2009-2010 Undergraduate Catalog

Comparative Literature

Students may complete a major or minor in Comparative Literature.


Azade Seyhan, at Bryn Mawr College
Israel Burshatin, at Haverford College


Sooyong Kim, Visiting Assistant Professor

Advisory Committee at Bryn Mawr

Elizabeth C. Allen, Russian
Francis Higginson, French and Francophone Studies
Sooyong Kim, Middle East Studies Initiative
Homay King, History of Art
Pauline Lin, East Asian Studies
Maria Cristina Quintero, Spanish
Roberta Ricci, Italian
Bethany Schneider, English
Azade Seyhan, Comparative Literature and German and German Studies

Advisory Committee at Haverford College

Israel Burshatin, Professor of Comparative Literature and Spanish
Maud McInerney, Associate Professor of English
Jerry Miller, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Deborah Roberts, Professor of Classics
Roberto Castillo Sandoval, Associate Professor of Spanish
Ulrich Schoenherr, Associate Professor of German
David Sedley, Associate Professor of French

The study of Comparative Literature situates literature in an international perspective; examines transnational cultural connections through literary history, literary criticism, critical theory, and poetics; and works toward a nuanced understanding of the sociocultural functions of literature. The structure of the program allows students to engage in such diverse areas of critical inquiry as East-West cultural relations, global censorship and human rights, diaspora studies, film history and theory, and aesthetics of modernity. Therefore, interpretive methods from other disciplines also play a role in the comparative study of literature; among these are anthropology, ethnology, philosophy, history, history of art, religion, classical studies, area studies (Africana studies, Middle Eastern studies, Latin American studies, among others), gender studies, and other arts.

Comparative Literature students are required to have a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language adequate to the advanced study of literature in that language. Some Comparative Literature courses may require reading knowledge of a foreign language as a prerequisite for admission. Students considering graduate work in Comparative Literature should also study a second foreign language.

Major Requirements

Requirements for the Comparative Literature major are COML 200: Introduction to Comparative Literature (normally taken in the sophomore year); six literature courses at the 200 level or above, balanced between two literature departments (of which English may be one)—at least two of these (one in each national literature) must be at the 300 level or above, or its equivalent as approved in advance by the adviser; one course in critical theory; two electives; COML 398: Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature and 399: Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature.


Students who, in the judgment of the advisory committee, have done distinguished work in their courses and in the senior seminar will be considered for departmental honors.

Minor Requirements

Requirements for the minor are COML 200 and 398, plus four additional courses—two each in the literature of two languages. At least one of these four courses must be at the 300 level. Students who minor in comparative literature are encouraged to choose their national literature courses from those with a comparative component.

Both majors and minors are encouraged to work closely with the chairs and members of the advisory committee in shaping their programs.

COML B200 Introduction to Comparative Literature

This course explores a variety of approaches to the comparative or transnational study of literature through readings of several kinds: texts from different cultural traditions that raise questions about the nature and function of storytelling and literature; texts that comment on, respond to and rewrite other texts from different historical periods and nations; translations; and readings in critical theory. (Seyhan, Division III)

COML B202 Culture and Interpretation

(Krausz, Division III; cross-listed as PHIL B202) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B209 Introduction to Literary Analysis: Philosophical Approaches to Criticism

An introduction to various methods of reading the literary text from the perspective of critical methods informed by philosophical ideas. In their quest for self-understanding and knowledge, literature and philosophy share similar forms of inquiry and imaginative modeling. Selected literary texts and critical essays focus on questions of language, translation, understanding, and identity in their relation to history, epistemology, ethics, and aesthetics. One of the main objectives of the course is to provide students with the critical tools necessary for an informed reading of texts. Designated theory course. (Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B209 and PHIL B209)

COML B212 Borges y sus lectores

(Sacerio-Garí, Division III; cross-listed as SPAN B211)

COML B213 Qu’est-ce que la théorie?

Designated theory course. (Mahuzier, Division III; cross-listed as FREN B213) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B222 Aesthetics: The Nature and Experience of Art

Designated theory course. (Krausz, Division III; cross-listed as PHIL B222)

COML B223 Topics In German Cultural Studies

Topic for 2009-10: Eastern Journeys and the European Romantic Imaginary (Kenosian, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B223) .

COML B229 Movies and Mass Politics

(Tratner, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B229) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B231 Cultural Profiles in Modern Exile

This course is a critical introduction to the anthropological, philosophical, psychological, and, most importantly, literary aspects of modern exile. It investigates exile as the defining experience and metaphor of modernity and examines the dialectical relationship between imagined/remembered homelands and transnational identities and between language loss and bi- and multilingualism. Readings by Meena Alexander, Gloria Anzaldúa, Julia Alvarez, Ana Castillo, Assia Djebar, Eva Hoffman, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amin Maalouf, E.S. Özdamar, Chang-Rae Lee, Zadie Smith, among others. (Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B231 and ANTH B231)

COML B234 Postcolonial Literature in English

(Tratner, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B234)

COML B240 Literary Translation Workshop

(Kirchwey, Division III; cross-listed as ARTW B240) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B251 Romantic Prose Fiction

This seminar studies representative works of Romantic poetry’s “poor relation”—prose fiction. Readings include novels from England, France, Germany and Russia, such as Frankenstein, A Hero of Our Time, The Red and the Black, The Sorrows of Young Werther and Wuthering Heights, as well as short stories. Discussions include such topics as national varieties of Romanticism, the Romantic ideals of nature, love and the self, and the impact of the revolutionary era on art. Illustrative examples of Romantic painting and music are also considered. All readings and discussions in English. (Allen, Division III)

COML B252 The Art of Athletics: Modern Sport in 20th-Century Culture

This course, drawing upon a range of artistic media—literature, painting, and cinema—from the United States, Western Europe and Russia, explores how artists throughout the 20th century celebrated the beauty and vigorous spirit of athletics. Course discussion will focus on artists’ use of sports to probe issues of gender, race, class, and ideology. (Harte, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B257 The Realist Novel Revisited

This seminar undertakes the study of a deceptively simple cultural and literary historical concept—realism—by closely reading well-known 19th-century novels by George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Theodor Fontane, Henry James, Stendhal, Leo Tolstoy and Ivan Turgenev, all of which have traditionally been placed within realism’s parameters. Critical essays exploring the nature of realism, either in general or in a particular author’s works, are also discussed. The ethical implications of the realist enterprise and, more broadly, the possible relations between art and life receive special scrutiny. (Allen, Division III) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B260 Ariel/Caliban y el discurso americano

(Sacerio-Garí, Division III; cross-listed as SPAN B260) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B261 The Russian Anti-Novel

(Allen, Division III; cross-listed as RUSS B261) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B265 The Islamic Literary Tradition

This course surveys the major genres of the Islamic literary tradition, with emphasis on premodern works. We will consider the aesthetic principles that informed the tradition as well as questions of continuities and ruptures. Texts in English translation. (Kim, Division III; cross-listed as GNST B265) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B266 Travel and Transgression

(Taylor, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B266) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B269 Ecologies of Theater: Performance, Play, and Landscape

(Lord, Division III; cross-listed as ARTT B270) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B270 Classical Heroes and Heroines

(Baertschi, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B270) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B274 From Myth to Modern Cinema: From Dionysus to the Silver Screen

(Baertschi, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B274) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B277 Topics in Islamic Literatures

Examines medieval and early modern Muslim travel accounts of the Islamic world and beyond, through selected texts in English translation. Looks at critical approaches to travel narrative and considers whether they are useful for Islamic context. (Kim, Division III; cross-listed as GNST B277) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B278 Reading the Middle East

This course examines major themes in modern Middle Eastern literatures through selected prose works by prominent modern writers in translation from Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Turkish. Topics include tradition versus modernity, gender and the family, the individual and the state, and the impact of regional conflict. (Kim, Division III)

COML B279 Introduction to African Literature

(Beard, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B279) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B299 Cultural Diversity and Its Representations

Topic for 2008-09: Middle Eastern Cultures in Germany. This course focuses on the literary and aesthetic production of writers, artists, and filmmakers from Turkey, the Arab countries, Iran, and Israel, living and working in contemporary Germany. (Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B299 and CITY B299) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B302 Le printemps de la parole féminine: femmes écrivains des débuts

(Armstrong, Division III; cross-listed as FREN B302) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B305 Modern German Drama—Faust: Approaches to a Legend in Literature, Drama, and Film

(Seyhan, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B305) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B306 Film Theory

(King, Division III; cross-listed as ENGL B306 and HART B306)

COML B312 Crimen y detectives en la narrativa hispánica contemporánea

(Song, Division III; cross-listed as SPAN B311)

COML B320 Topics in German Literature

(staff, Division III; cross-listed as GERM B320, ENGL B320, and HART B320) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B321 Advanced Topics in German Cultural Studies

(Kenosian, Meyer, Seyhan Division III; cross-listed as GERM B321)

COML B323 Culture and Interpretation

Designated theory course. (Krausz, Division III; cross-listed as PHIL B323)

COML B326 Etudes avancées

Topic for 2009-10: Le Film Noir. (Higginson, Division III; cross-listed as FREN B326)

COML B340 Topics in Baroque Art

(McKim-Smith, Division III; cross-listed as HART B340) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B350 Voix médiévales et échos modernes

(Armstrong, Division III; cross-listed as FREN B350) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B351 Medieval Encounters in Contemporary Fiction

Muslim, Christian and Jewish relations, particularly in the medieval period, have occupied a number of recent works of fiction in English and other languages. Why that subject has so captured the literary imagination and how individual authors treat it are the central issues the course aims to address. Selected works of fiction will serve as entry points into questions of how different religious communities interacted with and perceived one another before modern times. Another goal of the course is to make students think about how works of historical fiction serve to shape as well as to challenge current religious sensibilities. (Kim, Division III)

COML B364 Political Philosophy

(Salkever, Elkins, Division III; cross-listed as POLS B364 and PHIL B364) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B375 Interpreting Mythology

(Edmonds, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B375)

COML B387 Allegory in Theory and Practice

(Hedley; cross-listed as ENGL B387) Not offered in 2009-10.

COML B388 Contemporary African Fiction

(Beard, Division III; cross-listed with ENGL 388)

COML B398 Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature

This course, required of all senior comparative literature majors in preparation for writing the senior thesis in the spring semester, explores both theoretical and applied, or practical, literary criticism, in which literary theories are put to work, often in combination, to elucidate particular texts. Throughout the semester, students collect and review theoretical and applied critical materials bearing on their own comparative thesis topics in order to situate those topics in an appropriate critical context. (Sedley)

COML B399 Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature

(Allen, Miller)

COML B403 Supervised Work


Haverford College currently offers the following courses in Comparative Literature:

COML H200 Introduction to Comparative Literature
COML H210 Spanish and Spanish American Film Studies
COML H213 Tragedy and the Tragic: Suffering, Representation, and Response
COML H219 Rites of Laughter: Ancient Comedy and its Legacy
COML H222 Rethinking Latin America in Contemporary Narrative
COML H229 Topics in Rhetorical Theory: Roland Barthes and the Image
COML H241 Anthropology of the Mediterranean: Seminar on Greece
COML H255 Cinema et colonialisme
COML H266 Iberian Orientalism and the Nation
COML H293 Translation and other Transformations: Theory and Practice
COML H301 Topics in Medieval English Literature
COML H308 Mystical Literatures of Islam
COML H312 Advanced Topics
COML H315 Novísima literatura hispanoamericana
COML H332 Topics in 20th Century Continental Philosophy: Philosophies of Pain and Passion
COML H334 Gender Dissidence in Hispanic Writing
COML H377 Problems in Postcolonial Literature
COML H389 Problems in Poetics: The Interpretation of Lyric
COML H398 Theories and Methods in Comparative Literature