Faculty of Arts


Reading Across Cultures

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for COMPLIT 709.


Comparative Literature cultivates reading across linguistic, cultural and geographic boundaries in order to reveal and explore literary phenomena that the exclusive focus on a national literature tends to obscure. This postgraduate seminar offers an advanced introduction to theories of and approaches to the study of literature across cultures. As such it will equip you with an essential critical toolkit for advanced literary and cultural study.

It is the CORE COURSE for postgraduate students in Comparative Literature, but we also warmly welcome students in any discipline which involves critical engagement with text. The course is available in both a 15pt version (COMPLIT 705) and a 30pt version (COMPLIT 709) to assist incorporation into other programmes.

Together, we explore and test the possibilities, potential and limits of various contemporary theories of literature in the study of literary and cultural texts from a wide range of cultures and contexts. Among the topics we investigate via cross-cultural perspectives are: authorship, intertextuality, reader and reception theories, literary translation, postcolonial literature, gender and sexuality.

The seminar begins with a general introduction to language, semiotics, narrative and (inter)disciplinarity. We then take up topics related to comparative literary criticism and apply these theories and critiques to selected texts from around the world.

While the seminar is text and language focused, all texts used in the course are available in English, and knowledge of a second language is not required for those not in the Comparative Literature programme. Since many students who take this seminar bring knowledge of various languages and cultures, the coordinators take great delight in encouraging this knowledge into class discussions.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Mark Amsler

Recommended Reading

Dennis Walder. Literature in the modern world: critical essays and documents, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Literary theory: an anthology, Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2004.

Joseph Childers and Gary Hentzi. The Columbia dictionary of modern literary and cultural criticism, New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.


COMPLIT 709: 30.0 points



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