranean – bordered by three continents, springboard of several ancient civilizations, subject of myriad literary and artistic representations – is a compelling object of study as an ideal space for “pluridisciplinary perspectives” (Paul Sant Cassia and Isabel Shafer), “interdisciplinary” and “comparative” work (Claudio Fogu and Lucia Re). As an intercultural space that predates the emergence of the modern nation-state, it compels our attention in relation to contemporary phenomena such as transnationalism, the refugee crisis and discourses such as globalization. This course approaches the subject through lenses drawn from: cultural studies; literature and literary theory; anthropology; philology; and history/historiography; and film. Literary, scholarly and cinematic texts by, among others: Radwa Ashour, Fernand Braudel, Youssef Chahine, Lawrence Durrell, Taha Husayn, Edwar al-Kharrat, Mark Mazower, and Maria Rosa Menocal.

Prof. Sanders
Paranoia: Genealogies and Futures
COLIT-GA 2122.001

It is no secret that we live in an age of paranoia, our times distinguished by a heightened concern about surveillance that is far from pathological, and a disturbing return to what Richard Hofstadter in 1964 termed “the paranoid style in American politics.” Our seminar is thus an attempt to gain an orientation in these times by engaging in a close and critical reading of texts and sources of theory about paranoia, from Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness and Freud and Lacan’s readings thereof, to works by Melanie Klein, George Orwell, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze, and others. Close attention will also be devoted to documents relating to WikiLeaks and to two of the best known whistleblowers of our time, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. In broader terms, this course is designed as opening the question of the relevance of psychoanalytic theory to the analysis of texts both literary and political in a time of rapidly changing media and communications technology.

Prof. Duffy
Topics: The Technology of Devotion: (Early) Modernity, Ecstasy, and the Lyric
COLIT-GA 2978.001

This seminar will allow students to investigate a long history of devotional archives, ultimately tackling three discursive "eras": the ecstatic and theological writings of Augustine, Hildegard von Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Dante, and Petrarch, selections of devotional lyric poetry from John Donne to Rilke, and, most urgently, the theological revisitations of Derrida and Peter Sloterdijk. We will trade in tidy narratives of "secular turns" and modernity for considerations of long history, deep archives, (Neo-) Platonic ghosts and echoes, and eclectic and ecstatic methodologies of philosophizing beyond materiality.

Prof. Bianchi
Topics in Feminism/Sexual Politics: Philosophy and the Gendered Body
COLIT-GA 2956.001

The association of mind or soul with the masculine and the body with the feminine within Western philosophy has by now been well-established by feminist philosophers. Taking this insight as a starting point, we will ask: how is the body apprehensible; how does the body come to philosophical language? Alternately disparaged and elevated, it is evidently the site of symptoms and disease, of mortality, of sexuality, of suffering and pleasure, of truth and deception; in many registers it appears as marked surface, insofar as it is the bearer of race, gender, ability and impotency; but also subterranean depth and elusive nature. While “the body” certainly appears as an effect of a vast range of activities and discourses, including poetic, artistic, cultural, scientific, medical, juridical, normative, political and everyday practices, it also has a specifically philosophical history. Without any particular claim to comprehensiveness, we will consider the place and signification of the body - marked by gender but also by race and other sorts of signification - at a range of philosophical sites, including antiquity and early modernity, existential phenomenology, psychoanalysis, feminism and other recent philosophical movements up to and including "new materialisms." Authors will include Plato, Descartes, Freud, Merleau-Ponty, Fanon, Wittig, Irigaray, Foucault, Butler, and Grosz, among others.

Prof. Comay
Hegel's Phenomenology: Death, Sovereignty, Theater
COLIT-GA 2991.002

Meets April 4-25.
About half-way through the Phenomenology of Spirit Hegel’s project seems suddenly to explode: the subject-matter of the book shifts (in Hegel's own words) from “shapes of consciousness” to “shapes of the world.”  What had begun as an exercise in transcendental philosophy -- the excavation of the structures of consciousness—mutates in unforeseen ways into a strange assemblage of social theory, political philosophy, institutional critique, aesthetic theory, literary criticism, sociology of religion, moral theory… and a dramatic chronicle of the most urgent political events of the day.  (These are just some of the topics explored in the ballooning second half of the book. One of Hegel’s early readers described the pot-pourri as an “abborrent mixture.”)   One of our goals will be to think about what is at stake in this dramatic expansion of the boundaries of subjectivity.

In this four-week course we’ll concentrate on the “Spirit” chapter of the Phenomenology. While the emphasis will be on a close reading of Hegel’s text, we’ll also be looking at some of the texts it engages (in particular Sophocles and Diderot). Among the topics to be explored: death and sovereignty; transgenerational trauma and memory politics; revolution and terror;  theatricality and philosophy.   Contemporary reactions and resonances will also be considered (e.g. Butler, Balibar, Lacan, Zizek, Badiou).

No prior background in Hegel will be assumed, but students might wish to familiarize themselves with the Phenomenology (if only to become acclimatized to Hegel’s own peculiar use of language). 

Required texts:
Hegel. Phenomenology of Spirit. trans. A. V. Miller  (Oxford UP, 1977).   This is the translation we’ll be working with and it is crucial that everyone brings their copy to the seminar each week.  Students might also want to consult the forthcoming translation by Terry Pinkard, available online (with facing German original) at
Sophocles, Antigone, trans. Robert Fagles, in Three Theban Plays (Penguin, 1982)
Diderot,  'Rameau's Nephew' - 'le Neveu de Rameau': A Multi-Media Bilingual Edition, ed. Marian Hobson (Open Book, 2nd expanded edition, 2015)