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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Courses in Comparative Literature

Course Synopses Fall 2012

CPLT 270/ENGL 270 World Literature

Section 001 MWF 1:25PM- 2:15PM

Section 501 TTH 3:30PM- 4:45PM CPLT E270/ENGL270

Section 300 MW 5:30PM- 6:45PM

A survey of world literature from the beginnings to the modern period, this course examines texts from a wide array of cultures in a variety of genres (e.g. drama, poetry, and novel). Students are expected to develop an understanding of these texts by situating them in their historical and cultural contexts. Particular emphasis will be placed upon cross-cultural perspectives.


Sections 001&510 TTH 11:00AM-12:15PM Instructor: Guo

What is literature? What is comparative literature? This course considers the contested definition of literature and introduces to students the discipline of comparative literature, some of its theoretical traditions, the relationship between theory and literature, and the application of theory to the analysis of literary texts. We shall place special emphasis on East-West perspectives, with the aim to present some of the central problems of the discipline: How do we understand “East” and “West”? How do we read texts across time and space? How do we examine them across cultural, national, and geographical boundaries? How do we understand the notion of “translation” in this context?


Section 001 TTH 12:30PM- 1:45PM Instructor: Beecroft


TTH 3:30PM- 4:45PM Instructor: Shifflett We shall study major writers of the Western philosophical and literary traditions who consider the nature and function of literature as well as our capacity to make reasonable determinations concerning better and worse examples of it. Writers are likely to include Plato, Aristotle, Longinus, Giraldi, Sidney, Davenant, and Addison among others. The course will be conducted in the manner of a seminar, with each participant being expected to make frequent contributions to class discussions.

CPLT 703 - TOPICS/Wagner and Cultural Studies (MEETS WITH MUSC 744W & WGST796W)

TTH 12:30PM- 1:45PM Instructor: Vazsonyi

Overview: This course is being offered simultaneously with a graduate course in the School of Music, taught by Prof. Julie Hubbert. The purpose of the course is to prepare USC students for the upcoming international Wagner conference January 31-February 2, 2013. The conference is a cooperative effort between the College Arts & Sciences and the School of Music, and also functions as the annual CPLT conference for 2013. Conference Website: Content: Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was one of the most significant composers of Western music. More than that, he also theorized his work as no composer had ever done before (or since). He also commented on social, historical, ideological and cultural issues of his time and worked these ideas into his musical dramas. His aesthetics transcended the context of Romanticism in which he was trained, and explore the boundaries of coherence, time, space, meaning, and narrative structure in experimental and innovative ways. Thus, his work constitutes a breakthrough to modernism which proved of crucial importance to later generations of Western artists in every medium (literature, art, music): French Modernism and Symbolism (Baudelaire & co), Spanish generation of '98, and English/American modernism (Joyce, Cather, Woolf, Eliot) not to mention his impact on German culture which included the significant role his works played during the Nazi period. The purpose of the 2013 conference is to explore Wagner’s continuing significance in five areas of current concern: gender & sexuality, ecocriticism, nationalism, globalization & markets, media theory. CPLT 703 will likewise examine Wagner, his works, and his impact in terms of these five areas. For questions about the course, contact Dr. Vazsonyi:


MW 12:30PM- 1:45PM Instructor: Miller, David

This course will focus on an in-depth reading of the 1590 edition of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (Books 1-3), with special attention to the intertextual resonances of this encyclopedic poem. Students in the class will select (individually or in small teams) one of Spenser’s major precursors, developing as the course proceeds a novice-expertise in Spenser’s use of that writer’s texts as a poetic resource. For each class as we read our way through the legends of Holiness, Temperance, and Chastity, students will bring to the discussion their research into Spenser’s allusions, imitations, and other forms of recourse to works by Virgil, Ovid, Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Ariosto, Tasso, Malory, and the Bible. Requirements for the class will include weekly postings on Blackboard’s “Discussion Board,” one brief critical essay early in the semester, one class presentation, a one-page prospectus for the term paper, and at the end of the semester, a 20-page critical essay.


W 5:00PM- 7:30PM, HU 211 Instructor: SADEK (M 6:00PM- 8:30PM, BA 463)

This course explores multiple modalities of cinema’s relation to notions of space, place and identity across the Americas. The representation of cities and non-urban spaces will be understood as being at the center of a struggle for meaning, both in established genres such as the film noir and the Western that hinge on specific places and locations, or in films dealing with more fluid or marginal realities such as exile or migration. We will examine how cinematic approaches to these spaces and places engage in a dialogue with existing layers of meaning crucial to identity. To that end, students will analyze filmic space and also become duly acquainted with the spatial and terrotorial logics that, though seldom discussed, influence our way of thinking about national and local identities. The course will focus on documentary and fiction films and their construction of meaning in a variety of spaces such as Downtown L.A., Havana, Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and the Canadian Arctic. Readings will include film theory, critical essays and critical theories of space related to the following themes: • Cinema’s relation to modernity • Local identities • Marginal communities’ access to filmmaking • Film genres’ construction of space • Culture and the city • Immigrant spatialities • Urban spaces, trauma and memory.