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: Tommaso Manfredini, B-106 Heyman Center, East Campus; tm2538@columbia.edu

Director of Medical Humanities Major: Assistant Prof. of Medicine Rishi Goyal; B-106 Heyman Center, East Campus; rkg6@cumc.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 programs at ICLS allow 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 in Medical Humanities (MedHum). Currently, the MedHum major is not available for the concentration.

Given the wide variety of geographic and disciplinary specializations possible within the majors 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 INTRO TO ICLS in their sophomore year, as well as the required senior seminar in the fall of their last year in the program. The ICLS majors 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 MedHum major, 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 INTRO TO ICLS in the spring semester of the sophomore year.

Information about admission requirements and application to the majors or concentration can be found at https://icls.columbia.edu/undergraduate-program/admissions-to-the-majors-or-concentration/. Students are advised to meet with the director of undergraduate studies before submitting the statement of purpose for the required 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 http://icls.columbia.edu/programs/departmental-honors/.

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 in Medical Humanities) 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 INTRO TO ICLS, 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 INTRO TO ICLS, required for all majors and normally taken in the spring of the sophomore year (3 points)
  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)
    • One elective course 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 (3-4 points)
  3. CPLS UN3991 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature and Society
  4. Senior thesis (optional).

Major in Medical Humanities

The major in Medical Humanities requires 33 points (11 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 major 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 INTRO TO ICLS, 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):                                     
  • 1 course with a CPLS or CL- course identifier: 3-4 points

          Students choose from among the wide range of courses sponsored by the Institute for        Comparative Literature and Society or cross-listed between ICLS and other departments. These offerings change every semester and are listed on the ICLS website.

  •  1 course with readings in a language other than English: 3-4 points

         Students may either take a course that is taught wholly or partially in a foreign language or a course taught in English for which they have received approval to do most of the reading in a foreign language.

  • 3 courses that form the disciplinary/methodological nexus of the student’s interests: 9-12 points

        Students will develop an individualized course of study at the nexus of health, society and the humanities in discussion with the DUS (Some example of prior constellations include but are not limited to:  Literature and Medicine; Narrative Medicine; Medical Anthropology; History of Medicine; Comparative Public Health; Disability studies; Neuroscience; Biopolitics; Bioethics).

  • 2 required core courses in Medical Humanities: 6 points
  • 2 courses in the biological or biochemical sciences: 6-8 points

         Students in the MedHum major should be versed in contemporary and classical debates and knowledge in the biological sciences.  Students may take any two biology or biochemistry classes that relate to fundamental concepts in human biology.

3. Senior Seminar:

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 INTRO TO ICLS, 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.

FALL 2021 COURSES 

CLGR UN3252 What is Fascism?. 3.00 points.

This course explores fascism through an interdisciplinary, trans-historical lens. Beginning with Germany’s Third Reich, we will examine fascism’s history and foundations in social, political, religious, and scientic developments. We will explore various theories—ranging from psychoanalytic to philosophical—which try to explain the rise and spread of fascism. To help conceptualize fascism, we will analyze its complex relationship with race, ideology, and nationalism, and in particular, its deployment of technology, aesthetics, and propaganda. We will apply our own working denition of fascism to the contemporary moment by analyzing current populist, authoritarian movements around the globe. Taught in English

Fall 2021: CLGR UN3252
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGR 3252 001/12750 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
Annie Pfeifer 3.00 13/40

CPLS UN3333 EAST/WEST FRAMETALE NARRATIVES. 4.00 points.

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

A study of frame tale collections from India, Persia, the Middle East, and Western Europe from the 5th century C.E. through the 17th century. We will trace the development of short story/novella from their oral traditions and written reworkings, studying such texts as 1001 Nights, Kalila wa-Dimnah, Scholar’s Guide, and the works of Boccaccio, Marguerite de Navarre, Cervantes, and María de Zayas. This is a Global Core course. Application Instructions: E-mail Professor Patricia E. Grieve (peg1@columbia.edu), 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 within a week

Fall 2021: CPLS UN3333
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3333 001/12131 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Online Only
Patricia Grieve 4.00 5/20

SPAN UN3349 Hispanic Cultures I: Islamic Spain through the Colonial Period. 3 points.

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

Prerequisites: L" course: enrollment limited to 15 students. Completion of language requirement, third-year language sequence (W3300).

Provides students with an overview of the cultural history of the Hispanic world, from eighth-century Islamic and Christian Spain and the pre-Hispanic Americas through the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period until about 1700, covering texts and cultural artifacts from both Spain and the Americas.

Spring 2021: SPAN UN3349
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SPAN 3349 001/12643 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Online Only
Daniel Saenz 3 15/15
SPAN 3349 002/12645 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
Online Only
Juan Carlos Garzon Mantilla 3 16/15
Fall 2021: SPAN UN3349
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
SPAN 3349 001/12015 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Daniel Saenz 3 11/15
SPAN 3349 020/00358 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
Room TBA
Orlando Bentancor 3 15/15

CLGM UN3800 WRITING RESISTANCE. 3.00 points.

Set within a transnational and transdisciplinary feminist framework, Writing Resistance will unfold and examine the ways traumatic, lived experiences of gender and structural violence, systematic oppression and precarity, incarceration, racism, and colonialism, have been silenced or submerged in canonical writing and official history making. As an antidote, we will attempt a “queering” of this patriarchal and “colonial archive” (Stoler), by shedding light and focusing on diverse forms of writing, autobiographies and biomythographies, poetry and fiction, and theoretical readings that are either produced by or centered on the lived experiences, psyches and bodies, of women, people of color, dissidents and incarcerated people, queer, transgender, and non-binary individuals, refugees and other historically and systematically marginalized voices and identities. Within the context of what has often been approached as “minor literature” (Deleuze and Guattari), the fragmented truths, interrupted stories, and the “descent to the everyday” (Das), will reveal not only traumas, suffering, and alienation, but also what Veena Das approaches as “poisonous knowledge,” where the gendered, queer, racialized, and political body, solidarity, and silence, return as resistance, reclaiming voices, visibility, and authorship

Fall 2021: CLGM UN3800
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 3800 001/10680 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
3.00 5/20

CLME UN3928 Arabic Prison Writing. 3 points.

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

This course studies the genealogy of the prison in Arab culture as manifested in memoirs, narratives, and poems. These cut across a vast temporal and spatial swathe, covering selections from the Quran, Sufi narratives from al-Halllaj oeuvre, poetry by prisoners of war: classical, medieval, and modern. It   also studies modern narratives by women prisoners and political prisoners, and narratives that engage with these issues. Arabic prison writing is studied against other genealogies of this prism, especially in the West, to map out the birth of prison, its institutionalization, mechanism, and role. All readings for the course are in English translations.

Fall 2021: CLME UN3928
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLME 3928 001/10620 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
207 Knox Hall
Muhsin Al-Musawi 3 28/25

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 2021: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/10149 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
405 Kent Hall
Bruno Bosteels 3 12/15
Fall 2021: CPLS UN3991
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3991 001/10639 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Bruno Bosteels 3 16/25

CPLS UN3995 SENIOR THESIS IN COMP LIT/SOC. 3.00 points.

This year-long, three-credit course is mandatory for students who will be writing their Senior Thesis in Comparative Literature and Society or in Medical Humanities. Students who wish to be considered for Departmental honors are required to submit a Senior Thesis. The thesis is a rigorous research work of approximately 40 pages, and it will include citations and a bibliographical apparatus. It may be written in English or, with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, in another language relevant to the students scholarly interests. Although modeled after an independent study, in which core elements of the structure, direction, and pace of the work are decided together by the student and their faculty thesis supervisor, students are nonetheless expected to complete certain major steps in the research and writing process according to the timeline outlined by the ICLS DUS

Spring 2021: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/10113  
Tommaso Manfredini 3.00 13/15
Fall 2021: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/13908  
Tommaso Manfredini 3.00 0/25

CLGR GU4170 Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain: Morbidity, Modernity and Metaphysics. 3.00 points.

We will study how Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain explores, through its narration of disease, the intricate relationship between ethical concepts and moral norms, between bodily sensation and psychic dispositions, between metaphysical concepts and medical insight and innovation (the discovery of the x-ray and psychoanalytic treatment, for example), and between the institution of the tuberculosis sanatorium and its morbid and potentially rebellious inhabitants

Fall 2021: CLGR GU4170
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGR 4170 001/11762 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Dorothea von Muecke 3.00 5/25

ENGL GU4406 CULTURAL STUDIES SEMINAR. 3.00 points.

Recent decades have witnessed a flood of life writing, particularly by authors whose bodies diverge from norms of gender, sexuality, race, age, or health. This development represents a significant change, as autobiography has historically been reserved for the most accomplished and able-bodied among us. Our course will study the rise of what G. Thomas Couser calls “the some body memoir,” asking how it revises traditional autobiography as it attempts to carve out literary space for voices and bodies that have not historically been represented in public. We will consider how these new memoirs talk back to bodily norms of health, success, and beauty. We will pay particular attention to writings by women, trans or genderqueer people, people of color, and those who are ill, disabled, or elderly. We will begin by establishing a conceptual understanding of memoir, selfhood, and embodiment. From there, each week’s reading will pair a memoir with other writings meant to prompt discuss and critical examination. In addition to more traditional essay assignments, students will learn more about genre by experimenting with their own writing, as well as self-representation in other genres like sound, drawing, photography, and film

Fall 2021: ENGL GU4406
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 4406 001/13603 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Rachel Adams 3.00 8/20

CLIA GU4500 Mediterranean Humanities. 3.00 points.

What is the Mediterranean and how was it constructed and canonized as a space of civilization? A highly multicultural, multilingual area whose people represent a broad array of religious, ethnic, social and political difference, the Mediterranean has been seen as the cradle of western civilization, but also as a dividing border and a unifying confluence zone, as a sea of pleasure and a sea of death. The course aims to enhance students’ understanding of the multiple ways this body of water has been imagined by the people who lived or traveled across its shores. By exploring major works of theory, literature and cinema since 1800, it encourages students to engage critically with a number of questions (nationalism vs cosmopolitanism, South/North and East/West divides, tourism, exile and migration, colonialism and orientalism, borders and divided societies) and to ‘read’ the sea through different viewpoints: through the eyes of a German Romantic thinker, a Sephardic Ottoman family, an Algerian feminist, a French historian, a Syrian refugee, an Italian anti-fascist, a Moroccan writer, an Egyptian exile, a Bosnian-Croat scholar, a Lebanese-French author, a Cypriot filmmaker, an Algerian-Italian journalist, and others. In the final analysis, Med Hum is meant to arouse the question of what it means to stand on watery grounds and to view the world through a constantly shifting lens

Fall 2021: CLIA GU4500
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLIA 4500 001/11886 M 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Konstantia Zanou 3.00 19/20
CLIA 4500 002/14059 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Konstantia Zanou 3.00 1/20

CLGM GU4600 Multilingual America: Translation, Migration, Gender. 4.00 points.

This course introduces students to the rich tradition of literature about and by Greeks in America over the past two centuries exploring questions of multilingualism, translation, migration and gender with particular attention to the look and sound of different alphabets and foreign accents – “It’s all Greek to me!” To what extent can migration be understood as translation and vice versa? How might debates in Diaspora and Translation Studies inform each other and how might both, in turn, elucidate the writing of and about Greeks and other ethnic minorities, especially women? Authors include Olga Broumas, Elia Kazan, Alexandros Papadiamantis, Irini Spanidou, Ellery Queen, Eleni Sikelianos and Thanasis Valtinos as well as performance artists such as Diamanda Galas. Theoretical and comparative texts include works by Walter Benjamin, Rey Chow, Jacques Derrida, Xiaolu Guo, Eva Hoffman, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison, Vicente Rafael, and Lawrence Venuti, as well as films such as The Immigrant and The Wizard of Oz. No knowledge of Greek is necessary, although an extra-credit directed reading is open to those wishing to read texts in Greek

Fall 2021: CLGM GU4600
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGM 4600 001/13954 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Room TBA
Karen Van Dyck 4.00 1/12

SPRING 2021 COURSES

CLYD UN3000 Do you read Jewish? From Yiddish, to Yinglish, to Yiddler, in the US. 3.00 points.

Historically, Yiddish literature and culture was produced and consumed by people who were usually bi-lingual or multi-lingual, living in societies with a different majority language. Today, when only a small number of people read Yiddish fluently, most Yiddish literature and culture is consumed as translations or adaptations. Our course then, investigates, Yiddish literature and culture from the 20th and 21st centuries as a particularly fruitful site for thinking through questions of translation and adaptation theory by looking at writers such as I. B. Singer, and products of popular culture such as the musical Fiddler on the Roof/Fidler afn dakh or the movie Yentl . Through these readings we will investigate questions such as: What translation strategies were necessary for the world of Yiddish-speaking Europe to enter the realm of American-Jewish culture?

Spring 2021: CLYD UN3000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLYD 3000 001/11273 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Sandra Chiritescu 3.00 7/15

ITAL UN3665 "Against fiction?" Committed Narratives of the 21st Century. 3.00 points.

In the era of post-truth and fake news, has fiction become a luxury? How do cinema and literature adjust to what has been defined as the current “hunger for reality”? Can art reflect reality and promote social change? As phenomena of manipulation of information have changed the rhetorics of public discourse, narrative forms traditionally associated with fiction (novels, graphic novels or films) strive to appear objective, making use of documents, autobiographical accounts, testimonies and verifiable data, while non-fiction appropriates the techniques of storytelling. This interdisciplinary course will explore the cross contamination of fiction and non-fiction with a special focus on hybrid narratives that make their meaning at the border between the literary and the journalistic, the imaginative and the factual. Considering the intersections among fictional narratives and other forms of expression and knowledge production (i.e. journalism, oral history, anthropology or documentary), we will look at contemporary works that experiment with new communicative forms to recount real events and to address socio-political issues. The course is suitable for students who have interests in all the humanities and social sciences. The use of narrative and storytelling in a wide array of fields, from medicine to human rights advocacy, has made it fundamental to reflect on how ‘true’ stories are created and on how they circulate. (No previous knowledge required. Taught in English.)

Spring 2021: ITAL UN3665
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ITAL 3665 001/10179 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Beatrice Mazzi 3.00 5/25

CPLS UN3900 INTRO TO ICLS. 3.00 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 who have applied for and declared a major in Comparative Literature and Society or Medical Humanities

Spring 2021: CPLS UN3900
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3900 001/10103 Th 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
David Lurie 3.00 16/17

CPLS UN3995 SENIOR THESIS IN COMP LIT/SOC. 3.00 points.

This year-long, three-credit course is mandatory for students who will be writing their Senior Thesis in Comparative Literature and Society or in Medical Humanities. Students who wish to be considered for Departmental honors are required to submit a Senior Thesis. The thesis is a rigorous research work of approximately 40 pages, and it will include citations and a bibliographical apparatus. It may be written in English or, with the permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, in another language relevant to the students scholarly interests. Although modeled after an independent study, in which core elements of the structure, direction, and pace of the work are decided together by the student and their faculty thesis supervisor, students are nonetheless expected to complete certain major steps in the research and writing process according to the timeline outlined by the ICLS DUS

Spring 2021: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/10113  
Tommaso Manfredini 3.00 13/15
Fall 2021: CPLS UN3995
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 3995 001/13908  
Tommaso Manfredini 3.00 0/25

CPLS BC3997 Senior Seminar. 4 points.

Designed for students writing a senior thesis and doing advanced research on two central literary fields in the student's major. The course of study and reading material will be determined by the instructor(s) in consultation with students(s).

CLSL GU4009 Hegel: State, History, Freedom. 3.00 points.

This course is an advanced introduction to the reading of Hegel, via selections from his Lectures on the Philosophy of World History, The Phenomenology of Spirit, and The Philosophy of Right. The focus will be on Hegel’s philosophy of history, his understanding of modernity and its particular kind of freedom, and the way that he saw that freedom to be actualized in the modern state. Prerequisite: undergraduates ought to have finished the core curriculum and taken at least one other philosophy class; at least one of PHIL 2201, 2301, or 3251 is highly recommended

Spring 2021: CLSL GU4009
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLSL 4009 001/13338 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Adam Leeds 3.00 10/15

POLS GU4110 RECENT CONTINENTAL POL THOUGHT. 4.00 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 2021: POLS GU4110
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 4110 001/10427 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Jean Cohen 4.00 20/25

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 2021: CLPS GU4201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4201 001/10389 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Karen Seeley 4 4/15

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 2021: CPLS GU4315
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4315 001/11952 F 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Smaranda Muresan, Isabelle Zaugg 4 2/15

CPLS GU4325 Abolition Medicine: Medical Racisms and Anti-Racisms. 3.00 points.

In 1935, WEB Dubois wrote about abolition democracy: an idea based not only on breaking down unjust systems, but on building up new, antiracist social structures. Scholar activists like Angela Davis, Ruth Gilmore and Mariame Kaba have long contended that the abolition of slavery was but one first step in ongoing abolitionist practices dismantling racialized systems of policing, surveillance and incarceration. The possibilities of prison and police abolition have recently come into the mainstream national consciousness during the 2020 resurgence of nationwide Black Lives Matters (BLM) protests. As we collectively imagine what nonpunitive and supportive community reinvestment in employment, education, childcare, mental health, and housing might look like, medicine must be a part of these conversations. Indeed, if racist violence is a public health emergency, and we are trying to bring forth a “public health approach to public safety” – what are medicine’s responsibilities to these social and institutional reinventions? Medicine has a long and fraught history of racial violence. It was, after all, medicine and pseudoscientific inquiry that helped establish what we know as the racial categorizations of today: ways of separating human beings based on things like skin color and hair texture that were used (and often continue to be used) to justify the enslavement, exclusion, or genocide of one group of people by another. Additionally, the history of the professionalization of U.S. medicine, through the formation of medical schools and professional organizations as well as and the certification of trained physicians, is a history of exclusion, with a solidification of the identity of “physician” around upper middle class white masculinity. Indeed, the 1910 Flexner Report, whose aim was to make consistent training across the country’s medical schools, was explicit in its racism. From practices of eugenic sterilization, to histories of experimentation upon bodies of color, medicine is unfortunately built upon racist, sexist and able-ist practices. This course is built on the premise that a socially just practice of medicine is a bioethical imperative. Such a practice cannot be achieved, however, without examining medicine’s histories of racism, as well as learning from and building upon histories of anti-racist health practice. The first half of the semester will be dedicated to learning about histories of medical racism: from eugenics and racist experimentation to public health xenophobic fear mongering. The second half of the semester will be dedicated to examining medical and grassroots anti-racist practices: from the free health clinics and hospital takeovers of the Black Panther and Young Lords Parties, to environmental activism in Flint and the Sioux Rock Reservation to antiracist AIDS and COVID activism

Spring 2021: CPLS GU4325
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4325 001/11154 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
Online Only
Sayantani DasGupta 3.00 20/21

CLGR GU4420 Walter Benjamin. 3 points.

In recent years, Walter Benjamin has become one of the most quoted media theorists. His philosophy of technology is not as widely known as the concept of aura he developed in his essay The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. The contemporary relevance of his philosophy of technology lies in the fact that Benjamin establishes a connection between technology and different forms of habitation, and between the latter and the concept of habit (Gewohnheit), which is etymologically related to the concept of habitation (Wohnen). This enables a comparison of Benjamin’s approach with the philosophies of technology developed by Heidegger, Deleuze/Guattari, and Simondon, all of whom associate technology with the shaping of environments and the problem of poesis. In our seminar, we will reconstruct Benjamin’s media anthropology of technology through a close reading of his diaries and essays and compare it to philosophies of technology very much being discussed today.

Spring 2021: CLGR GU4420
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLGR 4420 001/10249 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Annie Pfeifer 3 21/25

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 2021: CLPS GU4510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLPS 4510 001/10148 Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Aud Earl Hall
Marcus Coelen 4 21/30

CPLS GU4732 Matters of Life/Death. 3.00 points.

The imbricated crises of a global pandemic and the legacies of structural anti-Black racism necessitate reflection, at once political and philosophic. One might argue that they reframe twentieth century French traditions of thought as a sustained critical reflection on le vivant (life); the way society classifies and treats its dead, its “living dead” or excluded members; the political economy of death and life management; death sentences (both legal and literary.) In the twenty first century, Black feminist thought addresses the ecological catastrophe of the pandemic and the resultant unequal distribution of life and death, pressuring what is at stake under the philosopheme of the “human.” This seminar is structured as a conversation between representative thinkers from each “tradition.” Yet neither tradition has discrete borders; twenty first century thinkers inherit from their French predecessors even as they contest and bring to light fraught presuppositions. We might also say, with Jacques Derrida, that the twentieth century French thinkers -Bergson, Canguilhem, Deleuze, Foucault- inherit from the future- from Hortense Spillers, Alexander Weheliye, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Octavia Butler, Fred Moten. How might this urgent reframing and conversation enable a critical resistance?

Spring 2021: CPLS GU4732
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4732 001/15099 W F 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Diane Rubenstein 3.00 10/16

CPLS GU4800 Advanced Topics in Medical Humanities. 3.00 points.

Not offered during 2021-22 academic year.

It is impossible to study Medical/Health Humanities now without emphasizing the COVID-19 pandemic and the social disparities it casts into relief. This class studies how the arts can provide access to voices and perspectives on illness and health disparities that might be overlooked in news coverage, historical and sociological research on the current pandemic. This class begins by introducing the field of Medical/Health Humanities and the critical questions and tools it provides. We will use these perspectives to study narrative and visual representations in different media that address the intersections of social inequity, biomedical pandemic, and aesthetic forms. Our study of representations will be divided into four parts. 1.The last great global pandemic. Representations of AIDS epidemic highlight the impact of social stigma on public health and medical care, as well as the use of art as an agent of activism and change. We will consider such works as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Charles Burns’s Black Hole, short stories, and the art produced within and in response to the ACT-UP movement. 2.Race and medical inequity. We study the racialization of genetic science, and its connection new forms of white supremacy and a history of racialized health disparities. Our readings include Rebecca Skloot’s Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the poetry of Maya Angelou and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, and the speculative fiction of N.K. Jemison. 3.Fictional representations of pandemic that illuminate real life disparities in health and access to medical care will set the stage for our study of the current pandemic. We will read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Colson Whitehead’s zombie novel, Zone One. 4.Literary representations of COVID, as represented by the short stories in The Decameron Project, as well as short film and visual arts. Seminar style classes will emphasize student interests and direction. They will be heavily discussion-based with a combination of full class and smaller breakout formats. Assignments include an in-class presentation and short paper on one week’s materials; a comparative narrative analysis, and an imaginative final project with a critical introduction

Spring 2021: CPLS GU4800
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLS 4800 002/16663 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
203 Mathematics Building
Rachel Adams 3.00 15/15