University of California, Riverside

Comparative Literature & Foreign Languages


2016-2017 Seminars

Fall 2016

CPLT 210 – Architecture, Space & Modernity 

Instructor: Prof. Heidi Brevik-Zender   

Discourses of modernity since the nineteenth century have been concerned with issues of spatiality and questions that include: where does modernity occur?  how does urban space and the built environment define the modern? how do humans and other bodies operate in, through, and outside of these spaces? This seminar will examine architecture and space broadly conceived, from their work as literary metaphors to the representations of physical locations of modernity, their functions, and their symbolic meanings in texts and films. Critical texts by Augé, Bachelard, Certeau, Damsich, Foucault, Habermas, Lefebvre, Spurr, and others will be studied alongside works of fiction and film. 


CPLT 215A Contemporary Critical Theory

Instructor: Prof. John N. Kim
The term “critical theory” has expanded considerably in the scope of discourses it designates since it was first used by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in the late 1930s to name a mode of dialectical thinking in the tradition of Hegel and Marx concerned with social, political and ethical questions, or “practical philosophy.” The term “critical theory” no longer applies solely to the Frankfurt School (or “Critical Theory” with majuscules) but is used broadly today to designate a wide-range of meta-discourses sharing the many of the same core concerns, most notably deconstruction – the focus of this seminar.

Organized around problematics (text, reading, interpretation, modernity, performativity and translation), this seminar is designed as an introduction to the basic issues in what has come to be known generically as “theory.” Whereas the seminar’s first two units, or first four sessions, are designed to provide a grounding in the basic questions posed by hermeneutics and deconstruction, the final three units turn to social, political and ethical questions raised by deconstruction, such as post-coloniality, gender, racialization and sovereignty, among many others. In considering these local questions, the seminar participants are strongly encouraged to bring their own research interests to the readings and discussions.

Previous familiarity with “critical theory” is neither required nor assumed. All readings are in English. Participants are encouraged to read the text in the original but not required to do so. 

CPLT 277 Literature and Human Rights

Instructor: Prof. Yurika Tamura
With incidents such as Ferguson and Clementi shaking up our notions of multicultural coexistence, and with natural disasters such as in Fukushima and Kathmandu reminding us the fragility of life, inquiries of human rights and values of human life have become more urgent than ever. As literature and its world-making power have been a strong source of contemplating questions of freedom, equality, and human coexistence, human rights literature has become a significantly relevant and influential genre in the field of English literature. This course explores the notion of human rights dealt in various theoretical texts as well as fiction and non-fiction. 

Readings include works by Foucault, Agamben, Arendt, Cheah, Puar, and Sontag as well as fictional works by Roy, Ondjaate and Cha. As we engage with these texts, we will critique and re-encounter our own questions about ethics of life: How does one exist in the world with other/different bodies? How does one live and love?



CPLT 210 Canons of Comparative Literature: Theory of Translation

Instructor: Prof. Yang Ye 

This course provides an overview of the theory of translation and the fundamental aspects of translation as a profession and academic discipline. Through lectures, class discussions, and research projects, it identifies the basic concepts of translation and main features of theoretical approaches to translation, examines important theoretical considerations in the process of translation, defines translation studies as a discipline with its generally accepted ethics, and explores the possibilities of applying theory to practice. Authors whose writings on translation are to be studied and discussed include John Dryden, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Walter Benjamin, Roman Jakobson, Hugo Friedrich, Eugene Nider, and George Steiner, as well as Kwanme Anthony Appiah, David Damrosch, Michael Cronin and other contemporaries.

 CPLT 212 Introduction to Graduate Studies in Comparative Literatures: Techno-Orientalism

Instructor: Prof. Katheryn Page-Lippsmeyer

 This course interrogates the literary and theoretical construction of Orientalism through its engagement with technology in the literary and visual imaginary of science fiction.  Techno-orientalism, a term coined by Morely and Robins, is defined as the Othering of Japan by the West that sees it only as an advanced technological dystopia. More broadly the techo-orientalist mode fetishizes Asia as the exotic future. In this course we consider the critical, material, and historical conditions that gave rise to the exotification of Asians through literary technologies, and how those constructions are, in turn, engaged with by Japanese writers themselves.  Additionally, we will explore the geopolitical logics that emerge from these fictions, including the legacies of globalization and high-tech labor, occupation and imperialism, and the relationship between science fiction and literature.

 CPLT 214 History of Criticism

Instructor: Prof. Johannes Endres

 What is it that we do when we do ‘criticism’? The seminar investigates this question, among others), by tracing back historical and current practices of ‘critique’ to the modern origin of the term and concept in late 18 th-century discourses in Enlightenment and German idealism (Kant). In doing so, we explore crucial aspects of an up-to- date methodology of our field, expanding, at the same time, into interdisciplinary approaches and areas beyond literary  studies, such as visual culture, film, music, cultural studies, and historiography. A permanent concern of our discussions will be the ominous divide between the ‘two cultures,’ humanities and sciences, and its reflection in theories of criticism since the querelle des anciens et des modernes. Our goal is to not only familiarize ourselves with standards of ‘good’ practice from past and contemporary examples of criticism, but to also develop an advanced awareness of what might be called our ‘own’ practice.


CPLT 224: Film Theory

Instructor: Prof. Marguerite Waller

In an increasingly mobile, globalized arena, where images and words travel across space with unprecedented speed, cinema and other media not only shape cultural identities, but also engage the emotions of audiences in changing ways.  Beginning with an introduction to classical film theory, with an emphasis on the politics of film language (sometimes referred to as “poetics” or “aesthetics), we will move on to an exploration of forms of visual language that cast questions of identity and difference, the “real,” and the production of space and time into sharp relief. We will ask how the languages of a diverse selection of films contribute to destabilizing notions of nation, race, ethnicity, gender/sexuality, and class, while offering spectators multiple positions from which to grasp the experiences that mark our times.  In spring 2017, the course will focus particularly on films that challenge colonial epistemologies and/or take on the challenge of developing a cinematic “eco-aesthetics.”

CPLT 267 Colonialisms and Postcolonial Criticism

Day/Time: Thursdays, 3.40pm - 6.30pm
Room: HMNSS 1403

This course introduces students to postcolonial literature, that is: literature from formerly colonized nations; and, criticism. We will focus on literatures and criticism from selected African countries that are written originally in English or translated into English. Using different works--short stories, poetry, novels, and plays--from colonial and post-colonial African experiences, the course will examine how theoretical concepts developed in post-colonial studies, and post-colonial literature and criticism inform and challenge the study of African literatures and cultures. Of interest throughout the course are: themes of diaspora, education, gender, home, hybridity, identity, language, nation, neocolonialism, otherness, resistance, space, sexuality, and transnationalism. Although we will pay attention to Africa's geography and histories to enable us to react with intention with intention and awareness to European colonization schemes in the continent, our focus will be on formal literary analysis of African drama, fiction, and poetry.

 CPLT 223 – Topics in East Asian Literature and Film: The Project of Korean Modernity and Its Aftermath

Instructor: Prof. Kelly Jeong

 This seminar will examine Korea’s fraught relationship with modernity as it is reflected in theoretical discussions of modern and contemporary Korean literature and film. Some of the key concepts for our seminar will be colonialism, postcoloniality, Cold War, gender ideology, cultural imperialism, interiority and surface, and violence. Although the seminar will focus on texts that specifically discuss Korean context and material, it may be also helpful for those who are interested in the above mentioned themes, as well as those interested in cinema studies. Film viewing is required for some of the sessions. The seminar and all its readings are in English; no prior knowledge of Korean is necessary.  


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