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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrea Opitz
C LIT 300
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Comparative Literature: Forms, Genres, History

Provides an introduction to comparative literary study which examines how literary forms and genres shape our reading of texts; how these forms and genres change over time; and how literary forms and genres manifest themselves in different cultural traditions. Includes theoretical readings and substantial writing.

Class description

Gender, Genre, and History.

This course is designed to provide students an introduction to the study of comparative genre analysis across time and space. In it we will examine a number of genres (drama, film, novel) in different historical and cultural contexts (ancient Greece, early and late 20th Century Western Europe, late 20th Century U.S. and Canada). Furthermore, we will consider the intersections of gender, genre, and history: how history and genres themselves are gendered and how they differently represent gender. Students can expect to practice critical close reading, to explore how different aspects of genre and narrative form affect our understanding of texts, and consider how particular historical and cultural contexts shape these texts and our reading of them. Some of the questions we’ll ask: How do the texts themselves engage with questions of genre? How do they operate within and between narrative paradigms? How do these authors trouble the relation of fiction to history and historical representation? What role does gender play in all this? What kinds of knowledges of history, of historical trauma (e.g., the Holocaust, the Vietnam War), of gender are produced in these texts? Students are expected to be prepared and to engage critically with course materials in class discussions and in writing. Grades will be determined by preparation and participation, one short presentation, weekly EPost responses, two shorter papers, and one longer final paper.

Texts include: Sophocles, Antigone; Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own; Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace; Tim O’Brien, In The Lake of the Woods; W.G. Sebald, The Emigrants. Films (shown outside of class) include: Don Taylor’s adaptation of Antigone and Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. There will also be a course pack of critical and theoretical readings.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Andrea Opitz
Date: 02/16/2005