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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - Common Courses

Undergraduate Course: Comparative Literature in a European and Global Perspective (ORDINARY) (ELCC09001)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of Comparative Literature in a European and global perspective, from the 19th to the 21st century. After an introduction class defining and contextualising the object of study, literary texts written in different European languages (including English) will be analysed and compared in three two-week linguistic units. This will be followed by two weeks of student group presentations, and a conclusion/essay preparation class. All texts studied are available in English, although comparative work where students read primary works in their original languages will also be encouraged whenever possible.
Course description The course will start with an introductory seminar offering an overview of the history and current status of Comparative Literature as an academic discipline. This will be followed by three two-week units, each focusing on literary works originally written in different European languages. Comparison between texts from different periods, genres and styles will be done within each linguistic unit, and across units, via a variety of themes and formal aspects. The next two weeks will be student group presentations, each focusing on two or three literary works chosen by the students, originally written in different languages in the 19th, 20th or 21st century, and which may or may not have been previously studied on the course; the presentations will be followed by a discussion with the class, exploring further the similarities and differences between the texts analysed. The final week of the course will be a conclusion class; it will start with a general discussion on the key issues addressed during the semester, followed by an essay preparation session.
For their oral presentation and their essay, students will be expected to develop a comparative analysis of the literary works discussed, taking into account their historical, cultural and linguistic context, but also their genre and formal features (structure, style, tone, etc.). All texts studied will be available in English, although students will be encouraged to read them in the original languages whenever possible. Students will also be expected to work in cross-linguistic autonomous learning groups.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesStudents should have two years of experience at University level of studying literature in any European language, including English.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  3
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 4, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 30% for the student group presentation. 70% for end of course essay (2000 words).
Feedback Formal feedback will be of two types:

1) After the group presentations, each group will be sent comprehensive feedback on the presentation, particularly designed to help the students to plan for their essay, which will also adopt a comparative structure.

2) Feedback will be given on the essay, in Turnitin.

Informal oral feedback will be given in seminars prior to the group presentations, as the students engage in small group work and class discussion, and during the conclusion/essay preparation class.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Compare and contrast literary works from different linguistic traditions and from different periods
  2. Analyse critically literary texts originally written in different European languages and locate them in their historical, socio-cultural and artistic context
  3. Reflect critically on a variety of concepts of Comparative Literature and their development over time
Reading List
NB: the primary works studied in the three two-week linguistic units will be specified in the course handbook and Learn pages


Apter, Emily S., Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability (New York and London: Verso, 2013)

Hutchinson, Ben, Comparative Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)

Saussy, Haun, ed., Comparative Literature in an Age of Globalization (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 2005)

Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven, and Tutun Mukherjee, eds., Companion to Comparative Literature, World Literatures, and Comparative Cultural Studies (Foundation Books, 2014)


Apter, Emily S., The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006)

Bassnett, Susan, Comparative Literature: A Critical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993)

Bhabha, Homi, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994)

Brown, Catherine, The Art of Comparison: How Novels and Critics Compare (London: Legenda, 2011)

---, lecture "Literature and Form, What is Comparative Literature?", University of Oxford, English Faculty, Trinity Term 2012, podcast «»

---, "What is Comparative Literature?", Comparative Critical Studies, 10.1. (2013), pp. 67-88

Melas, Natalie, All the Difference in the World: Postcoloniality and the Ends of Comparison (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007)

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003)


Apter, Emily S., "Global Translation, The Invention of Comparative Literature, Istanbul, 1933", Critical Inquiry, 29.2 (Winter 2003), pp. 253-81

Berman, Sandra, and Michael Wood, eds, Nation, Language and the Ethics of Translation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006)

Bernheimer, Charles, ed., Comparative Literature in the Age of Multiculturalism (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1995)

Damrosch, David, Natalie Melas, and Mbongiseni Buthelezi, eds, The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature: From the European Enlightenment to the Global Present (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009)

Derrida, Jacques (trans. Eric Prenowitz), "Who or What Is Compared? The Concept of Comparative Literature and the Theoretical Problems of Translation", Discourse, 30.1-2 (Winter-Spring 2008), pp. 22-53

Guillén, Claudio, The Challenge of Comparative Literature (Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard University Press, 1993)

Kadir, Djelal, "To Compare, To World, Two Verbs, One Discipline", The Comparatist, vol. 34 (May 2010), pp. 4-11

Kushner, Eva, The Living Prism: Itineraries in Comparative Literature (Montreal and Ithaca: McGill-Queens University Press, 2001)

Mohan Chandra, ed., Aspects of Comparative Literature: Current Approaches (New Delhi: Reliance Publ., 1989)

Nicholls, Stephen G., and Richard B. Vowles, eds, Comparatists at Work: Studies in Comparative Literature (Waltham, Mass.: Blaisdell Publishing, 1968)

Schulz, Hans Joachim, and Philipp H. Rhein, Comparative Literature: The Early Years, An Anthology of Essays (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1973)

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012)

Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven, Comparative Literature: Theory, Methods, Application (Amsterdam and Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1998)

---, et al., eds, Comparative Literature Now: Theories and Practice (Paris: Honoré Champion, 1999)

Weisstein, Ulrich, Comparative Literature and Literary Theory: Survey and Introduction, trans. William Riggan in collaboration with the author (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1973)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1) An ability to compare and contrast literary works from different European traditions.

2) The ability to analyse critically a variety of texts by making reference to their form and content, including their national, historical, cultural, aesthetic and linguistic background.

3) Presentational and academic writing skills.
KeywordsComparative Literature,European artistic traditions and languages from the 19th to the 21st century
Course organiserDr Fabien Arribert-Narce
Tel: (0131 6)50 8414
Course secretaryMrs Alexandra Marie Aedo Mezeul
Tel: (0131 6)50 3702
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