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Course Offerings

Fall 2016

CMLT-C 110: Writing the World: Us against the World (Johnson/Staff)
Carries IUB GenEd Foundations in Writing: EC and CASE EC credits.
7 sections, various days and times

A family at war with itself, a war hero disgusted by his homeland, sisters fleeing unwanted marriages, a man alone against untamed nature—what happens when characters find themselves backed into a corner, at odds with the world that surrounds them? Some lash out, others retreat, others search for a new way out. Join us in pursuit of these characters battling inhospitable environments.

All sections of CMLT-C 110 will read Suppliants and Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus, Shakespeare’s tragedy of treason Coriolanus, Federico Lorca’s dramatic masterpiece The House of Bernarda Alba, and Campbell McGrath’s tale of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Shannon. Each section will read additional literature unique to that section. Individual sections may include television, art, music, and film. 
Assignments: 3 analytical essays, short papers, 3 quizzes, introduction to basic research skills.

CMLT-C 111: Reading the World (Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
05:45-07:00     MW     SY002

For various reasons and in many places, the 19th and 20th centuries were downright revolutionary. This course will parse through the stories written about these transformative moments to ascertain whether there is any continuity in this unruly body of literature. Texts will include poetry, fiction and drama from Latin America, Africa and the United States. Read together, we will try to make connections about the nature of power and resistance. What gives rise to movements of revolt and what does the insurgent hope to accomplish? What are the politics of those telling these stories and what are the limits of this representation? What does it mean to be a reader of these stories and what does that imply about the way we live?

CMLT-C 147: Images of the Self: East and West (Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, GenEd WC, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
04:00- 05:15    MW     BH247

Why is astronomy scientific but astrology, in which the planets influence our moods, superstitious? Annie Dillard, for example, suggests that modern science does not allow us to draw human meaning from the raw universe. This course asks how else, beyond scientific paradigms, might we find ourselves related to the world, or part of the world? We will search and compare three traditions—High Modernism in the West, Chinese poetics, Platonic myths and Medieval Romances—for ways to relate to the world beyond science. Through sensuous experience: the adult Marcel’s childhood memory is triggered by the sensuous taste of madeleine cakes. Through metaphor: the Chinese reflect upon the waxing and waning of the moon, as a metaphor of the vicissitudes of life. Through myth: Plato tells a myth that the soul, when falling in love, will have its wings growing back, and fly up to see the true world. Readings include excerpts from Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, Pater’s “The Child in the House,” Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Laozi’s Daodejing, poems from Li Pai and Su Shi, Plato’s Phaedrus and Symposium, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (Lukes/Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
4 sections various days and times

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture: Comedy (Lukes)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
Course section description: What’s so funny? What are you laughing at? This course examines literary and cultural forms of comedy, to determine what produces laughter and how. From antiquity to the present, Aristophanes to Amy Schumer, LOL to ROFL, across jokes, satire, farce, parody, caricature, sarcasm, irony, cabaret, stand up, and more, we shall interrogate and gain a critical perspective on comedy in popular culture. We’ll investigate how what’s funny and what isn’t gets determined, and what is acceptable to joke about and what is not, observe how humor changes over time, and seek to understand the power structures, politics, violences, and intersectionalities at play within acts and cultures of laughter.

CMLT-C 151: Introduction to Popular Culture (Sidky)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.

What does it mean to face death? To lose a loved one? To experience oppression, war, displacement, destruction? What does it mean to turn that experience into art? This course looks at responses to disaster in literature and other artistic forms to understand how being confronted by catastrophic events — from personal loss and trauma to wars and genocide — has been used as inspiration by writers and artists. Across a range of texts including literature, film, television, music, and theater this class introduces students to art as a mode of expression and a source of consolation in the face of great tragedy. Possible texts may include Art Spiegelman’s Maus, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and selections from poets such as Claudia Rankine and Kadya Molodovsky. Students can expect close-reading and other analytical writing tasks, a mid-term, and will produce a final research paper.

CMLT-C 155: Culture and the Modern Experience: An Interdisciplinary and International Approach “boundless love.”: Queer Romance in Comparative Literature (Scalzo)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
04:00 – 05:15  TR       BH319

This course will deal with international representations of LGBT romance and other forms of nonheteronormative attraction. We will explore the experiences of queer individuals and consider how these identities are constructed and conveyed in a variety of genre and media. What might these representations tell us about processes of identity construction? How do these representations engage with their respective cultures? How do they fit within our ideas of art and literature? What can they tell us about our own culture or “global” culture?

Students should expect critical and creative assignments, including two papers, a midterm exam, and intermittent reading quizzes as graded assessments.

Genres may include: Novel, Poetry, Short Story, Drama, Musical Theatre and Opera, Film, Adaptation

Works may include: Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Jonathan Larson’s RENT, Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, Julie Maroh’s Blue is the Warmest Color, Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch


CMLT-C 205: Comparative Literary Analysis: Writing about Writing (Van der Laan)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE IW credits.
Required for majors in Comparative Literature.
11:15A – 12:30P         TR       BH011

Metafiction: texts that break down the boundaries between the fictional and the “real” worlds to reflect on the nature of fiction and the fictions that underpin reality. We will read metafictional novels, plays, and poems from a range of national traditions and eras, including Shakespeare, Hamlet; Calderon, Life Is a Dream; Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; Cervantes, Don Quixote; Borges, Fictions; and Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Students will learn the basic approaches and methods of comparative literature and literary analysis—and learn to turn those methods on the world around them, to decode the narratives and authorial strategies that shape the “real world”. Students will also refine their close-reading skills and improve their ability to craft essays in literary criticism: to write about writing themselves. Expectations include extensive reading assignments, frequent essays, and regular participation in class discussion.

CMLT-C 216: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and the Western Tradition (Lukes)
Carries GenEd A&H and CASE A&H credits.
09:30 – 10:45  TR       SY002
Whether we are entering portals to other worlds, submitting to invasions from them, or simply being asked to imagine new realities around and within us, science fiction and fantasy assemble speculative alternatives to realism and the literary as mimesis or imitation. This class will examine how canonical and innovative SF/F texts construct fantasy worlds and the creatures that inhabit them, and will investigate the literary, cultural, social and political functions of imagining alternate realities and histories. Through fiction, film, comics, music, and other media, we will question the function of world-building, in the era of virtual realities and digital interactions, ecological uncertainty, critiques of colonialism, and electronic escapism.

CMLT-C 251: Lyrics and Popular Song (Hertz)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE DUS credits.
04:00 – 05:15  TR       BH109

With figures like Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen as our guides, we will learn how popular song brings together melody, harmony, lyrics, and verse structure to achieve a complete performative art form.

The course will explore all sorts of popular songs, from the nineteenth century to now. We will mostly concentrate on the great American songwriters, including such as figures as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen.  We will periodically move abroad to study French, Italian, Argentine, Brazilian and Mexican songs. Our target in all cases is the same: the varied phenomena of how words and music come together in the hybrid art form we call the popular song. At times we will concentrate on the culture that produced the song, and its means of production and distribution. Most of the time, we will focus close attention on the work of the lyricist or the composer. Sometimes we will discover that they are the same person. The great Cole Porter is a case in point, and Irving Berlin is another fine example. At other times, we will focus on a great performer, such as Piaf or Sinatra. Or we will discover that the performer and creator are sometimes the same person, as in the case of Jacques Brel, the Beatles, or Springsteen. Lyrics will be analyzed in relation to the musical structures and as poetry too. Most important will be to study the popular song as a complete art form, using both words and music. Emphasis will be on the 30s through the 50s, but there will be some discussion of the 60s and after and some very recent song material as well.

There are no prerequisites. Varied levels of training in music and poetry are expected from the students in the class. There will be two short papers and two exams (midterm and final).

CMLT-C 255: Modern Literature and Other Arts (Staff)
Carries GenEd A&H, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
11:15A            -12:30P

CMLT-C 261: Introduction to African Literature (Julien)
Carries GenEd A&H, GenEd WC, CASE A&H, and CASE GCC credits.
Meets second eight weeks only.
10:10A – 12:30P         MW     LI044B

How have Africans represented themselves?  We will read literary and film texts such as: Niane’s Sundiata, An Epic of Old Mali; the 18th century slave narrative, The Interesting Narrative of Olaudah Equiano; a selection of Birago Diop’s neo-traditional Tales of Amadou Koumba; anti-colonial novels by Chinua Achebe and Ferdinand Oyono; the film, Half of a Yellow Sun, based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel of Nigerian civil war; Boubacar Boris Diop’s novel of the Rwandan genocide, Murambi: The Book of Bones; Ngugi wa Thiongo’s novel of decolonization, A Grain of Wheat; André Brink’s and Euzhan Palcy’s anti-apartheid novel and film A Dry White Season; anti-colonial poems from Senegal and South Africa; feminist short stories by Egyptian Alifa Rikaat and Zimbabwean Petina Gappah; Ama Ata Aidoo’s feminist/anti-slavery play Anowa; and popular African-language fictions by Ben R. Mtobwa and Balaraba Ramat Yakhubu.

We will focus on the formal qualities of these works, the broad historical conditions affecting African artistic production, and debates in African literary studies on the use of European and African languages, the representation of the pre-colonial past, postcoloniality and modernity, locality and universality/globalization. We are likely to have a guest poet and a guest filmmaker.

CMLT-C 315: Lyric Poetry: Nonsense (Marks)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
Meets second eight weeks only.
04:00 – 06:30  MW     BH305

Starting with Friedrich Schlegel’s essay “On Incomprehensibility,” we shall explore the role of nonsense in poetry--or, in more traditional terms, the relation of literary language to the unspeakable. Why are riddle and enigma the vehicles of choice for traditional “wisdom”? Are there continuities between literary obscurity and the lure of the occult? How useful is the Freudian model of manifest and latent, surface and depth, for the understanding of figurative language? What do we mean by “difficult pleasures”? How should one respond to the naive reader (or student) who says of a poem, “I like it because I understand it”?

Keeping these and similar questions in mind, we shall devote each session to the intensive reading of a small number of influential texts that go out of their way to resist comprehension. These will range from the fragments of Heraclitus and biblical proverbs to poems and critical prose by such modern writers as Dickinson, Mallarmé, Valéry, Stevens, Crane, Celan, and John Ashbery.

Written work: brief response papers on assigned topics and a final essay on a topic chosen by the student.

CMLT-C 322: Writing and Photography (Johnston)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
11:15A – 12:30P         MW     BH219

Photographs are everywhere in our lives. Often we don’t look at them closely—their meaning seems obvious at a single glance. Yet photographs are much more complex and interesting than they might seem. The notion that they show us “reality,” because they incorporate an imprint of the real world, conceals their complexity, their contextuality, and their partiality.

This class is about how to write about photographs, which means that it is about how to think about photographs. We’ll take a close analytical look at certain photographs and photo books, and examine how different authors have written about them. We’ll also look at some literary texts in which photographs play a crucial role.

As the semester proceeds, you will begin your own exploration through writing. You’ll create a series of short assignments in different modes (analytic, critical, creative) about photographs, books and exhibitions of photography, and photographers of your own choosing.

CMLT-C 337: The Twentieth Century: Tradition and Change (Marks)
Carries CASE A&H and CASE GCC credits.
Meets second eight weeks only.
07:15 – 09:45  MW     BH018

Beginning with selections from Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, we shall be focusing on the modern culture of inwardness and on questions of language and consciousness as they are reflected in a number of major twentieth-century writers (Proust, Kafka, Woolf, and Faulkner, are likely candidates, together with one or two poets who wrote in English). Topics to be discussed include memory and history, the manipulation of time, and the relation of truth and fiction. Requirements: one detailed analysis of a poem and a final paper.

CMLT-C 340: Women in World Literature (Staff)
Carries CASE A&H and CASE GCC credits.
02:30 – 03:45  TR       BH148

The past holds us in its grip. Perhaps a disquieting memory hovers like a shadow in the back of the mind. Maybe a forgotten or forbidden history begs to be rediscovered. Memories of loved ones might serve as beacons of hope and strength. Whether a source of laughter or grief, hope or despair, the past invades and intertwines with present life in these narratives. This course will consider the various ways that the past maintains its hold on people, how memory and knowledge can instruct and heal—and how it can also sometimes irrevocably harm.

Course texts come from a blend of personal experience and creative imaginings from women around the world. They include The Farming of Bones (Danticat), Persepolis (Satrapi), and Mother Tongue (Özdamar). Coursework will involve in-class participation, online forum discussions, and two comparative essays.

CMLT-C 345: Literature and Religion: The Holy Man (Johnson)
Carries CASE A&H and CASE IW credits.
04:00 – 05:15 TR        BH337

Radical visionary, contaminated outcast, persecuted prisoner, self-destructive tyrant—these are among the manifestations of the holy man that we will experience through the literatures of Egypt, Israel, Greece, Italy, England, and the U.S. The figure of the holy man is one of the most fascinating characters in Western literatures. He runs the range of human experience from purest spiritual ecstasy to the deepest degradation. We will investigate this figure and where he fits into the society that surrounds him—as leader, reformer, prophet, pariah, good-luck charm. Reading list: The Book of Job, Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, Dante’s Purgatory, John Milton’s Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes, Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, Naguib Mahfouz’s Akhenaten. This course does not seek to promote or discredit any religion, agnosticism, or atheism.

Workload: 4 analytical essays, 4 short papers, 1 draft revision. Prerequisite: fulfillment of IU General Education English composition or approved equivalent.

CMLT-C 355: Literature, the Arts, and Their Interrelationship: Beauty, Sacred and Profane (Velázquez)
Carries CASE A&H and CASE IW credits.
11:15A- 12:30P                       MW     SE240

Common sense dictates: “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder,” that is to say, an entirely subjective matter. Philosophers claim beauty is self-evident, “as obvious as the color blue.” This course will examine theories of beauty and its “others” (goodness, grace, and the grotesque) through close analysis of visual, literary, and religious texts. Questions considered include: What sorts of desires and fears does beauty inspire? Is beauty always synonymous with goodness? Does beauty distract from holiness as much as it can bring us closer to it? How does human beauty differ from the divine sort; can either be apprehended by artistic forms? How do we stand before Goya’s “terrible beauty”? Finally, what sorts of beauty are possible in a world when God has been declared dead; or as German thinker Theodor Adorno wondered, is writing poetry after Auschwitz barbaric? 3 short essays, final project, and participation in Themester activities required.

CMLT-C 361: African Literature and Other Arts (Adesokan)
Carries CASE A&H, CASE GCC, and CASE IW credits.
04:00 – 05:15P            TR       FA010

In this course we will discuss at length the different traditions of African literary writings, focusing on the emergence of these genres—fiction, drama, poetry—in relation to other art forms. The course explores the relationships between literature and other arts in three related ways: first, the development of a variety of African literary traditions from oral and visual forms which continue to survive in media such as cinema, music, cartoon; second, the autonomous growth of the non-literary media as social forms; and thirdly, their increasing visibility partly as a result of the crises in literary publishing on the continent. Authors and artists may include Ama Ata Aidoo, Ayi Kwei Armah, Souleymane Cisse, Boris Diop, Daniel Fagunwa, Fela Kuti, Flora Gomes, Dani Kouyate, Sarah Manyika, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Wole Soyinka.

CMLT-C 370: Comparative Studies in Western and Middle Eastern Literatures: Voyages through the Thousand and One Nights (Losensky)
Carries CASE A&H, CASE GCC, and CASE IW credits.
11:15A- 12:05P                       MWF   BH018

Sindbad, Scheherazade, Ali Baba, and Aladdin—the stories of these characters have been retold so often that they have become part of our global literary imagination. In this course, we will examine how The Thousand and One Nights, or Arabian Nights, took shape in medieval Islamic culture and, like Sindbad, voyaged around the world. To begin our journey, we will study the origins and structure of the work, its narrative techniques, typical character types, and the social values and aspirations they embody. We will then map the travels of the Nights around the world through the history of its translations into western languages, comparing some of its many English versions. Finally, we will track the stories of the Nights into the mediums of visual art and film and discuss a few of its many rewritings in modern literature by authors such as William Beckford, John Barth, Naguib Mahfuz, and Salman Rushdie. In the course of our voyage, we will make land in the realms of narratology, Orientalism, and gender and translation studies.

CMLT-C 405: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature: Eugene Onegin: Pushkin’s Paradoxical Gem (Hofstader)
Carries CASE A&H credit.
01:00 – 02:15  TR       BH221

CMLT-C490: Individual Studies in Film and Literature

CMLT-C495 Individual Readings in Comparative Literature

CMLT-C496 Foreign Study in Comparative Literature

CMLT-C499 Studies for Honors

Courses from previous semesters

  • Spring 2016
  • Fall 2015
  • Spring 2015
  • Fall 2014
  • Spring 2014
  • Fall 2013
  • Spring 2013
  • Fall 2012
  • Spring 2012
  • Fall 2011
  • Spring 2011
  • Fall 2010
  • Spring 2010
  • Fall 2009
  • Spring 2009
  • Fall 2008