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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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Barbara Krystal

Syllabus Description:

The Blue Humanities: Literature, Film and Science of the Sea

Syllabus Barbara Krystal Comparative Literature 240A Summer 2021.docx 


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The ocean has been cast as “alien” to the human, yet it is the origin of all life and represented in  image, song and narrative. Indeed, water origin myths are prevalent in diverse cultures around the world. We will study the significance of the sea in fictional and factual accounts, incorporating both science and humanities, to work through the many ways the sea is represented as a “heterotopic” space to explore identity, a laboratory, a place to escape, and a place of unknown mystery. 

Through focusing primarily on four texts, we will examine the ethical consequences of exploration, characterizations of ocean creatures and sea monsters, and portraits of ocean as a physical place/space. The sea is history.


Identify themes in literature of the sea to understand how the sea is both real (physical) and metaphorical (imaginative).

Connect narratives to particular historical moments.

Examine how science, literature, and film meet at the crossroads of the ocean, drawing from each other to explore, represent, and narrate the sea.

Evaluate the social history of the sea and exploration


“The Uncanny” by Sigmund Freud

“Monster Theory” by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

“Maritime Culture” by Helen Rozwadowski

“Undersea” by Rachel Carson


Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

“Manuscript Found in a Bottle” by Edgar Allan Poe

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Text and Film)



Prepared Daily Questions for Class Meeting

Weekly blog on readings (Think/Write Micro-Essays Responses)

Specific prompt on one text (Three short papers 2-3 pp.)

Specific Prompt for Comparative Essay (Two Long papers 5- 7 pp.)

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.
Department Requirements Met: 
Pre-req to Declare Literature Major
GE Requirements Met: 
English Composition (C)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
May 20, 2021 - 10:54pm