Comparative Literature

What you are likely to study in second year

The theme at Level 2 is Frontiers. Here, you will focus on the depiction of various forms of discovery and borders: geographic, scientific, psychological, gender orientated and cultural. Students of  Comparative literature  Level Two will choose two of these three modules to study:

Comparative Literature 2A: Crossing borders
This course analyses the theme of crossing borders in geographical, scientific, political, psychological, social, cultural and gender orientated terms. It focuses on human motivations behind, and the consequences of, various ‘crossings’ as well as the exploration of otherness, secrets, mysteries and taboos. It also deals with literary depictions of exile, emigration, travels, love and broadly understood ‘discoveries’.

Texts studied may include:

  • C J Cela, The Family of Pascual Duarte
  • Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England
  • Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
  • Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
  • Talk to Her (film), dir. Almodovar
  • Janusz Glowacki, Antigone in New York

Comparative Literature 2B: Exploring identity

This course focuses on various literary and cinematic depictions of the human search for identity and the meaning of self, through a series of challenging texts and films from a variety of cultures.

Texts studied may include:

  • Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes
  • Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis
  • Nikolai Gogol, The Nose
  • Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author
  • Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  • Laura Esquivel, Like Water for Chocolate

Comparative Literature 2C: Frontiers in Slavonic Cinema (taught in Semester 1, September-December)
This course analyses cinematic depiction of frontiers (in a variety of senses) in Slavonic cultures. By analysing selected Czech, Polish and Russian films, it explores the depiction of transgressive behaviour when facing political, social and cultural pressures during the Communist and Post-communist eras. It also deals with such themes as exile, political games and social taboos, strategies for outwitting censors and overcoming restrictions of different kinds. While comparative in nature, the course introduces students to the two cultures which joined the EU in 2004 and since then have become a significant part of the 'new Europe.'

Films studied may include:

  • Knife in the Water (1962), directed by Roman Polanski
  • The Three Colours Trilogy: White (1994), directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski
  • The Ear (1970s), directed by Karel Kachyna
  • Little Girl Blue (2000), directed by Alice Nellis
  • Little Vera (1987), directed by V Pichul
  • Burnt by the Sun (1995), directed by Nikita Mikhalkov