Comparative History of Literature
- The overall objective of this course is to provide students with theoretical tools and material substance for coparative analysis of trends, authors, and texts across national, cultural, and medial borders.
- Retracing the material of the entire Program's literary curriculum, the course enables students to obtain and finalize a panomaric view over the cultural and literary scene of the 19th to 21st centuries, as well as revise and sharpen their critical thinking about methods in comparative literature studies.
- analyzes, relates, and compares literary texts across lingual and cultural borders
- understands and explains articulately the central theoretical concepts that account for literary relationships among several national traditions of the last two centuries in comparative terms
- questions and thinks critically about the historical, cultural, formal, ideological, and medial distinctions accepted normatively in comparative literature studies and related disciplines within arts and humanities
- demonstrates a potential for undertaking independent research in the area of comparative literature studies
- The Indiscipline of Comparison—Looking Back from the Twenty-First CenturyPart I will take us through the 20th- and early 21st-century developments of essential notions in literary history and comparative literature studies. Starting with a discussion of methodological differences between traditional approaches in comparative literature and the alternative ideology of globalized/transnational world literature(s), we will move in reversed chronology to the late realist/early modernist critique and postmodernist disintegration of the institution of romantic authorship. Linking them to the problems of pluralistic point of view and polyphonic narrative in the Russian and Anglo-American fiction, we will reflect upon the notions of intertextuality as opposed to source criticism. To observe how literature reaches out and speaks to other media, we will explore some of its relations with Western art music.
- The Political Unconscious of Nineteenth-Century RealismIn Part II our goal will be to accumulate more sophisticated theoretical and socio-political perspectives on the diverse body of texts that has come to be known as nineteenth-century realism (we will focus in particular on the French, Russian, and Anglo-American traditions). In the process we will debunk the notion of a literature that simply represents “life as it is.” Instead, realism will be considered as both a multiplicity of aesthetic styles and as a socio-historical sense of self. Moreover, we will examine the artistic construction of social reality as an inherently (unavoidably) political act. Along the way, we will also explore the intellectual exchange between literary realism and the visual arts: the peredvizhniki movement in Russia and impressionism in French painting.
- Surrealism and Its Global LegacyIn Part III the focus will shift to the audacious surrealist quest for a “higher reality,” predicated on unleashing the power of the unconscious. First, we will examine how the Paris surrealist (Breton, Dali, Buñuel and others) established the new artistic mode spanning literature, painting, and cinema—which was in fact inextricably linked to their defiant way of life and somewhat quixotic political agenda. We will also examine comparable and epigonic movements in Russia, Eastern Europe, and the United States, to assess surrealism’s enduring legacy in aesthetics and our understanding of the psyche.
- In-Class ParticipationStudent are expected to attend all classes and participate in seminar discussions. During the tutorials, students demonstrate that they have read the texts assigned for homework by responding to the course instructor’s warm-up introduction of the topic, answering questions, commenting, and asking further questions to engage the class in a meaningful conversation
- TestOnline tests, 10 questions each, via LMS
- EssayAt the end of the first module, students submit a short comparative essay - 5 pages maximum (Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced).
- Online contributionThroughout the course, students submit various assignments to the course participants’ LMS forum (new topics, replies to topics and other students’ posts, attaching extra materials for others to see).
- Seminar presentationIn the second and third module, each student will make one 10-15 min. presentation (in English), focusing closely on one text from the assignment for that week. The presentation should avoid background information and summarization of the text; instead students should present a sustained argument with a strong thesis. The presentation should conclude with a question (or two) addressed to the class for further discussion.
- Final research paper7-8 pages (Times New Roman, 12 pt., double-spaced). At the end of the third module, students submit a research paper on a topic directly related to the content of the course. The important thing is the sophistication of your analytical approach. Therefore, you should refer to at least 1-2 of the theoretical/scholarly works from the syllabus (or other equally important theoretical/scholarly works).
- Interim assessment (1 module)0.7 * Essay + 0.3 * Test
- Interim assessment (3 module)0.3 * Final research paper + 0.2 * In-Class Participation + 0.2 * Interim assessment (1 module) + 0.15 * Online contribution + 0.15 * Seminar presentation
- Behdad, A., & Thomas, D. R. D. (2011). A Companion to Comparative Literature (Vol. 1st ed). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=391356
- Brodskai︠a︡, N. V. (2012). Surrealism. New York: Parkstone International. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=455960
- Brooks, P. (2005). Realist Vision. New Haven: Yale University Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=187667
- Damrosch, D. (2017). How to Read World Literature (Vol. Second edition). Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=1553409
- Richardson, M. (2006). Surrealism and Cinema. Oxford: Berg Publishers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=204125
- Wetherhill, P. M. (2000). Rendering French Realism (Book Review). Modern Language Review, 95(2), 514. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=asn&AN=3132193