ENGL 5355 Studies in Comparative Literature: Theories, Methods, and Issues
Dr. Yuan Shu
Tuesdays 2:00-4:50 PM
This course investigates comparative literature not only as a discipline but also as methodology and critical theory. We begin by examining the history and the changing definitions of comparative literature in relation to area studies and American studies in the U.S. context on the one hand, and by focusing on the paradigm shifts from the European and American models to the multicultural and postcolonial ones during the past three decades on the other. Specifically, we explore the debate on comparative literature as world literature, the connection between comparative literature and globalization studies, and the new critical role that translation theory has played in informing and reshaping the discipline. We conclude by rethinking comparativism in relation to new modes of reading that vary from “surface reading” to “distant reading” and by reimagining our humanity and post-humanity against the background of the rise of the rest and the post-American world.
Requirements fulfilled: Comparative Literature; Non-Fiction Genre; Methods Requirement
ENGL 5380: Advanced Problems in Literary Studies -Religious and Secular Enchantment in Contemporary Literature
Dr. Roger McNamara
Tuesdays 6:00-8:50 PM (HYBR)
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (published in 1905), Max Weber argued that the rise of secularism resulted in a “disenchanted” world. In other words, secularism—through the instrumental use of reason, a rational bureaucracy, and science—transformed a world dominated by religion and filled with mystery, awe, and magic into one that was objective. The world could now be understood on the basis of science and reason and molded to suit human purposes.
While some have celebrated living in a disenchanted world and others have lamented it, contemporary critics are exploring how enchantment can help resolve some of the major problems of our time. Two of these are the continued march of an impersonal and dehumanizing global capitalism and the upsurge of religious fundamentalism. While writers and intellectuals of a religious persuasion have been examining how enchantment can provide an alternative to both, non-religious critics have recently begun to argue that secularism and science can also be the basis for “re-enchanting” the world.
In this class, we will explore secular and religious enchantment in contemporary literature across the world. This includes works by Marilynne Robinson and Paul Elie (North America), Amitav Ghosh and Michael Ondaatje (Asia), and Zakes Mda and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (Africa). We will supplement these literary texts with theoretical material by intellectuals like Talal Asad, Jane Bennett, William Connolly, George Levine, Bruce Robbins, etc.
Requirements fulfilled: Comparative Literature; Non-Fiction Genre