Course Highlights - Fall 2022

Written on the Body - COML 3017

Poster for Written on the Body

Fall 2022

TU/THU 1:00 pm – 2:15pm

Prof. Andrea Bachner

Images of tattooed, inscribed, and marked bodies abound in popular media, from television series to blogs, from performance art to popular
literature. When the body becomes a canvas or text, this raises crucial questions about the interactions
between individual bodies, culture/s, and society/ies. In this course we will pay particular attention to the shifting meanings of body modification in different cultural, theoretical, and historical contexts. Course material will include texts, films, and artwork by Michel de Certeau, Jacques Derrida, Georges Didi-Huberman, Lalla Essaydi, Zhang Huan, Franz Kafka, Claude Lévi- Strauss, Mirta Kupferminc, Christopher Nolan, Renata Salecl, Stelarc, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, Qiu Zhijie, and others, as well as television series, internet forums, and other popular culture formats.

Methods of Comparison - COML 3001

Methods of comparison poster

Fall 2022

Tu/Thu 9:40am - 10:55am

Prof. Andrea Bachner

What do comparatists do when we approach our objects of study? What enables or justifies comparison across different languages, different genres, different media, and different disciplines? Does all comparison assume a common ground of some kind (whether historical, formal, conceptual, or ideological), or is comparison inherently ungrounded, provocative, or political? We will explore these questions through examination of a wide range of comparative projects, from those often cited as foundational to the discipline and their most important critics to contemporary comparative projects that are reshaping the discipline and expanding it in new directions.

Race & Sex: Arabian Nights - COML 3708

Arabian nights poster

Fall 2022

W 2:40pm - 4:30pm

Prof. Parisa Vaziri

Popular consciousness of The Thousand and One Nights tends to focus on the female protagonist’s inexhaustible oratory talents. Less frequently marveled at is the way in which the text’s frame story and its one unchanging feature begins with an interdiction on “interracial” sex. What does the representation of this initial sexual encounter in the Arabian Nights have to do with global discourses on race, gender and sexuality? This course explores the millenia-long history of mediations and translations of this ancient Perso-Arabic compilation of myth and fable across literature, film, and popular culture, in Southwest Asia (the Middle East), the U.S. and in Europe. We will pay attention to the historical transmission of tropes about sexuality and blackness as they manifest in various versions of the Arabian Nights. We will situate our discussions within debates in film and media theory, feminist and queer theory, black studies, and psychoanalysis. Students will develop familiarity with various forms of cultural inquiry and theory.        

Prison Literature - COML 2009

Poster for Prison Literature


Fall 2022

TU/THU 2:45pm - 4:00pm

Prof. Eman Ghanayem

The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.
In addition to the more than two million people imprisoned under the
criminal justice system, the U.S. government captures even more people
into carceral spaces within and beyond its borders. Looking into a range of
texts from Native, Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Arab American writers,
this course examines the U.S. penal system, not only as prisons and physical
places, but also in state practices that decide social value, disadvantage people based on race, and criminalize them accordingly. Ultimately, this course will answer the following questions: what is the relationship between race and punishment? What are the socially constructed meanings of incarceration? And what are some of the narratives and abolitionist perspectives that push against it?

Apply now for COML 2030 - Comparative Literature, Film, and Media.

COML 2030 Comparative Literature, Film, and Media
Fall. 4 credits. Letter grades only.

Take your love for literature, film and media into uncharted waters. This course journeys beyond national, linguistic and disciplinary borders to explore implications of our globalized and technologized world. Engage in cutting-edge debates in the fields of comparative literature and film and media studies. Exploring texts from across the globe, we will explore how different media represent and stage encounters with the other.  Authors, artists, and directors whose work we will study include people like: Rodrigo Bellot, Carmen Maria Machado, Amanda Gorman, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Hao Jingfang, Franz Kafka, and Yoko Tawada.  Topics may include: postcolonial theory, translation, BIPOC studies, gender and sexuality studies, environmental studies, and media studies. Writing assignments will include a range of forms, genres, and media that help us hone our analytical, critical, and creative understanding, reflection, and expression.

The course is designed to introduce students to works of literature and criticism, both renown and little-known, from a variety of geographical, historical and cultural backgrounds. It brings together a community of students passionate about literature who seek to venture beyond national and disciplinary boundaries. It is a participation-based alternative to traditional lecture courses and will satisfy a humanities distribution requirement. The seminar requires no previous knowledge of foreign languages, and all works will be read in English.

This selective seminar will bring together motivated students in the Class of 2026 with broad interests in literature, film, philosophy, and culture. This course will admit 34 students. At the start of the semester students who are successfully enrolled in the course will be asked if they plan to use this course to count toward the First-Year Writing Seminar requirement. If approved, the course will not count toward LA-AS or ALC-AS.

Click here for the online application form.