Comparative Literature Graduate Course Offerings

Fall 2015

CPLT 750R 000 "Literary Theories"
Geoffrey Bennington

Th 1-4PM
Max 10
[Cross-listed with FREN 780]
Content: The course explores some of the ways in which an influential way of thinking about language has affected ways of thinking about literature. After investigating the main tenets of structuralist theory, as derived from Saussure’s Cours de linguistique générale, we shall go on to see how the internal logic of structuralism led to the rather different positions often referred to as ‘post-structuralism’ and/or ‘post-modernism’, and to a questioning of the position of theory itself.
Texts: TBA
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 001 "Biopolitics and the Production of Subjectivity"
John Johnston

Th 4-7PM
[Cross-listed with ENG 789]
Content: The course will begin with two of Michel Foucault’s late lectures at the Collège De France, The Birth of Biopolitics and The Courage of Truth (The Government of Self and Others). With Foucault’s analysis of the NeoLiberal subject (the self as entrepreneur and “human capital”) in mind, we will turn to Félix Guattari’s contemporaneous seminars on the production of subjectivity and the crisis provoked by “integrated world capitalism.” Guattari’s work on subjectivity draws on Daniel Stern’s The Interpersonal World of the Infant and is developed in part with Mony Elkaim’s use of double-bind and systems theory for couples and family therapy, as recounted in If You Love Me, Don’t Love Me. From there we will go (back) to Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of capitalism, developed in parts of Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus. We will then take up a sequence of Italian thinkers concerned with biopolitical themes and new forms of “subjectification” in contemporary capitalism: Georgio Agamben, Toni Negri (and Michael Hardt), Franco “Bifo” Berardi, and Maurizio Lazzarato. In conclusion we consider Yann Moulier Boutang’s Cognitive Capitalism and specifically a range of responses to the contemporary subject’s subjugation to totalized surveillance and datafication (for example, in analyses such as Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath).
Texts: TBA
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 002 "Bakhtin and His Circles"
Walter Reed & Mikhail Epstein

Th 4-7PM
Max 10
[Cross-listed with ENG 789]
Content: This seminar will study the major writings of the 20th c. Russian thinker Mikhail Bakhtin, placing them in dialogue with writings of others--those on whom he drew most deeply and those on whom he has been most influential. In some cases, as with his close associates in the 1920s, Voloshinov and Medvedev, or with the Russian Formalists, these "circles" are historically proximate. In other cases, as with Bakhtin's studies of Dostoevsky and Rabelais, or his influence on Western cultural studies and Russian postmodernism, they are more extended. The course will focus on the most innovative and cross-disciplinary aspects of Bakhtin's work, including his theories of dialogue, authorship, metalinguistics, and philosophical anthropology, as well as on his own dialogical engagements with Marxism and Existentialism. Applications of Bakhtin’s theories and concepts to other texts and disciplines of interest to students will also be considered.
Texts: TBA
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 005 "Revolutionary Perversions: Literature, Sexuality, Anachrony"
Elissa Marder
M 4-7PM
Content: In this course, we shall examine how representations of “non-normative” sexuality in several major nineteenth-century works relate to the problem of representing history in the aftermath of the French revolution.  Many of the most famous canonical literary texts written in French prior to 1871 include references to impotence, lesbianism, hysteria, cross dressing, bestiality, masturbation and prostitution in the context of narratives that re-write or un-write the legacy of the French revolution. By focusing on the literary treatment of these ‘perverse’ forms of sexuality, we shall attempt to see how they encourage us to think differently about questions of historical transmission, language, gender, and sovereignty. Possible texts include: La Philosophie dans le boudoir (Sade), René (Chateaubriand), Ourika, Mme de Duras, Armance (Stendhal), Le Père Goriot and La Fille aux yeux d’or (Balzac), L’Education sentimentale (Flaubert), “Le Secret de l’Echafaud” (Villiers de L’Isle-Adam), and selections from Baudelaire’s prose poems. Critical readings may include works by Freud, Marx, Benjamin, Blanchot, Daniel Arasse, Derrida, and others.
Texts: TBA
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 006 "Translating Monotheism"
Jill Robbins

W 1-4PM
[Cross-listed with RLTS 700]
Content: This seminar explores the figure of translation in and of the Hebrew Bible. We will follow out the intrinsic connection between translation and interpretation within hermeneutics, and characterize the modes of each: idiomatic and "literal," synchronic and diachronic. In considering key instances and theories of translation, we will ask, what is it that translation translates? What are the stakes of untranslatability? Finally, we will attend to the status of the founding myth of Babel, its history of interpretation and iconography.
Texts: Paul Ricoeur, The Conflict of Interpretations (Northwestern); Ricoeur, Interpretation Theory (Texas Christian University Press);  Ricoeur, On  Translation (Routledge); Robert E. Innis, ed. Semiotics: An Introductory Anthology (Indiana); Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger (Routledge); Roland Barthes, Image/Music/Text (Hill & Wang); Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses (Schocken); Torah: Pocket Edition (Jewish Publication Society); Jan Assmann, Of God and Gods (Wisconsin). Additional readings by Jerome, Luther, Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Jakobson,  Derrida.
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 752R 000 "Romance and Revolution"
Deborah Elise White

T 1-4PM
Max 5
[Cross-listed with ENG 789 & HIST 585]
Content: Writing about revolution often involves a radical re-imagining of the present in language and images taken from the past. This seminar explores the mobilization of older literary forms and values (including the chivalric “romances” of the middle ages) in a range of texts responding to revolutionary events in Europe between 1790 and 1852. Whether written from a revolutionary or reactionary perspective (or somewhere in between) responses to the upheavals of the era typically turn to the past not only to understand but to intervene in the revolutionary project. The effects of these interventions are not always easy to predict: on the one hand, conservative nostalgia for a ‘romanticized’ pre-revolutionary era sometimes produces texts that show a modernizing historical consciousness; on the other, revolutionary attempts to break with the past repeatedly have recourse to figuration and forms drawn from it in ways that seem to ironize the revolutionary project. We will look at a variety of literary genres to explore how these dynamics suggest shifting ways of thinking about the intertwining of history, literature, and revolution in key texts of the era.
Novalis: Christianity or Europe: A Fragment
Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France
Walter Scott: Bride of Lammermoor
Shelley: Prometheus Unbound, The Triumph of Life
Keats: Hyperion, The Fall of Hyperion
Austen: Persuasion
Hugo: Notre Dame de Paris
Carlyle: selections from The French Revolution & Past and Present
Marx: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
Additional critical and theoretical readings to be drawn from: Arendt, Badiou, Bromwich, De Man, Derrida, Hartman, James, Koselleck, Kouvelakis, Levinson, Schmitt, Terada, Thompson, and H. White.
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 752R 001 "Fichte, Schelling, Hegel"
Andrew Mitchell
W 2-5PM
Max 10
[Cross-listed with PHIL 531]
Content: In this course we will explore German Idealism at its most volatile period, 1794–1802, as figured in the works of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Proceeding chronologically, we will track the hypotheses, criticisms, and responses of our authors as they struggle to redefine the task and nature of philosophy itself. The course proceeds chronologically, in three units:

1. Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre and the Absolute I
We begin with Fichte’s Science of Knowledge (Wissenschaftslehre) of 1794, a text which argues for the “absolute” or “self-grounding” character of the “I.” We then turn to some of Schelling’s earliest writings while still under the influence of Fichte (especially “Of the I as Principle of Philosophy, or On the Unconditional in Human Knowledge,” 1795) as well as Fichte’s response to these texts (in his An Attempt at a New Presentation of the Wissenschaftslehre from 1797–98).

2. Schelling’s Naturphilosophie and the Break with Fichte
In this unit, we examine Schelling’s development of a Naturphilosophie (philosophy of nature) and its place within his own system of transcendental idealism (1797–1800). Schelling’s emphasis on nature, rather than the I, ultimately leads to a rupture in his relation to Fichte. We examine that rupture in the Fichte/Schelling correspondence, paying special attention to Fichte’s critique of Schelling and Schelling’s new “Presentation of My System of Philosophy” (1801).

3. Hegel’s Differenzschrift
Here we turn to Hegel and his assessment of Fichte and Schelling in his early The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy (1802). This essay is more than a summary treatment of his predecessors, but an introduction to Hegel’s own dialectical method and system of philosophy.

It is hoped that through this course, students will come to know Fichte’s seminal Science of Knowledge, appreciate the origins of Schelling’s own philosophizing independent of Fichte, and understand Hegel’s emergence from out of the shadows of his predecessors.
Fichte. “Concerning the Concept of the Wissenschaftslehre” (PDF)
________. Science of Knowledge (Cambridge)
________. Introductions to the Wissenschaftslehre (Hackett)
Schelling. “Of the I as Principle of Philosophy” (PDF)
________. “Introduction” to Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature. (PDF).
________. “Introduction to the Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature, or, On the Concept of Speculative Physics and the Internal Organization of a System of this Science” (PDF).
________. “On the World Soul (extracts)” (PDF).
Vater and Wood, eds. The Philosophical Rupture between Fichte and Schelling (SUNY)
Hegel. The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy (SUNY)
Particulars: Attendance and Participation, Class presentation, Term paper

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