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: L. Maria Bo, Lecturer in Discipline; B106 Heyman Center, East Campus; 212-854-4541;

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 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 Students are advised to meet with the director of undergraduate studies before submitting the statement of purpose for the application. Applications are due in early January of the sophomore year. 

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
L. Maria Bo (English and Comparative Literature)
Bruno Bosteels (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Souleymane Bachir Diagne (French and Romance Philology)
Madeleine Dobie (French and Romance Philology)
Brent Hayes Edwards (English and Comparative Literature, Jazz)
Matthew Engelke (Religion)
Stathis Gourgouris (Classics, English and Comparative Literature)
Rishi Kumar Goyal (Emergency Medicine)
Bernard Harcourt (Columbia Law School)
Gil Hochberg (Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies and IRWGS)
Seth Kimmel (Latin American and Iberian Cultures) 
Lydia H. Liu (East Asian Languages and Cultures)
David B. Lurie (East Asian Languages and Cultures)
Anupama P Rao (History, Barnard)
Felicity Scott (Architecture)
Oliver Simons (Germanic Languages)
Joseph Slaughter (English and Comparative Literature)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor of the Humanities)
Dennis Tenen (English and Comparative Literature)
Jesus R. Velasco (Latin American and Iberian Cultures)

Guidelines for all ICLS Majors and Concentrators

Requirements for the major and concentration in Comparative Literature and Society were updated in February 2019; please contact the director of undergraduate studies with any questions.  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 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 consists of a minimum of 33 points or 11 courses, distributed as follows. Courses taken to fulfill the application requirements do not count toward the major. With the exception of courses taken to satisfy the global core requirement, double counting of courses to the CPLS major and another program or university requirement must be approved by the DUS.  Requirements for the major and concentration in Comparative Literature and Society were updated in February 2019; please contact the director of undergraduate studies with any questions.

  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 cross-listed between ICLS and other departments, may also be counted toward this requirement (6-8 points)
    • Two seminars in a humanities or social science discipline other than literature (e.g. Architecture, Anthropology, Art History, Economics, Gender & Sexuality Studies, History, Law, Linguistics, Music, Political Science, Race & Ethnicity Studies, Sociology…). The two courses must be grounded in the same disciplinary approach but don’t have to be offered by the same department or program (6-8 points)
    • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English. (The two courses don’t have to be in the same foreign language) (6-8 points)
    • Two courses focusing on a specific national or regional literature or culture, chosen from any discipline (The two courses should focus on the same nation/region) (6-8 points)
    • Two elective courses reflecting the student’s intellectual interests. The senior thesis may be counted toward this requirement. Additional foreign language study may also be counted with DUS approval (6-8 points)
  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 (15 courses.) 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 SpeciesGenes 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 with a CPLS designator, or courses designated as comparative in nature by the various language-literature or social science departments (i.e., CL-- courses)
  • 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
  • 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 scholarship/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 

     4. Senior thesis (optional).

Concentration in Comparative Literature and Society

The concentration in Comparative Literature and Society consists of a minimum of 27 points or 9 courses, distributed as follows. Please note that courses taken to fulfill the application requirements do not count toward the major. With the exception of courses taken to satisfy the global core requirement, any double counting of courses to the CPLS major and another program or university requirement must be approved by the DUS.  Requirements for the major and concentration in Comparative Literature and Society were updated in February 2019; please contact the director of undergraduate studies with any questions.

  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. CL-- courses, i.e. courses cross-listed between ICLS and other departments, may also be counted toward this requirement (6-8 points)
    • Two seminars in a humanities or social science discipline other than literature (e.g. Architecture, Anthropology, Art History, Economics, Gender & Sexuality Studies, History, Law, Linguistics, Music, Political Science, Race & Ethnicity Studies, Sociology…). The two courses must be grounded in the same disciplinary approach but don’t have to be offered by the same department or program (6-8 points)
    • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English (the two courses don’t have to be in the same foreign language) (6-8 points)
    • One course focusing on a specific national or regional literature or culture, chosen from any discipline (3-8 points)
    • Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society (CPLS V3991)

The senior seminar is taken in fall semester of the senior year. Students  explore three areas of contemporary reflection in the field of comparative literature and society. Topics change yearly and are aligned with current ICLS research projects. Recent examples include: Bandung Humanism; Global Language Justice; A Safer Online Public Square

  • (Optional) Senior Thesis (CPLS 3995) (3 points)

Students sign up for thesis credits (CPLS 3995) in the spring semester of the senior year but should begin to prepare in the fall semester. They work with an adviser from the Columbia/Barnard faculty who oversees the project and assigns the final grade. The DUS of ICLS is the second reader for all projects. The thesis must be a minimum of 35 pages double-spaced and must include footnotes and a bibliography. Translations, creative work and multi-media projects can be submitted with the prior approval of the DUS. These must be accompanied by an introduction that situates the project intellectually. The thesis should be written in English unless a student receives permission from the DUS to write in another language. Note that the completed thesis is submitted before the end of the spring semester, usually by April 15. The thesis is considered as a 3-point course. It may be counted in lieu of a course taken to meet requirements 2, 3, 4, or 5.

Students should consult frequently with the DUS to ensure that their program of study develops in consonance with the intellectual project described in the focus statement that was presented as part of the admissions process. The faculty understands that this statement is itself a work in progress, but also that it serves as a useful guide to the student's academic pursuits and course selection.

Comparative Literature and Society concentration students should also consider the Barnard College course offerings in Comparative Literature. They are also strongly encouraged to avail themselves of the opportunity to study abroad.



This course provides an introduction to ancient attitudes towards race and ethnicity. Students will be challenged to consider how categories of race and ethnicity are presented in the literature and artistic works of Greece and Rome, and how ancient thinking remains current and influential today. We will consider texts from antiquity including epic, history, medical texts, ethnographies, dramas, and novels, as well as material evidence intended to represent ‘foreignness’. Our case studies pay particular attention to concepts including notions of racial formation and racial origins, ancient theories of ethnic superiority, and linguistic, religious and cultural differentiation as a basis for ethnic differentiation. We will also examine ancient racism through the prism of a variety of social processes in antiquity, such as slavery, trade and colonization, migrations, imperialism, assimilation, native revolts, and genocide. By the end of the course, students will have gained a richer understanding of the intellectual and cultural history of the ancient world, and will be able to engage in discussions of identity construction in a comparative manner.

Spring 2020: CLCV UN3005
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLCV 3005 001/14460 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
402 Chandler
Marcus Folch 3 12/60

ARCH UN3117 Modern Architecture in the World. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Designed for but not limited to sophomores; enrollment beyond 60 at the discretion of the instructor.

How has architecture been “modern”? This course will introduce students to things, practices, figures, and ideas behind this contentious and contradictory concept, emerging in multiple locations around the world. Students in this course will learn about architecture as it was practiced, taught, thought, and experienced across landscapes of social and cultural difference during the past two centuries. Learning about the past through historical consciousness around architecture and investigating the history of architecture as a discursive field are fundamental to liberal arts thinking generally, and important for students in architecture, the history and theory of architecture, art history, and urban studies.Students in this course will be introduced to:

Architecture as enmeshed with other forms of cultural production

Culturally-specific intellectual and public debates around the architectural and urban

Makers, thinkers, and organizers of the designed or built environment

Geographies, territories, and mobilities associated with architecture as an end or means for material extraction, refinement, trade, labor, and construction

Sites, institutions, media, events, and practices which have come to hold meaning 

Modernity, modernism, and modernization in relation to each other, as social, cultural, and technological drivers holding stakes for past events as well their histories.

In this course, we will ask questions about ideas and practices within disparate socially-and culturally-constructed worlds, and across other asymmetries. For example, can we draw a coherent historical thread through Lisbon in 1755, Bombay in 1854, Moscow in 1917, the moon in 1969, and al-Za’atari refugee camp in 2016? Are such narratives of coherence themselves the trace of the modernist impulse in architectural history? In this course, we will study modern architecture’s references to an art of building as well the metaphors it gives rise to. Embedded in this examination are social and cultural questions of who made and thought modern architecture, and aesthetic and historical questions around the figure of the architect.

Spring 2020: ARCH UN3117
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3117 001/00589 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Ll103 Diana Center
Anooradha Siddiqi 3 47

CPLS UN3454 Blood/Lust: Staging the Early Modern Mediterranean [in English]. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

This course examines, in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain and England (1580-1640), how the two countries staged the conflict between them, and with the Ottoman Empire; that is, how both countries represent national and imperial clashes, and the concepts of being “Spanish,” “English,” or “Turk,” as well as the dynamic and fluid identities of North Africa, often played out on the high seas of the Mediterranean with Islam and the Ottoman Empire. We will consider how the Ottoman Empire depicted itself artistically through miniatures and court poetry. The course will include travel and captivity narratives from Spain, England, and the Ottoman Empire. 

Spring 2020: CPLS UN3454
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3454 001/14163 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
222 Pupin Laboratories
Patricia Grieve 4 19/20

CLGR UN3536 Culture at the Margins: Literature and Film in the German Borderlands. 0 points.

In this course, we will investigate the twentieth and twenty-first century borders of the German-speaking world as portrayed in literature and film. Rather than focus on the abstract borderlines that separate geopolitical entities, we will make recourse to the notion of the ‘borderlands’ as the meeting place or point of collision between different traditions, classes, races, and ways of life. With the aid of literature, film, and theory, we will treat the borderland as a particularly opportune site from which to approach the following questions: How are borders or dividing lines constructed in both material reality and thought? How do the restrictions associated with the border manifest themselves in private life, administering the sexuality, language, and bodies of individuals? What styles or genres tend to proliferate in the margins? What is Germany or the German-speaking world, and is it even accurate to call these borderlands “German”? Authors include Bachmann, Handke, Kafka, Müller, Roth, and Tokarczuk, alongside theorists such as Deleuze, Derrida, and Kristeva. No prior knowledge of German or theory required.

Spring 2020: CLGR UN3536
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGR 3536 001/12349 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Alexander Holt 0 15/15

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 2020: CPLS UN3900
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3900 001/14183 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
304 Hamilton Hall
Oliver Simons 3 40/40

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 2020: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/14184  
Lamyu Bo 3 11/20

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

Independent Study (set up for MLS service learning)

Fall 2019: CPLS UN3997
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3997 002/18175  
Alfred Mac Adam 1-3 1/1

POLS GU4110 Recent Continental Political Thought. 4 points.

This course will compare and contrast the theories of the political, the state,freedom, democracy, sovereignty and law, in the works of the following key 20th and 21st century continental theorists: Arendt, Castoriadis, Foucault, Habermas, Kelsen, Lefort, Schmitt, and Weber. It will be taught in seminar format.

Spring 2020: POLS GU4110
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 4110 001/14458 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
711 International Affairs Bldg
Jean Cohen 4 27/25

CLGR GU4130 Literary Theories: From Nietzsche to Agamben. 3 points.

A survey of the most influential literary theories of the twentieth century, this seminar will discuss seminal contributions to hermeneutics, psychoanalysis, structuralism, deconstruction, discourse analysis, and gender theory. Each section will juxtapose two representative authors whose texts either complement or contradict one another. Based on close readings of exemplary texts, we will explore basic concepts of these theories and examine their intersections and differences. A second focal point of the seminar will be on applications of theory to literature. We will analyze their reformulation as methodologies in literary studies and discuss how they influenced different approaches to literature. The aim of the seminar will ultimately be to scrutinize critically these “applications” of theory to literature.  Readings and discussions in English. No prior knowledge of literary theories required.

Spring 2020: CLGR GU4130
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGR 4130 001/12347 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
825 Seeley W. Mudd Building
Oliver Simons 3 32/40

CLRS GU4191 A Specter Haunting Europe: Radical Thought from the French Revolution to Russian. 3 points.

This course is an introduction to radical thought in Europe across the long nineteenth century from the French to the Russian revolutions. This period marks the entrance of the lower orders onto the political stage—and not merely in moments of revolt, but as a permanent presence around which politics and government subsequently must needs orient, and not merely to be recorded in the texts of their aristocratic enemies, but as inspiring and expositing their own political doctrines. Nineteenth century political thought is usually reduced to a list of liberal authors, with the exception of Marx, whose work then stands in for all of radicalism. But in this course we will study a variety of seldom read texts by often forgotten radical democratic, socialist, and anarchist writers from France, Great Britain, Germany, and Russia. Readings may be drawn from the writings of such figures as Babeuf and the Enragés, Proudhon, Saint-Simon and his followers, Hess, Feuerbach, Owen and popular political economy, the Chartists, Blanqui, Russian populists and terrorists, Bakunin, Kautsky, Luxemburg, Bernstein, and Lenin. This class is open to graduate students, who will also be expected to read and engage with secondary literature, and any undergraduate who has taken a class in political thought (such as Contemporary Civilization).

Spring 2020: CLRS GU4191
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLRS 4191 001/15979 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
516 Hamilton Hall
Adam Leeds 3 22/45

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 2020: CLPS GU4201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4201 001/13915 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
602 Northwest Corner
Karen Seeley 4 14/15

CLGM GU4300 Retranslation: Worlding C. P. Cavafy. 4 points.

Focusing on a canonical author is an immensely productive way to explore translation research and practice. The works of Sappho, Dante, Rilke, Césaire or Cavafy raise the question of reception in relation to many different critical approaches and illustrate many different strategies of translation and adaptation. The very issue of intertextuality that challenged the validity of author-centered courses after Roland Barthes’s proclamation of the death of the author reinstates it if we are willing to engage the oeuvre as an on-going interpretive project. By examining the poetry of the Greek Diaspora poet C. P. Cavafy in all its permutations (as criticism, translation, adaptation), the Cavafy case becomes an experimental ground for thinking about how a canonical author can open up our theories and practices of translation. For the final project students will choose a work by an author with a considerable body of critical work and translations and, following the example of Cavafy and his translators, come up with their own retranslations. Among the materials considered are commentary by E. M. Forster, C. M. Bowra, and Roman Jakobson, translations by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, James Merrill, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Daniel Mendelsohn, poems by W.H. Auden, Lawrence Durrell, and Joseph Brodsky, and visual art by David Hockney, and Duane Michals

Spring 2020: CLGM GU4300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 4300 001/17130 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
618 Hamilton Hall
Karen Van Dyck 4 0/15

CPLS GU4315 Multilingual Technologies and Language Diversity. 4 points.

Innovations in digital technologies have shown their potential to be at times breathtakingly beneficial, and at others divisive or troubling. With regard to digital technologies’ impact on the ecosystem of language diversity, evidence suggests that new technologies are one contributor to the decline and predicted extinction of 50-90% of the world's languages this century. Yet digital innovations supporting a growing number of languages also have the potential to bolster language diversity in ways unimaginable a few years ago. Will innovations in multilingual natural language processing bring about a renaissance of language diversity, as users no longer need to rely on English and other dominant languages? To address this question, this course will introduce a dual view on language diversity: 1) a typology of language vitality and endangerment and 2) a resource-centric typology (low-resource vs. high-resource) regarding the availability of data resources to develop computational models for language analysis. This course will address the challenge of scaling natural language processing technologies developed mostly for English to the rich diversity of human languages. The resource-centric typology will also contribute to the dialogue of what is “Data Science.” Much research has been dedicated to the “Big Data” scenario; however “Small Data” poses equally challenging problems, which this course will highlight. This course brings data and computational literacy about multilingual technologies to humanities students, while also exposing computer science and data science students to ethical, cultural, business, and policy issues within the context of multilingual technologies. 

Spring 2020: CPLS GU4315
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4315 001/15796 F 1:10pm - 3:40pm
834 Seeley W. Mudd Building
Smaranda Muresan, Isabelle Zaugg 4 9/20

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 2020: CPLS GU4320
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4320 001/20082 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
467 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Samuel Roberts 4 0/25

CSER GU4340 Visionary Medicine: Racial Justice, Health and Speculative Fictions. 4 points.

In Fall 2014, medical students across the U.S. staged die-ins as part of the nationwide #blacklivesmatter protests. The intention was to create a shocking visual spectacle, laying on the line “white coats for black lives.” The images were all over social media: students of all colors, dressed in lab coats, lying prone against eerily clean tile floors, stethoscopes in pockets, hands and around necks. One prone student held a sign reading, “Racism is Real.” These medical students’ collective protests not only created visual spectacle, but produced a dynamic speculative fiction. What would it mean if instead of Michael Brown or Eric Garner or Freddie Gray, these other, more seemingly elite bodies were subjected to police violence? In another viral image, a group of African American male medical students from Harvard posed wearing hoodies beneath their white coats, making clear that the bodies of some future doctors could perhaps be more easily targeted for state-sanctioned brutality. “They tried to bury us,” read a sign held by one of the students, “they didn’t realize we were seeds.” Both medicine and racial justice are acts of speculation; their practices are inextricable from the practice of imagining. By imagining new cures, new discoveries and new futures for human beings in the face of illness, medicine is necessarily always committing acts of speculation. By imagining ourselves into a more racially just future, by simply imagining ourselves any sort of future in the face of racist erasure, social justice activists are similarly involved in creating speculative fictions. This course begins with the premise that racial justice is the bioethical imperative of our time. It will explore the space of science fiction as a methodology of imagining such just futures, embracing the work of Asian- and Afroturism, Cosmos Latinos and Indigenous Imaginaries. We will explore issues including Biocolonialism, Alien/nation, Transnational Labor and Reproduction, the Borderlands and Other Diasporic Spaces. This course will be seminar-style and will make central learner participation and presentation. The seminar will be inter-disciplinary, drawing from science and speculative fictions, cultural studies, gender studies, narrative medicine, disability studies, and bioethics. Ultimately, the course aims to connect the work of science and speculative fiction with on the ground action and organizing.

Spring 2020: CSER GU4340
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CSER 4340 001/50621 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
420 Hamilton Hall
Sayantani DasGupta 4 20/20

CLPS GU4420 The Creative Self: Autofiction, Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience. 4 points.

Fictional autobiography, or autofiction, forces us to question our assumptions about the links between creativity, truth, and authenticity. Can one invent, or create, one’s own story? It is possible to write the truth of our selves, by creating it? Intriguingly, a process much like autofictional writing is at the heart of modern psychoanalytic technique — and research in neuroscience increasingly suggests that the human brain’s potential to morph and adapt might be instrumental to human mentation as we know it. Might it be possible, then, to invent our way to a healthier narrative, to a different life of the mind, or even, perhaps, to a different neural life? This course explores creativity and self-alteration broadly in three parallel but distinct domains: autofiction, object-relations psychoanalysis and neuroscience. At one level, this is a course about the theories of creativity revealed and implied by the peculiar art-form of autofictional writing, by contemporary psychotherapeutic techniques, and by discoveries pertaining to neural plasticity. At another level, this is a course about interdisciplinary itself. We will seek to understand when and how these three disciplines can be used together to create a rich and multilayered understanding of the problem of human creativity, without resorting to simplistic mergers and crude forms of reductionism. Literary readings to include Wilfred Bion, Christine Brooke-Rose, Marguerite Duras, Chris Kraus, Maggie Nelson, Luisa Passerini and others.

Spring 2020: CLPS GU4420
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4420 001/14166 Th 6:10pm - 8:00pm
317 Hamilton Hall
Valerio Amoretti 4 20/20

CLGM GU4450 How to do things with Homosexual Βodies. 4 points.

Homosexuality, as a term, might be a relatively recent invention in Western culture but bodies that acted and appeared ‘differently’ existed long before that. This course will focus on acts, and not identities, in tracing the evolution of writing the homosexual body from antiquity until today. In doing so it will explore a number of multimodal materials – texts, vases, sculptures, paintings, movies etc. – in an effort to understand the evolution of the ways in which language (written, spoken or visual) registers the homosexual body in literature and culture. When we bring the dimension of the body into the way we view the past, we find that new questions and new ways of approaching old questions emerge. What did the ancient actually write about the homosexual body? Did they actually create gender non-binary statues? Can we find biographies of the lives of saints in drag in Byzantium? How did the Victorians change the way in which we understand homosexual writing in Antiquity? How is the queer body registered in Modern Greek Literature and Culture? Can one write the history of homosexuality as a history of bodies? These are some of the questions that we will examine during the semester.

Spring 2020: CLGM GU4450
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 4450 001/17758 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
613 Hamilton Hall
Nikolas Kakkoufa 4 12/15

CLPS GU4510 Jacques Lacan: An introduction to his work . 4 points.

acques Lacan (1901 – 1981) was without any doubt the most influential psychoanalyst since Sigmund Freud. A meticulous yet inventive reader of the founder of psychoanalysis, he opened himself up to a panoply of sciences, philosophies, and other discourses as well as to political events and social phenomena in order to attune psychoanalysis not only to its own internal exigencies but also to those that he considered to be the ones of his time.

We will read Lacan according to this double exigency: to formalize anew its own logic, methodology, and construction of objects, which proceed “sui generis” as Freud said; and to put them in friction with some of the phenomena and structural determinants of what seems to impose itself on us today: the erosion of discourse as social bond in a time of an ever increasing number of displaced people; a radical change of the status of speech and the “letter”—as well as literature—in the hyper-digitalized world; the renewed enigma of sex and bodily enjoyment in the context of a tele-techno-medical science becoming increasingly autonomous; the status of “nature” as that what might survive only in being destroyed. In short: What concepts are needed to think the “unconscious” today?

The course will proposed as an introduction to Lacan for which no previous acquaintance with his work is required. It will cover texts and seminars from all the periods of his work with a focus on the those from the 1970s.

Spring 2020: CLPS GU4510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4510 001/19440 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
401 Hamilton Hall
Marcus Coelen 4 20/20

CPLS GU4802 Contradictions of Care: From Intimacy to Institution. 0 points.

Care is central to the interpersonal claim that is made by the other.  It is a response that recognizes and satisfies a need.  Care can be motivated by pain and sorrow, but also by desire and the desire for recognition.  But while care is a fundamental aspect of healing, it can also demand that extracts obligations and liabilities.  Care is an ambiguous concept that always already contains or is determined by its oppositions; we will begin by analyzing the concept of care itself, drawing on resources from the history and philosophy of medicine as well as literary sources.

Ideals of care that many of us have for our loved ones are difficult to render at scale, and are often in tension with the for-profit motivations behind the development of medications, the administration of healthcare services, and the distribution of goods. We will consider the sorts of 

compromises that are made every day through readings in literature, history, political science and philosophy and also through first-person experience in the form of a practicum that that will run parallel to the course. In this practicum students will spend 2-3 hours a week observing a home health aide at work.

As Arle Hochschild, Silvia Federici and others have explored, the free market has contribute to a ‘global transfer of care and emotions’ in which workers, especially women, from the former colonies and the third world are serving as primary caregivers or home health aids in Europe and United States.By observing these home health aides at work, students will begin to appreciate the compromises and contradictions that lie at the heart of caregiving.

Through a combination of theory and praxis, through readings and doings, we will lay bare the grounds of the system that naturalizes care and explore the progressively expanding circle moving from the intimate zones of self-care to the totalizing care of the modern biopolitical state.

Spring 2020: CPLS GU4802
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4802 001/14185 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
C01 80 Claremont
Arden Hegele 0 17/20

CPLS GU4892 Subaltern Urbanism. 4 points.

This seminar asks how spatial politics intersect with economic inequality and social difference (race, gender, caste, and ethnicity) to produce marginalized and stigmatized spaces such as “favelas,” “slum,” and “ghettos.”

The seminar draws on the convergent yet distinct urban trajectories of Bombay/Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro as a place from which to explore questions of comparative and global urbanism from an explicitly South-South perspective. That is, we ask how Bombay and Rio’s distinct yet connected urbanity might force us to alter our approaches to the city; approaches that are largely drawn from modular Euro-American paradigms for understanding urbanization as coeval with modernity, as well as industrialization. We do so in this seminar by focusing on people and practices—subaltern urbanity (and on those whose labor produced the modern city), as well as on spatial orders—the informal or unintended city—to ask the question: “what makes and unmakes a city?”

How might questions about built form, industrialization, capital flows, and social life and inhabitation that takes the perspective of “city theory from the Global South” shed new understanding on the history of the city, the extranational frames of colonial modernity, and the ongoing impact of neoliberalism? How can we rethink critical concepts in urban studies (precarity, spatial segregation, subalternity, economies of eviction, urban dispossession) through embedded studies of locality and lifemaking?

Spring 2020: CPLS GU4892
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4892 001/15776 T 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Ll016 Milstein Center
Ana Lee, Anupama Rao 4 5/10

Of Related Interest

Comparative Literature (Barnard)
CPLT BC3110Introduction to Translation Studies
CPLS BC3123Friend or Foe? World Literature and the Question of Justice
CLSP BC3215The Colonial Encounter: Conquest, Landscape, and Subject in the Hispanic New World
CPLT BC3160Tragic Bodies
CPLS BC3170Translating Madness: The Sciences and Fictions of Pathology
CPLT BC3190Aesthetics of the Grotesque
CPLS BC3510Advanced Workshop in Translation
CPLT BC3675Mad Love
East Asian Languages and Cultures
English and Comparative Literature
English (Barnard)
Germanic Languages
History (Barnard)
HIST BC3830Bombay/Mumbai and Its Urban Imaginaries
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
CLME GU4227The Islamic Context of the Arabian Nights since the Establishment of Baghdad
CLME GU4228The Arab Street: Politics and Poetics of Transformation
Slavic Languages
CLCZ GU4038Prague Spring of '68 in Film and Literature [In English]
CLSL GU4075Soviet and Post-Soviet, Colonial and Post Colonial Film
CLGM OC3920The World Responds to the Greeks: Greece Faces East
CLEN UN3775Narrating Rape: Testimony, Gender and Violence
CLME GU4031Cinema and Society In Asia and Africa
CLRS GU4022Russia and Asia: Orientalism, Eurasianism, Internationalism
CLRS GU4036Nabokov and Global Culture
CLRS UN3304How To Read Violence: The Literature of Power, Force and Brutality from 20th Century Russia and America
CLRS UN3307(Russian) Literary Playgrounds: Adventures in Textual Paichnidology
CLRS UN3309Fact and Fiction: The Document in Russian and American Literature
CLSL GU4003Central European Drama in the Twentieth Century
CLSS GU4028In the Shadow of Empires: Literature of the South Slavs From Realism to Today


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 2019: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/20188 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
253 Engineering Terrace
Rishi Goyal 3 20/28

CPLS GU4111 World Philology. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

Philology, broadly defined as the practice of making sense of texts, is a fundamental human activity that has been repeatedly institutionalized in widely separated places and times. In the wake of the formation of the modern academic disciplines in the nineteenth century and their global spread, it became difficult to understand the power and glory of older western philology, and its striking parallels with other pre- and early modern forms of scholarship around the globe. This class seeks to create a new comparative framework for understanding how earlier generations made sense of the texts that they valued, and how their practices provide still-vital models for us at a time of upheaval in the format and media of texts and in our scholarly approaches to them. Students will encounter key fields of philology—textual criticism, lexicography, grammar, and, above all, commentary—not in the abstract but as instantiated in relation to four foundational works—the Confucian Analects, the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki, the Aeneid, and the Tale of Genji—and the scholarly traditions that grew up around them. We are never alone when we grapple with the basic question of how to read texts whose meaning is unclear to us. Over the course of the semester, this class will foster a global understanding of the deep roots and strange parallels linking contemporary reading and interpretation to the practices of the past.

Fall 2019: CPLS GU4111
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4111 001/58853 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
609 Hamilton Hall
David Lurie 4 17/20

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 2019: CPLS GU4145
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4145 001/20191 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
1102 International Affairs Bldg
Diane Rubenstein 4 9/20

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 2019: CLPS GU4251
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4251 001/20179 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
511 Kent Hall
Karen Seeley 3 2/15

CLEN GU4567 Du Bois, Gramsci, Ambedkar: Three Men on Emancipation. 4 points.

Selected texts of W.E.B. Du Bois, Antonio Gramsci, and B.R. Ambedkar will be read to compare and contrast their points of view on the emancipation of the subaltern.  The issue of gendering will be investigated.

Fall 2019: CLEN GU4567
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLEN 4567 001/10177 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
612 Philosophy Hall
Gayatri Spivak 4 11/25

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 2019: GERM GU4670
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
GERM 4670 001/54559 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
633 Seeley W. Mudd Building
Oliver Simons 3 28/60

PORT UN3601 Race, Medicine and Literature in 19th-Century Brazil. 3 points.

Not offered during 2019-20 academic year.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of Portugese

We will read and discuss how racial ideologies like “whitening,” “miscegenation” and “racial democracy” played critical roles in Brazil’s transition to a republic. We will examine movements such as romanticism, naturalism and positivism in literary and visual works. Throughout, we will analyze literature, illustrations and photography that constructed a relationship between race, science, and medicine to better understand the role that scientific racism played in constructing discourses about national identity. We will read abolitionist writings and anti-racist works that contested these ideologies. We will discuss these issues through the lenses of migration, religion, urbanization, gender, sexuality, and class. Course texts include a range of materials including literature, chronicles, short stories, vaudeville, carnival parades, songs, music, photography, and newspaper articles. Throughout, students will gain a vivid picture of Brazilian society in the early stages of nation building, which will provide new ways of understanding and addressing contemporary challenges in Brazil and beyond.

The course will be taught in Portugese.

Fall 2019: PORT UN3601
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PORT 3601 001/13152 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
201 Casa Hispanica
Ana Lee 3 3/15

ITAL UN3660 Terrorism in Literature and Film: Cultural Reflections between Italian Red Brigades & 9/11. 3 points.

How does the experience of terrorism impact artworks both aesthetically and thematically? And how do artworks that thematize terrorism reveal underlying issues and inner dynamics of contemporary society? In this interdisciplinary course, we will treat novels and films that use the theme of terrorism as a rich resource for understanding the consequences of terroristic violence and the trauma it produces at an individual and social level. To do so, we will compare the cultural reflections on the attack on the Twin Towers in Manhattan on 9/11 to Italy's years of lead, which was the most disruptive case of domestic terrorism in a Western democracy prior to 2001. We will explore issues such as: the representation of the body of the terrorist and his/her victims; memory and trauma; women's role in or vis a vis terroristic associations; children's perspective on terroristic violence; terrorism and its effect on the nuclear family; the perspective of the Other and postcolonialism; martyrdom and sacrifice. As a result of our close analysis of films and novels on terrorism, we will be able to discover the specificity of 9/11 and the Italian years of lead, and the way in which art not only works as a therapeutic device, but also as analytic tool for political change. This is thus a course that would also be of interest for students of Comparative Literature, Film and Media Studies, English, and Political Science.
(No previous knowledge is required. All course materials will be in English.)

Fall 2019: ITAL UN3660
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ITAL 3660 001/10656 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
1102 International Affairs Bldg
Massimiliano Delfino 3 6/15