Topics in Comparative Literature
Topic: Global Fashion Narratives
Drago Momcilovic, Lec 201 / 3 cr / U/G / ONLINE
Dressing for success, dressing to the nines, glamming it up—these catch phrases are more than just sound bytes. They implicate fashion, textile design, aesthetic taste and personal style in larger narratives about identity and identity formation at the individual and collective levels. But what do clothing, jewelry and accessories really tell us about the modern individual, her origins and ambitions, her past struggles and social networks, her rich inner life, or her place in a world populated by so many other shoppers, critics, and style icons? What does it mean to have style or taste, particularly when critics of fashion are so openly hostile to fashion’s famous excesses and apathies? How does our understanding of fashion, beauty, and style evolve over time and shape the way we look at gender, sexuality, creativity, race, religion, commerce, the body, and aging? This online course explores the many different literary, cinematic and artistic representations of fashion during the last 200 years. Our survey will include body modification tales by Junichiro Tanizaki, Franz Kafka and Nikolai Gogol; symbolist poems by Charles Baudelaire and Barbie poems by Denise Duhamel; masquerade tales by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Collette, and Yukio Mishima; selected music videos by Madonna, Lady GaGa, Beyoncé, Yelle, and Culture Club; and iconic fashion films Desperately Seeking Susan, Elizabeth, and Coco Before Chanel; and selected episodes of Absolutely Fabulous!, Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model. We will also frame our discussions about fashion and identity with readings from philosophers and theorists like Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Georg Simmel, Elizabeth Wilson, Simone de Beauvoir, and Michel Foucault.  Open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

FALL 2020

COMPLIT 350: Topics in Comparative Literature
Topic: European Comics and Graphic Novels
Drago Momcilovic, /
Lec 201 / 3 cr / ONLINE
8-Week Fall Session: October 19-December 12, 2020
From the comic strip to the comic book and graphic novel, the cartoon arts have quickly become one of the most important types of storytelling in the modern world, particularly in Europe. European comics have exploded and diversified into different genres and forms—including the bandes dessinées in France and Belgium, the superhero genre and the graphic memoir, and postmodern reinventions of the “comix” medium. Clearly, European comics and graphic novels have quickly evolved from their 19th-century roots in caricature to become innovative and gripping meditations on European identity, community, history, and artistry. In this special-session 8-week online course, we will trace the intellectual, cultural, social and historical dimensions of modern European life, as reflected in comics.  We will also look at the development of European comics as a literary culture of its own and study key texts from philosophical, literary, visual and historical perspectives. Our texts will tentatively include Hergé’s Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Rene Goscinny’s Asterix the Gaul, Igort’s Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks, and Marjane Satrapi’s Iranian coming-of-age story Persepolis. Students will also have the opportunity to take inspiration from these modern European artists in developing their own creative graphic novel project, due at the end of the term. Affiliated with the MA in Language, Literature, and Translation.

COMPLIT 360: Seminar in Literature and Cultural Experience
Topic: Early Christian Literature
Demetrius Williams, /
8-Week Fall Session: October 19-December 12, 2020
What did the faithful of the early Church believe? How did they address the questions of politics, society, gender, and history? Why were women able to attain leadership roles in some Christian groups and not in others? Why did some Christian groups reject sex, even within marriage? Why were some Christian groups labeled “heretical” and others “orthodox”? Why has the literature, beliefs and doctrines of “heretical” groups been kept hidden from general readers? (As portrayed in the movie Stigmata [1999]!) Why are there so many different Christian groups and divisions among them? Early Christian Literature, composed as an introductory course, is designed to address the questions above and others by critically exploring the diverse literature of early Christianity from the second through the fourth centuries of the Common Era (100s – 300s C.E.), which was an explosive era of growth and debate within the emerging new religion of Christianity. While no prior knowledge of the literature is required, a close reading of the literature provides insight to the above and other intriguing questions. The purpose of this course is two-fold: (1) to introduce students to a broad array of early Christian literature outside of the New Testament canon; and 2) to critically examine and explore the variety of early “Christianities” and other related social and religious issues that are reflected in these writings. Affiliated with the MA in Language, Literature, and Translation.

COMPLIT 365: Literatures and Cultures of the Americas
Topic: Families in the Borderlands
Kristin Pitt, /
Lec 201 / 3 cr / ONLINE
This course examines narratives, theories, and practices of borders and migration within the Americas and how those intersect or conflict with narratives, theories, and practices of family. How are national and political borders defined, conceptualized, and experienced? How do narrative constructions of borders shape border experience? What does it mean to cross the border and live as an immigrant or as a family of immigrantsHow are family units shaped by the processes and policies of migration, including separation and reunification? And finally, how are these questions explored in literature and film? Our investigation of borders, migration, and family will also deepen our understanding of a wide range of contemporary discourses, including gender, sexuality, nationalism, exile, diaspora, security, human rights, hybridity, and race. While the U.S./Mexico border will serve as a starting point for many of our theoretical and literary engagements with the concepts and representations of borders, our collective readings will take into account other border experiences as well. Affiliated with the MA in Language, Literature, and Translation.
COMPLIT 820: Translation Theory
Lec 201 / 3 cr / Online / G

The role of translation in development of languages, cultures, and societies; cultural and ideological forces shaping translations; contemporary theories of translation.
Jointly offered with TRNSLTN 820.


CompLit 457: Topics in French and Francophone Studies
Topic: French and Francophone Existentialism

Drago Momcilovic, /
Lec 201 / 3 cr/ ONLINE
8-Week Summer Session: June 22-August 15, 2020

As a set of postwar intellectual currents, existentialism (as well as the absurd) seeks to uncover the meanings of human existence and the way we come to those meanings, in light of concepts like freedom, responsibility, authenticity, situation, anxiety, alienation, and responsibility. How do we create meaningful lives? What justifications do we need to live life in spite of the death that awaits us? How do we talk about these things, and what place do these ideas have in French and Francophone culture? This online course explores the rise of existential and absurdist themes in French and Francophone literature, film and television. Our texts tentatively include the novels The Stranger by Albert Camus, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ, and A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir; the plays A Tempest by Aimé Césaire and No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre; the films Black Girl by Ousmane Sembeneand Cléo from 5 to 7 by Agnès Varda; selected episodes of the Arte France television series The Churchmen and the Canal+ television series Les revenants; and philosophical writings by Blaise Pascal, Gabriel Marcel, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Simone Weil, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Frantz Fanon. Jointly offered with FRENCH 457. Affiliated with the MA in Language, Literature, and Translation.