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C LIT 240 U: Writing In Comparative Literature

Meeting Time: 
MWF 3:30pm - 5:20pm
THO 231
Brad Gerhardt
Brad Gerhardt

Syllabus Description:

Portraiture: Image and Text

            After completing his portrait of Gertrude Stein and upon hearing general criticism of his flat and angular rendering of her face, Pablo Picasso replied, “everybody thinks that she is not at all like her portrait but never mind, in the end she will manage to look just like it.” Stein’s own poetic “portrait” of Picasso likewise met with disapproval for its rejection of representational conventions. But, considered together, how might the two genres of portraiture inform and extend the conversation of representation, further than being pursued in isolation? In CLIT 240 we will investigate conventions and innovations within verbal and visual portraits from throughout the 20th century in order to fully consider the question: what is involved in producing representations of others for artistic purposes? This has both ethical and practical dimensions: the philosophical side which considers the relation of self to other, of knowledge and power, while the more practical side examines how portraiture is constructed as a genre and its particular iterations in photography and literature. We will read narratives from Stein, Robert Musil, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and others, and consider them alongside innovators in portrait photography such as Julia Margaret Cameron, August Sander, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and Cindy Sherman. As a composition course, we will focus on specific elements of the writing process, including analysis, organization, audience, and the comparative method.



Gertrude Stein, Three Lives

Robert Musil, Three Women

James Joyce, Dubliners

Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

Judith Hermann, Summerhouse, Later


Photography Collections:

August Sanders, Antlitz der Zeit

Diane Arbus, New Documents

Richard Avedon, In the American West

Julia Margaret Cameron,

Cindy Sherman, Untitled

Catalog Description: 
Comparative approach to literature and a workshop in writing comparative papers in English. Emphasis on cross-cultural comparison of literary works. Readings in English with an option to read selected texts in the original languages Offered: AWSp.
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
August 4, 2017 - 9:13pm