Comparative Literature

The format of the two Honours years....

In your Honours years you will take one core course in each year. Additionally you will select from a wide variety of options which will allow you to develop particular areas of study according to your own interests. You will also have the opportunity to learn a language from beginner’s level or take existing language study to a new level.

Core Courses (Intercultural Readings and Theories of Reading)
When we ask comparative questions we are concerned to understand the differences and similarities of our respective positions. Our languages, our use of translation, our ideology, our view of the world make a difference, especially in comparative literature. If we understand literary texts as created in different cultural contexts to our own, then our interpretation and critical analysis of the texts must consider these differences.

Intercultural Readings:
The aim of this course is to engage students in a critical, interdisciplinary exchange with the comparative cultures of text, through the material conditions of their authors' writing and the conditions of our reading. Various examples of intercultural texts - poetry, prose, film, anthropology, literature, popular culture etc. - are used in the course to explore the theoretical and practical possibilities that such an approach to literature may afford. The first semester involves an exploration of Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities together with a re-examination of foundational national texts. The second semester takes up the dual themes of translation and travel in literature.
Texts may include: Eva Hoffman Lost in Translation, Walter Benjamin Illuminations, Anderson Imagined Communities or Film: Lost in Translation (dir: Coppola).

Theories of Reading:
The primary purpose of this course is to make students aware that how to read is often as important as what is read. Thus the course introduces students to various ways of thinking about the reading process in comparative literature, exemplified by text-oriented, context-oriented and reader-oriented theories. It emphasises the importance of 'literary' and 'philosophical' ways of operating upon texts (including films) offered by selected thinkers and schools of thought. Various examples of critical literary approaches will be introduced, illustrated and discussed, with a particular focus on their application to the field of comparative literature.
Texts may include Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory, A Very Short Introduction and Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.