Faculty of Arts


Reading Across Cultures


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 for postgraduate and doctoral students to key theories of and approaches to the study of literature and writing across cultures and especially in comparative theoretical, social and critical contexts. We explore and test the possibilities, limits and assumptions, not always evident, of various contemporary theories of literature and culture and apply them to the study of literary and cultural texts from many cultures and periods.

Among the topics we investigate from cross-cultural perspectives are: authorship, intertextuality, reader and reception theories, literary translation, postcolonial writing and languages, representations and constructions of gender and sexuality and old and new text "modes".

The seminar begins with a five-week overview of language, semiotics, poetics, narrative and (inter)disciplinarity. We then take up a series of topics related to comparative literary criticism and contexts related to literacies, feminism and digital writing. We walk these theories and critiques through selected texts from around the world.

Seminar topics, readings, presentations and discussions are designed to help you build strong critical reading skills, develop high-level textual and theoretical knowledge and hone a sophisticated understanding of comparative literary and cultural criticism.

We discuss a range of theorists and writers from Europe, the Americas, East and South Asia, North and Central Africa and the Pacific region.

Students are strongly encouraged to bring other literary and theory texts into the seminar discussions. Although all texts are provided in English versions, we pay attention to the original language(s) of the texts and how linguistic forms shape theory and literary discourses.

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.

Availability 2020

Semester 1




Recommended Reading




COMPLIT 709: 30.0 points




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