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Comparative Literature (COL)

COL Courses

  • The Learning Environment

    The Learning Environment

    Comparative Literature offers courses that range from the study of Ancient Greek literature and philosophy to the most contemporary literatures, philosophies, and cultural articulations. Faculty specialize in the literatures and philosophies of Africa, England, France, Germany, ancient Greece, Latin America, and the United States. Comparative Literature courses are more often organized around problems or questions than any specific literature or philosophy. These problems include, among other things, art, autobiography, death, democracy, dignity, feminism, gender, genocide, human rights, justice, language, race, the state, storytelling, and tragedy. Class sizes range from large lecture classes to smaller seminars. Students are challenged to read closely and to think critically not only about literature and philosophy, but art, film, and the discourses of everyday life.

    About Our Facilities

    Comparative Literature seminars are often held in the Comparative Literature seminar room, which provides an intimate space for engaging the complexities and nuances of literary, philosophical, and cultural discourses. In addition, Comparative Literature faculty occasionally offer study abroad programs of particular interest, most frequently in Africa. Study abroad provides a unique opportunity for students to engage intensively and in situ with the culture, language, and politics of particular countries and regions.

    About Our Faculty

    Our faculty have achieved national and international reputations for the quality of their research and teaching. They have published numerous books and received distinguished grants. Our faculty members regularly lecture all over the globe. They bring their expertise, their research interests, and passion for intellectual inquiry into the classroom.

    • Rodolphe Gasché, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Eugenio Donato Professor of Comparative Literature
    • Jorge Gracia, SUNY Distinguished Professor and Capen Professor of Humanities
    • Shaun Irlam, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
    • David E. Johnson, Professor of Comparative Literature
    • Kalliopi Nikolopoulou, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
    • Krzysztof Ziarek, Professor of Comparative Literature
    • Ewa Plonowska Ziarek, Julian Park Professor of Comparative Literature

    Faculty List Directory

    Please visit the Comparative Literature department website for additional information about our faculty.

  • COL 112LEC Cross-Cultural Explorations: Encounters with Western, East Asian, and African Cultures
    Lecture

    The principal objective of this course is the study of the diversity of Western, East Asian, and African cultures from the Renaissance to the Modern Age. Although we will explore cultural diversity in its various expressions in politics, religious thought, social customs, everyday beliefs, and scientific advances our primary focus will be the study of art, literature, and big ideas. One of the central concerns of this course will be different cultural and historical conceptions of the human and its relation to nature, politics, and science. In the first part of the course we will examine the different formations of humanism in the Western cultures from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment; from Romanticism to Marxism. In the second part of the course we will focus on the non-Western ideas of the human and humanity and their expression in religions, political organizations, and artworks. We will begin with Daoism and Confucianism and their impact on Chinese ethics, philosophy, politics, and culture during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. We will also briefly discuss the Cultural Revolution and Maoism in 20th century China. We will follow the influence of Confucianism in Japanese culture and its confluence with Zen and the Shinto Revival. In the context of politics we will focus primarily on the Tokugawa Shogunate. In the context of the arts we will analyze the place of the human in nature as reflected in Japanese landscape paintings, poetry, and woodblock prints. We will conclude our course with the discussion of the devastation of colonialism and the struggle for independence in Africa. We will analyze the influence of traditional (for example, masks and music) and modern African cultures (Fanon, Achebe, and Soyinka) in the contemporary world. This course is the same as COL 112 and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • COL 113LR Cross-Cultural Explorations: Encounters with Western, East Asian, and African Cultures - Abroad
    Lecture

    The principal objective of this course is the study of the diversity of Western, East Asian, and African cultures from the Renaissance to the Modern Age. Although we will explore cultural diversity in its various expressions in politics, religious thought, social customs, everyday beliefs, and scientific advances our primary focus will be the study of art, literature, and big ideas. One of the central concerns of this course will be different cultural and historical conceptions of the human and its relation to nature, politics, and science. In the first part of the course we will examine the different formations of humanism in the Western cultures from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment; from Romanticism to Marxism. In the second part of the course we will focus on the non-Western ideas of the human and humanity and their expression in religions, political organizations, and artworks. We will begin with Daoism and Confucianism and their impact on Chinese ethics, philosophy, politics, and culture during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. We will also briefly discuss the Cultural Revolution and Maoism in 20th century China. We will follow the influence of Confucianism in Japanese culture and its confluence with Zen and the Shinto Revival. In the context of politics we will focus primarily on the Tokugawa Shogunate. In the context of the arts we will analyze the place of the human in nature as reflected in Japanese landscape paintings, poetry, and woodblock prints. We will conclude our course with the discussion of the devastation of colonialism and the struggle for independence in Africa. We will analyze the influence of traditional (for example, masks and music) and modern African cultures (Fanon, Achebe, and Soyinka) in the contemporary world. This course is the same as COL 112 and course repeat rules will apply. Students should consult with their major department regarding any restrictions on their degree requirements.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • COL 150LR Avant Gardes
    Lecture

    This course will be taught on a rotational basis with faculty from COL, ART and RLL. Beginning in the late 19th Century a new cultural movement was born: the avant garde. This course seeks to understand how and why art and literature that deliberately challenged popular understanding came to be dominant. This course will introduce you to the main currents of 19th and 20th Century avant garde history, theory, and aesthetic practice. Grounding our approach in the specific geographic and historical conditions that gave rise to these individual movements, we will explore their expression through a wide variety of mediums including art and visual culture, literature, poetry, music, and film. We will read both primary and secondary documents as we grapple with these movements' modernist and revolutionary agendas in order to assess their successes and failures and evaluate their impacts and legacies.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • COL 198SEM UB Seminar
    Seminar

    The one credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps transition to UB through an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 198 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

    Credits: 1
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
    Requisites: Students who have already successfully completed the UB seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.
  • COL 199SEM UB Seminar
    Seminar

    The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
    Requisites: Students who have already successfully completed the first year seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.
  • COL 200LEC "We the People": On Democracy and Justice in America
    Lecture

    This course explores issues central to democracy. First, it examines the relation between democracy's claim to protect and promote both universal freedom and universal equality. Second, it considers the unresolvable tension between popular sovereignty ("we") and individual rights ("I"). Third, it considers the limitation of democracy in its necessary calculus of citizenship, the dual question of both how to count and who counts. Fourth the course takes up the role of narrative (recounting and accounting, telling) in establishing citizenship and the tradition or legacy of democracy. The course focuses on detailed readings and discussions of founding and foundational documents of the United States' democratic experiment: declaration of independence, articles of confederation, constitution of the United States, debates on the constitution; writings of Jefferson, Douglass, Lincoln, Stanton and Anthony, Larsen, MLK, Morrison; and major supreme court decisions concerning citizenship, racial equality, reproductive rights, rights to privacy, same sex marriage. In sum, "We the people" asks what it means to be a citizen and why democracy is at once the worst and the best form of government. In sum, in its consideration of the language of democracy--of citizenship and rights--"We the People" asks what it means when African-American novelist Toni Morrison remarks, in Beloved, that the story of slavery and of a mother's desire to "free" her daughter is "not" one "to pass on." What does it mean not "to pass on" the haunted narrative of our cultural and legal inheritance?

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • COL 203LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • COL 220SEM Lesbian and Gay Lit
    Seminar

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • COL 226LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Course content varies according to the interests of the instructor. Topics may explore a specific philosophical, literary, and/or cultural issue or problem.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Summer
  • COL 233LEC Literature and Happiness
    Lecture

    We all want to be happy. But what is happiness? This course will investigate the answers given to this question. We will be reading, writing, and talking about a wide variety of short texts from different fields such as art and literature, journalism, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, religion, and sociology. We will study visual media as well. Through literary and philosophical analysis, some of the questions we will try to answer will be the following: What makes us happy? Do we deserve to be happy? Can we create our own happiness? What is the relation between happiness, virtues, pleasure, and friendship?

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • COL 275LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Course content varies according to the interests of the instructor. Topics may explore a specific philosophical, literary, and/or cultural issue or problem.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • COL 301LEC Literary Theory - Twentieth Century
    Lecture

    Examines the most recent, and often controversial, developments in literary theory. As well as covering theoretical strains, such as formalism, New Criticism, structuralism, poststructuralism, Marxism, and the Frankfurt School, the course interpolates literary texts as examples of interpretive possibilities. Part of a two course module with COL 302.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall
  • COL 302LEC Literary Theory - History
    Lecture

    Charts the development of the theories of culture and literature, which both reflect and, in turn, shape the great works of our literary tradition. Students read aesthetic theory from the ancient Greeks through to the nineteenth century, covering such diverse periods as the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and Romanticism. Also studies literary texts for the way in which they help elucidate some of the issues being covered in the theory. Students should expect to develop an awareness of the historical import of such notions as genre, the beautiful, and so forth. See COL 301.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Spring
  • COL 303LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • COL 311LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Discussion oriented course examining the fiction by 3 prominent women writers: Woolf, Larson and Barnes.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
  • COL 317SEM Japanophilia
    Seminar

    Japanophilia. This course is the same as AS 317.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • COL 330SEM Colonial & Postcolon Lit
    Seminar

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • COL 331SEM Colonial & Postcolon Lit Abroad
    Seminar

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Varies
  • COL 345LEC Special Topics
    Lecture

    Course content varies according to the interests of the instructor. Topics may explore a specific philosophical, literary, and/or cultural issue or problem.

    Credits: 3
    Grading: Graded (GRD)
    Typically Offered: Fall, Spring
 
Published: Nov 22, 2021 13:58:42