Program Director: Emily Sun (Tow Associate Professor of Comparative Literature)

Peter Connor (Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French), Nancy Worman (Classics)
Associate Professors: 
Erk Grimm (German), Emily Sun (Tow Associate Professor of Comparative Literature), Hana Worthen (Comparative Literature & Theatre)
Senior Lecturer:
Brian O’Keeffe (French)
Term Lecturer: 
Monica Cohen (Comparative Literature, English, First-Year Seminar)

Requirements for the Major in Comparative Literature

For students who declared in Spring 2017 (and after)

To enter the program, a student must normally have completed the required sequence necessary for entry into the advance literature courses of her major program. This varies from language to language; students should consult the director. Each student, after consultation with the director, chooses an adviser from one of her two fields of concentration in a language. This adviser guides her in developing a sequence of courses appropriate for her goals in the major. 

All students are required to take the following Twelve (12) courses (minimum 37 credits):


  • One (1) course in CPLT BC3143 TOPICS COMPARATIVE LIT (3.00 s.h.)

  • Six (6) Courses Three (3) courses in each of TWO distinct literary traditions studied in the original language 

  • Three (3) elective courses in literature, of which:

    • ​One (1) pre-modern 

    • One (1) literary theory

    • One (1) open choice


Students who wish to major in Comparative Literature, but who for valid reasons wish to pursue a program at variance with the above model, should consult the director.

Important note about studying abroad

If you plan on spending part or all of junior year abroad, plan to take the CPLT BC3001 INTRO TO COMPARATIVE LITERATUR (3.00 s.h.) during the second semester of your sophomore year. This means contacting the director of Comparative Literature program during the first semester of your sophomore year. Indicate that you plan to be abroad one or both semesters during junior year and discuss when to take core courses.

If you plan to be away for the entire junior year, discuss with the program director which other courses can count toward the major when studying abroad. You should also plan to identify advisors before your departure so that you can contact them via e-mail and meet with them at the beginning of your senior year.

If you have further questions regarding the thesis process and its parts, please contact the Program Director.

Requirements for the Minor in Translation Studies

The Minor in Translation Studies allows students to explore the history and theory of translation practices, to consider the importance of translation in today’s world, and to complete a substantial translation or translation-related project.

The Minor in Translation Studies will not qualify students to work professionally as translators or interpreters upon graduation. The courses on a transcript that count toward the Minor will demonstrate that the student has acquired basic familiarity with the history and principle theories of translation and interpreting, together with sufficient linguistic preparedness to conduct basic practical work in translation or interpreting. It will serve as a useful qualification for those wishing to enter one of the growing number of post-graduate programs that provide further training in translation and interpreting, both areas of significant employment growth. It will serve equally those wishing to pursue research in the area of translation and interpreting, a burgeoning area of academic specialization. For students generally, whatever their career goals, the Minor can be profitably combined with their major (Anthropology, French, Political Science, German, History, etc.), enhancing the value of their degree and making them more competitive in today’s global job market.

The Minor in Translation Studies is supervised by the Director of the Center for Translation Studies along with the Chair of the Program in Comparative Literature. Students wishing to minor in Translation Studies should meet with Professor Peter Connor to discuss the choice of their elective courses.

Six (6) courses are required for the minor (minimum 18 credits):


2. Two or three elective courses dealing with the history and/or theory of translation, or with language from an anthropological, philosophical, psychological, social or cultural perspective. Example courses:

3. One or two language-based courses at the advanced level offering practice in written or oral translation.

  • For example, a student working with French:
  • For example, a student working with Spanish:


Note: the particular courses qualifying for the minor will vary according to the language chosen by the candidate.

With permission of the director of the minor, a student may request credit for an Independent Study involving substantial translation or interpreting work.


Introduction to the study of literature from a comparative and cross-disciplinary perspective. Readings will be selected to promote reflection on such topics as the relation of literature to the other arts; nationalism and literature; international literary movements; post-colonial literature; gender and literature; and issues of authorship, influence, originality, and intertextuality

Fall 2024: CPLT BC3001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3001 001/00190 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
324 Milbank Hall
Emily Sun 3.00 7/20


Introduction to the major theories and methods of translation in the Western tradition, along with practical work in translating. Topics include translation in the context of postcolonialism, globalization and immigration, the role of translators in war and zones of conflict, gender and translation, the importance of translation to contemporary writers. Completion of Intermediate II or equivalent in any foreign language

Fall 2024: CPLT BC3110
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3110 001/00227 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
202 Milbank Hall
Brian O'Keeffe 3.00 20/20


How have artists been informed and influenced by the natural world? This course will examine how photography and literature have responded to nature, ecology, and the environment. We will explore how close-looking might inform an artist’s practice regarding the living environment - its bounty - and its degradation. Students will study works whose makers have seen art as a form of praise of the natural world, as well as those who investigate the relationship between art and environmental activism. Readings will include those by John Muir, Rachel Carson, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Carl Jung, Robert Macfarlane, Mary Oliver, Kerri ni Dochartaigh and others. Particular emphasis will be placed on how photography over the past hundred years has responded to shrinking natural landscapes, environmental destruction, and global warming. We will study in-depth photographic essays by some of the following artists: Robert Adams; Rene Effendi; Kikuji Kawada; Dornith Doherty; Kirk Crippens and Gretchen Le Maistre; Brad Tempkin; Pablo Lopez Luz; Mandy Barker; Robert Zhoa Renhui, Masahisa Fukashe, and Meghann Riepenhoff. Students will be required to write response papers weekly, participate in weekly discussions, and produce a term-long photographic essay

CPLT BC3107 Translating the Animal. 4.00 points.

Through readings in language philosophy, translation studies, and critical animal studies, Translating the Animal explores how translation, language, and reason have historically worked together to maintain speciesism, preventing human animals from perceiving their commonalities with, and attunement to, sentient nonhuman beings

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3107
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3107 001/00097 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Ll017 Milstein Center
Hana Worthen 4.00 7/10

CPLT BC3108 Nazism in Performance. 4.00 points.

Explores the cultivation of national and transnational performances as a significant force of National Socialism, at the same time as challenging the notion of "Nazi Theatre" as monolithic formation. The core of the course inquires into the dialectical analysis of artistic creations in diverse art genres, while working towards an understanding of the social dramaturgy of such events as staging the Führer and the racialized body of the priveleged people. Nazism did not harbor ideologies without benefits for the allied nations. Thus, the dynamic performance of transnationalism among the "brothers in arms" will be included as well, in order to elucidate how works of art crossing into the Third Reich were reimagined, sometimes in ways challenging to the presumed values of the state stage. Permission of instructor given at first class meeting

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3108
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3108 001/00098 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
501 Diana Center
Hana Worthen 4.00 5/12

CPLT BC3120 Poetics of the Mouth. 3 points.

Explores the imagery of eating, drinking, spitting, choking, sucking (and other unmentionables) in relation to insults and excessive behaviors. Readings from Greek poetry (e.g., Homer, Aristophanes) to modern theory (e.g., Kristeva, Powers of Horror, Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World), including modern novels and films.

CPLT BC3123 Getting Personal: Strange Companions in Cosmo Prose. 3.00 points.

With an emphasis on equality and social justice, this course examines and compares significant 19th c./20th c. literary approaches to friendship as intermediary between individualism and communal life. Discussion of culturally formed concepts and attitudes in modern or postcolonial settings. Reading of Dickens, Hesse, Woolf, Ocampo, Puig, Fugard, Emerson, Derrida, Rawls


Oscar Wilde wrote that "a map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at." Ernst Bloch argued that in order to see our own world clearly "we need the most powerful telescope, that of polished utopian consciousness." For Wislawa Szymborska, Utopia was an island whose highlights included "The Tree of Understanding" and "the spring called Now I Get It." Latin American thinkers grappled with the concept, too, and Venezuelan novelist Arturo Uslar Pietri suggested that it was Columbus's voyages to the Americas that produced plausible space on the map for Utopia's appearance. At once political, aesthetic, and educational, Utopia began its lexical and political life in literature and has remained a feature in Transatlantic Western discourse from the age of colonial empires to our present-day debates on human rights and economic inequality. In this course we will read and analyze the concept of Utopia from Columbus and Thomas More to the advent of modem socialism with special attention to the themes of economic inequality, gender emancipation, and the limits of cosmopolitan sensibility. We will also take care to look at essays and manifestoes as well as utopian novels, and to include Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. Readings by Tommaso Campanella, Margaret Cavendish, Madame de Stael, Friedrich Engels, Juan Bautista Alberdi, Edward Bellamy, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Magda Portal

Fall 2024: CPLT BC3124
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3124 001/00226 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
307 Milbank Hall
Ronald Briggs 3.00 9/16

CPLT BC3140 Europe Imagined: Images of the New Europe in 20th-Century Literature. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Compares the diverse images of Europe in 20th-century literature, with an emphasis on the forces of integration and division that shape cultural identity in the areas of travel writings and transculturation/cosmopolitanism; mnemonic narratives and constructions of the past; borderland stories and the cultural politics of translation. Readings include M. Kundera, S. Rushdie, H. Boell, C. Toibin and others.


The objective of this class is to examine a given topic and relate it to a number of literary texts. Students will examine a variety of literary genres and to an equally wide variety of cultural, linguistic, and historical contexts

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3143
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3143 001/00099 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
805 Altschul Hall
Monica Cohen 3.00 14/30
CPLT 3143 AU1/18572 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Othr Other
Monica Cohen 3.00 6/5

CPLT BC3144 Stories and Storytelling: Introduction to Narrative. 3 points.

An introduction to narrative through texts that themselves foreground acts of storytelling and thus teach us how to read them. Readings range across periods and cultures - from fifth-century BCE Athens to late twentieth-century Brazil - and include short stories, novellas, novels, a ballad, film and a psychoanalytic case history. Texts by Conan Doyle, Sophocles, Melville, Hitchcock, Augustine, Coleridge, Freud, McEwan, the tellers and compilers of the The Arabian Nights, Diderot, Flaubert, and Lispector. Emphasis on close reading and hands-on experience in analyzing texts.


Jacques Derrida was one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century and his impact on literary studies was enormously significant. The objective of this course is to take stock of Derrida’s contribution to literature, and to do so by assessing the intricate relations he establishes between literature, philosophy, economic and political theory, gender studies, translation studies, postcolonial theory, and theology. The course is divided into six parts. Part 1 introduces Derrida’s approach to ‘deconstruction,’ particularly as regards his engagement with the fundamental concepts of Western thought and the importance he confers upon the notion of ‘writing’ itself. Part 2 examines Derrida’s autobiographical texts wherein he positions himself as a subject for deconstruction, interrogating his own gender, his sense of being an organic, creaturely life-form, the relationship he has to his own language, and the matter of his identity as French, but also as Algerian, and Jewish. While the majority of the Derrida texts we will be reading are excerpts from larger works or short essays and interviews, in this section we will read a full-length text – Monolingualism of the Other – so that we can trace Derrida’s train of thought from beginning to end. In Part 3 we will use an interview conducted by Derek Attridge, “This Strange Institution Called Literature,” as a template for thinking about Derrida’s relation to literature, and in Part 4 we will read our second full-length text by Derrida, namely Given Time 1: Counterfeit Money, an in-depth analysis of a prose poem by the French poet Charles Baudelaire. Part 5 considers an aspect of Derrida’s work that reveals the extent of his embrace of provisional, in-between positions for thought in general, and for literary texts in particular, namely translation. For deconstruction is keenly invested in words beginning with ‘trans’: transposition, transplant, trans-valuation, and indeed trans-gender. Translation provides Derrida with a scenario whereby crossings and transits can be imagined – for literary texts, and for identities that wish to remain un-determined by fixed poles or normative values. The course finishes with an assessment of Derrida’s reflections on death, mourning, and the matter of leaving a legacy. In Part 6, we therefore read more of the essay “Living On,” and also Derrida’s final interview, “Learning to Live, Finally.” Not even Derrida could deconstruct away the finality of death, but he did hope to live on. My corresponding hope is that you will feel sufficiently attuned to Derrida’s thought that you consider it important to continue his legacy – to be one of the agents of his living on, survival or survie, a translator and transporter of his thought towards contexts that he could not have foreseen, but which he would doubtless have welcomed as a precious chance for his own work to be considered differently. Taking intellectual risks, thinking otherwise, and inventing new ways of knowing are, after all, the hallmarks of Derridean deconstruction.

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3145
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3145 001/00141 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
202 Milbank Hall
Brian O'Keeffe 3 26/30

CPLT BC3158 Languages of Loss: The Poetry of Mourning. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Sophomore standing

A study of the genre of elegy across time and cultures. Emphasis on how poets express grief and relate to literary traditions. Comparisons of European, Chinese, and American elegies (by Theocritus, Milton, Qu Yuan, Holderlin, Wordsworth, Whitman, Bishop, and others) and discussions of the relationship between singular and collective life.

CPLT BC3160 TRAGIC BODIES. 3.00 points.

This course will focus on embodiment in ancient and modern drama as well as in film, television, and performance art, including plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Beckett; films such as “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Limits of Control”; and performances by artists such as Karen Finley and Marina Abromovic. We will explore the provocations, theatricality, and shock aesthetics of such concepts as Artaud’s “Theater of Cruelty” and Kristevas powers of horror, as well as Adornos ideas about terror and the sublime

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3160
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3160 001/00112 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
409 Barnard Hall
Nancy Worman 3.00 23/30
CPLT 3160 AU1/18975 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Othr Other
Nancy Worman 3.00 3/3


The novella, older than the novel, painstakingly crafted, links the worlds of ideas and fiction.  The readings present the novella as a genre, tracing its progress from the 17th century to the 20th.  Each text read in the comparative milieu, grants the reader access to the intellectual concerns of an era.

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3162
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3162 001/00096 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
325 Milbank Hall
Alfred Mac Adam 3.00 16/30

CPLT BC3164 Trees of Knowledge: Ecocriticism and World Literature. 3.00 points.

This survey of modern and contemporary world literature deals explicitly with environmental issues as a main theme. The course is supposed to serve as an introduction to the new field of “ecocriticism” in the Humanities and to a wide range of literary responses to current ecological concerns and transformations of natural habitat. All texts are available in English, though students will have the opportunity to read them in the original if they desire to do so

Fall 2024: CPLT BC3164
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3164 001/00189 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
327 Milbank Hall
Erk Grimm 3.00 6/20

CPLT BC3165 City & Country in the Comparative 19th-century Novel. 4.00 points.

This seminar explores the relationship of the nineteenth-century realist novel to urban experience and rural identity. If most novels are, in Raymond Williams’s phrase, “knowable communities,” how do fictions of the city and imaginings of the country represent individual identity as it is shaped by physical, built environments? In this light, we will consider questions of youth and experience, time and space, work and leisure, men and women, landscape and portraiture, privacy and public life, national culture and cosmopolitanism, local custom and globalism. In class, we will juxtapose close readings of novels with analyses of other cultural forms (translations, paintings, operas, popular entertainment, maps) so that we come away with a broader sense of nineteenth-century pan-media culture and its international afterlives as well as a working knowledge of one of its most meaningful manifestations: the novel. French novelists Honoré de Balzac and Gustave Flaubert, English novelists Charles Dickens and George Eliot, the Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy and the Chinese novelist Lao She (Shu Qingchun, 舒慶春) will provide case studies. Such long novels benefit from nuanced and intensive seminar discussion in which all voices are critical

Fall 2024: CPLT BC3165
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3165 001/00188 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
405 Barnard Hall
Monica Cohen 4.00 14/15

CPLT BC3190 Aesthetics of the Grotesque. 3 points.

This course examines the aesthetic phenomenon of the grotesque in its development from the late Renaissance to Postmodernism by comparing major texts in a systematic fashion. The emphasis of our discussions is on the awkwardness and strangeness of a certain kind of prose or drama; we will therefore examine the typical modes of transgression and the forms of excess in literary representations of the body in various between the 15th century and the present. The transgression may involve the human body, but writers are also interested in the beauty or ugliness of “the beast.” While we will discuss questions of style and linguistic performance, our main concern is the human imagination: how do characters, narrators and writers relate to the strangeness of the body and the world? How is the literary text shaped by distinct aesthetic patterns? What kind of taboo subjects or problematic and ambiguous aspects of power dynamics in modern societies can be addressed by presenting humans and animals as grotesque figures? Our critical discussions of outstanding examples of are based on readings of major scholarly contributions to the field, in particular the studies of internationally recognized intellectuals such as M.Bakhtin, T.Todorov, J.Kristeva, and W.Kayser. You will be introduced to various historical types of the grotesque, ranging from the ornate and bombastic representations in Renaissance literature to the fantastic deformations and hybrid creatures in contemporary literature. The reading material is representative of different cultures, languages and literatures so that we can conceptualize the grotesque from a critical and comparative perspective. Ultimately, the grotesque is seen as a complicated product of social, political, and cultural conditions rather than merely a formal element of a literary discourse. The representation of “grotesque” settings as well as the formation of “grotesque” identities will be examined by considering aspects such as gender, class, race and ethnicity.


Analysis and discussion of the relation of literature to painting, photography, and film. Emphasis on artistic and literary concepts concerning the visual dimension of narrative and poetic texts from Homer to Burroughs. Explores the role of description, illustration, and montage in realist and modern literature

CPLT BC3203 Fictions of Judgment: Austen and Kleist. 3.00 points.

This course investigates how works of fiction reflect on what it means to make moral, aesthetic, and political judgments. It focuses on works by two Romantic-era authors, Jane Austen (1775-1817) and Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811), who were contemporaries of one another but have rarely been read together as they inhabited and wrote about vastly different milieux. Strikingly, both have been hailed for their precise mastery of language and form, their keen sense of irony, and their singularly philosophical dispositions. They wrote at a crucial time in both Western and global modernity when European philosophers were re-defining the very activity of judgment itself in relation to new understandings of reason, truth, and the conditions of knowledge. We will read three of Austen’s six completed novels and a play, short stories, a novella, and prose writings by Kleist, paying attention to philosophical problems of self-knowledge, judgment, freedom, and autonomy in relation to historical instantiations of gender, class, and race. Besides studying how these early nineteenth-century works staged processes and crises of judgment, we will ask ourselves what lessons in judgment these works may continue to offer us today

CPLT BC3204 Literary Worldmaking: Two Case Studies. 4.00 points.

This seminar engages students in the immersive and intensive reading of two masterworks of modern prose fiction: Middlemarch, published by George Eliot (the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans) in 1871-2 in England, and The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, composed by Cao Xueqin (and continued by Gao E) in the late 18th-century moment of Qing-dynasty China. While using devices and conventions from different narrative traditions, these novels operate in the mode of realism and do so at a monumental and panoramic scale, creating literary worlds that reflect the realia of historical lifeworlds. Beyond representing aspects of empirically recognizable worlds, these novels also incorporate philosophical reflection on their own means of representation, on their very status as fiction, on the power and limits of imaginative worldmaking. By studying these novels as cases of literary worldmaking, we will take the opportunity also to reflect critically in this class on the world that emerges–and the process of worldmaking that gets activated–in our very experience of studying these texts together. We will consider how cosmopolitanism, as a guiding ideal of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment university, may be renewed by literary study to help us inhabit a world of common humanity that is richer and more complex than is evident in particularist localisms or a satellite-view, techno-economic globalism. Middlemarch we will read in its entirety. For the sake of time, we will read, in David Hawkes’ translation, the 80-chapter version of The Story of the Stone, or the Dream of the Red Chamber, attributed to Cao Xueqin, instead of the 120-chapter version, with the last 40 chapters attributed to Gao E. If you can and wish to read the text in Chinese, please speak to Professor Sun about the option of scheduling extra discussion sessions


What is “world poetry”? This course will try to give an answer to this vexing question. You are being introduced to a number of influential poets who have entered a dialogue about what it means to write, read, translate and appreciate poetry in a global context. The impact of globalization is most visible in a number of anthologies which made considerable efforts to move beyond the existing range of national representatives and to make an English-speaking audience familiar with the names and works of poets who are bilingual or who write in their native language. Throughout the semester, we will read English translations of these poems (but feel free to read the original if you know the language). Secondly, the global context is of great importance for understanding each poet’s vision of the world since poets are involved in processes of “world-making” as well as reacting to the world’s past and present. s the semester progresses you will see that the poets are part of a larger conversation; some themes, forms and issues we discovered at the beginning will return in the middle or toward the end of the term. The selection of poets is based on considerations of gender, race, age and religious affiliation; many of the poets whose works we are going to discuss are iconic figures; in studying other cases, you will be exposed to new voices (for example, young South African poets) whose significance will emerge in a critical discussion of the anthologists’ rationale and criteria for selecting poets and marginalizing others. 


Prerequisites: CPLT BC 3110 - Introduction to Translation Studies is a recommended prerequisite.
Maurice Blanchot once described translators as the “hidden masters of culture.” Indeed, though our labor and craft often go unrecognized in the age of Google Translate, translators play an essential role as tastemakers, bridge-builders, advocates, and diplomats, not to mention the most intimate readers and re-writers of literature. In this workshop, we will explore translation as a praxis of writing, reading, and revision. Together, we will also interrogate translation's complex and often fraught role in cultural production. What ethical questions does translation raise? Who gets to translate, and what gets translated? What is the place of the translator in the text? What can translation teach us about language, literature, and ourselves? Readings will include selections from translation theory, method texts, and literary translations across genres, from poetry and prose to essay and memoir. Students will workshop original translations into English and complete brief writing and translation exercises throughout

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3510 001/00102 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
306 Milbank Hall
Peter Connor 4.00 13/12
Fall 2024: CPLT BC3510
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3510 001/00187 W 11:00am - 12:50pm
306 Milbank Hall
Jhumpa Lahiri 4.00 2/12

CPLT BC3551 The Arabian Nights and Its Influences. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Completion of one college-level literature course. Permission of instructor.

This course examines the enduring power of The Arabian Nights and some of the wide range of literary authors, genres and variations that it has influenced. The focus is, therefore, on this marvelous work—one of the earliest examples of the short story and the novel—but also on a selection of classical and contemporary works of fiction from around the world that have been informed by it. In this regard, this is a class interested in literary influence, reciprocity and exchange across time and languages.  

CPLT BC3552 The Arabic Novel. 4.00 points.

The novel in Arabic literature has often been the place where every attempt to look within ends up involving the need to contend with or measure the self against the European, the dominant culture. This took various forms. From early moments of easy-going and confident cosmopolitan travellers, such as Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, to later author, such as Tayeb Salih, mapping the existential fault lines between west and east. For this reason, and as well as being a modern phenomenon, the Arabic novel has also been a tool for translation, for bridging gaps and exposing what al-Shidyaq—the man credited with being the father of the modern Arabic novel, and himself a great translator—called ‘disjunction’. We will begin with his satirical, deeply inventive and erudite novel, published in 1855, Leg Over Leg. It is a book with an insatiable appetite for definitions and comparisons, with Words that had been lost or fell out of use (the author had an abiding interest in dictionaries that anticipates Jorge Louis Borges) and with locating and often subverting moments of connection and disconnection. We will then follow along a trajectory to the present, where we will read, in English translation, novels written in Arabic, from Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Morocco and Palestine. We will read them chronologically, starting with Leg Over Leg (1855) and finishing with Minor Detail, a novel that was only published last year. Obviously, this does not claim to be a comprehensive survey; for that we would need several years and even then, we would fall short. Instead, the hope is that it will be a thrilling journey through some of the most facinating fiction ever written. Obviously, this does not claim to be a comprehensive survey; for that we would need several years and even then, we would fall short. Instead, the hope is that it will be a thrilling journey through some of the most fascinating fiction ever written

CPLT BC3630 Theatre and Democracy. 4 points.

How does theatre promote democracy, and vice versa: how do concepts and modes of theatre prevent the spectators from assuming civic positions both within and outside a theatrical performance? This class explores both the promotion and the denial of democratic discourse in the practices of dramatic writing and theatrical performance.

Fall 2024: CPLT BC3630
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3630 001/00186 T 8:10am - 10:00am
501 Diana Center
Hana Worthen 4 2/14

CPLT BC3675 MAD LOVE. 3.00 points.

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


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

Spring 2024: CPLT BC3997
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CPLT 3997 001/00101 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
225 Milbank Hall
Emily Sun 4.00 5/12

CPLT BC3999 INDEPENDENT RESEARCH. 1.00-4.00 points.

Independent research, primarily for the senior essay, directed by a chosen faculty adviser and with the chair's permission. The senior seminar for majors writing senior essays will be taught in the Spring term

CPLT BC4161 Tragic Bodies II: Surfaces, Materialities, Enactements. 4 points.

this is an upper-level seminar with quite a lot of reading and semester-long development of a substantial project

Prerequisites: CPLS BC3160 Tragic Bodies I, or permission of instructor.

This course is conceived as an advanced seminar (i.e., upper-level undergraduate and graduate) that addresses in more depth the themes of my lecture course Tragic Bodies (BC3160). It explores how dramatic enactment represents bodily boundaries and edges and thus skin, coverings, maskings, and dress-up in relation to gender, sexuality, race, and status / class. The course will focus on these edges and surfaces, as well as proximities, touching, and affect in ancient and modern drama (and occasionally film). The course treats the three ancient tragedians (Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides) as unifying threads and centers on politically and aesthetically challenging re-envisionings of their plays.

Cross-Listed Courses 

ASCM BC3000 Outlaws & Tricksters of Arabic Literature (in Translation). 4.00 points.

What is so fascinating about outlaws and tricksters? They can be alluring and terrifying, creative and destructive. They wear disguises, upend the plans of their fellow humans, and bend societies to their will. They are unsettled and unsettling. But this course suggests that there is no single figure of the trickster. Rather, the significance of writing about tricksters and outlaws varies from text to text and from place to place. In this course, we will explore texts, mostly from the pre-modern period, written in Arabic (and sometimes Persian and Sanskrit) that depict outlaws and tricksters. We will ask after what texts are doing in the world when they tell stories that seem to celebrate and delight in the subversive, the strange, and the sinister. To help us think through these questions, we will also read divergent theories about outlaws, tricksters, and other subversives. At the end of the course, we will read the award-winning Iraqi novel Frankenstein in Baghdad

Spring 2024: ASCM BC3000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ASCM 3000 001/00279 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
111 Milstein Center
Matthew Keegan 4.00 5/20

CLIA GU3660 MAFIA MOVIES. 3.00 points.

Examines representations of the mafia in American and Italian film and literature. Special attention to questions of ethnic identity and immigration. Comparison of the different histories and myths of the mafia in the U.S. and Italy. Readings includes novels, historical studies, and film criticism. Limit 35

Spring 2024: CLIA GU3660
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLIA 3660 001/00252 W 6:10pm - 10:00pm
302 Barnard Hall
Nelson Moe 3.00 10/15


How is performance conceived and instrumentalized to fulfill an ideological design? How is ideology transmitted as performance? Centering on National Socialism and Communism, this course explores that and similar questions by examining the political, social, and cultural performances (of Hitler and Stalin, of race and progress, of postwar trials) in the Third Reich and the Soviet Union by engaging a broad range of primary materials (films, documentaries, plays, newsreels, mass spectacles, artifacts of fine art) and by reading widely in the literature of political philosophy and performance studies

ENGL BC3294 EXOPHONIC WOMEN. 3.00 points.

Language is the writer’s instrument; what happens when there is more than one language to choose from, or when a dominant or initial language is replaced by another? What inspires, or necessitates, a writer to practice exophony: to migrate into “foreign” linguistic territory? And in the case of bilingual or plurilingual writers, what factors determine the language(s) chosen for creative expression, and what might cause that choice to shift over time? To what degree do exophonic writers create a third, hybrid language? And how might their works underscore the mutability and instability of language itself? This seminar will focus on a series of women who, either for political or personal reasons, have reshaped and revised their linguistic points of reference, radically questioning—and perhaps willfully subverting—notions of nationality, identity, linguistic normativity, and a “mother tongue”. Special attention will be paid to the reception of exophonic writers, to feminist narratives of separation and self-fashioning, to mother-daughter dyads, to cases of self-translation, to colonialist and post-colonialist frameworks, and to how the phenomenon of exophony further complicates, but also enriches, the translator’s task. Readings will combine literary texts with essays, interviews, and theoretical writings by and about exophonic writers. In addition to analytical papers, students will have the opportunity to experiment writing in another language and translating themselves into English. All readings will be in English; advanced reading knowledge of a foreign language is recommended but not required

Fall 2024: ENGL BC3294
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3294 001/00529 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
409 Barnard Hall
Jhumpa Lahiri 3.00 29/30

MDES GU4226 Arabic Literature & the Long 19th Century. 4.00 points.

What came before the Arabic novel? How did authors writing in Arabic in the 19th century conceive of and debate the terms of modernity and literature? The purpose of this graduate seminar is first to engage with recent trends in scholarship on the Nahda ("Renaissance") and second to read the entirety of three significant works of Arabic literature in translation: al-Shidyaq's Leg Over Leg (1855), Khalil al-Khouri's Oh No! I am Not European! (1859-61), and Jurji Zaydan's Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt (1914). Knowledge of Arabic is not required, but an optional Arabic reading group will run concurrently with the class