English and Comparative Literature

Course Listing

English and Comparative Literature

Departmental Representative:
Professor Maura Spiegel
613A Philosophy
212-854-6418
mls37@columbia.edu

Director of Undergraduate Writing:
Nicole B. Wallack
310 Philosophy Hall
212-854-2465
nw2108@columbia.edu

To request a syllabus, please contact the course instructor. You can find contact information for an instructor on the university directory.

CLEN S3208D Literary Impressionism: 1874-1925. 3 points.

This course takes the “impression” as a cue to explore fiction, philosophy, and visual art of the period from roughly 1874, the year of the first Impressionist exhibition, to 1925, well into the Modernist period, in order to understand how and why “impressionism” came to have such central importance for writers, artists, and other thinkers. We will ask how and why this idea developed over time, how it influenced and was influenced by movements in realism and Modernism, and how the idea of the impression continues to influence the arts today. This class will be both international in scope, focusing on works by French, British, and American authors, and interdisciplinary, encompassing works of different literary genres, including the novel, the short story, and the sketch, as well as works of painting, photography, philosophy, psychology, and criticism. Each week will include discussions of numerous paintings of the period, and we will often focus on the relationships between different artistic media. The course will also include field trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Authors to be covered include Zola, Maupassant, Pater, James, Crane, Hemingway, Ford, and Woolf. This course will satisfy the department’s genre requirement for prose fiction.

Summer 2018: CLEN S3208D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
CLEN 3208 001/69724 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
411 Hamilton Hall
Zachary Roberts 3 12

ENGL S1010X University Writing. 3 points.

Facilitates students' entry into the intellectual life of the university by helping them to become more capable and independent academic readers and writers. With its small section size and emphases on critical analysis, revision, collaboration, and research, the course leads students to develop specific skills and general habits of mind important to their future academic success. Students read and discuss a range of contemporary essays, complete regular informal reading and writing exercises, and write four longer papers.

Summer 2018: ENGL S1010X
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 1010 001/21468 M W 1:00pm - 2:35pm
201b Philosophy Hall
Jack Lowery 3 9/14
ENGL 1010 002/28441 T Th 11:00am - 12:35pm
201b Philosophy Hall
Marcus Creaghan 3 12/14
ENGL 1010 003/12996 M W 5:00pm - 6:35pm
201b Philosophy Hall
Alessia Palanti 3 9/14
ENGL 1010 004/83448 T Th 10:00am - 11:35am
402 International Affairs Bldg
Adam Winters 3 6/14

ENGL S3121D Medieval Romance: Beheadings, Magical Underworlds, and Other Marvels. 3 points.

“Romance” originated in twelfth-century France to distinguish narratives written in the vernacular, or romanz, from Latin texts. Yet, romance quickly developed into an expansive and fluid genre of fiction encompassing both knightly, courtly subjects and popular tales for non-aristocratic audiences. This course will examine the sensationalism of courtly tales of beheading and magical underworlds, in which protagonists confront issues of chivalry, romantic love, and the knightly quest. We will see how these tales were rivaled by popular romances with similarly marvelous features including monstrous genealogies and dogs reforming errant knights. Even though romance texts foreshadow the fast-paced modern adventure novel, we will explore how these texts provide more than enduring literary entertainment by examining the conflicts of courtship and marriage, ethical conduct, political authority, national identity, and religious faith therein. Attention to the formal properties of courtly and popular romances will help us consider what constitutes “high” and “low” art, and a range of interdisciplinary approaches that situate medieval romance in the context of art, manuscripts, and literary theory will stimulate discussions of the tremendous and diverse influence of these narratives on culture and thought.

Summer 2018: ENGL S3121D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3121 001/10279 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
309 Hamilton Hall
Gillian Adler 3 3/15

ENGL S3233Q Shakespearean Character on Stage and Page. 3 points.

This course provides an introduction to Shakespeare through a combination of reading his plays and viewing them in performance.  On the one hand, we approach each play as a written, published text: our in-class conversation consist primarily in close analysis of key passages, and, in one class period, we visit Rare Books to examine the earliest printed versions of the plays in light of English Renaissance print technology.  On the other hand, we view performances of each assigned play, including the attendance as a group of at least one Shakespeare production on an NYC stage.  Our semester’s through line is to trace, from his earliest plays to Hamlet, Shakespeare’s remarkable development of the techniques of characterization that have made generations of both playgoers and readers feel that his dramatis personae are so modern, real, human.  We will also devote attention to exploring the value of each play in our present moment and on our local stages.  We read 8 plays in all, including Titus Andronicus, Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet.

Summer 2018: ENGL S3233Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3233 001/60812 M W 1:10pm - 4:00pm
411 Hamilton Hall
Douglas Pfeiffer 3 16/20

ENGL S3237D Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler. 3 points.

“My work requires me to think about how free I can be as an African-American woman writer in my genderized, sexualized, wholly racialized world.” —Toni Morrison
“[Science fiction] is potentially the freest genre in existence.” — Octavia Butler
Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler are two of the foremost Black women’s fiction writers of the latter half of the twentieth-century. In their novels, Morrison and Butler both address questions of race, gender, history, and inequality. Both eventually received critical acclaim, with Morrison winning the Nobel Prize in 1992 and Butler winning the MacArthur “Genius” Grant in 1995, and both have authored novels that reckon with the historical legacy of slavery in the present day.
The two are also a study in contrasts: whereas Morrison specialized in prestigious literary fiction, Butler was classified for most of her career as a writer of pulpy Sci-Fi. Morrison began her career in publishing and then became a writer-in-residence at Princeton. Butler struggled to earn a living for much of her career, initially working temporary jobs in factories and warehouses. While an editor at Random House, Morrison even rejected a manuscript of Butler’s. Morrison sees herself as exploring the condition of Black women in America, while Butler claims: “Do I want to say something central about race? Aside from, ‘Hey we’re here!’?”
Both writers defy categorization. Octavia Butler is known as a writer of science fiction, butKindredcan easily be read as a realist, historical novel. Toni Morrison became famous for her historical fiction, butSong of SolomonandBelovedboth flirt with the supernatural. Over the course of the semester, we’ll think about how where their ideas and sensibilities align and where they diverge. We’ll read the remarkable works of these two women as we think about questions like: What kind of freedom did they believe was possible for Black women in twentieth-century America? Is fiction a space of freedom or of constraint? How does each of these writers think about her craft as an artist? Is there a meaningful difference between science fiction and realist fiction?

Summer 2018: ENGL S3237D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3237 001/71288 T Th 9:00am - 12:10pm
402 Hamilton Hall
Palmer Rampell 3 6/20

ENGL S3273Q American Literature and Culture: Walt Whitman and New York . 3 points.

Walt Whitman was not the first to write about New York.  But he was the first of many to let New York write him.  By age 43, Whitman had composed most of his best poetry, published three editions of Leaves of Grass, and left New York only twice. How did the second son of an unsuccessful farmer, a grammar school dropout and hack writer become America’s greatest poet?  This course offers a response to this perennial mystery of literary scholarship by proposing that “Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son” was indeed a product of his environment.  Coming of age as a writer at the same time the city was emerging as a great metropolis, he received his education and inspiration from New York itself.  Course time is equally divided between discussions of Whitman’s antebellum poetry, journalism, and prose (including the newly recovered Life and Adventures of Jack Engle) in their cultural and geographical contexts, and on-site explorations that retread Whitman’s footsteps through Brooklyn and his beloved Mannahatta.  Experiential learning is further encouraged through assignments based in archives, museums, and at historic sites throughout the city.

Summer 2018: ENGL S3273Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3273 001/77419 T Th 1:00pm - 4:10pm
401 Hamilton Hall
Karen Karbiener 3 15/20

ENGL S3703Q Satire and Sensibility. 3 points.

Groundbreaking novels and verse from early and mid-century—popular, then, enduring still—in which the satirical strain is nuanced by constraint of humor, pathos, and aesthetic criteria, enriching in the main a tragicomic outlook of literary consequence.  Our readings—diversely savage and tender, hilarious and exquisite in derision of vice and folly—comprise the gamut of satirical modalities from invective to irony. We shall examine those and inquire into the inventiveness of literary satire in this period, its perceived liberties and curbs, its favorite targets of scorn and ridicule, and the discourses on religion and politics, sex and romance, melancholy and imagination, learning and moral sentiment in which our authors participated and which came to bear in the skillful tacking of blame and praise. In view of the contemporaneousness of satirical observation, its characteristic bite and value as timely currency, we shall consider the 18th-century satirist’s innovative adaptation of classical and biblical models. Critical and philosophical writings are of the period, only, e.g., by Dryden, Shaftsbury, and Addison; verse genres include ode, epistle, elegy, georgic, mock emulations and hybrids: Finch, Swift, Pope, Gay; our novels are Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Fielding's Tom Jones, Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield, and Sterne's Tristram Shandy.

Summer 2018: ENGL S3703Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3703 001/13546 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
402 Hamilton Hall
Marianne Giordani 3 4/18

ENGL S3915D The Art of the Essay. 3 points.

“Learned we may be with another man's learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”

Michel de Montaigne


 “There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment.” Annie Dillard, The Writing Life 


“Find a subject you care about and which in your heart you feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” Kurt Vonnegut


What makes the essay of personal experience an essay rather than a journal entry? How can one's specific experience transcend the limits of narrative and transmit a deeper meaning to any reader? How can a writer transmit the wisdom gained from personal experience without lecturing her reader? In The Art of the Essay, we explore the answers to these questions by reading personal essays in a variety of different forms. We begin with Michel de Montaigne, the 16th-century philosopher who popularized the personal essay as we know it and famously asked, “What do I know?,” and follow the development of the form as a locus of rigorous self-examination, doubt, persuasion, and provocation. Through close reading of a range of essays from writers including Annie Dillard, Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, and June Jordan, we analyze how voice, form, and evidence work together to create a world of meaning around an author's experience, one that invites readers into conversations that are at once deeply personal and universal in their consequences and implications. 

Summer 2018: ENGL S3915D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 3915 001/71896 T Th 9:00am - 12:10pm
707 Hamilton Hall
Wendy Schor-Haim 3 5/18

ENGL S4401D 18th Century & Romantic Poetry . 3 points.

This course is a study of romantic poetry and poetics but does not approach its subject from the belated perspective of the Victorians or the Moderns. Instead, the famous Romantics of the late 18th and early 19th centuries are viewed proleptically, from the vantage point of early and mid 18th-century poets who established the modern criteria and generated the forms and ideas later ingeniously personalized by the poets we customarily refer to as the Romantics. Indeed, though we shall spend the concluding half of our study with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, our study begins with the neoclassical romanticism of Pope, Thomson, Akenside, the Wartons, Gray, and Goldsmith. As such, our reading entails a study of lyric trends bridging 18th - and 19th-century verse and of related discourses in aesthetic psychology, moral philosophy, experimental religion, natural description, and affective criticism. We shall attend closely to rhetorical and prosodic elements, with a view to characteristic genres (ode, epistle, georgic, epitaph), innovative hybrids and new forms (elegy, the "conversational" poem). Recommended and required readings in prose are of the period and include theoretical and critical writings by our poets.

Summer 2018: ENGL S4401D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 4401 001/26382 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
612 Philosophy Hall
Marianne Giordani 3 6

ENGL S4452Q Comic Theater: From Shakespeare to the New York City Stage. 3 points.

$150= Activities Fee
Fee: Course Fee - 150.00

Why do we still laugh at comic works from nearly 2500 years ago, comedies that have outlived their generations? An examination of the different forms of staged comedy throughout the centuries, beginning with foundational texts from Ancient Greece, especially Aristophanes. We consider how today's playwrights are still building on, and making reference to, primary works from the Western canon. Texts we will read range from Shakespeare, Jonson and Restoration comedies, to Wilde, Beckett, Hansberry, Tennessee Williams, Pinter, and Churchill. We will also cover contemporary work seen on the stages of New York, including short comic plays, stand up, and physical comedy. Attention will be given to comic characters, comic pretense, wit, humor, comedy of errors, comic gestures, comic archetypes, farce, cross-dressing, satiric comedy, comic relief, tragicomedy, romantic comedy, and theatre of the absurd. This course will be of special interest to serious students of comedy. When possible, class outings make use of current New York City productions.

Summer 2018: ENGL S4452Q
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 4452 001/20941 T Th 6:15pm - 9:25pm
313 Hamilton Hall
Jonathan Robinson-Appels 3 12/12

ENGL S4526D Comic Books and Graphic Novels as Literature. 3 points.

In his 1924 book, The Seven Lively Arts, cultural critic Gilbert Seldes wrote, "With those who hold that a comic strip cannot be a work of art I shall not traffic." This course will take a prolonged look at this form of art in order to trace the history of comics and graphic novels in America. Focusing on representative texts that define and redefine the medium, we will learn how to approach comics as a distinct literary and visual form, while familiarizing ourselves with the critical vocabulary of "sequential art." By examining the graphic novel with an eye toward the literary, the course will explore a variety of genres and the ways they deploy conventional literary forms such as allegory, epic, character, setting, symbolism, and metaphor. We will consider how comics resist, represent, and entrench dominant cultural ideologies about power, myth, heroism, humor, adolescence, gender, sexuality, family, poverty, religion, censorship, and the immigrant experience. The course will provide students with the critical tools to read this key vehicle of contemporary creative expression. Readings will include seminal works and newer classics, by Gaiman, Bell, Miller, Moore, Crumb, Bell, Spiegelman, Ware, Derf, and shorter pieces by many others. In addition, we will read selections from texts on graphic narrative theory and comics history, beginning with Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics. Students must attend the first lecture. Instructor permission is required for registration after 5/18.

Summer 2018: ENGL S4526D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 4526 001/17471 M W 5:30pm - 8:40pm
401 Hamilton Hall
Karen Green 3 16

ENGL S4605D Post- 1945 American Literature . 3 points.

This course surveys major works of American fiction, poetry, essays, literary and cultural criticism written since 1945. It will situate the analysis of literature against a historical backdrop that includes such key events as the Holocaust; the atomic bomb; the Beatniks; youth counterculture; the women’s, peace, and Civil Rights movements; the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars; the energy crisis; globalization; the rise of the internet; and the War on Terror.  We will also consider major literary and artistic movements such as postmodernism, the Beats, confessional poetry, minimalism, the New Journalism, and historiographic metafiction.  Lectures will emphasize literature in its cultural/historical context, but will also attend to its formal/aesthetic properties.  

Summer 2018: ENGL S4605D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 4605 001/66459 T Th 1:00pm - 4:10pm
612 Philosophy Hall
Rachel Adams 3 5

ENGL S4930D Made in America: Mafia in Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and The Sopranos. 3 points.

In this course (whose title is taken from the name of the final episode of The Sopranos) we focus on America’s three greatest practitioners of the so-called “Mafia Movie.” In the first half of the course we examine representations of Mafia in the films of Coppola and Scorsese; in the second half, we perform a comprehensive reading of The Sopranos, a serial that redefined not only the gangster genre, but the aesthetic possibilities of television itself. In addition to our close-readings of the primary cinematic texts, we will pay attention to literary, historical, and anthropological sources on Mafia, both in America and in Italy. In the unit on The Sopranos, we will also consider connections to other contemporary representations of American gangsterism, particularly in the medium of television.  Critical avenues privileged will include gender, sexuality, criminal and political economy, poetics of place, internationalism, dialect, plurilingualism and the politics of language, ethnicity and race, diaspora, philosophies of violence, philosophies of power.

Summer 2018: ENGL S4930D
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ENGL 4930 001/16255 M W 1:00pm - 4:10pm
602 Northwest Corner
Stefan Pedatella 3 9/25

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