Comparative Literature Graduate Course Offerings

Spring 2018

CPLT 751 1 "Kierkegaard and Job"
Jill Robbins
W 1-4PM
Max 5
[Cross-listed with RLR 700]
Content: How do literary and religious texts pose questions within and to Continental philosophy? In this seminar, we will consider Soren Kierkegaard's phenomenology of mood, his hybrid genre of writing, and the distinctive way in which he deploys biblical texts, such as "the binding of Isaac" (Gn. 22) and the Book of Job, in developing his philosophy of existence. The "trembling" to which the narrator of Fear and Trembling refers is experienced not only by the biblical Abraham, who is in a religious relation to the absolute, and whose orders from God are sealed in secrecy, but also by Kierkegaard's narrator,  himself brought to the point of inexpressibility in the face of Abraham's ordeal. In Repetition, the fictional protagonist offers an intensely personal reading of the Book of Job. The book's formulation of the problem of theodicy, the theological justification of suffering, and the example of Job's legendary patience, provide the protagonist with a means of making sense of his broken engagement. The stakes of pseudonymity are vividly put in play in Either/Or's first-person description of aesthetic existence, Judge William's ethical diagnosis of it, and the supplementary text appended to William's letters by an unnamed pastor friend.
Texts: Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling/Repetition, trans. Hong and Hong (Princeton); Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part I, trans. Hong and Hong (Princeton); Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part II, trans. Hong and Hong (Princeton); The Wisdom Books, trans. Robert Alter (Schocken); Kierkegaard: A Critical Reader, eds. Ree and Chamberlain (Blackwell).  Recommended: The Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Oxford)
Particulars: one term paper (25-20pp.) and one in-class presentation.

CPLT 751 3 "Experiments in Scholarly Form"
Angelika Bammer & Anna Grimshaw
T 4-7PM
Max 4
[Cross-listed with ANT 585]
Content: Established forms of scholarly inquiry often appear immutable.  The peer reviewed essay, the monograph, the conference presentation have long served as professional markers in the academy.  But the rise of new fields of inquiry, coupled with a growing dissatisfaction within existing fields, have put pressure on the traditional forms through which scholarship is pursued.  While such pressure is sometimes experienced negatively, as a problem of academic legitimation, this course explores how this moment can be productive -- an occasion for innovation and creativity.
Drawing on a series of case studies, we examine ways of pursuing intellectual inquiry that extend beyond the conventional forms of scholarly representation.  In particular, we consider experiments in a variety of genres and media, focusing on text-based (memoir, dialogue, essay, diary), image-based (photo-essay, film), and hybrid (comic book) forms.
The goal of this course is threefold: (1) Students will learn to critically assess the possibilities and limitations of conventional forms in their fields; (2) They will experiment with new forms of scholarly presentation in the context of their own research; (3) They will learn to make a case that effectively situates innovation in the context of their scholarly work.
Texts: Bammer, A. and Boetcher Joeres, R-E.  The Future of Scholarly Writing (2015);  Berger, J and Mohr, J. A Seventh Man (1975);  Steedman, C.  Landscape for a Good Woman (1986); Gardner, Robert Forest of Bliss (1996); Stewart, K. Ordinary Affects (2007); Sousanis, Nick, Unflattening (2015).
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 4 "(Re)Defining Mimesis"
Bracht Branham

M 2-5PM
Max 6
[Cross-listed with ENG 789, PHIL 789, & ILA 790]
Content: This course will investigate the many shifts in meaning and function comprehended by the term mimesis from the ancient to the contemporary world. As formulated by Aristotle in opposition to Plato, mimesis functioned as a way of defining the relationship of art to the world (e.g., representation, expression, simulation) that is at the same time a way of defining the human, as when Aristotle calls “man” the “most mimetic animal.” In the 20th century, with the advent of such media as film, gramophone, and typewriter and new ways of modeling the mind, mimesis acquires new meanings: in the course of the century mimesis is repeatedly re-conceived as “the mimetic faculty” (Benjamin), “mimetic desire” and the violence of the sacred (Girard), forms of “economimesis” (Derrida), “memetics” (Dawkins) and the effect of “mirror neurons” (cognitive science), but each manifestation assumes a different form of discourse (or medium).  In this seminar we will attempt to map these and other shifts across a range of literary, philosophical and scientific disciplines, ancient and modern, oral and written. The central question we will explore is how “the concept of mimesis” operates in significantly different forms of discourse, not only in modern and contemporary literature, but also in current models of the aesthetic, in anthropology, evolutionary theory, and cognitive science, and thus remains as inevitable as it is fundamental.
W. J. Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London 2002)
The Rhetoric and Poetics of Aristotle, trans. W. R. Roberts (New York 1984)
E. Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (Princeton 2013)
M. H. Abrams, Doing Things with Texts: Essays in Criticism and Critical Theory (New York 1997)
R. Jakobson, Language in Literature (Cambridge 1990)
D. Lodge, The Modes of Modern Writing: Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Typology of Modern Literature (Chicago 1989)
V. N. Voloshinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (Cambridge 1986)
M. M. Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, trans. C. Emerson (Minneapolis 1984)
M. M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. H. Iswolsky (Bloomington 2009)
M. M. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, trans. C. Emerson and M. Holquist (Austin 1981)
D. Dutton, The Art Instinct (New York 2009)
D. Lodge, After Bakhtin (Routledge 1990)
S. Halliwell, The Aesthetics of Mimesis (Princeton 2002)
G. Gebauer and C. Wulf (eds.), Mimesis: Culture, Art, Society (Berkeley 1995)
J. Gottschall et al (ed.), The Literary Animal: Evolution in the Nature of Narrative (Northwestern 2005)
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 5 "Dispossession"
Munia Bhaumik

T 1-4PM
Max 6
Content: This course centers on dispossession (a critical term seeking to account for the loss of land, rights, political membership, incarceration, indefinite detention, life). Dispossession is also a term that has emerged in the last decade as central to critical theory, including studies of slavery, racialization, and sexuality. Conditions of dispossession feature prominently in contemporary queer and feminist scholarship, transnational approaches, as well as critical studies that seek to address mass incarceration and the death penalty, ecological disaster, and the predicament of refugees. Part of the task of our course will be to ask how does dispossession also feature into literary studies, particularly representations of vocalization, figure, textuality, subjection, cruelty, and the body. The course will be of interest to graduate students who seek through their reading and research practices to account for vulnerability: juridical, corporeal, or environmental. In the second half of the course, students will be invited to integrate their areas of specialization into the course readings; for example, students may wish to pursue readings of Caribbean literature, philosophical writings, African-American, disability studies or queer/feminist theory. 
Selections from:
G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of the Spirit
Marisa Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive
David Kazanjian, Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World
Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou, Dispossession
Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection
Sarah Kofman, Smothered Words
Jose Esteban Munoz, Disidentification
Fred Moten, Into the Break
Particulars: We will also have selected readings from Hannah Arendt, Etienne Balibar, Edward Said, Eve Sedgewick, and Orlando Patterson.

CPLT 751 6 "Politics in Deconstruction"
Geoffrey Bennington
Th 1-4PM
Max 5
[Cross-listed with FREN 780 & PHIL 789]
Content: Taking its lead from some of Derrida's later work, this course will follow the twin 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: Classical authors to be discussed may include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Bodin, Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Tocqueville, and Schmitt; more recent theorists to be considered alongside Derrida may include Agamben, Badiou, Foucault, Hardt and Negri, Lyotard, Mouffe and Rancière.
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 7 "Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy"
Andrew Mitchell
W 6-9PM
Max ?
[Cross-listed with PHIL 541R]
Content: This course is a close reading of Heidegger's masterwork of the 1930s, Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event). In conjunction with the Contributions, we will read two other texts by Heidegger from the time of the Contributions' composition: the lecture course Basic Questions of Philosophy and three of Heidegger's "Black Notebooks" referred to in the Contributions.
Texts: Contributions to Philosophy (Indiana UP) Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected "Problems" of "Logic" (Indiana UP) Ponderings II-VI (Indiana UP) Ponderings VII-XI (Indiana UP)
Particulars: TBA

CPLT 751 8 "Foucault"
Lynne Huffer
Th 10AM-1PM
Max 3
[Cross-listed with WGS 589R]
Content: For some decades now, it has been much easier to have a passionate opinion about Michel Foucault than an intelligent reading of him. He is a saint or a demon, a liberator or a desecrator, the heroic promoter of an agenda or the debauched prophet of despair.  This seminar will be less concerned to foster impassioned uses of Foucault, or even to analyze his remarkable susceptibility to abuse, than it will be to think with and about some texts that bear his name. We will be particularly concerned with his `ethical and `political texts texts about the consequences of medicalizing madness or normalcy, about the powers coded into the category `sexuality,¿ about ancient or contemporary alternatives to contemporary management of human life. Members of the seminar will be encouraged to connect their readings in Foucault with their own intellectual projects.
The seminar will concentrate on texts by Foucault rather than by his interpreters. Common readings will include:
Foucault, History of Madness [1961], tr. Murphy and Khalfa (Routledge 2006)
Foucault, Speech Begins after Death [1968], tr. Bononno (Minnesota 2013)
Foucault, Abnormal [1974-1975], tr. Burchell (Picador 2004)
Foucault, Discipline and Punish [1975], tr. Sheridan (Vintage 1995)
Foucault, History of Sexuality, vol. 1: An Introduction [1976], tr. Hurley (Vintage 1990)
Foucault, Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, tr. Hurley and others (New Press 1997)
Particulars: Beyond thoughtful reading and participation, seminar members will be asked to write two medium-length exercises over the course of the semester.

CPLT 752R 1 "Modernism from the Margins: Rilke, Musil, Kafka"
Elizabeth Goodstein
T 1-4PM
Max 6
Content: In this class, we will explore three very different major German-language modernists hailing from the declining multinational Habsburg empire. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Robert Musil (1880- 1942), and Franz Kafka (1883-1924) were born into a rapidly disappearing world—or, more precisely, into three rather distinct disappearing worlds. Each became a figure of international repute whose innovative works helped define modernism. Most notably in the case of Kafka, these writers are also remembered in ways that have shaped our understanding of modern life and modern subjectivity more broadly.
Franz Kafka: The Trial; The Castle
Robert Musil: The Confusions of Young Törless; The Man without Qualities
Rainer Maria Rilke: The Notebooks of Malte Laurid Brigges
Particulars: Evaluation will be based on your attendance and engaged and informed participationin weekly discussions as well as written work, including a substantial final paper.
*This course is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students. In English, with an elective German discussion section.

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.