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C LIT 240 A: Writing in Comparative Literature

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MTWTh 9:10am - 11:20am
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Head shot of Richard Boyechko
Richard Boyechko

Syllabus Description:

This is a short course description for MyPlan. Enrolled students can see the Full Syllabus.

Bong Joon-ho's Bizarre Humor

The South Korean director Bong Joon-ho* has been widely talked about ever since the end of last year, when his Parasite (2019) premiered around the world, and shortly after won four Oscars, including Best Picture. In fact, the film made Academy Awards history for being the first non-English language film to win that coveted award. Even before this boost in international acclaim, however, over the past twenty years Bong had been an acclaimed director in his native country and around the world.

Bong is known for playing fast and loose with genre conventions, combining in his films aspects of genres as diverse as melodrama, horror, social commentary, science fiction, and psychological thriller, among others. One of the unusual elements throughout his films is what people have described as his "bizarre humor" that manages to evoke laughter even in the most unlikely situations. More than anything, in the world frozen by a pandemic that is claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands, Bong's unusual sense of humor offers a way to deal with this bizarre new normal.

In this class, we will attempt to untangle how Bong's uses humor throughout his works, and how we, as audiences, react to his particular talent for joining clashing and contradictory elements into a seamless whole. In addition to Parasite, we will watch a selection of Bong's films, including Okja (2017), The Host (2006), and Memories of Murder (2000). All of these films are completely or mostly in Korean with English subtitles**.

* In Korean names, like in Chinese and Japanese ones, the family name comes first. So Bong Joon-ho might also be referred to as "Mr. Bong."

** If you have a Netflix subscription, Okja (2017) is available there with some dubbing, including English audio description, and subtitles in several languages.

Required Materials

  •  Gerald Graff and Kathy Birkenstein's They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, 4th edition, W.W. Norton & Company, 2018.

    Available from the University Bookstore or Amazon, among other places. You're welcome to get ebook versions from Amazon or the publisher's website. While any edition will do, it would be best to get this latest 4th edition that has an additional chapter. We will not do any "readings" from there, so get the version without readings if it's cheaper.

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: 
April 22, 2020 - 9:12pm