Comparative Literature

What you are likely to study in first year

You will read a wide variety of texts under the theme of Heroes. 

Students of Comparative literature  Level One will choose two of these three modules to study:

Comparative Literature 1A: Heroic men
This course analyses works representing different types of hero: classical, tragic, popular, traditional, comic, anti-heroes and others. It explores the notion of heroism, its absence in our lives and our longing for it as this finds expression in various historical contexts and cultures. It also deals with the notion of masculinity as a cultural and historical construct.

Texts studied may include:

  • Sir Walter Scott, Lay of the Last Minstrel
  • Ciaran Carson (trans.), Tain Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley)
  • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
  • Mikhail Lermontov, A Hero of Our Time
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus
  • Hoffman, The Golden Pot

Comparative Literature 1B: 
Heroic women
This course analyses various depictions of heroic women in different cultural contexts and historical times. It explores the notion of female heroism in contrast to male heroism, indicating major differences and similarities. It also deals with women writers’ responses to male writers’ depictions of female protagonists.

Texts studied may include:

  • N Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
  • Rosario Castellano, selected poems
  • The Interrogation (film), dir. Ryszard Bugajski
  • Bertold Brecht, Mother Courage
  • Renata Vigano – Partisan Wedding

Comparative Literature 1C: Heroism in Slavonic Cultures 
(Taught in Semester 2, January-March)
This course analyses works representing different aspects of heroism in Slavonic cultures. By focusing on Czech, Polish and Russian examples, it investigates the depiction of male and female heroes in relation to politics, social changes, historical events and cultural values which are pertinent to this part of Europe. It explores the notion of heroic behaviour and the challenges it poses at various times, including nineteenth and twentieth century.  In addition, it examines the impact of censorship, political regimes and patriarchal role models on both genders in respective three cultures.

Texts studied may include:

  • Aleksander Pushkin, The Queen of Spades (short story)
  • Nadiezhda Durova, Cavalry Maiden (novel)
  • Stefan Zeromski, The Faithful River (novel)
  • Eliza Orzeszkowa, Miss Antonina (short story)
  • Karel Capek, The White Disease (play)
  • Milan Kundera, The Joke (novel)