Comparative Literature Graduate Course Offerings

Fall 2011

CPLT 750 000 Literary Theories: Hermeneutics

W 1-4
Max 8
[Cross-listed with FREN 780 and RLTS 771]

Content: An introduction to literary theoretical thinking, focusing on hermeneutic modes and their relationship to linguistic structures.

Texts: Readings include texts by Augustine, Spinoza, Gadamer, Auerbach, Benjamin, de Man, Derrida.

CPLT 751 000 Memorial Cultures

M 1-4
Max 9
[Cross-listed with ILA 790]

Content: This course is designed both as a companion piece to my seminar on ¿The Work of Memory¿ and as an inquiry in its own right. Whereas ¿The Work of Memory¿ proceeds from a more theoretical perspective, examining texts and approaches in the emerging field of Memory Studies, this course proceeds in an inverse manner to explore the forms and functions of remembering practices. Toward that end, we will adopt a case study approach, working out from particular memorial instances to the issues (philosophical, historical, aesthetic, ethical, and social) that a particular event and its remembrance raises. We will ask: What is being remembered, who is doing the remembering, how is this remembering manifested? We will also ask: What is being forgotten and what cost does remembering exact?
The first part of the course will be organized around three cases that pose both exemplary and singular challenges to the problem of remembrance: the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust, South African apartheid, and the conjoined traumas of the Vietnam War and 9/11 in the United States. The latter part of the course will be devoted to the particular memorial projects that seminar participants have selected as the focus of their inquiries. Issues to be explored will include: the relationship between personal and public remembering practices; the tensions between different perspectives on the memory of a given event; nostalgia, forgetting, and the commodification of memorial practices.

Texts: We will be looking at (and even listening to) a variety of different memorial examples, most of which will be made available through library reserve and online resources. We will also go on a couple of local fieldtrips, probably to include Atlanta¿s historic Oakland cemetery, so as to engage the dimension of place more concretely, and one of several possible archives, quintessential places of both remembering and (according to Derrida) forgetting. Only two books are required reading: W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz and Antjie Krog, Country of My Skull. James Young, The Texture of Memory, is recommended.

Particulars: Seminar participants will approach the problem of memorialization from two opposing, but complementary, perspectives: (1) Critique of an existing memorial practice. This critique will take the form of a short paper (7-11 double-spaced pages). (2) A memorial project. This project may take the form of an actualized memorial (or memorial practice) to a particular event or it may be presented in the form of a proposal for such a memorial.

CPLT 751 001 The Problem of Life and the Philosophy of Life

TH 9-12:30
Max 4
[Cross-listed with PHIL 789 and ILA 790]

Content: As the de Anima attests, philosophical attempts to grasp the meaning of life are coeval with the western philosophical tradition itself. In modernity, however, the category of life became a problem in entirely new ways. Contemporary concerns about life center less on its definition, interpretation, and proper conduct than on its malleability, manipulability, reproducibility, and indeed technological producibility. This course will attempt a genealogy of what is quite literally a transformation in the meaning of life in modernity in an effort to understand not just the philosophical but also the historical and cultural significance of that transformation. After briefly considering predecessors from Aristotle to Emerson, we will focus on the ¿philosophy of life¿ that emerged in the late nineteenth century in response, on one hand, to Kant¿s radical rethinking of philosophy itself and, on the other, to developments in the natural sciences.

Texts: Readings will include work by James, Nietzsche, Dilthey, Simmel, Bergson, and Freud. Time permitting, we will consider how Lebensphilosophie is criticized and extended in Husserl and Heidegger and explore later thinkers such as Foucault, Deleuze, Maturana, and Agamben who take up the problem of life in new ways.

CPLT 751 002 Political Animals

TH 1-4
Max 4
[Cross-listed with FREN 770, PHIL 789 and ILA 790]

Content: Taking its lead from some of Derrida's later work, this course will set off again from Aristotle's famous politikon zoon to follow the threads of sovereignty and democracy through some of the great texts of political philosophy in the Western tradition.  We shall attempt to understand why both of these notions, albeit in rather different ways, pose such problems for that tradition, and give rise to all manner of complications and paradoxes, which are however (or so I shall argue) definitive of the conceptual space of the political as such.  We shall wonder why almost all political philosophies are enamored of sovereignty, while almost none has anything very good to say about democracy.  We shall consider the possibility of a non-trivial affinity among the political, the rhetorical, the literary and the animal in their constant tendency to exceed conceptual grasp, and also compare our deconstructive approach to these political questions with some other modern and postmodern theories.

Texts:Classic authors to be discussed may include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Bodin, Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Tocqueville, and Schmitt; more recent theorists to be considered may include Agamben, Badiou, Foucault, Hardt and Negri, Lyotard, Mouffe and Rancière.

CPLT 751 003 The Cultivation of the Self

T 1-4
Max 4
[Cross-listed with FREN 540]

Content: Based on Pierre Hadot¿s "spiritual exercises" and Michel Foucault¿s theoretical writings on the techniques entailed in the cultivation of the self, this course will examine its elaboration in the early modern period in Montaigne¿s Essays. At issue will be the relation of self-knowledge to the care of the self, insofar as its modification and transformations rely on spiritual and corporeal practices and disciplines. We begin by analyzing the philosophical traditions that informed the pagan construction of the self in Marcus Aurelius¿s Meditations and its spiritual, Christian elaborations in St. Augustine¿s Confessions, in order to elucidate Montaigne¿s appropriation of such subjects of meditation, as the contemplation of death, illness, misfortune, friendship, sexuality, and the passions. How do strategies of stoic inspection and control of representations or later Christian models of asceticism, based on self-control and renunciation, give way to a model of self-cultivation that will seek the enjoyment rather than the reform of being?  We will consider the seminal role of reading and writing in composing the self and fashioning its ¿style,¿ which is not restricted to writing, but which as ethos of self-formation and practice of embodiment emerges as a ¿style of life.¿ In conclusion, we will analyze how this meditative tradition of self-examination and cultivation is brought to an end by the Cartesian redefinition of knowledge as certitude that will radically objectify both the subject¿s relations to itself and the world, thereby precluding access to its modes of conduct and being.

Texts: Marcus Aurelius, Meditations; St. Augustine, Confessions; Michel de Montaigne¿s Essays;  Descartes, Meditations; Pierre Hadot, ¿Philosophy as a Way of Life; Michel Foucault, ¿Hermeneutic of the Subject,¿ ¿Technologies of the Self,¿ ¿Self Writing,¿ in Ethics; The Use of Pleasure, The Care of the Self; Lyotard, Confessions of Augustine; Marin, ¿Echographies.¿

CPLT 751 004 Edouard Glissant

W 1-4
Max 4
[Cross-listed with FREN 785]

Content: This course proposes to come to a global understanding of Glissant¿s thinking and literature since the 1960s to his death in 2011. Through an examination of novels, poetry, and theoretical essays we will analyze his key-concepts of Relation, Antillanité, métissage, créolisation, Tout-Monde, and his late pensée du tremblement. We will also look at Glissant¿s impact on postcolonial theory and contemporary politics.

Texts: One 12-page research paper, one oral presentation, active class participation including, three 1-page response papers. The seminar will be conducted in French but students from other departments who have a reading knowledge and good conversational skills in French are encouraged to enroll. They will be able to deliver their presentation and write their paper in English.

Particulars: Readings from Le Discours antillais, Poétique de la Relation, Tout-Monde, Traité du Tout-monde, Philosophie de la Relation, La Case du commandeur, Les Indes, Pays Rêvé, pays réel, and L¿Intraitable beauté du monde: Adresse à Barack Obama.

To be purchased:
Edouard Glissant. Le Discours antillais. Folio, essais, 1997. 2070746224
---. Poétique de la Relation. Gallimard. 207072025X
---. Pays rêvé, pays réel. Poésie, Gallimard, 2000. ISBN. 2070414469
 Other readings will be available on Blackboard or ReservesDirect.

CPLT 751 005 Twentieth-Century Poetry: Places and Correspondences

W 1-4
Max 4
[Cross-listed with ILA 790 and ENG 789]

Content: This course will explore questions of (geographical) place in modernist and contemporary poetry (e.g., Toomer¿s Georgia), as well as the place of the poets we read in each other¿s work (e.g., Pound in H.D.¿s writing; H.D. in poets Robert Duncan¿s and Barbara Guest¿s books about her work).

Texts: Readings to be chosen from among the following: Frost, Pound, H.D., Toomer, Hughes, Auden, Bishop, Brooks.

CPLT 751 01P Media Techology


T 4-7
Max 6
[Cross-listed with ENG 789]





CPLT 797R 00P  Directed Readings

By permission of the Director.  Please contact the Program Office (N101 Callaway) for more information.

CPLT 798R 000  Supervised Research

For independent research aimed primarily at preparation for graduate exams and dissertation prospectus. Please contact the Program Office (N101 Callaway for more information).

*Must be taken S/U

Content: Variable Credit 1-12

CPLT 799R 000   Dissertation Research

*Must be taken S/U

Content: Variable Credit 1-12