Comparative Literature and Society

Program Office: B-101 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-4541; icls@columbia.edu
http://icls.columbia.edu

Director: Prof. Lydia Liu, 407 Kent Hall; 212-854-5631; ll2410@columbia.edu

Associate Director: Associate Prof. Anupama Rao, Barnard Hall 2nd Floor, Lefrak 226; 212-854-8547; arao@barnard.edu

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Associate Prof. Madeleine Dobie, 510 Philosophy; 212-854-9874; mld2027@columbia.edu

Director of Medicine, Literature and Society Major track: Assistant Prof. of Medicine Rishi Goyal; B106 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-4541; rkg6@columbia.edu

Assistant Director: Sarah Monks, B-102 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-8850; sm3373@columbia.edu

Established at Columbia in 1998, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) promotes a global perspective in the study of literature and its social context. Committed to cross-disciplinary study of literary works, the Institute brings together the rich resources of Columbia in the various literatures of the world; in the social sciences; in art history, architecture, and media; and in the medical humanities.

The major program at ICLS allows qualified students to study literature, culture, and society with reference to material from several national traditions, or in combination of literary study with comparative study in other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Under the guidance of the director of undergraduate studies, students select courses offered by participating departments.

The program is designed for students whose interest and expertise in languages other than English permit them to work comparatively in several national or regional cultures. The course of study differs from that of traditional comparative literature programs, both in its cross-disciplinary nature and in its expanded geographic range, including not just European, but also Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Latin American cultures.

The program includes course work in the social sciences, and several core courses are jointly taught by faculty from different disciplines. Students thus explore a variety of methodological and disciplinary approaches to cultural and literary artifacts in the broadest sense. The cross-disciplinary range of the program includes visual and media studies; law and the humanities; medicine and the humanities; and studies of space, cities, and architecture. As a major or concentration, this program can be said to flow naturally from Columbia’s Core Curriculum, which combines literature, art, philosophy, and social thought, and consistently attracts some of Columbia’s most ambitious and cosmopolitan students.

Students can choose to complete the major in Comparative Literature and Society (CLS) or the major track in Medicine, Literature, and Society (MLS). Currently, the MLS track is not available for the concentration.

Given the wide variety of geographic and disciplinary specializations possible within the major and concentration, students construct their course sequence in close collaboration with the director of undergraduate studies. All students, however, share the experience of taking the course CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society in their sophomore year, as well as the required senior seminar in the fall of their last year in the program. The ICLS major and concentration are designed for students interested in the cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study of texts, traditions, media, and discourses in an increasingly transnational world.

Students planning to apply for admission to the CLS major, the MLS major track, or the CLS concentration should organize their course of study in order to complete the following prerequisites by the end of the sophomore year:

  1. Preparation to undertake advanced work in one foreign language, to be demonstrated by completion of two introduction to literature courses, typically numbered 3333-3350.
  2. Completion of at least four terms of study of a second foreign language or two terms in each of two foreign languages.
  3. Enrollment in CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society in the spring semester of the sophomore year.

Information about admission requirements and application to the major or concentration can be found at http://icls.columbia.edu/academics/undergraduate/the_undergraduate_program. Students are advised to meet with the director of undergraduate studies before submitting the statement of purpose for the application.

Departmental Honors

To be eligible for departmental honors, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.6 for courses in the major. Departmental honors will be conferred only on students who have submitted a superior senior thesis that clearly demonstrates originality and excellent scholarship. Note that the senior thesis is not required for the major. For information on the honors program, see http://icls.columbia.edu/academics/undergraduate/undergraduate_departmental_honors.

Executive Committee of ICLS

Gil Anidjar (Religion; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies)
Bruno Bosteels (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Jean Louise Cohen (Political Science)
Patricia A. Dailey (English and Comparative Literature)
Souleymane Bachir Diagne (French and Romance Philology)
Mamadou Diouf (Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies)
Madeleine Dobie (French and Romance Philology)
Brent Hayes Edwards (English and Comparative Literature, Jazz)
Stathis Gourgouris (Classics, English and Comparative Literature)
Rishi Kumar Goyal (Emergency Medicine)
Bernard Harcourt (Columbia Law School)
Lydia H. Liu (East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Anupama P Rao (History, Barnard)
Jesus R. Velasco (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Alessandra Russo (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Felicity Scott (Graduate School of Architecture and Public Planning)
Oliver Simons (Germanic Languages)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor of the Humanities)
Dennis Tenen (English and Comparative Literature)
Nadia Urbinati (Political Science)

Guidelines for all ICLS Majors and Concentrators

An application worksheet can be found on our website. Applications are due in early January of a student's sophomore year. At the time of application, students interested in the major (including the major track in Medicine, Literature, and Society) or concentration must have met these requirements:

  1. Foreign language 1: four semesters of language training (or equivalent) and two semesters of introductory literature courses, typically numbered 3330-3350;
  2. (CLS Majors only) Foreign language 2: four semesters of one language or two semesters of two languages;
  3. CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, usually taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  4. A GPA of at least 3.5;
  5. A focus statement, 1-2 pages in length. The focus is a period, theme, problem, movement, etc., that is explored from an interdisciplinary and/or a comparative perspective. Faculty understand that this statement is a work in progress, but that it serves as a useful guide to students' academic pursuits and course selection.

Major in Comparative Literature and Society

The major in Comparative Literature and Society requires a minimum of 42 points, or 14-15 courses. Note that language courses taken to fulfill the application requirements 1 and 2 above do not count toward the major or concentration. In the description below, "affiliated disciplines" refers to the humanities (except the language and literature departments), the social sciences (history, anthropology, political science, etc.), law, and architecture:

  1. CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, required for all majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  2. Advanced courses as follows (please note that one course may be used to fulfill two of the advanced course requirements):
    • Two courses with a CPLS designator. CLxx courses, i.e., courses designated as comparative in nature by various language and literature departments, may count for the major with director of undergraduate studies' approval
    • Two seminars (discussion-driven courses at the 3000- or 4000-level), chosen from among the affiliated disciplines
    • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English, preferably conducted in the target language and for which written assignments are composed in the language as well
    • Three courses in a single national or regional literature and/or culture, chosen from any discipline or school
    • Four courses in literature or any of the affiliated disciplines and related to the student’s historical or thematic focus;
  3. CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society;
  4. Senior thesis (optional).

Major Track in Medicine, Literature, and Society

The major track in Medicine, Literature, and Society requires 39 points. Note that language courses taken to fulfill the application requirements 1 above do not count toward the required points for the major. Students interested in the track are strongly encouraged to fulfill their science requirement with classes in human biology (e.g., Human Species, Genes and Development) or human psychology (e.g., Mind, Brain, and Behavior).

  1. CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, required for all ICLS majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year
  2. Advanced courses as follows (please note that one course may be used to fulfill two of the advanced course requirements):
  • Three courses within a given department/discipline that address the student’s focused interest (Literature and Medicine; Medical Anthropology; History of Medicine/Public Health) but most importantly develop the methodological skills of that discipline
  • Three courses with a CPLS designator, or courses designated as comparative in nature by the various language-literature or social science departments (i.e., CL-- courses)
  • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English, preferably conducted in the target language and for which written assignments are composed in the language as well
  • Four courses in interdisciplinary studies that address the nexus of the student’s interests (Literature and Medicine; Medical Anthropology; History of Medicine/Public Health) OR an individual area of specialization (e.g., Disability Studies; Neuroscience and the Human; Technology Studies; Discourses of the Body; Biopolitics; Bioethics; etc.)
  • one course of engaged service learning/independent project (this may be fulfilled by appropriate study abroad and/or study elsewhere in the US)

3. CPLS UN3992 Senior Seminar in Medicine, Literature, and Society or CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society 

  1. Senior thesis (optional).

Concentration in Comparative Literature and Society

The concentration in Comparative Literature and Society requires a total of 36 points, or 12 courses in comparative literature and society as follows:

  1. CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  2. Advanced courses as follows:
    • Two courses with a CPLS designator. CLxx courses, i.e., courses designated as comparative in nature by the various language and literature departments, may count for the major with director of undergraduate studies' approval
    • Two seminars (discussion-driven courses at the 3000- or 4000-level), chosen from among the affiliated disciplines
    • One to two courses requiring readings in a language other than English, preferably conducted in the target language and for which written assignments are composed in the language as well
    • Two to three courses in a single national or regional literature and/or culture, chosen from any discipline or school
    • Two to four courses in literature or any of the affiliated disciplines and related to the student's historical or thematic focus.

FALL 2018 COURSES

SPAN UN3363 Medieval Spanish Literature Outside the Box. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

In this course, we will enjoy reading and discussing some canonical literary texts from the Iberian Peninsula (sometimes known as Spain and Portugal). We will discuss the following themes, among others: 1. multilingualism and tongue trading 2. differences of faith or religion 3. problems regarding coexistence, tolerance, and convivencia 4. race 5. gender 6. frontiers 7. transactions across borders 8. forms of exclusion and strategies of inclusion 9. why would Medieval Iberian literatures matter to us, 21st-century citizens?


We will base most of our work on the close reading of our primary sources, which we will complement with secondary sources. We will hold five research workshops on: 1. Al-Andalus 2. Aljamiado literature (we will even learn the Arabic script) 3. Visual arts and literature 4. Music and poetry 5. Women writers in the Middle Ages, inside and outside the Iberian Peninsula During these workshops we will have an opportunity to delve further into these themes, while we explore and come up with new research projects and ideas. In addition to these workshops, students will be required to blog about their research throughout the course. We will explore blogging techniques so that our posts are, at the same time, enjoyable and intellectually productive.

Fall 2018: SPAN UN3363
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SPAN 3363 001/93747 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
201 Casa Hispanica
Jesus Rodriguez-Velasco 3 6/15

CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society. 3 points.

Prerequisites: CPLS UN3900

The senior seminar is a capstone course required of all CLS/MLA majors. The seminar provides students the opportunity to discuss selected topics in comparative literature and society and medical humanities in a cross-disciplinary, multilingual, and global perspective. Students undertake individual research projects while participating in directed readings and critical dialogues about theory and research methodologies, which may culminate in the senior thesis. Students review work in progress and share results through weekly oral reports and written reports.

Fall 2018: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/66505 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
507 Philosophy Hall
Rishi Goyal 3 16/20

CPLS UN3997 Independent Study-Undergrad. 1-3 points.

Independent Study (set up for MLS service learning)

Fall 2018: CPLS UN3997
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3997 001/18570  
Madeleine Dobie 1-3 1/10

CLIA GU4022 Diasporas in Italian and Transnational History. 3 points.

Some years ago the word Diaspora referred to Jews and was spelled with a capital D. Today, almost every ethnic group, country, or separatist movement has its diaspora. Usually, these diasporas are presented as pieces of national life scattered here and there, in places far away from the national core. In this seminar, however, we will treat diasporas not as an emblem of national unity but as an expression of diversity, of a multiplicity of loyalties and belongings. By combining history, literature, film, and cultural studies, and by approaching the topic through the lens of transnationalism, we will study topics such as Mobility and Nationalism, Diasporas in Intellectual History, The Mediterranean in Motion, Italian Migration, Mobile Italy and its Colonies, Displacements in the Eastern Mediterranean, Lost Cosmopolitanisms in the Middle East, Emigration from Eastern Europe, and Mediterranean Refugees and Memory. The aim is to turn our gaze away from the territorially defined countries, towards a view of the world in which countries are ship-like territories.

Fall 2018: CLIA GU4022
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLIA 4022 001/66896 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
407 Hamilton Hall
Konstantia Zanou 3 10/12

CPLS GU4145 Fascism: Aesthetics and Politics . 4 points.

The election of President Donald Trump has renewed interest in the examination of fascism- as an ideology, as a political movement and as a form of governance. Our inquiry into the nature of fascism will primarily focus on Western European cases- some where it remained an intellectual movement (France), and others such as Italy and Germany where it was a ruling regime. Fascism will be discussed in many dimensions- in its novelty as the only new “ism” of the twentieth century, in its relation to nascent technology (radio and film), its racial and gendered configurations, in its relation to (imperialist) war. We will explore the appeal of this ideology to masses and to the individual. Who becomes a fascist? What form of inquiry provides the best explanations? Can art- literature and film- somehow render what social science cannot? Can fascism outlive the century in which it was born and occur in the 21st century?

Fall 2018: CPLS GU4145
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4145 001/75506 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
B100 Heyman Center For Humanities
Diane Rubenstein 4 11/20

CLPS GU4200 Freud. 4 points.

Because of advances in feminist theory, infant research, clinical practice attachment theory and historical scholarship, a consensus has emerged concerning Freud's oeuvre over the past fifty years: the figure of the mother is largely absent from all aspects of his thinking. This includes his self-self analysis, case histories, theory of development and account of religion and civilization. This fact will provide our point of reference for examining the development of Freud's thought. We will first explore the biographical roots of this lacuna in Freud's thinking. We will then see how it played itself out as his long and abundant career unfolded. We will examine texts regarding all the aspects of his thinking and from the different periods of his life.

Fall 2018: CLPS GU4200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4200 001/67732 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
402 Hamilton Hall
Jonathan House 4 13/20

CLPS GU4223 Sexual Science? Writing and the Epistemological Question of Psychoanalysis. 4 points.

Mallarmé saw writing as a “mad game” [“ce jeu insensé d’écrire”]. Following Blanchot following Mallarmé, Foucault equaled literature’s writing again with “madness [folie]” and then both with the enigmatic thought of an “absence of work [absence d’œuvre].”


By bringing together close readings and references to clinical experience, this course hopes to show that writing lies at the heart of psychoanalysis. We will also ask what share of the “mad game” is written into this heart, and how it is linked to the epistemological adventure of psychoanalysis. Is it a science that doesn’t work but still keeps writing?


In Freud we will trace a poetics that secretly informs the careful constructions of his concepts and theoretical compositions. With Schreber we will analyze a drive to find a formula for the mad experience, a drive that does not only inform his own Memoirs of my Nervous Illness but whose transference can be read in founding texts of psychoanalytic writing on psychosis. In Lacan we will comment on his intention to force a reduction of psychoanalytic discourse to such an extent that it may yield the letters of a “writing of the real.”


By elaborating these three moments of writing – (poetic) construction, (mad) formalization, (literal) reduction – we will ask what they have to do with the “sexual” – the word, the concept, the thing, and its metonymies (transference, libido, drive, affect, Eros) – with the “sexual”, this other “heart” of psychoanalysis. How does it pulse beat in the psychoanalytic epistemology?

Fall 2018: CLPS GU4223
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4223 001/62196 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
501b International Affairs Bldg
Marcus Coelen 4 14/20

CLPS GU4251 Global Freud. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Prior study of Freudian theory and psychoanalysis.

While there is a general familiarity with the history of psychoanalysis’s spread from Vienna throughout Europe, and from the European centers of psychoanalysis to the US, less is known about its broader internationalization. This course explores the globalization of Freudian theory, and the varying ways it has been read and deployed by intellectuals, artists, and political activists--among others--in various parts of the world. Whether its central appeal was to pre-Revolution Russian intellectuals, who wished to assert their cosmopolitanism and kinship with Europe; to Mexican judges, who employed it to analyze criminal defendants; or to Egyptian experts in dreams, who added this tool to their analytic toolkit, psychoanalysis lent itself to novel, and often contrasting, interpretations and uses.


            In this class, we will examine how Freud’s universal model of the mind and theory of the subject were refashioned and repurposed to address specific social problems and to advance particular political projects, and how they were revised to conform to local concepts of emotion and the self. We will consider how a system of thought grounded in secularity and individualism was adapted for faith-based and communitarian societies. In addition, we will look into the ways Freudian notions of the unconscious intersected with existing philosophical traditions, and how other cornerstones of psychoanalytic thought were blended with local interpretive practices. Finally, we will address a number of issues that have arisen in the global transmission of psychoanalysis, including problems in the translation of Freudian theory from the original German, and the formation and ongoing conflicts of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Fall 2018: CLPS GU4251
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4251 001/93629 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
205 Union Theological Seminary
Karen Seeley 3 6/15

GERM GU4670 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud (in English). 3 points.

Along with Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud have radically altered what and how we know; about humans, language, history, religion, things and life. Because their thought has shaped our sense of ourselves so fundamentally, Michel Foucault has referred to these three authors as discourse-founders. As such they will be treated in this class. Special attention will be paid to the affinities and competition among their approaches. Secondary sources will be subject to short presentations (in English) of those students capable of reading German.

Fall 2018: GERM GU4670
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 4670 001/21701 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
717 Hamilton Hall
Oliver Simons 3 53/60

SPRING 2018 COURSES

CPLS UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society. 3 points.

Introduction to concepts and methods of comparative literature in cross-disciplinary and global context. Topics may include: oral, print, and visual culture; epic, novel, and nation; literature of travel, exile, and diaspora; sex and gender transformation; the human/inhuman; writing trauma; urban imaginaries; world literature; medical humanities. Open only to students intending to declare a major in Comparative Literature and Society or Medicine, Literature, and Society in Spring 2017.

Spring 2018: CPLS UN3900
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3900 001/15915 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
304 Hamilton Hall
Madeleine Dobie 3 20/30

CPLS UN3915 Reading the Multilingual City: New York, Urban Landscapes & Urban Multilingualism. 4 points.

This course seeks to bring the city and multilingualism into conversation in order to throw light on the cultural history of New York as a multilingual city in which multiple cultures and languages co-exist, interact and lay claim to an ever-changing urban landscape. Focusing on the history and present state of various languages in the New York landscape, the course will explore urban multilingualism through a variety of critical, theoretical, and cultural lenses that will expand our understanding of the relationship between the spatial organization of a city and its linguistic profile.

Spring 2018: CPLS UN3915
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3915 001/72555 F 2:10pm - 3:00pm
352b International Affairs Bldg
Stephane Charitos, Lee Abraham 4 2/25
CPLS 3915 001/72555 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
254 International Affairs Bldg
Stephane Charitos, Lee Abraham 4 2/25

CPLS UN3995 Senior Thesis on Comparative Literature and Society. 3 points.

Students who decide to write a senior thesis should enroll in this tutorial. They should also identify, during the fall semester, a member of the faculty in a relevant department who will be willing to supervise their work and who is responsible for assigning the final grade. The thesis is a rigorous research work of approximately 40 pages (including a bibliography formatted in MLA style). It may be written in English or in another language relevant to the student's scholarly interests. The thesis should be turned in on the announced due date as hard copy to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. 

Spring 2018: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/23963  
Madeleine Dobie 3 13/20

CPLS GU4320 Marginalization in Medicine: A Practical Understanding of the Social Implications of Race . 4 points.

There is a significant correlation between race and health in the United States.  People of color and those from underserved populations have higher mortality rates and a greater burden of chronic disease than their white counterparts.  Differences in health outcomes have been attributed to biological factors as race has been naturalized.  In this class we will explore the history of the idea of “race” in the context of changing biomedical knowledge formations.  We will then focus on the impact that social determinants like poverty, structural violence, racism and geography have on health.  Ultimately, this course will address the social implications of race on health both within the classroom and beyond. In addition to the seminar, there will also be a significant service component. Students will be expected to volunteer at a community organization for a minimum of 3 hours a week. This volunteer work will open an avenue for students to go beyond the walls of their classrooms while learning from and positively impacting their community.

Spring 2018: CPLS GU4320
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4320 001/89031 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
B100 Heyman Center For Humanities
Rishi Goyal 4 24/30

CPLS GU4400 Global Language Justice and the Digital Sphere:Theory & Practice. 4 points.

This seminar course takes concerns around rapidly diminishing language diversity as the starting point for an interdisciplinary, trans-regional, and trans-lingual investigation of the role of digital communication technologies in these global shifts.  Digital technologies appear to be contributing to language extinction, with a potential for 50-90% loss of language diversity this century.  While an increasing number of languages are digitally supported, this process is largely market-driven, excluding smaller or poorer language communities.  This course investigates the role of digital design and governance in including or excluding languages from the digital sphere.


Digital exclusion and language shift affect minority language communities in ways that cut to the core of their identities, relationships, and epistemologies.  Furthermore, it is estimated that there are 800+ endangered languages represented in the NY area, a higher concentration than any other city in the world.  As such, this course gives students the opportunity to understand global language justice through the work of leading scholars and practitioners (guest speakers to be announced at beginning of semester), as well to understand it on a personal and practical level through hands-on activities such as interviews with minority language speakers and assessments of digital supports for minority languages. 


Students will leave this course with new skills in qualitative and quantitative research methods, media production skills, and a rich understanding of how the social sciences, humanities, and big data contribute an interdisciplinary and multi-faceted perspective on the loss of language diversity.  Furthermore, students will be challenged to identify and develop evidence-based strategies to advance global language justice in the digital sphere.  

CLPS GU4201 Post-Freud. 4 points.

This course examines psychoanalytic movements that are viewed either as post-Freudian in theory or as emerging after Freud's time. The course begins by considering the ways Freud's cultural and historical surround, as well as the wartime diaspora of the European psychoanalytic community, shaped Freudian and post-Freudian thought. It then focuses on significant schools and theories of psychoanalysis that were developed from the mid 20th century to the present. Through readings of key texts and selected case studies, it explores theorists' challenges to classical thought and technique, and their reconfigurations, modernizations, and total rejections of central Freudian ideas. The course concludes by looking at contemporary theorists' moves to integrate notions of culture, concepts of trauma, and findings from neuroscience and attachment research into the psychoanalytic frame.

Spring 2018: CLPS GU4201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4201 001/18843 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
C01 80 Claremont
Karen Seeley 4 8/16

CLEN GU4910 Metaphor and Media. 3 points.

This course offers a survey of major works on metaphor, beginning with Aristotle and ending with contemporary cognitive and media theory. Appropriate for both undergraduate and graduate students, our sessions will involve weekly discussion and an occasional “lab” component, in which we will test our theoretical intuitions against case studies of literary metaphor and metaphor in the fields of law, medicine, philosophy, and design.


I am particularly interested in ways metaphors “break” or “die,” whether from disuse, overuse, or misapplication. In their classical sense, metaphors work by ferrying meaning across from one domain to another. For example, by calling a rooster “the trumpet of the morn,” Shakespeare means to suggest a structural similarity between horn instruments and birds. Note that this similarity cannot pertain to the objects in their totality. The analogy applies to the call of the bird only or perhaps to the resemblance between a beak and the flute of a trumpet. The metaphor would fail yet again if there were no perceivable analogies between birds and trumpets. Similarly, computer users who empty their virtual “trash bins,” are promised the erasure of underlying data. The course will conclude by examining the metaphors implicit such media transformations.

Spring 2018: CLEN GU4910
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLEN 4910 001/25785 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
516 Hamilton Hall
Dennis Tenen 3 17/50

CLGM GU4150 C.P. Cavafy and the poetics of desire. 4 points.

This course takes C. P. Cavafy’s oeuvre as a departure point in order to discuss desire and the ways it is tied with a variety of topics. We will employ a number of methodological tools to examine key topics in Cavafy’s work such as eros, power, history, and gender. How can we define desire and how is desire staged, thematized, or transmitted through poetry? How does a gay poet write about desired bodies at the beginning of the previous century? What is Cavafy’s contribution to the formation of gay identities in the twentieth century? How do we understand the poet’s desire for an archive? How important is the city for activating desire? How do we trace a poet’s afterlife and how does the desire poetry transmits to readers transform through time? How does literature of the past address present concerns? These are some of the questions that we will examine during this course. 

Spring 2018: CLGM GU4150
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 4150 001/23322 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
C01 80 Claremont
Nikolas Kakkoufa 4 7/20

CLGR GU4345 Goethe and the Sciences. 3 points.

Goethe’s writings in the natural sciences are amazingly extensive. This course will discuss his most important scientific writings within their epistemological context. Each Goethe text will be analyzed in relation to scientific discourses of his time.


This course is also conceived as a more general introduction to theoretical perspectives on the intersections of literature and science. In our close readings we will examine how scientific concepts and ideals such as exactitude, objectivity, or the experiment play comparable roles in Goethe’s literary poetics. Instead of seeing literature and the sciences as delimited disciplines, we will instead scrutinize their a priori assumptions: the poeticization of knowledge, and literature as a form of knowing. In addition, we will study several theoretical texts and discourses as a potential toolbox for interdisciplinary inquiries in the humanities. This course thus also serves as a general introduction to some of the most influential theoretical reflections on literature and science.

Spring 2018: CLGR GU4345
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGR 4345 001/11780 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
511 Hamilton Hall
Oliver Simons 3 16/30

CLIA GU4021 The Age of Romanticism Across the Adriatic. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of Italian desirable but not necessary

This interdisciplinary seminar will study Romanticism as a literary trend, as much as a historical phenomenon and a life attitude. Romanticism is viewed here as the sum of the different answers to the sense of insecurity, social alienation and loneliness, provoked by the changing and frail world of the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century. We will investigate the Romantic ideology in relation to the trans-Adriatic world of Italy and Greece, an area that entered modernity with the particular lure and burden of antiquity, as well as through revolutionary upheaval. Students will be invited to read authors like Vittorio Alfieri, Ugo Foscolo, Silvio Pellico, Giacomo Leopardi, Alessandro Manzoni, Massimo d’Azeglio, and to reflect on themes such as Nostalgia and Nationalism, the Discovery of the Middle Ages, the Historical Novel, the Invention of Popular Tradition, the Fragmented Self, Autobiographical and Travel Writing, the Brigand Cult, Hellenism, Philhellenism, Orientalism and Balkanism, and others.

Spring 2018: CLIA GU4021
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLIA 4021 001/84530 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
309 Hamilton Hall
Konstantia Zanou 3 12/15

CSER GU4482 Indigenous People's Rights: From Local Identities to the Global Indigenous Movement. 4 points.

Indigenous Peoples, numbering more that 370 million in some 90 countries and about 5000 groups and representing a great part of the world’s human diversity and cultural heritage, continue to raise major controversies and to face threats to their physical and cultural existence. The main task of this course is to explore the complex historic circumstances and political actions that gave rise to the international Indigenous movement through the human rights agenda and thus also produced a global Indigenous identity on all continents, two intertwined and deeply significant phenomena over the past fifty years.  We will analyze the achievements, challenges and potential of the dynamic interface between the Indigenous Peoples’ movement-one of the strongest social movements of our times- and the international community, especially the United Nations system. Centered on the themes laid out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), the course will examine how Indigenous Peoples have been contesting and reshaping norms, institutions and global debates in the past 50 years, re-shaping and gradually decolonizing international institutions and how they have contributed to some of the most important contemporary debates, including human rights, development,  law, and specifically the concepts of self-determination, governance, group rights, inter-culturality and pluriculturality, gender, land, territories and natural resources, cultural rights, intellectual property, health, education, the environment and climate justice. The syllabus will draw on a variety of academic literature, case studies and documentation of Indigenous organizations, the UN and other intergovernmental organizations as well as States from different parts of the world. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with Indigenous leaders and representatives of international organizations and States and will be encouraged to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Select short films will be shown and discussed in class.

Spring 2018: CSER GU4482
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CSER 4482 001/23743 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
516 Hamilton Hall
Elsa Stamatopoulou 4 30/50

FILM UN2310 The Documentary Tradition. 3 points.

Film screening, lecture, and discussion. Fee: $75.

This class offers an introduction to the history of documentary cinema and to the theoretical and philosophical questions opened up by the use of moving images to bear witness, persuade, archive the past, or inspire us to change the future.     

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How are documentaries different than fiction films?  What is the role of aesthetics in relation to facts and evidence in different documentary traditions?  How do documentaries negotiate appeals to emotions with rational argument?  From the origins of cinema to our current “post-truth” digital age, we will look at the history of how cinema has attempted to shape our understanding of reality.  FILM W2311

Spring 2018: FILM UN2310
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2310 001/24389 M 2:00pm - 5:45pm
511 Dodge Building
Nico Baumbach 3 28/40

MDES GU4237 Arabs, Jews, and Arab Jews: Identity, Politics, Writing. 4 points.

In modern times, the names and figures “Arab” and “Jew” have had a history of resemblance (19th century philologists and biblical scholars have often related to both “Semites” and discussed them interchangeably), followed by a history of setting the two figures apart in radical opposition. This spilt solidified in 1948, when Israel was established as a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestine, with close to 800,000 Palestinian refugees exiled from their homes. Within this context “Jew” and “Arab” became radically opposed political and cultural figures. While this remains the case for several decades within Israel, resulting in an active suppression of “Mizrahi” (Jews from the Levant and the Maghreb) culture, memory, and affiliations, the past two decades have been characterized by a boom in the production of Mizrahi art, music, and literature as well as a great development of a political and epistemological position that refuses to set “Jew” and “Arab” apart.


In this course we will engage a broad theoretical spectrum of texts dealing with questions of memory, representation, hegemonic (state) power and the ability of counter-hegemonic cultural forces to de-colonialize structures of power. We will accompany these general theoretical readings with historical, political and literary texts by and about “Arabs,” and “Jews” that is by and about the relationship between these two figures, which in many cases, as we shall see, is not really two figures, but one. Finally we will explore the cultural and political meaning behind these literary productions and other projects. Are they mainly about the reconstructing the past? Reviving otherwise lost memories? Or should they be read as futuristic texts, invested in recovering the past bonds between “Jew” and “Arab” (often within the self) for the sake of creating an alternative future?

Spring 2018: MDES GU4237
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
MDES 4237 001/78038 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
207 Knox Hall
Gil Hochberg 4 13/20

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