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C LIT 250 B: Introduction to Comparative Literature: Literature and Culture

Meeting Time: 
MW 3:30pm - 5:20pm
THO 215
Joint Sections: 
Douglas Collins

Syllabus Description:

French 212 A

French Masterworks: Modern in English

Proust and his World

Proust 2.jpg

How I admire Proust,” said Georges Bataille, “for his strategy of discovering the secret of time, not in the Infinite, but in a cup of tea.” A difficult book? Hardly! Modesty as method. It is the naïve, unassuming approach to In Search of Lost Time that alone brings forward the master theme of the masterpiece—a materialism of the insignificant, redemption of the simplest features of everyday experience, necessity of unmediated attention to the most mundane of phenomena, nobility of a democratized access to it. Monument that it is, the theme is the contempt for the monument—the array of its toxic metonymies, sociological, psychological, philosophical.

Reading Proust requires the comparative eye. The enemy was the composer Richard Wagner, virtuoso of mass emotions, the homophobic, anti-Semitic nationalist, to whom Proust opposed models less French than Anglophone--George Eliot, Dickens, Carlyle, William Morris, Emerson, and above all, John Ruskin, whose works he translated into French.

The author will be situated in the historical and sociological context of his day (1871-1922). Issues to be managed—relevance of biography, sexual orientation, the relation of literature to other arts (painting and music), problems posed by translation, etc..

We will read the first two volumes of the novel: Swann’s Way and In the Shadow of young Girls as well as The Hare With Amber Eyes. Taught in English, no prerequisites required. 5 VLPA credits. Counts as an elective towards the French major.


Instructor: Doug Collins

Questions? email


Winter 2019 - SLN 14909 - MW 3:30-5:20pm in ART 317

Jointly Offered with C LIT 250 B - SLN 11864


Catalog Description: 
Study of literature in its relation to culture. Focuses on literature as a cultural institution, directly related to the construction of individual identity and the dissemination and critique of values.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:12pm