Graduate Seminars 2015-16

Please find below the exciting list of our graduate seminars and new tutorials for the year, including seminars for our French- and German tracks students. Check the web sites of other departments for areas of interest to you, and work out your schedule with the Director of Graduate Studies prior to meeting with her. It is best to identify several possibilities in regards to your scholarly interests and fields examinations.
The following CLIT seminars count toward the Graduate Emphasis in Global Studies: CLIT210 (Fall 2015), CLIT 260; CLIT 200 with Prof. Jullien (winter 2016). The following CLIT seminars count toward the Graduate Emphasis in Translation Studies: CLIT210 (Fall 2015);  CLIT 260 (Fall 2015); CLIT 200 with Prof. Jullien and CLIT200 with Prof. White. 

Fall 2015

Comparative Literature 200/Cross-listed with GERM210: Franz Kafka

Prof. Wolf Kittler
Thursday, 12:30-3:20pm, Phelps 6206C

The seminar will give a general overview over of Kafka’s work with special attention to the relation between animals, humans, and machines, topics closely related to a conference on “Metamorphosis: Animal, Human, Armor,” to be held at UCSB on December 3-5, 2015. Because all the students are not expected to be proficient in German, readings will be based on English translations, available at the UCEN bookstore. But students who do read German are strongly encouraged to read the texts in the original, in the best case in the critical edition of Kafka’s works by Roland Reuss and Peter Staengele, which is much better than the one by Malcolm Pasley et al. Both editions as well as earlier ones are available in our library.

CLIT 210. Proseminar in Comparative Literature

Prof. Catherine Nesci
Monday: 1:15-4:00pm, Phelps 6206C

Reading Comparatively: Old and New Questions in “Comparative” Literature  What does it mean to read and study literatures and cultures from comparative perspectives, across geographical and linguistic boundaries, through wide historical periods, along other print or visual media? In this pro-seminar in Comparative Literature, we will pursue this multi-pronged question and address the tools and goals of comparative literature as an evolving discipline (or indiscipline), from the early nineteenth century to the present. We will discuss seminal essays and theoretical works that have shaped and are currently reshaping “comparative literature” and “world literature” from Western as well as non-Western vantage points. We will also read the last two reports on the state of the discipline prepared by the American Comparative Literature Association, and examine issues pertaining to the material conditions and interpretive practices of literary inquiries in the era of globalization and digitization.

Proseminar Objectives

This seminar will allow students to examine and assess the key concepts, themes, and debates that have shaped the evolving fields of Comparative Literature and the literary humanities in the western world. It will also provide students with opportunities for professional training in the form of writing, formal presentations, revision of written work, and scholarly dialogues.

Comparative Literature 260: Literary Translation

Prof. Jill Levine Tuesday, 3:30-6:20pm, Phelps 6206C

We will study central issues of translation studies including  translation as a domesticating or foreignizing practice; the original  as "work-in-progress"; the history of diverse cultural  /national/diachronic historical views toward translation; the  challenge of transculturality: transposing colloquial speech, regional  and cultural allusions, language-bound poetic forms; ideological  perspectives on appropriation and reception.


Winter 2016

CLIT200: The Arabian Nights and World Literature

Tuesday 4-6:50 pm
Instructor: Professor Jullien
This seminar looks at The 1001 Nights as a global phenomenon and a  literary paradox: a book born in the East yet received, transformed  and made famous in the West, a book without boundaries, identifiable author, or single text, consisting of an ever-growing number of  dramatically different translations; a book that epitomized Western  fantasies about the East yet decisively molded the West's politics,  literature and culture. Issues discussed include: History of the text  and its globalization at the hand of its translators. The framing  device and the narrative cycles. Translations, mistranslations,  retranslations. The making of a world literature classic. The Nights  and postmodernism: Jorge Luis Borges and the book without an author.  Western reception of the Nights: the Nights and Orientalism. The  Nights and political thought: despotism and reform; feminism in the  Nights.

Comp. Lit. 279: Contemporary Literary and Critical Theory: Thinking Violence, Thinking War

Wednesday, 12:30- 3:20 Phelps 6206C.

Instructor: Professor Elisabeth Weber We will study texts by philosophers and theorists from the 20th and 21st century that reflect on trauma, violence, war, terror. Authors will include Judith Butler, Cathy Caruth, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy, Arundhati Roy, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Cornell West, Slavoj Žižek. We will also discuss some seminal texts that have informed the work of those thinkers, such as essays by Walter Benjamin, Sigmund Freud, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Lacan, Emmanuel Levinas. On January 20, Susan Buck-Morss will visit the seminar. Towards the end of the quarter, Cathy Caruth will be our guest. Readings and discussions in English. Two readers will be made available, one with the texts in their original language, the other with the English translations. Even if you do not know the original languages, it will be helpful to have both readers, as we will work closely with the translations and will need the original to do so. For questions, please contact Elisabeth Weber: A copy of the syllabus is available in the download area below.

Professor David White will cross-list his Religious Studies seminar on Hindu Epics.

Professor Nesci will teach CLIT595, Doctoral Colloquium, a 1-unit seminar to help students undertake more efficiently the various for preparing their field examinations, establishing committees, advancing to candidacy and writing their prospectus, and writing the dissertation. The seminar will start on February 3, 2016. Session 1: Fields and Doctoral Examinations; Session 2: Surveying a Field and Determining a Topic; Session 3: Surveying a Field and Establishing a Reading List; Session 4: Creating an Exam Committee and Writing the Examination; Session 5: Publishing: 1. Book Reviews.

In addition to CLIT 596 and Clit 597, our tutorials also include every quarter: C LIT 592. Academic Presentation and Writing in World Literature, a tutorial that helps students focus on presentations at scholarly meetings and writing for publication in scholarly journals in comparative/world literature. The two formats include Individualized meetings or small-group workshop.


Spring 2016

Kade Professor Armin Schäfer will teach a seminar entitled Literature and Science, with enhancement sessions in German.
This seminar examines relations of literature and science in Western literature from the eighteenth century to the 1970s. The methodology will combine close readings of literary texts with reconstructions of epistemological profiles and concepts of knowledge. The sessions will embed the analysis of literary texts into a broad methodological discussion concerning gender and the role and function of rhetoric, narrative, and media. This seminar will also provide the opportunity to try out discourse analysis and German media theory, as well as philosophical perspectives. All texts will be available in English translation. Occasionally, we will also consult the original texts. A Reader will be available in due time. Session topics include:

1. Introduction: Basic Concepts and New Perspectives in Literary Theory and the History of Science; 2. Experiments in Science and Literature (H.-J. Rheinberger, Goethe); 3. Goethe’s Morphology (Goethe, Selected Writings); 4. Optics and Physiology (Goethe, Theory of Colors); 5. "Techniques of the Observer" (J. Crary): Adalberts Stifter’s Stories; 6. Herman Melville’s Cetolgy (Excerpts from Moby-Dick); 7. Case histories in Literature and Psychoanalysis: Arthur Schnitzler and Sigmund Freud; 8. Literature, Madness, Psychiatry I: Trauma and War in Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz; 9. Literature, Madness, Psychiatry II: Paranoia and War in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow; 10. Final discussion. Other suggestions are, however, welcome! Please approach me via email (, if you wish to make a proposal for a different topic.

Professor Nesci will teach CLIT595, Doctoral Colloquium: Session 6: What is a Dissertation? Session 7: How to Create a Doctoral Committee? Session 8: Preparing the Prospectus; Creating a Reading List; Session 9: Writing the Dissertation: Sessions 10: Publishing. 2. Articles.


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