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Program Overview

Comparative & World Literature

Comparative & World Literature

Pursue a broadly interdisciplinary course of study focusing on the comparative analysis of literary texts and other cultural artifacts. Students will deepen their knowledge of the history of literary and narrative forms across a broad range of national literatures, cultures and historical periods, as well as exploring the complex relationship of literary works to politics, philosophy and the visual arts.

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About the Comparative & World Literature Program

Comparative & World Literature Course Schedule

The Comparative & World Literature Course Schedule page provides you with detailed information on the program's offerings.

Comparative & World Literature Faculty

You can find a full listing of our instructors in this certificate program on the Comparative & World Literature Faculty page.

Admission for the Comparative & World Literature Program

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. A competitive graduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required, though applicants need not have extensive experience in literary studies. A list of admission requirements can be found on our Comparative & World Literature Admission page.

Comparative & World Literature Tuition

Tuition costs can vary for each of our programs. For the most up-to-date information on financial obligations, please visit our Comparative & World Literature Tuition page.

Comparative & World Literature Registration Information

Our Comparative & World Literature Registration Information page outlines important dates and deadlines as well as the process for adding and dropping courses.

Gainful Employment in Comparative & World Literature

Common questions and answers related to cost, financing and success in this certificate program are found on our Gainful Employment in Comparative & World Literature page.

Additional Information

The post-graduate certificate in British Literature may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going on to a PhD program, or anyone who wants to focus their literary study more precisely. Students complete four thematically linked courses for a specialization. The certificate will:

  • Expose students to Northwestern University’s distinguished and world class instructors.
  • Provide students with countless opportunities to engage with others who are passionate to rediscover and master classic texts while exploring exciting, contemporary works, diverse genres and cutting-edge ideas in narrative form and interpretation.
  • Engage students in advanced literary study, which improves critical assessment and problem solving skills which translate to work, personal and intellectual life.
  • Sharpen analytical and writing abilities, which can help prepare students for application to PhD programs.

Applicants must possess a graduate degree in order to be considered for this program.

Find out more about Northwestern's Comparative & World Literature Program

Comparative & World Literature Course Options

To complete this certificate, students may take any four courses available in the topic area (which may include courses available through The Graduate School). To satisfy the four units of credit required for the certificate, students also have the option to register for the following:

  • An independent study, which is a customized course of study undertaken by a single student under the guidance of an instructor. Denoted by the course number, 499, independent studies are comparable in their demands to other graduate-level courses.
  • A capstone project, which is an essay of 45 to 75 double-spaced pages written under the supervision of an approved faculty member. The project presents an opportunity to research and explore a topic thoroughly. Students often elect to expand a seminar paper from a previous course. Students who wish to pursue a capstone project must do so as their fourth and final course in the certificate program.

Students who did not previously study literature at the graduate level are strongly encouraged to take LIT 410: Introduction to Graduate Study. This course introduces current issues in literary and cultural studies and provides access to some of the approaches and techniques for the study of literature at the graduate level.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

Core Courses:Course Detail
Introduction to Digital Studies <> IPLS 420-0

How do we better understand the conjuncture of digital technologies and the humanities? What kinds of thinking, research, teaching, politics, and cultural analysis can the digital enhance? How, in turn, do the fields that constitute the humanities (history, literary and language studies, philosophy, art history, musicology, cultural anthropology, media studies, etc.) offer guidance and grounding in today's wireless world? This course introduces students to the emerging field of critical digital studies, which looks at the intersection of digital technology and the humanities. Through a blending of weekly online engagements and three, Saturday afternoon face-to-face seminars, we address topics such as: what is the history of both the humanities and digital approaches to it as an interdisciplinary project? How can we address humanities questions today through new tactics of computational study found in informatics, statistical analysis, data visualization, and "big data" approaches? What new modes of publishing and scholarly communication do digital technologies make possible (multimedia presentation, podcasts, video, visualization, etc.)? How do we understand the ethics and politics of the digital world (surveillance, open source, net neutrality, sustainability, power)? Each week, students conduct readings and viewings, explore case studies, and complete online experiments. We pursue vigorous online discussion and convene in person for a seminar three times over the course of the quarter. Students pursue a final digital project in consultation with the instructor and in relation to individual interests and pursuits (graduate work, professional interests, digital humanities methodologies). Weekly topics include: digital annotation and database construction for close reading; "distant reading" tactics; digital mapping and timeline building; data and archives; network analysis; glitching and deformance for hermeneutic interpretation; and platforms and social media for humanities inquiry. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature, British Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course is required of MALS and COAGS students, specializing in Digital Studies. But any interested graduate student may take the course as an elective. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on January 13, February 10, and March 17.)


View IPLS 420-0 Sections
Intro to Graduate Study <> LIT 410-0

This course approaches literary studies on a graduate level. We will examine the act of reading and literary interpretation, including various methodologies for producing and documenting literary criticism. We will also work to understand a range of literary theories and their suitable deployment through encounters with selected American realist, modernist, and postmodernist works by authors including Whitman, Twain, Cather, Dreiser, Hemingway, Eliot, Morrison, and DeLillo. We will survey various schools of criticism including Marxism, New Criticism, structuralism and post-structuralism, gender and queer theory, cultural studies, and the New York Intellectuals. (This course is required of all MALit students within the first year of study. This course may also count toward the American literature specialization.)


There is no available section.
Courses:Course Detail
Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad <> IPLS 401-0

The Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad were among the most influential spiritual teachers in history and were the founders of three of the world’s major religions. This course examines and compares the lives, the traditions and the legacies of these three distinctive figures. We will focus on both the sacred literature of each tradition and the interpretations of these teachers in literature generally, past and present, Western and Eastern. Questions to be considered include the search for the historical identities of these teachers, the nature of their teachings and religions, the similarities, differences and possible influences among them, and the ways that these figures have been interpreted and compared in art and literature.  (This course may count towards the American Studies, Religious and Ethical Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Comparative and World Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master's in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Asian Religions in Lit & Film <> IPLS 402-0

Since the age when the maritime explorers searched for a passage to India and a shorter route to the East, Asia has held a fascination for the West and the religions and cultures of Asia have influenced Western literature, philosophy and religion. This course explores some of the classic literature of the Asian religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism, and also considers some of the ways that this literature has been interpreted in the modern period in both Asian and Western film and literature. Among our readings will be two of the great epics of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana, as well as key writings from the Buddhist tradition, and the Chinese Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing). We shall also view examples of Asian and Western film and read modern works by authors such as Thoreau, Forster and Kerouac in order to inquire how this Asian literature and its religious themes have been interpreted and re-imagined in the modern period. (This course may count toward the American, World and Comparative literature, or Literature, film, and visual culture specializations in MALit. It may count toward the American studies, History, and Religion and ethical studies specializations in MALS. It may also count toward any of these specialization certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View IPLS 402-0 Sections
Loving the Child <> IPLS 492-0

One comes to this course with a willingness to question the relationships between parents and children, beginning with Georgian England and continuing to those of contemporary times, in literature, art and film. While these relationships can be loving, they also can be deeply disturbing, even abusive; in Dame Iris Murdoch's work, for example, the young are often sacrificial lambs for the older generation, sacrificed even to death. Causes of discord between the generations are often more numerous than causes for agreement and harmony. To unpack these relationships and explore these themes, we will read novels, view films and works of art and photography. Some of the work we will examine point out areas of disagreement between parents and children that come with one generation's shock when a child's homosexuality is revealed, as in Nadine Gordimer's The House Gun; political disagreement between generations can be equally difficult in Turgenev's Fathers and Sons; looking at Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, while viewing the photographs he took of the young child he used as the model for Alice can give us another view of adults and children in Victorian England, for example. Our list will be wide-ranging. (This course may count towards the History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count towards the British Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Comp Lit: Fictions of the City <> LIT 480-0

This course will examine the central role played by the city in inventing the forms for representing modern life, beginning with Paris (sometimes called the "capital of the 19th century" because of its central place in the elaboration of the new narrative and cultural forms of industrial civilization) and then focusing on New York and Los Angeles as privileged spaces where a "culture industry" then becomes both the producer and the subject matter of literature and film. Students examine the tensions between realist and mythic representations of the modern city in such writers as Balzac and Baudelaire, as well as the city as a site for the invention of "modern myths" expressing the utopian and dystopian aspects of modern life in the work of surrealists such as Aragon. Students will also explore how these approaches are taken up by classic Hollywood cinema in the 1930s (notably in such popular genres as the musical and the gangster film) and how these same problems are ultimately reinvented, in the second half of the 20th century, in a postmodern culture dominated by media images and global cultural flows, which will give rise to new social spaces and new utopias but will consequently also give rise to new forms of mythic and realist narrative. Authors read will include such writers as Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire, Louis Aragon, Thomas Pynchon, Toni Morrison, and Don DeLillo. We will also discuss films by such directors as Raoul Walsh, Lloyd Bacon, Busby Berkeley, Jean-Luc Godard, Ridley Scott, Jim Jarmusch, and Michael Haneke. Counts toward the American Literature and the Comparative & World Literature specializations. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the Master of Arts in Literature and Advanced Graduate Study Certificate programs. It may also count towards the American Studies, Digital Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and Advanced Graduate Study Certificate programs. This course may also count as an elective in the Master of Arts and Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on three Saturdays throughout the term: June 30, July 28, and September 1.)


View LIT 480-0 Sections
Lit. and Cultures of 1968 <> LIT 480-0

This course focuses on literary and cultural engagements with the near-revolutionary events of Mai '68 in Paris and the social conditions preceding and following them. Our primary materials include films, novels, and essays on consumer society and everyday life in the modern world, the situation of women and feminine desire in patriarchal society, and calls for revolutionary change in various arenas, including everyday life, language, and desire. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to issues and critiques related to everyday life and consider the French events and cultural production in relation to those in other areas of the world, including the US. (This course may count towards the Comparative and world literaturespecializations in the master's in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Postmodern Film <> LIT 480-0

This course will explore the place of film in postmodern culture. We will examine how the aesthetic and narrative forms of film have been reinvented by postmodern film makers, as well as the ways in which the most important of these recent films have (from a variety of ideological and aesthetic perspectives) contested the dominant culture of postmodernity. The course will begin by providing the conceptual and historical background for an understanding of postmodernism, through an analysis of a number of key films of the ’60s and ‘70s. Some of the interrelated themes of these films (including works by such directors as Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Jacques Tati, Ridley Scott, and Chris Marker) are the new experiences of urban space characteristic of postmodern culture; the new cultural forms associated with the triumph of consumerism; and the emergence of a new global culture of the image. We will then explore a number of problems central to current debates about the nature and limits of postmodernism—such as the place of dystopian and utopian fantasy in postmodernity; the possibilities of and alternatives to realist representation of postmodern experience; the representation of new forms of sexual and ethnic identity and the intertwining individual and collective histories in an age of globalization—through discussions of cinematic works by directors from Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia, including such film makers as Alain Resnais, Gianni Amelio, Patricio Guzmàn, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, Jim Jarmusch, Abderrahmane Sissako, Agnès Varda, Todd Haynes, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Quentin Tarantino, Raoul Ruiz and Tsai Ming-Liang. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


View LIT 480-0 Sections
The Novel Novel <> LIT 480-0

This course will explore the responses of selected writers from Eastern Europe and the United States to conditions of absurdity and alienation brought on by the loss of stable values, the rise of totalitarianism, and the experience of war in the twentieth century. We will examine the ways in which these writers use imaginative distortions of reality or create imaginary worlds in order to comment obliquely on social and political conditions, address philosophical questions, and playfully engage the reader in a dialogue on the narrative process. Beginning with fiction from the first decades of the twentieth century (Schulz, Bulgakov), we will move on to the "postmodernist" writers of the 1960s to 1980s, including one cosmopolitan novel by the Italian writer Calvino, with Nabokov as the bridge between Europeans and Americans. Our readings include a novel in the form of a lexicon, a collection of reviews of imaginary books, a novel written in the second person, and a narrative consisting of a poem with commentary.

Readings will include: Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles (1934); Michail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (1928-1940, publ. 1966)—ONLY in the Burgin/O'Connor translation (1995); Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars (1983)—either male or female edition; Stanislaw Lem, A Perfect Vacuum selections (1971); Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979); Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962); Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966); and Tim O'Brien, Going After Cacciato (1978), plus secondary sources posted online.

(This course may count toward the Comparative and World Literature specialization or the American Literature specialization.)


There is no available section.
An Exploration of German Film <> LIT 480-0

What beckons people to the metropolis? What draws crowds to the cinema? Why should we think "cinema" in tandem with "the city"? Departing from these questions, we will analyze relations between cinema and the city, using Germany as our geopolitical launching pad. Drawing on a range of classic and lesser-known (but mesmerizing) films from the Weimar period onward, we will visit the real and imagined cities of Germany, evaluating how space and social relationships are imagined in the German metropolis and, in some cases, between a German and an “extra-territorial” city. Our travels will take us to the cities of Hamburg and Istanbul, Frankfurt and Jakarta, and Berlin and New York, among other locations. Critical questions steering our cosmopolitan navigations include: how does urban space influence how we think about forms of national, gendered, ethnic, sexual, and class identity? How does the historical network of social relationships in the urban setting--and in cinematic form--organize our view of political and social networks we now inhabit? How should we analyze urban economies in the context of cinema? Approaches to these questions will include: formal and aesthetic analysis of film and the historical background and cultural context of the films under consideration (including, Walter Ruttmann's Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927); Fritz Lang's M (1931); Eduard von Borsody's Wunschkonzert (1940), Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Fatih Akin's Head-On (2004), and Christoph Hochhäusler's The City Below (2010). These films will be considered in tandem with a selection of classical texts on modernity, mass society, and theories of space. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Latin Amer. & Latina/o Sci-Fi <> LIT 480-0

While science fiction has often been thought of as an English-language genre, in fact Latin America has its own rich history of science fiction writing. This course offers an introduction to science fiction literature and film in Latin America. Beginning with a critical definition of the genre (and the ways in which it differs from “magical realism” and the fantastic), we will examine some early examples of science fiction in Spanish language literature by writers such as Eduardo Holmberg and Eduardo Urzaiz. We will then read some now-classic texts that can be considered science fiction, such as Adolfo Bioy Casares’ The Invention of Morel, Jorge Luis Borges’ “Tlön, Urqbar, Orbis Tertius,” and the absurdist short stories of Mexican writer Juan José Arreola. Finally, we will trace the regional shift from science fiction to cyberpunk through texts like Cuban writer Yoss’s Planet for Rent and films such as Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer, looking at the ways in which recent Latin American and Latina/o writers and directors have expanded on and experimented with this sub-genre. As we read, we will seek to understand how science fiction navigates the divide between "popular" and "elite" literature, its function as a form of social criticism, and the ways in which writers and filmmakers have used science fiction to interrogate social categories such as race, class, and gender. We will also ask what might make science fiction from this region different from science fiction produced elsewhere. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Slum Cinema <> LIT 480-0

This seminar is about slums, as much about their socio-cultural dynamics as about their cinematic representations. Slums are proliferating across the globe at an extraordinarily rapid rate. Today more than one billion people live in slums and that number is expected to double by 2030. By 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities and a vast majority of them in slums or slum-like-conditions. We do, in fact, as Mike Davis puts it, live on a planet of slums. Life in the slums as described and analyzed both in scholarly studies and in popular media is one of the most dynamic points of intersection of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The material conditions of life, especially sanitary conditions that severely compromise public health, are palpably “ugly.” The “bad” is pervasive in slums: crime and corruption, violence and intimidation, sheer poverty, inequality and injustice point to the general abuse of human beings by the members of the same species. On the other hand, there is also much that is “good” in slums: resilience in the face of adversity, community spirit, creative and economic use of scarce resources etc. Without celebrating the slums, there is much to learn from slums for the society at large. This seminar is not just about films about slums. Slum Cinema is also not a film course as such. We will be using the cinematic representations of all sorts (feature films, documentaries, TV mini-series etc.) to examine the slum as a space of life and work of billions of people across the globe. This seminar will focus on the fact that a significant part of creative cultural production (films, TV series, music, novels, comics etc) takes place against backdrop of slums or slum life. Films to include: City of God (Brazil, 2002), Slumdog Millionaire (India, 2008), District 9 (South Africa location, 2009), Ali Zaoua (Morocco, 2000), Tsotsi (South Africa 2005), Gangs of New York (USA, 2002) and La Haine (France, 1995). The seminar has a very explicit global focus as it seeks to juxtapose cinematic representations from varied national/cultural terrains, from both from the advanced countries and from the developing countries of the global south. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


There is no available section.
French & Francophone Women’s Writing <> LIT 480-0

The course is devoted to the exciting efflorescence of women’s writing in French that began in the postwar period with a veritable bursting forth of novels by women--existentialist novels, working class novels, novels of interethnic love and loss, novels responding to psychoanalytic and materialist feminist theories, including novels exploring (or questing) a feminine relation to desire and sexuality, writings of/on the body, writings of revolution, and literary engagements with the linguistic, racial, and sexual complexities of living or writing in diaspora. Our work will span the period from Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, her groundbreaking 1949 attempt to understand what it means to be(come) a woman, to the second wave feminisms of the late 1960s and ‘70s, to our contemporary era. We will read short theoretical pieces by psychoanalytic feminists and by lesbian materialists to develop an understanding of the intellectual context in which creative writers worked, but the vast majority of our readings will be literary. These will include works by some the most talented and critically esteemed women writing in French, such as Marguerite Duras, Assia Djebar, Linda Lê, Anne Garréta, Marie Darrieussecq, Nina Bourouai, and Chloê Delaume. We will complete our work with a films by female filmmakers working in the last half century. (This course may count towards the Comparative and World Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View LIT 480-0 Sections
Topics: Proust <> LIT 492-0

This course will be devoted to an intense engagement with one of the major figures in the history of literature, Marcel Proust, and to his In Search of Lost Time, which remains a crucial text in the development of modern thought. The focus will be on four volumes of the Search: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Time Regained. We will explore Proust's reinvention of the novel as a form in relation to a number of Proustian problems and themes: his analyses of desire, perversion and sexuality; his reflections on the nature of time and memory; and his exploration of the relationship of art to life. We will also consider Proust's powers as a satirist and critic of ideology, who mercilessly dismantled the individual and collective illusions of his contemporaries. (This course may count towards the Comparative and World Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View LIT 492-0 Sections
Travelers, Exiles, and Expats <> LIT 492-0

Writing about foreign or unfamiliar spaces offers a rich field for interrogating key questions animating literary studies today: the place of the nation and national traditions within a period of rapid globalization; the relationship of travel writing to colonialism and imperialism; how to develop transnational and comparative approaches to literary studies. Writers based in the United States have produced powerful fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction (including the sub-genre of travel writing) set in foreign spaces. Even while their authors were only loosely anchored to the places represented, many of these texts were seen at the time and subsequently to offer authoritative accounts of these places and peoples. Less well known to most Americans are literary portraits of the United States by prominent foreigners. In this course we will read fiction and literary non-fiction about the United States by outsiders and about foreign spaces by Americans. This will allow us not only to read major work by major writers, but to ask questions about the relationship of place to fiction, of the expectations we attach to narrative representation of difference, about the ways in which transnational currents among writers undergird national literatures. Primary texts will be accompanied by critical and theoretical essays. (This course may count towards the American literature and Comparative and world literaturespecializations in the master's in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Contemporary Adaptation <> LIT 492-0

Courses in literature-to-film adaptation often emphasize canonical and historically distant works by such authors as Shakespeare, Austen, or the Victorians. This course instead centers on contemporary novels and short stories as well as their film adaptations, mostly but not exclusively produced in Hollywood. Beyond simply comparing these texts in terms of story or style, we will ask how literary fiction has itself changed in a 21st-century media environment where film rights are often sold before novels get finished, and where financing, production, media circulation, and creative processes constantly change. We will read American stories that have been adapted differently by U.S. and international filmmakers, and we will contemplate the politics that appear to motivate which texts get adapted -- and which themes are considered "literary," "prestigious," or globally marketable in an era when comic books, video games, and prior movies inspire more adaptations than do recent novels or plays. Along the way, we will master key skills of formal analysis and thematic argument regarding both literature and film. Key texts are likely to include "Brokeback Mountain" (Proulx), Children of Men (James), No Country for Old Men (McCarthy), "So Much Water So Close to Home" (Carver), Oil! (Sinclair), Atonement (McEwan), "Lust, Caution" (Zhang), The Reader (Schlink), and Persepolis (Satrapi), as well as the movies derived from these texts.  (This course may count towards the American literature, British Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
21st-Century Latino Literature <> LIT 492-0

This course will examine some of the exciting and innovative Latina/o literary works produced since the beginning of the new millennium, including novels by Junot Diáz and Luis Alberto Urrea, short stories by Joy Castro, a memoir by Carmen Giménez Smith, and poetry by Rosa Alcalá and US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Latinidad as an umbrella category comprising many diverse groups, each with its own history and cultural traditions, is a relatively recent phenomenon. But how did this group come into existence as a social phenomenon, let alone as a literary field? In addition to considering this question, we will pay special attention to how the works we study portray relationships among different US Latino groups and between Latinos and other US ethnic and minority groups. The tensions between the internal divisions of latinidad and its lateral affiliations make this body of literature vital for anyone interested in understanding the complexity of twenty first-century American racial formations. (This course may count towards the American Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Bad Mothers <> LIT 492-0

We hear about bad mothers on the news, read about them online and in news print, see them in movies, and perhaps complain about them with our friends. But what, exactly, is a Bad Mother? How do we know? Where does she come from? In this course we will read novels and watch films that help to constitute, perpetuate, and challenge normative scripts of what constitutes good mothering. This seminar will likewise provoke students to critically analyze the varied factors that shape and define contemporary motherhood as an embodied ideology. Our seminar’s key themes include the institutionalization of motherhood, motherhood as subjectivity, agency and performance, technologies of reproduction, narratives of adoption, and the politicization of motherhood. Texts and authors will include Nella Larsen, Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth, Alice Walker, Buchi Emecheta, Edwidge Danticat, Margaret Atwood, Tillie Olsen, Mommie Dearest, Rosemary’s Baby, The Manchurian Candidate, Kramer v. Kramer, Juno, The Good Wife, and The Blind Side, along with a unit on global media and iconic mothers including Angelina Jolie, Lady Di, Mother Theresa, Mother Goose, Margaret Sanger, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, MADD, Whistler’s mother, and Kate Gosselin. (This course may count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View LIT 492-0 Sections
The US-Mexico Border in Literature and Film <> LIT 492-0

The US-Mexico border has been the site of intense cultural conflict since the mid-nineteenth century. It marks both the connection and the division between two nations, and many of our most fraught conversations concern whether the border should be a bridge or a wall. As an entry point into these conversations, this course will survey literature and film centering on the US-Mexico border. Students will become familiar with the history of the border, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and extending through NAFTA and up to the current political climate. Together we will consider how the border has become such a potent site for contemporary mythmaking, a flashpoint for anxieties about race, labor, gender, and sexuality. Literary texts will include Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands / La Frontera (1987), Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek (1991), Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing (1994), Carlos Fuentes’s La frontera de cristal (1995), Juan Felipe Herrera’s 187 Reasons Mexicans Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments (1995), and Carmen Boullosa’s Tejas (2014). (Texts originally written in Spanish will be taught in English translation.) Films will include The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982), Selena (1997), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), and Sin Nombre (2009). (This course may count towards the American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may count towards the American Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or an elective in the creative writing program.)


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Feminism in Trumplandia <> LIT 492-0

When Donald J. Trump became the 45th president of the United States, many felt that a new era of precarity for women had begun. The defunding of Planned Parenthood, the Muslim ban, assault on pro-choice legislation, rescinding of protections for transgender students, the President’s own history of sexual assault—to name only a few—all seemed to present an unprecedented dystopia for women across the political spectrum. Indeed, this course begins by asking, how we can talk about feminism in a Trump era? Taking an historical approach to feminism this course asks how many of the issues facing American women today are familiar ones; and what might a Trump administration mean for feminism, both broadly speaking in its global iterations and on more local, micro levels of quotidian experience? How has the conception, performance, politics, embodiment and circulation of feminism been reconceived? As a research course, this class will require students to conduct original research, taking from feminism’s archive over the last thirty years an animating idea, concept, historical moment, material object, or study around which each student will frame a question in relation to Trump feminism. From this question they will devise an original argument, compose a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, outline, and then write a 10-15 page paper. Readings/texts will include but not be limited to those by Betty Friedan, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan, Adrienne Rich, Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Susan Faludi, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, Margaret Atwood, Rebecca Traister, Barbara Ehrenreich, Beyonce, Jessa Crispin, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Victoria Lomasko, and Lena Dunham. (This course may count towards the American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may count towards the American Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or an elective in the creative writing program.)


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Special Topics -- American Novel: Big Books LIT 492-0

One could search through the annals of American literature without being able to find two bigger books than Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Moby-Dick. In the first place, of course, both books are long, and part of this course will consider the specific pleasures and challenges of reading big books. How do we gauge, and thereby engage with, narratives of disproportionate scale and encyclopedic ambition? How do we lose--or find--our place in colossal fictional worlds? But Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Moby-Dick have also both been big in another sense: they are hugely influential and profoundly consequential novels. Indeed, one cannot really understand American literary, cultural, and political history if one is not familiar with them. Stowe’s novel was a watershed text for both sides in the Civil War. Upon meeting Stowe, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said to her, “So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war!” Stowe’s novel sold 300,000 copies in the first year—an unprecedented number—and her story became the basis for countless stage adaptations, spin-offs, parodies, editorials, refutations, and re-writes. (Check out some of them here: <http://utc.iath.virginia.edu>) The reputation of Melville’s novel took longer to take shape—its early readers enjoyed the material about whaling, but didn’t quite know what to make of the story of Ahab’s obsession with the White Whale. But over the course of the twentieth century these views reversed themselves, and Ahab’s maniacal quest has come to be widely recognized as a work of unparalleled resonance and ambition. Our work will be, like Ahab, to take on these Leviathans better to understand them and the worlds they shaped—including, by no means incidentally, our own.


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