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Core Course

Course Description for Core Course 1: Theory & Methodology

Course Aims and Learning Outcomes:

The course is designed to enable students to:

  • apply cultural theory to world literature
  • sharpen their critical and analytical skills,
  • research and write essays (form a hypothesis, structure an argument and build an essay, reference outside sources);
  • research and present a paper (form a hypothesis, structure an oral presentation; maintain and sustain relations with the listeners, give an overview of sources).


1 essay (3500 – 5000 words), submitted by Monday, first teaching week of Hilary Term in which students will apply a theoretical aspect to some of the literature discussed in this course or some literature of their own choice.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1- Introduction

Week 2- Cultural Theories: Genre and Narrative Mode; read Introduction and body chapters of Mikhail Bakhtin’s Rabelais and his World; literature handout (Arnds)

Week 3- Reading Comparative Cultural Theory; Bakhtin, Foucault, Nietzsche (Arnds)

Week 4 - Comparative Literature and Translation Studies: Theorizing Two Related Fields (Cronin)

Week 5 - On the Prehistory of the Novel: A Comparative Approach (Igor Candido): read: M. Bakhtin, From the Prehistory of Novelistic Discourse, in Id., The Dialogic Imagination. Four Essays, ed. by M. Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 41-83; T. Hägg, The Ancient Greek Novel: A Single Model or a Plurality of Forms?, in The Novel, ed. by F. Moretti, vol. I (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2007), 125-155; T. Pavel, The Lives of the Novel. A History (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2015), 1-20; I. Watt, The Rise of the Novel. Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000), 9-34.

Week 6- Theory of the Novel (Candido/Arnds)

Week 7 - Reading week: Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum; Robert L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Bram Stoker, Dracula
Week 8 - Influence and Intertextuality in World Literature: Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum in view of the above cultural theories; handouts Rushdie etc. (Arnds)
Week 9 - Sarah Alyn Stacey: Reading the Renaissance and Beyond
Week 10 - Sarah Alyn Stacey: Reading the Renaissance and Beyond

Week 11 - Identities in Transformation in Literature: A Comparison (Arnds/Leopardi); read Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis and Robert L. Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (read at least the final chapter of this); Bram Stoker, Dracula
Week 12         Student presentations


Course Description for Core Course 2: Literature and.......

For obvious intents and purposes the concept of intertextuality is of heightened interest to comparatists and translators, as we are dealing with dialogues between texts. Intertextual studies, however, threaten to collapse into mere random mushroom hunts for parallels between texts, unless such studies contain another element that gives them glue. This third element in a comparison of texts is the tertium comparationis without which comparative literature cannot exist, and from which literary translations will likewise profit. If we compare Joyce’s Ulysses with Homer’s Odyssey we can do so via mythological patterns or focus on certain motifs or themes that both texts contain. If we compare Richardson’s Clarissa with Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther we may choose to look at the genre of the epistolary novel or other features of the age of sensibility. These examples, however, are still limiting us, since the tertium comparationis stems from literary theory or literature itself. Once we leave literary theory for cultural theory and beyond this for other disciplines, we gain a wider spectrum of possibilities for comparative literature and a deeper understanding of literature for the literary translator. It can therefore be safely ascertained that if they want to be fruitful comparative literature and the art of literary translation have to develop awareness beyond the notion of intertextuality: as part of their hermeneutic motion these two inter-related fields have to interpret literature through the prism of other disciplines. This course will look at literature through various extra-disciplinary lenses and thus try to hone comparatists’ skills in moving between various discourses and their practices.

Weekly Schedule

Week 1- Peter Arnds – Introduction

Week 2- Clodagh Brook – Literature & Film

Week 3- Clodagh Brook – Literature & Film

Week 4 - Brian Brewer – Literature and Economics

Week 5 - Martine Cuypers – Literature and History

Week 6- Martine Cuypers – Literature and History

Week 7 - Reading Week

Week 8- Jennifer Edmond – Literature and the Digital Humanities

Week 9 -Jennifer Edmond – Literature and the Digital Humanities

Week 10- Nicole Basaraba – Narratology and Technology

Week 11 - Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin – Literature & Folklore

Week 12 - Peter Arnds - conclusion student presentations

Learning Objectives

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  • analyse literary texts through the lens of another discipline, i.e., think critically in interdisciplinary ways
  • understand the importance of crossing boundaries of discourses and ways of thinking
  • apply specific theories generated by other disciplines to literary studies
  • research and write an essay (form a hypothesis, structure the essay, think critically about primary and secondary sources and refer to them in footnotes)
  • draw on a range of disciplines from cultural studies that broaden the way we interpret literature
  • understand comparative literature as more than just comparing literature
  • present their ideas for the essay in a coherent way by the end of the semester

Assessment: One essay of 4000 words to be handed in by end of April


Clodagh Brook - Literature and Italian Film


Brian Brewer – Literature and Economics

Brewer, Brian. “From Conquest to Contract: Property, Justice, and the New Economic Empire in Don Quijote, Part One.” Revista de Estuidos Hispánicos 48.1 (2014): 3-24.
---. “The Sterility of Abundance: Marcela and Grisóstomo in the Golden Age.” Artifice and Invention in the Spanish Golden Age. Ed. Stephen Boyd and Terence O’Reilly. London: Legenda, 2014. 30-42.
Graf, E. C. “Sancho Panza’s ‘pro negros que sean, los he de volver balncos o amarillos’ (DQ 1.29) and Juan de Mariana’s De moneta of 1605.” Cervantes 31.2 (2011): 21-49.
Johnson, Carroll B. Cervantes and the Material World. Chicago: U of Illinois, 2000.
Leahy, Chad. “Dineros en Cruzados: The Morisco Expulsion, Numismatic Propaganda, and the Materiality of Ricote’s Coins.”

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin – Literature and Folklore

The following to be updated :

Vladimir Propp, Morphology of the Folktale
Stith Thompson The Folktale
Henry Glassie, Passing the time: folklore and history of an Ulster community
Elliott B.Gose, The world of the Irish wonder tale : an introduction to the study of fairy tales
Georges Denis Zimmermann, The Irish Storyteller
Gearóid Ó Crualaoich, The Book of the Cailleach
Chaucer, The Wife of Bath’s Tale

Martine Cuypers – Literature and History

Introductory Material (all available on Blackboard)
lecture handout introduction
Thucydides, Histories 1.1–22 (Prologue)
Alber, Jan (2005) “Narrativisation” in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, eds. D. Herman, M. Jahn, M.-L. Ryan: 386-7.
White, Hayden (1984) “The Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Theory,” History and Theory 23.1: 1-33.
Cowen, Tyler, “Be suspicious of stories,” TED Talks January 2012, url
Abbott, H. Porter (2008) “Narrative and truth” in The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative. 2nd ed. Cambridge: 145-59.

Further Reading
Herodotus, Histories
Iggers, Georg G. (1997) Historiography in the 20th Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge. Hanover, NH.
Jenkins, Keith (1997) The Postmodern History Reader. London.
Kramer, Lloyd and Maza, Sarah (2006) eds. A Companion to Western Historical Thought. Blackwell.
Munz, Peter (1997) “The Historical Narrative” in Bentley, Michael (ed.) A Companion to Historiography. London: 851-72.
Sahlins, Marshall (1995) How “Natives” Think – About Captain Cook, for Example. Chicago.
White, Hayden (1973) The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore.
White, Hayden (1978) Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism.
White, Hayden (1980/1987) “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality,” Critical Inquiry 7.1: 5-27 (JSTOR); reprinted in The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore 1987.
White, Hayden (2010) The Fiction of Narrative. Esays on history, literature, and theory 1957–2007. Baltimore.
Further suggestions on the lecture handout.

Jennifer Edmond – DH and Literature

Franco Moretti: Conjectures on World Literature
John Guillory: How Scholars Read (attached)
Greg Crane: What Do You Do with a Million Books?

Web resources: 
Matt Jockers' Topic Models:

Nicole Basaraba – Narratology and Technology
Hackman, P. (2011). “I am a Double Agent”: Shelly Jackson’s Patchwork Girl and the persistence of print in the age of hypertext. Contemporary Literature, 52(1), p. 84-107.
Ihlebaek, K.A., and Krumsvik, A.H. (2015). Editorial power and public participation in online newspapers. Journalism,16(4), p. 470-487.
Ryan, Marie-Laure. (1992). The Modes of Narrativity and Their Visual Metaphors. Style, 26 (3). p. 368-387.
Rholetter, Wylene. (2015). Transmedia Storytelling. Research Starters: Education (Online Edition). Accessible at:


Course Description for Moving Between Cultures

This module explores the way in which literature, in thematising travel / movement / border-crossing, also foregrounds the question of how cultures define themselves in comparison to one another. Sometimes the interaction of cultures is brought about by migration, tourism or war; sometimes it is an imaginative act in which unreal other-worlds or afterlives are explored. What is common to both types of movement, however, is that they show us how individual, collective, national identities are negotiated and constructed in moving between self and other, between the native and the foreign. Travelling through time and space, the history and geography of our comings and goings are recast as a paradigm for reading all culture as the product of a comparison.

Requirement for assessment:
Students are expected to submit one essay of between 7,000 and 8,000 words at the end of HT (date to be confirmed).