Comparative Literature and Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Departmental Honors

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

Executive Committee of ICLS

Gil Anidjar (Religion; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies)
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)
Rishi K. Goyal (Assistant Professor of Medicine)
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)
Alessandra Russo (Associate Professor Latin American and Iberian Cultures)
Oliver Simons (Germanic Languages)
Dennis Tenen (Assistant Professor English & Comparative Literature)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor)
Nadia Urbinati (Political Science)

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 UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, usually taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  4. A GPA of at least 3.5;
  5. A focus statement, 1-2 pages in length. The focus is a period, theme, problem, movement, etc., that is explored from an interdisciplinary and/or a comparative perspective. Faculty understand that this statement is a work in progress, but that it serves as a useful guide to students' academic pursuits and course selection.

Major in Comparative Literature and Society

The major in comparative literature and society requires a minimum of 42 points, or 14 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 UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, required for all majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  2. Advanced courses as follows (please note that one course may be used to fulfill two of the advanced course requirements):
    • Two courses with a CPLS designator. CLxx courses, i.e., courses designated as comparative in nature by various language and literature departments, may count for the major with director of undergraduate studies' approval
    • Two seminars (discussion-driven courses at the 3000- or 4000-level), chosen from among the affiliated disciplines
    • Two courses requiring readings in a language other than English, preferably conducted in the target language and for which written assignments are composed in the language as well
    • Three courses in a single national or regional literature and/or culture, chosen from any discipline or school
    • Four courses in literature or any of the affiliated disciplines and related to the student’s historical or thematic focus;
  3. CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society;
  4. Senior thesis (optional).

Major Track in Medicine, Literature, and Society

The major track in medicine, literature, and society requires 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 UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, 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 UN3992 Senior Seminar in Medicine, Literature, and Society or CPLS UN3991 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 UN3900 Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society, normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year;
  2. Advanced courses as follows:
    • Two courses with a CPLS designator. CLxx courses, i.e., courses designated as comparative in nature by the various language and literature departments, may count for the major with director of undergraduate studies' approval
    • Two seminars (discussion-driven courses at the 3000- or 4000-level), chosen from among the affiliated disciplines
    • One to two courses requiring readings in a language other than English, preferably conducted in the target language and for which written assignments are composed in the language as well
    • Two to three courses in a single national or regional literature and/or culture, chosen from any discipline or school
    • Two to four courses in literature or any of the affiliated disciplines and related to the student's historical or thematic focus.

FALL 2017 COURSES

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. 

Fall 2017: CPLS UN3454
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3454 001/65016 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
104 Knox Hall
Patricia Grieve 4 11/15

ENGL UN3689 The Logic of the Secular Confession. 4 points.

Confession is everywhere today. From the pages of the NY Times, to TV shows and magazines, the value that our culture places on the practice of baring one’s sins, shame and desire in public seems limitless. But what is confession? What does it mean to ‘confess’ in a secular context, and why does confessional narrative have such aesthetic power over us? In this course, we trace the history of secular confession as a literary genre from Rousseau to today, and explore its logic and aesthetics through novels, philosophy and psychoanalysis. We also ask how confessional discourse and its peculiar relation to the concept of ‘truth’ can inform our understanding of the present historical and political moment. Readings from Rousseau, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Svevo, Mishima, Duras, Szabó, Coetzee, Freud, Foucault. No pre-requisites.

Fall 2017: ENGL UN3689
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3689 001/21697 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
408 Hamilton Hall
Valerio Amoretti 4 13/15

CPLS UN3959 PAN-AFRICANISM AND POSTCOLONIALISM. 3 points.

Not offered during 2017-18 academic year.

This course will read some major texts of Pan-Africanism and Postcolonialism; and examine their intersectionality. CPLS students will be expected to read the texts (primary and secondary sources) in the original language where possible.


For Spivak’s and Diouf sections, students are expected to submit a 1-page response paper by midnight of the Tuesday before class.


The final class will be a colloquium with 20-minute presentation of a research paper by each student. 

Fall 2017: CPLS UN3959
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3959 001/81758 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
201 80 Claremont
Gayatri Spivak, Mamadou Diouf 3 11/12

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.

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
316 Hamilton Hall
Lydia Liu 3 19/20

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

FILM GU4000 Film and Media Theory. 3 points.

Fee: $50.

An introduction to some of the major texts in film theory, with particular attention to film theory's evolving relations to a number of philosophical issues: the nature of the aesthetic; the relation of symbolic forms to the construction of human subjectivities; narrative and the structure of experience; modernity, technology, popular culture, and the rise of mass political formations; and meaning, intention, and authorship. FILM Q4001

Fall 2017: FILM GU4000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 4000 001/94257 M 2:00pm - 5:45pm
511 Dodge Building
Nico Baumbach 3 41/75

CLPS GU4200 Freud. 4 points.

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

Fall 2017: CLPS GU4200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4200 001/24465 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
316 Hamilton Hall
Jonathan House 4 4/20

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 19/19

CLPS GU4350 Psychoanalysis & the Frankfurt School. 4 points.

The members of the Frankfurt School were the first scholars within the university to take Freud seriously. Their attempt to integrate psychoanalysis and Critical Theory, which has spanned more than eighty years and assumed a number of forms, has been at the forefront of the effort to assimilate Freud's achievement into the larger cultural, intellectual and scholarly communities. Both psychoanalysis and Critical Theory are taught separately in many departments throughout the university. However, no class is offered that directly and systematically addresses the relation between the two. This class on "Psychoanalysis and Critical Theory" represents an attempt to fill in that gap in the Columbia curriculum.

Fall 2017: CLPS GU4350
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4350 001/19975 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
B100 Heyman Center For Humanities
Joel Whitebook 4 8/20

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