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Fall 2016

Comparative literature courses explore a range of times, places and media. But they usually focus on one central issue: the ways poems mean, what sides have been taken in the debate over women, what makes a text anti-Semitic, how settled peoples imagine and depict foreigners, how travelers see new worlds.

Smith College reserves the right to make changes to all announcements and course listings online, including changes in its course offerings, instructors, requirements for the majors and minors, and degree requirements.


CLT 100 Introduction to Comparative Literature: The Pleasures of Reading

Topic: Cannibals, Witches, and Virgins

Katwiwa Mule

T/Th 1:00-2:50

An examination of the rewritings and adaptations of the three iconic figures of Shakespeare's The Tempest—Caliban the demi-devil savage other, Sycorax the devil-whore, and Miranda the virgin-goddess—by writers from different geographies, time periods, and ideological persuasions. Using texts such as Aimé Césaire's A Tempest, Rachel Ingalls' Mrs. Caliban, Lemuel Johnson's Highlife for Caliban, Gloria Naylor's Mama Day, and Michelle Cliff's No Telephone to Heaven, we will seek to understand how postcolonial, feminist, and postmodern rewritings of The Tempest transpose its language and characters into critiques of colonialism, nationhood, race, gender, and difference.


FYS 140 Literature and Medicine

Sabina Knight

T Th 10:30-11:50

How do stories heal? What can we learn about medicine from stories, novels, poems, plays and case studies? Comparing narratives from different cultures, students will also compose their own stories. The course also introduces broader issues in the medical humanities, such as medical ethics, healthcare disparities, and cross-cultural communication. Works (available in translation) from China, Taiwan, France, Russia, and North and Latin America. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students.


FYS 143 The Secret Worlds of Fiddler on the Roof

Justin Cammy

M W 1:10-2:30

The Broadway musical and then Hollywood film Fiddler on the Roof launched the age of American ethnic revivals in the 1960's, and is still among the most widely performed and beloved musicals in the world. How did a series of Yiddish stories by Sholem Aleichem featuring a traditional father and his rebellious daughters become an international hit? The course introduces cultural studies by demonstrating how interdisciplinary approaches enlarge a key text. We explore Sholem Aleichem's original writings through the prism of gender, class, ethnicity, religion, language, radical politics, trauma and collective memory, and then chart their migrations from Eastern Europe to America through translation and performance. An excursion to the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst exposes students to material book culture and the imagining of lost worlds, while a trip to New York City offers sites of immigrant culture. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students.


CLT 202 Western Classics in Translation, from Homer to Dante

Robert Hosmer-M W 9:00-9:20

Michael Thurston-M W F 11:00-12:10

Same as ENG 202. Texts include The Iliad; tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides; Plato's Symposium; Virgil's Aeneid; Dante's Divine Comedy. Lecture and discussion. CLT 202/ENG 202, like CLT 203/ENG 203, is among the courses from which comparative literature majors choose two as the basis of the major. Students interested in comparative literature and/or the foundations of Western literature and wanting a writing-intensive course should take 202 or 203 or both.


CLT 205 Twentieth Century Literature of Africa

Katwiwa Mule, T Th 10:30-11:50

A study of the major writers and diverse literary traditions of modern Africa with emphasis on the historical, political, and cultural contexts of the emergence of the writing, reception and consumption. We will pay particular attention to several questions: in what contexts did modern African literature emerge? Is the term "African literature" a useful category? How do African writers challenge Western representations of Africa? How do they articulate the crisis of independence and postcoloniality? How do women writers reshape our understanding of gender and the politics of resistance? Writers include Chinua Achebe Ngugï wa Thiong'o, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Chimanda Ngozi Adichie, Nadine Gordimer, Njabulo Ndebele, and Ama Ata Aidoo. We also watch and critically films such as Blood Diamond, District 9, Tsotsi and The Constant Gardener.


CLT 220 Colloquium: Imagining Language

Margaret Bruzelius

M/W 2:40-4:00

This course explores the ways in which philosophers and artists have imagined the links between language and the world. We read mostly pre-20th century theories of language—Plato's Cratylus, St. Augustine's On the Teacher, Locke on language from the Essay, Herder and Rousseau on The Origin of Language, Freud on jokes—and link them to novels, poems and other artwork by (mostly) 20th-century artists such as Louis Zukofsky, May Swenson, Lewis Carroll, Richard Powers, Xu Bing, Russell Hoban and others who focus on the materiality of language, on words as things. Readings are accompanied by weekly exercises such as rebuses, invented etymologies, alphabet poems, portmanteau words, emoticons and so on.

ENG 241 The Empire Writes Back: Postcolonial Literatures

Ambreen Hai

M W 1:10-2:30

An introduction to Anglophone fiction, poetry, drama and film from Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia in the aftermath of the British empire. Concerns include: the cultural work of writers as they respond to histories of colonial dominance; their ambivalence towards English linguistic, literary and cultural legacies; the ways literature can (re)construct national identities and histories, and explore assumptions of race, gender, class and sexuality; the distinctiveness of women writers and their modes of contesting cultural and colonial ideologies; global diasporas, migration and U.S. imperialism. Readings include Achebe, Adichie, Aidoo, Dangarembga, Fanon, Walcott, Cliff, Amitav Ghosh, Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Mohsin Hamid and some theoretical essays.


SPN 250 Iberian Literature and Society

Topic: Cyphered Presences

Reyes Lázaro

MW 1:10-2:30

A cultural study of underrepresented voices in Spanish History since the Middle Ages to the 18th century. Through paintings, medieval popular culture, literature and films we will look for voices of women, moriscos, conversos, slaves, artists, children, the illiterate, etc., traceable throughout literature and art. We will pay particular attention to aljamiado coded texts, to Velazquez's and Goya's depictions of, respectively, 17th and 18th century Spain, and to three crucial texts that ushered in modernity precisely through the expression and/or representation of non-dominant voices: Celestina, Don Juan and selected fragments of Don Quijote. Prerequisite 220 or equivalent.


CLT 268 Transnational Latina Feminisms

Nancy Sternbach

M W 1:10-2:30

This course examines the last twenty years of Latina writing in this country while tracing the Latin American roots of many of the writers. Constructions of ethnic identity, gender, Latinidad, race, class, sexuality and political consciousness are analyzed in light of the writers' coming to feminism. Texts by Esmeralda Santiago, Gloria Anzalda, Sandra Cisneros, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Denise Chavez, Demetria Martinez and many others are included in readings that range from poetry and fiction to essay and theatre. Knowledge of Spanish is not required, but will be useful.


CLT 300 Literary Theory and Literary Practice: Conflicts and Consensus

Anna Botta

T Th 3:00-4:50

This course presents a variety of practices and positions within the field of literary theory. Approaches include structuralism, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, gender and queer studies, cultural studies and postcolonial studies. Emphasis on the theory as well as the practice of these methods: their assumptions about writing and reading and about literature as a cultural formation. Readings include Freud, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Bakhtin, Gramsci, Bhabba, Butler, Said, Ngugï wa Thiong'o,Zizek. The class is of interest to all students who wish to explore a range of approaches and methodologies within the humanities as well to students who plan to go to graduate school in literature programs. Enrollment limited to 25.


Spring 2017

CLT 150 The Art of Translation: Poetics, Politics, Practice

Carolyn Shread, M 7:00-9:00 p.m.

CLT 177 Journeys in World Literature: Epic Worlds

Craig Davis, T Th 10:30-11:50

CLT 203 Western Classics in Translation, from Chretien de Troyes to Tolstoy

Maria Banerjee, T Th 9:00-10:20

CLT 215 Arthurian Legend

Nancy Bradbury, T Th 10:30-11:50

CLT 218 Holocaust Literature

Justin Cammy, M W 1:10-2:30

CLT 230 "Unnatural" Women: Mothers Who Kill their Children

Thalia Pandiri, T Th 3:00-4:50

CLT 232 Modern Chinese Literature

Sabina Knight, T Th 1:00-2:50

CLS 233 Gender and Sexuality in Greco-Roman Culture

Nancy Shumate, T Th 9:00-10:20

POR 233 Borderlands of Portuguese: Multilingualism, Language, Policy and Identity

Malcolm, McNee, T Th 1:00-2:50

CLT 260 Health and Illness: Literary Explorations

Sabina Knight, M W 2:40-4:00

CLT 266 Studies in South African Literature and Film

Topic: Adapting Violence to the Screen

Katwiwa Mule, T Th 1:00-2:50

CLT 274 The Garden: Paradise and Battlefield

Ann Leone, M W F 11:00-12:10

CLT 305 Studies in the Novel

Topic: The Philosophical Novel

Maria Banerjee, T Th 10:30-11:50

CLT 330/TSX 340 Capstone Seminar in Translation Studies

Janie Vanpée, M 3:00-5:00


CLT 340 Problems in Literary Theory

Topic: Comparative Literature in the Age of Cosmopolitanisms

Craig Davis, T Th 10:30-11:50

GER 360 Seminar: Advanced Topics in German Studies

Topic: Kultur in Extremis: Literature and Culture at the Turn of the 20th Century

Joel Westerdale, W 7:30-9:30 p.m.