Comparative Literature and Society

Program Office: B-101 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-4541;

Director: Prof. Lydia Liu, 407 Kent Hall; 212-854-5631;

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

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

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

Assistant Director: Sarah Monks, B-102 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-8850;

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 V3900  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 V3900 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 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

Executive Committee of ICLS

Gil Anidjar (Religion; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies)
Jean Louise Cohen (Political Science)
Patricia Dailey (English)
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; Jazz Studies)
Stathis Gourgouris (Classics; English and Comparative Literature)
Bernard Harcourt (Law; Center for Contemporary Critical Thought)
Andreas Huyssen (Germanic Languages)
Lydia Liu (East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Reinhold Martin (Architecture)
Rosalind Morris (Anthropology)
Anupama Rao (History, Barnard)
Jesús Rodriguez-Velasco (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Oliver Simons (Germanic Languages)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor)
Nadia Urbinati (Political Science)
W.B. Worthen (Theatre, Barnard)

Guidelines for all ICLS Majors and Concentrators

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. Foreign language 2: four semesters of one language or two semesters of two languages;
  3. CPLS V3900 , 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 courses, in comparative literature and society as follows. 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 V3900 , 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 15 courses of study. 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 V3900 , required for all ICLS majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  2. 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)
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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.)
  6. One course of engaged scholarship/service learning/independent project (this may be fulfilled by appropriate study abroad and/or study elsewhere in the US)
  7. CPLS V3992 Senior Seminar in Medicine, Literature, and Society or CPLS V3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society
  8. 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 V3900 , 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.

CPLS V3190 Aesthetics of the Grotesque. 3 points.

Examination of the grotesque in different cultural contexts from late Renaissance to the postmodern period comparing modes of transgression and excess in Western literature and film.  Particular emphasis on exaggeration in style and on fantastic representations of the body, from the ornate and corpulent to the laconic and anorexic.  Readings in Rabelais, Swift, Richardson, Poe, Gogol, Kafka, Meyrink, Pirandello, Greenaway, and M. Python.

CPLS W3333 East/West Frametale Narratives. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Frametale narratives, the art of inserting stories within stories, in oral and written forms, originated in East and South Asia centuries ago; tales familiar to Europe, often called novellas, can trace their development from oral tales to transmitted Sanskrit and Pahlavi tales, as well as Arabic and Hebrew stories. Both Muslim Spain and Christian Spain served as the nexus between the East and Europe in the journey of translation and the creation of new works. Through readings and films, the course examines the structure, meaning, and function of ancient, medieval, and early modern frametale narrative from the Arabian Nights to the works of Cervantes. This is a Global Core course. Application Instructions: E-mail Professor Patricia E. Grieve ( no later than November 17, 2014 with the subject heading "Application: E/W Frametale Narratives." In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course. Applicants will be notified of decisions by November 18, 2014.

CPLS V3675 Mad Love. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Literature (LIT).

The history of irrational love as embodied in literary and non-literary texts throughout the Western tradition. Readings include the Bible, Greek, Roman, Medieval, and modern texts.

CPLS W3722 Narrative and Disability. 4 points.

The past ten years have seen an explosion of memoirs, blogs, essays, novels, and films about illness and disability. This course will look at the intersection of disability and narrative, investigating the ways that illness and disability give rise to unique forms of representation in a variety of media. We will contextualize our study of narrative by asking what political and social factors have given rise to the current boom in disability narratives, as well as the way we understand disability itself. We will lend historical depth to our investigation by looking at earlier examples of disability in literary and visual culture, seeking to understand how more recent representations are informed both by a longer literary history, as well as such practices as freak shows, institutionalization, and the rise of the medical and/or helping professions. Weekly meetings are organized topically to introduce students to some of the major concepts and debates currently animating the field of disability studies.

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 2017: CPLS UN3900
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3900 001/29781 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
302 Fayerweather
Madeleine Dobie, Caio Ferreira 3 29/30

CPLS W3942 Literature, Medicine & Technology. 4 points.

Contemporary biomedical technologies have delivered an unprecedented ability to refashion our bodies and by extension the social institutions in which bodies circulate and become meaningful. But these technologies have also wrought unexpected changes in social and cultural institutions like the family and the novel. And the novel has always responded to technological change in its preoccupation with revolutions, industrial and digital, while also becoming an object of those changes as the printing press gives way to digital ways of reading, producing and structuring texts. Technology has broadened medicine's involvement in everyday life and new literary genres like the neuro-novel and the illness memoir have risen in response. By reading technological change in terms of health and illness, family structures and literary innovation, we will engage with the medical, cultural and representational meanings developed by many of these new technologies. Readings will include but not be limited to novels and memoirs by Shelley Jackson, Lucy Grealy, Maggie Nelson, Kazuo Ishiguro and Tom McCarthy.

CPLS W3943 Risk, Illness Narratives and the Contemporary Novel. 3 points.

The human body, a loose and baggy construction, is inherently vulnerable. We are at risk from the food and water we eat and drink, from the air we breathe, and from the sun that warms us; we are at risk from our jobs and our transportation systems; we are at risk from terrorism; in our genes, we are even at risk before we are born. And not only are we at risk, we put everything else at risk (global warming, the thinning of the ozone layer, deforestation, overfishing, etc). In the 21st century, the discourse of risk seems to be everywhere. As Ulrich Beck wrote in The Risk Society, modernity is characterized by "problems and conflicts that originate in the production, definition and distribution of techno-scientifically generated risks." However, the only thing that seems to be certain is that these risks are uncertain. In this class, we will investigate the representation and thematization of theories of risk in illness narratives and contemporary novels. As the difference between perceived and actual risks seems to magnify, as the benefits of technological innovation are increasingly seen as producing risks of an equal magnitude, as our health and our environment are constantly besieged by narratives of risk, fictional and autobiographical characters and protagonists are more firmly inhabiting these ‘riskscapes'. How do illness narratives and novels make formal choices about what kinds of risk stories can be told? How does the generative capacity of risk, and its related terms paranoia and anxiety, motivate plots and metaphors? How does an understanding of risk help us discriminate between hypochondria and other more tangible forms of disease? We will explore theories of risk, and the production of meaning around risk in works by Don Delilio, Richard Powers, Amitav Ghosh, Susanne Antonetta, and Alice Wexler, among others. 

CPLS W3944 Literature and Medicine: Imagining Illness. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Between Virginia Woolf's pronouncement that no great literature of illness exists and Henry James' late contention that sickness offers for the writer the "shortest of all cuts to the interesting state," we have a possible range of literary responses to illness. But bodies and disease are not just socially contested discursive formations; they are determined by the constraints of biological reality. The experience of illness, from autism to cancer, comes to life in this intersection of "medical fact" and representational value. Through the reading of literary accounts of illness and illness narratives, as conceived by patients, physicians, and professional writers, we will develop a language and theoretical framework to explore the relation between culture and medicine in the construction of the sick body and self. To highlight these reciprocal relations, we will examine the scientific and representational meanings of concepts like contagion, vaccination, genetic transmission, and transplantation in the works of Mary Shelley, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Mann, William Gibson, and Kazuo Ishiguro, in addition to illness memoirs by Susanne Antonetta, Emmanuelle Laborit, and Paul Monette.

CPLS W3945 Transnational Memory Politics and the Culture of Human Rights. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement
This course is only open to advanced undergraduates.Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Prerequisites: the instructor's permission.

A cross-disciplinary and transnational inquiry into memory politics in the contemporary world. Topics include the relation between history and public memory, transitional justice, media of memory (photography, film, graphic novels, monuments, and memorials), and human rights. AN APPLICATION IS REQUIRED. Please send the following information to no later than November 7, 2013: year and major, relevant courses taken, and interest in the course. Students will be notified of application decisions during early registration week.

CPLS V3947 Transnational Melodrama. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Our common understanding of melodrama refers to a set of subgenres that remain close to the heart and hearth, and feature a heightened emotionalism and moral contrast. This melodramatic, or excessive, narrative and imagination has also been a prevalent mode dealing with intercultural clashes and historical conflict. This course explores melodramatic imaginations in literature, film, and drama mainly at three historical and geopolitical moments: the 18th century, the interwar period, and the present global era. The goal of this course is to investigate the history and imagination of global interrelations through melodramatic representation and inquiry in Chinese, European, and American literature and culture. In the end, we aim to develop a critical understanding of race, gender, immigration, and border thinking in our globalized world. Course materials range from Chinese Ming drama to Puccini's Madame Butterfly, from Turkish-German film Head On to Chinese American novel American Knees. 

CPLS W3948 The Environment: Bio-Politics, Aesthetics, Ideo-Theology. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This course seeks to understand how the Environment came to stand as a dominant paradigm for comprehending economic and social interactions in the latter half of the twentieth century. Proposing that by the 1960's the Environment had subsumed antecedent world-models such as "Universal History", this course traces an arc from early-modern European natural history to the late-twentieth-century discourse on sustainability, examining how post-Enlightenment scientific and humanist discourses were absorbed within and transformed by the construct of the Environment. For example, we will see how the terms and techniques for analyzing and managing "Nature" in early-modern Europe shifted almost seamlessly by the mid-twentieth century into terms and techniques for organizing "the Environment" via developments in evolutionary science and eugenics, psychoanalysis, computer modeling, and new forms of global governance. Because the Environment has been posited as an empirically-knowable system that simultaneously transcends any ontological category, we will question methods by which to approach such a discursive-material object,looking at how different disciplines have attempted to measure, understand, and delimit the Environment: e.g., as a psychological, semiotic, biological, cultural, or technological entity. Within the post-World War II decades, we will pay particular attention to how architects, landscape architects, planners, and technological designers contributed to the Environment's conceptual formation. Readings for most weeks include one primary text supplemented by secondary sources. The course is open to all advanced undergraduates and should be of especial interest to students of history, anthropology, art history, engineering, and the biological sciences.

CPLS W3949 Land, Nomad, Nation: The Making of Indigeneity. 3 points.

Given that "indigenous" is a category without clear demarcations-that can only be formulated in relation to something deemed less indigenous-this course explores how claims to indigenity have been represented in relation to land and governance, focusing on media of representation, including art, literature, and architecture. In light of recent international movements seeking to establish a framework of "indigenous rights" within the rubric of "universal rights", this course takes note of certain aesthetic corollaries to this negotiation of the universalizable exception. Specifically, we will ask how art and architecture-often associated with place, stability, and longevity-operate in relation to the movements of people or their re-settlement. Relatedly, we will ask how literature both unites people under the rubric of nationality while also operating across national boundaries. Readings will focus on forms of land use, aesthetic representations of land, and relations between land and nation. Finally, we will ask whether claims to political rights and participation must always be rooted (so to speak) in practices of land tenure. The scope of the course is broadly global and focused mostly on the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, although several readings deal with more distant eras. This seminar is open to undergraduate students from all disciplines and should be of especial interest to students of history, anthropology, art history, engineering, and the biological sciences. Open to graduate students with permission from instructor. This course is intended to expand students' historical and critical perspectives on an issue of pressing contemporary importance, touching on the future of rights of both "indigenous" people and migrants. Students will research a topic of their choosing in greater depth and develop maps and texts that illustrate overlapping and perhaps conflicting approaches to land use.  

CPLS UN3950 Literary Theory. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 18.

Examination of concepts and assumptions present in contemporary views of literature. Theory of meaning and interpretation (hermeneutics); questions of genre (with discussion of representative examples); a critical analysis of formalist, psychoanalytic, structuralist, post-structuralist, Marxist, and feminist approaches to literature.

Spring 2017: CPLS UN3950
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3950 001/01193 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
327 Milbank Hall
Emily Sun 4 6

CPLS W3955 The West in Global Thought. 3 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement
Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This seminar explores the meaning of the "West" through political and cultural critiques articulated - and carried out - across the world from the late 19th century to the present. We will examine how a wide range of writers, philosophers, filmmakers, and political activists have construed the "West". This interdisciplinary approach enables us to highlight how the "West" has been criticized for possessing different and contradictory characteristics - for being materialistic and idealist; national and imperial; secular and Christian; universalist and Euro-centric; progressive and polluting. Students will confront these critiques by analyzing how the category of the "West" figured (and figures) into the various agendas of intellectuals from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe itself. 

CPLS W3956 Postcolonial Narrative and the Limits of the Human. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This course is an attempt to connect developments in postcolonial studies to the critique and rethinking of humanism. Students will practice close reading of literary, ethnographic, and perhaps some archival texts, and will respond to these texts through critical academic writing, wherein they will enact their own close readings. As Michel Foucault reveals (now famously) in The Order of Things, "man" is not a universal but a contingent invention of the Enlightenment, inscribing a particular vision of life, labor, and language in the biological, economic, and linguistic sciences. Frequently this idea of the human has been articulated precisely through the assertion of its difference from non-European patterns of kinship and economic practice. This conceptual distinction, through the idea of race and its instantiation in Imperialism, would lead to much of the globe's human population being refused inclusion in the category of the human. Yet third and fourth world writers have also used the idea of the human as a rallying cry to resist this Imperialism (even as the latter, based itself on an exclusionary exploration of the category of the human). For instance, Franz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks, declared the necessity of exploring a "New Humanism." How are we to think humanism, while being attentive to both its exclusionary genealogy and its emancipator potential? The course approaches this question by contrasting modernist and postcolonial texts that differently engage modernity, tradition, and intentionality, all refracted through the question of the human. In doing so, we will also examine the idea of the absolute outside to the human: the animal, through the related philosophical question that Jacques Derrida, among others, has recently raised.

CPLS V3960 Foundations of Narrative Medicine: Giving and Receiving Accounts of Self. 4 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

Narrative competence is a crucial dimension of health-care delivery, the capacity to attend and respond to stories of illness, and the narrative skills to reflect critically on the scene of care. Narrative Medicine explores and builds the clinical applications of literary knowledge. How are illnesses emplotted? Does suffering belong to a genre? Can a medical history be co-narrated in order to redistribute ownership and authority? What does Geoffrey Hartman mean by the term, "story cure"? The objectives of this course include furthering close reading skills, and exploring theories of self-telling and relationality. At the center of this project is the medical encounter. We are interested in situations in which one person gives an account of himself, of herself, and another person is expected to receive it. In examining the complexities of this exchange, to help clinicians to fulfill their "receiving" duties more effectively, we will turn to narrative theory, performance theory, autobiographical theory, psychoanalytic theory, and the nexus of narrative and identity. Readings will include works by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Henry James, W.G. Sebald, Kazuo Ishiguro, Judith Butler, Arthur Frank, Jonathan Shay, Michael White, and an assortment of the readings in narrative theory, trauma scholarship, and witnessing literature.

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

Required of all comparative literature and society majors. Intensive research in selected areas of comparative literature and society. There will be two sections of this course for Fall 2016. Topic for 2016: TBA

Spring 2017: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/21635 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
311 Fayerweather
Rishi Goyal 3 14/16
Fall 2017: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/17236 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Lydia Liu 3 16/16

CPLS V3992 Senior Seminar in Medicine, Literature, and Society. 3 points.

Required of all Medicine, Literature, and Society majors. Intensive research in selected areas of Medicine, Literature, and Society.  

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 2017: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/73530  
Madeleine Dobie 3 10/20

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

Independent Study (set up for MLS service learning)

Fall 2017: CPLS UN3997
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3997 001/26704  
Madeleine Dobie 1-3 0/10

CPLS W4013 Classical Mythology. 3 points.

CPLS W4100 Andalusian Symbiosis: Islam and the West. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement
Class discussion and readings in English.Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This interdisciplinary team-taught seminar deals with the rich culture of Iberia (present-day Spain and Portugal) during the period when it was an Islamic, mostly Arabic-speaking territory - from the 8th to the 15th century. This theme course is significant in its approach to the study of Andalusia for a number of reasons: it grounds the study of Muslim Spain in the larger context of the history of Islam and of Arabic culture outside of Spain; it embraces many aspects of the hybrid Andalusian legacy: history, language, literature, philosophy, music, art, architecture, and sciences, among others; and, while the course includes materials from Christian writers, the textual materials focus more on Arabic writings and the viewpoint of Muslim Spaniards. The course closely examines the cultural symbiosis between Arab Muslims and Christian Europeans during the eight centuries of their coexistence in Andalusia. Through a critical reading of an appropriately chosen set of texts translated into English from Arabic, Latin, Spanish, and other Iberian dialects, students will study the historical, literary, linguistic, religious, artistic, architectural, and technological products that were created by the remarkable symbiosis that took place in Andalusia. With its multiethnic and multilingual forms, the Andalusian legacy bears direct resemblance to our contemporary multicultural world and provides students with a rare opportunity to integrate knowledge of different sources and viewpoints. In the first and final weeks, we compare how two contemporary historical novels, by Arab writer Radwa Ashour and Tariq Ali (of Pakistani extraction), treat the fall of Granada in 1492.

CPLS GU4220 Narrative, Health, and Social Justice. 4 points.

Narrative medicine - its practice and scholarship - is necessarily concerned with issues of trauma, body, memory, voice, and intersubjectivity. However, to grapple with these issues, we must locate them in their social, cultural, political, and historical contexts. Narrative understanding helps unpack the complex power relations between North and South, state and worker, disabled body and able-body, bread-earner and child-bearer, as well as self and the Other (or, even, selves and others). If disease, violence, terror, war, poverty and oppression manifest themselves narratively, then resistance, justice, healing, activism, and collectivity can equally be products of a narrative based approach to ourselves and the world.

Fall 2017: CPLS GU4220
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4220 001/88531 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
420 Hamilton Hall
Sayantani DasGupta 4 0/16

CPLS Q6100 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society - graduate. 3 points.

This course is required for ICLS graduate students, and priority will be given to these students. Contact the ICLS office for more information at (212) 854-4541.

Please note: This course is required for ICLS graduate students, and priority will be given to these students. Generally the course fills with ICLS students each semester. Students MAY NOT register themselves for this course. Contact the ICLS office for more information at This course was formerly numbered as G4900. This course introduces beginning graduate students to the changing conceptions in the comparative study of literatures and societies, paying special attention to the range of interdisciplinary methods in comparative scholarship. Students are expected to have preliminary familiarity with the discipline in which they wish to do their doctoral work. Our objective is to broaden the theoretical foundation of comparative studies to negotiate a conversation between literary studies and social sciences. Weekly readings are devoted to intellectual inquiries that demonstrate strategies of research, analysis, and argumentation from a multiplicity of disciplines and fields, such as anthropology, history, literary criticism, architecture, political theory, philosophy, art history, and media studies. Whenever possible, we will invite faculty from the above disciplines and fields to visit our class and share their perspectives on assigned readings. Students are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities and explore fields and disciplines outside their primary focus of study and specific discipline.

Of Related Interest

CLGM W3937The Culture of Democracy
Comparative Literature (Barnard)
CPLT BC3110Introduction to Translation Studies
CPLS BC3123Friend or Foe? World Literature and the Question of Justice
CPLS BC3170Translating Madness: The Sciences and Fictions of Pathology
CPLS BC3510Advanced Workshop in Translation
East Asian Languages and Cultures
CLEA W4101Literary and Cultural Theory East and West
English and Comparative Literature
CLEN W3390The Art of the Novel
CLEN W4550
CLEN W4995Special Topics in Modern Literature: Reading Lacan
English (Barnard)
CLEN W4560
Germanic Languages
CLGR W4207
History (Barnard)
HIST BC3830Bombay/Mumbai and Its Urban Imaginaries
CLIA V3660
CLIA G4405Poetry, Poetics, and Contemporary Society, 1945-Present
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
CLME G4227The Islamic Context of the Arabian Nights since the Establishment of Baghdad
CLME G4228The Arab Street: Politics and Poetics of Transformation
RELI W4712Recovering Place
Slavic Languages
CLRS V3301Angry Young Decade: 1955 - 1965 In Russia, Poland, USA England
CLSL W4003
CLCZ W4030
CLSL W4075