Comparative Literature Graduate Course Offerings

Spring 2016

CPLT 751 000 "Art and Acts of Justice (Literature, Psychoanalysis and Law)"

Shoshana Felman

M 4-7PM
Max 3
[Cross-listed with ENG 789, FREN 780, PHIL 789, LAW 621, (Undergrad Permission Only - Please contact]
Content: A study of scenes of judgment in literature, art and philosophy, focusing on literature’s specific ways of dealing with injustice (and with trauma) in various literary, psychoanalytic, political and legal circumstances.  We will examine both (great) literary texts and actual trials, dramas of great literary writers brought to court because of their innovative work, perceived as having pushed the boundaries of the accepted social  standards. We will try to understand: What does literature mean, and why is it important, why does it matter?  Why does a pathbreaking work of art provoke each time not just a controversy but a larger cultural crisis? Topics under discussion include the interaction between justice, truth, desire, censorship, testimony, injury, memory, exile, and cross-cultural, global exchanges.
Texts: by Sophocles (Oedipus Rex, Antigone), Molière (Tartuffe), Gustave Flaubert (Three Tales), Charles Baudelaire (The Essence of Laughter, Flowers of Evil), Oscar Wilde (The Artist as Critic, Lady Windermere’s Fan, De Profundis), Moises Kaufman (Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde), Sigmund Freud (from The Interpretation of Dreams), Jacques Lacan (from The Ethics of Psychoanalysis), Jean Anouilh (Antigone), Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird).
Particulars: Two short papers (Spread throughout the semester); weekly reading responses (1-2 pages reflections (draft notes) on the week’s reading assignments); oral presentations; regular attendance; active participation in class discussion.

CPLT 751 001 "Art of Scholarly Writing"

Angelika Bammer

M 1-4PM
Max 8
[Cross-listed with ENG 789]

Content: This course asks basic questions about academic and scholarly writing: What do we write about and why, and how do we go about writing it? By foregrounding the form, rather than the content, of our writing, we lay bare assumptions and expectations, costs and rewards that often go unspoken and remain unexamined. In the process, questions of form (clear and accessible vs. “difficult” writing, analytical detachment vs. passionate engagement), structure (am I making an argument, telling a story, exploring a question, all of the above, or something else entirely?) and meaning (are what I care about and what I write about connected; if so, how, and if not, does it matter?), will be up for discussion. The goal of the course is to support writing that both meets the criteria of our profession for good academic writing and satisfies our desire to say what we want to say in the way that we want to say it. It envisions writing that is effective, meaningful and satisfying.
Texts: TBA
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 002 "Foucault"

Lynne Huffer

W 2-5PM
Max 3
[Cross-listed with WGSS 589, PHIL 789]

Content: This course will explore the writings of the French philosopher Michel Foucault. We will focus in particular on his history of madness, his conception of genealogy, the rise of sexuality, the power of normalization, the disciplinary and biopolitical specification of bodies, and the production of deviance in the modern era. The course provides an opportunity to read in depth across a wide range of Foucault’s work rather than to examine how his work has been used by others. It is appropriate for students in a variety of disciplines and interdisciplines, with a primary aim to provide a foundation for assessing how Foucault has contributed to the elaboration of queer and feminist understandings of sexuality.
Texts: Readings include History of Madness, Abnormal, Discipline and Punish, History of Sexuality Volume One, and selected essays.
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 003 "Hannah Arendt and the Literature of Politics"

Munia Bhaumik

T 4-7PM
[Cross-listed with ENG 789, & PHIL ?]
Content: This course considers the literature of the field understood as “political philosophy.” Considering some of the seminal texts, theses, and scenes of political philosophy, requires also posing the question of reading. How do we read Aristotle for questions of speech and action or figure and dramatic form? How does the reading of literature, poetry, and scripture inform political philosophies of citizenship and law? In order to approach the study of political philosophy as also the study of a set of texts, we will briefly trace debates and also pose questions about theories of reading: “allegories of reading”; “reparative reading”; and “surface reading.”
The class will begin by explicating key theses and scenes from classical philosophy but then move also to examples from American political thought and postcolonial theory. The writings of Hannah Arendt, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Frantz Fanon will be key to rethinking established theses on democracy, rights, and social contracts. Finally, we will consider an overt literary example of political philosophy: Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick as a rewriting of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.
Selections from:

Aristotle, Politics
Plato, The Republic
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (along with selections from Tocqueville by Sheldon Wolin)
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Entire Text:
Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic and Human Condition
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction
Enrique Dussell, Twenty Theses on Politics
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Please don’t buy books until after the first class meeting.

CPLT 751 004 "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral"

Sean Meighoo

M 1-4PM
Max 12
Content: Recent work in the newly established and rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field of animal studies seems to have permanently unsettled the classical philosophical distinction between the “human” and the “animal.”  By complicating the distinction between the rational or linguistic “human” on one hand and the irrational or nonlinguistic “animal” on the other, this body of work has effectively redefined nonhuman animals as ethical subjects themselves.

Yet even within the field of animal studies, the ethical status of the inanimate or nonsentient “plant” as well as the inorganic or nonliving “stone” remains very contentious.  New interdisciplinary fields have begun to emerge – fields with such tentative names as “critical plant studies” and “ecotheory” – further calling into question the distinction between the “human” and the “nonhuman” that the field of animal studies itself has already broached.

Does the claim for sentience among plants undermine the ongoing political struggle for animal rights?  Does the argument for some kind of agency on the part of stones overturn the very basis of all ethical thought and action?  Have the binary oppositions rational/irrational and linguistic/nonlinguistic that serve to define the human being within the classical philosophical tradition simply been replaced by the binary oppositions animate/inanimate, sentient/nonsentient, organic/inorganic, and living/nonliving within the field of animal studies?
- Richard Grusin (ed), The Nonhuman Turn (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015), ISBN 9780816694679
- Matthew Calarco, Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), ISBN 9780231140232
- Cary Wolfe, Before the Law: Humans and Other Animals in a Biopolitical Frame (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012), ISBN 9780226922416
- Michael Marder, Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), ISBN 9780231161251
- Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Stone: An Ecology of the Inhuman (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015), ISBN 9780816692620
- Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), ISBN 9780822346333
- Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), ISBN 9780816689231
- Five (5) response papers (8% each, 40% total)
- Long essay (40%)
- Attendance and participation (20%)

CPLT 751 005 "Derrida"

Geoffrey Bennington

Th 1-4PM
[Cross-listed with FREN, PHIL, ENG, REL]
Content: The class aims to come to a general understanding of some basic Derridean “concepts” and an appreciation of what we might call some of the manners of deconstruction.  Each session will concentrate on one or two texts, and the class as a whole will work cumulatively.  Some further readings in Derrida are suggested, but are not obligatory. 
Texts: No secondary reading is required, although you may be helped by any or all of three now classic accounts of the “early Derrida” on which we concentrate in the first part of the course: Jonathan Culler’s On Deconstruction, Rodolphe Gasché’s The Tain of the Mirror and (dare I say it) my own “Derridabase” (in Bennington and Derrida, Jacques Derrida).  You will also find good (though sometimes difficult) work in Marian Hobson’s Jacques Derrida: Opening Lines, and Richard Beardsworth’s Derrida and the Political.   Other essays of my own on Derrida are collected in my books Legislations, Interrupting Derrida and Not Half No End.  Recent books by Penelope Deutscher, Martin Hägglund, Peggy Kamuf, Nicholas Royle, J. Hillis Miller, Michael Naas, David Wills and Sarah Wood, and the “very short introduction” by Simon Glendinning may also be of interest.  The biography by Benoît Peeters is serious and informative.
Particulars: No prior knowledge of Derrida (or indeed of any other philosopher) is expected.  Although the class will aim at a reasonably philosophical (rather than, say, “literary”) understanding of Derrida, it also assumes that Derrida’s thinking is not philosophy in any usual sense. For some of the reasons, see my “Deconstruction and the Philosophers” (in Legislations), and “Jacques Derrida,” “Emergencies,” “Genuine Gasché (perhaps)” and “An Idea of Syntax” (all in Interrupting Derrida).

CPLT 751 007 "Philosophy of Literature: Vico’s New Science and Finnegans Wake"

Donald Verene

Tu 2-5PM
Max 5
[Cross-listed with PHIL 789]

  James Joyce, when asked by friends how to understand Finnegans Wake, told them to read Vico's New Science. As Joyce based Ulysses on Homer's Odyssey, he based Finnegans Wake on Vico's Scienza nuova. To write a big book requires another big book on which to base it. Joyce said, "My imagination grows when I read Vico as it doesn't when I read Freud or Jung."

  These two works will be read in combination. Attention will also be given to the doctrine of the coincidence of opposites that Joyce derives from Giordano Bruno and Nicholas of Cusa, and to Samuel Beckett's essay, "Dante . . . Bruno . Vico . . Joyce". 
  The seminar will begin with consideration of the general question of the connection between philosophy and literature stemming from Plato's ancient quarrel with the poets in the tenth book of the Republic. This quarrel is likely the source of Joyce's claim, early in his career, that he distrusted Plato. Is there a way to resolve the quarrel through Vico's conception of "poetic wisdom" that leads to Joyce's "commodius vicus of recirculation" and "wholemole millwheeling vicociclometer"?
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-118126-5, paper
Giambattista Vico, New Science, trans. Bergin and Fisch, Cornell University Press ISBN 0-8014-9265-3, paper
Vico, Autobiography, trans. Fisch and Bergin, Cornell University Press ISBN 0-8014-9088-x, paper
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 00P "Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project"

Elizabeth Goodstein

Th 1-4PM
Max 2
[Cross-listed with ENG 789R]
Content: In recent years, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) has come to be celebrated as apioneering cultural theorist, catapulting this formerly unknown thinker toposthumous fame and generating a minor industry of translations andsecondary literature. This class will center on the unfinished archaeology of themodern, the so-called Arcades Project, that is regarded as Benjamin’s principal achievement, attempting to read a text that, while it appears to be a book and isoften referred to as though it were a coherent object, in fact consists quiteliterally of a series of fragments. A palimpsest of theoretical reflection,historical narration, citations, excerpts, intertextual allusions, and metaphysicalspeculations, Benjamin’s Passagen-werk is both highly resistant to the reader and extremely open to interpretation and appropriation. At once archive andunfinished magnum opus, it embodies the material traces of a revolutionarymethod of cultural inquiry even as it attests to Benjamin’s tragic failure to bringhis dreams to reality. By turning a “work” into a “project,” the English titlebegs the question of the relationship between that failure and Benjamin’sdistinctive achievement. It is quite possible, however, that the Passagen-werk isnot simply unfinished but unfinishable. In attempting to discern Benjamin’slegacy in the fragmentary openness of this book that is not a book, we willdevelop a critical perspective on the history of reception that represents thistext as a coherent point of reference even as we ask Benjamin can teach us asinterdisciplinary scholars, as readers, and as critical participants in modernculture.
Benjamin: The Arcades Project
Eiland and Jennings: Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life
Particulars: TBA
*Note: This is a permission-only course. Please contact for permission.

CPLT 752 000 "Language and Power in Early-modern French Literature "

Vincent Bruyère

M 1-4PM
Max 3
[Cross-listed FREN 540]
Content: Based on close readings of major French texts from the 16th and 17th centuries and anchored in a discussion of key critical interventions in literary theory, this seminar proposes to map out some of the most violent, cruel, and rapturous intersections between language and power that defines the political and theological stakes of representation during the early modern period. Taught in French.
Texts: Marin, La parole mangée ; Le récit est un piège ; De la représentation (excerpts), Rabelais, Pantagruel, Gargantua ; Auerbach, Mimesis (excerpts), Conley, “All French Literature is Francophone” ; Montaigne, Essais I, 29-30-31 ; de Certeau, “Des Cannibales” ; Méchoulan, Le corps imprimé ; Lafontaine, Fables ; Perrault, Contes de ma mère l’Oye ; Ph. Lewis, Seing Through the Mother Goose Tales ; Lafayette, La princesse de Clèves.
Particulars: Students will also have assignments geared to specific demands of teaching: course descriptions, syllabi, paper topics, comments on students’ writing. Each student will also offer several short presentations to the rest of the seminar.

CPLT 753W 000 "The Teaching of Literature"

Walt Reed

T 1-4PM
Max 7
Content: A seminar in pedagogy that meets the requirement of the graduate School's TATTO program for graduate students in Comparative Literature, this course prepares graduate students to teach comparative literature to undergraduates, particularly in Emory's Literature 110, Literature 201 and Literature 202. This seminar will focus on practical aspects of teaching as well as offering some consideration of theoretical questions surrounding pedagogy and controversies that have influenced the academy in recent years. Our aim will be to achieve a balance between a pragmatic, `workshop' approach and more philosophical reflection on what it means to teach. Topics covered may include: constructing a syllabus, technology in the classroom and the specific dynamics of teaching writing, poetry, literature in translation, novels, and literary theory.
Texts: Readings to be made available through electronic reserve and the Comparative Literature Department. They will be drawn from works by (among others) Gregory, Palmer, De Man, Freedman, Damrosch and Readings.
Particulars: Students will also have assignments geared to specific demands of teaching: course descriptions, syllabi, paper topics, comments on students’ writing. Each student will also offer several short presentations to the rest of the seminar.

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.