Courses

Below you find the course descriptions of Comparative Literary Studies. The programme consists of compulsory courses, electives (including a possible internship or study abroad), and a Master's thesis. Read more about the curriculum and our teaching and research environment, including our teaching staff.

Compulsory

Core Theories and Current Debates (compulsory)

This course introduces students to the core theories and approaches of Comparative Literature and examines the most important on-going debates within the field. As such, it provides a foundation for the more specialized courses that follow. An emphasis is placed on the question of comparison as a method and as an object of study: in short, what is the comparative in Comparative Literature and how is it studied? What are the theoretical, methodological, practical, ethical and political implications of comparison? The course will situate current and ongoing debates within the field in their historical context.

Career orientation:
This course serves as preparation for a PhD program in the humanities as well as non-academic careers paths by training students in the following transferable skills: academic and critical thinking and writing, discourse analysis, communication skills, presentation skills, peer review, advanced language skills.

Humanities Today (compulsory)

In Humanities Today, students from different ICON research master programs are invited to explore the current state of the Humanities, the questions, concepts, and methodologies that animate our respective fields. What are some of the common concerns and interests among Humanities disciplines? What are some of the important differences? What can be gained from inter-disciplinary dialogue within the Humanities, and what are some of the major obstacles? What can we learn about our own field by engaging in conversation with students and scholars from other, related fields? Each week is structured around a plenary lecture by one of the core faculty members in the participating RMA programs. In preparation for the lecture we will discuss, in interdisciplinary groups, a series of key texts.

Career orientation:
Students are familiarized with contemporary research, which is helpful for shaping their future research profile on the academic job market and beyond.

Thinking Literature: Creative Forms of Knowledge (compulsory)

This seminar focuses on the comparative study of literature as a site for the production of knowledge and ways of being in the world. How does literature relate to other discourses (e.g. politics, philosophy, law) and other forms of knowledge (e.g. in the social and natural sciences)? And what are the tools and concepts available for studying this relationship? Furthermore, this seminar will reflect on literature and literary studies as distinct yet interrelated forms of knowledge production.

In addition to an overview of the critical theory of (inter-)discursivity, the seminar also introduces students to current trends with literary studies that exemplify its interdiscursive nature (e.g., ecocriticism, posthumanism, animal studies).

This seminar is a compulsory part of the Research MA Comparative Literary Studies; and is an elective for students in the following Research master programmes: Gender Studies; Media and Performance; Religious Studies .

Career orientation
This course serves as preparation for a PhD program in the Humanities, as well as non-academic careers, by training students in the following transferable skills: critical thinking and writing, discourse analysis, communication and presentation skills, peer-review and advanced language skills.

Cultural Memory and Citizenship (compulsory)

The interdisciplinaryfield of cultural memory studies brings together researchers with a scholarly interest in the cultural production of memory and its role in shaping collective identities and values. In this seminar, we survey the most recent theoretical literature on these issues and examine the changing memory cultures of the modern period against the background of war and societal change.

How do cultural memory and collective identity work together? How does commemoration shape notions of citizenship, of who 'belongs' and who doesn't? How do remembering and forgetting shape ideas about the future? How do new counter-memory narratives emerge in society? What role do the arts play in these processes? Our seminar will provide an introduction to theoretical debates and current research in the interdisciplinary field of cultural memory studies. Our approach will be comparative and multimedial. While paying special attention to literature, we will look at creative writing alongside and in interaction with the other media and artistic practices through which the past is publicly remembered (monuments, movies, rituals, museums, family albums).

Career orientation:
This course contributes to the students preparation for a PhD training; it also offers training in transferable skills that are valuable in non-academic careers (critical writing, comparative analysis of a broad range of cultural media; data collection and management).

Literature Across Cultures: Transculturality and New Comparativism (compulsory)

This course studies literature as a transnational phenomenon that crosses and helps re-define and shift cultural borders. Students gain theoretical, historical, and methodological insights with respect to the study of the role of literature, both as it is written and read, and as a mediator between cultures. The areas covered include exchanges within the international fields of European, American, African and Asian cultures and literature. Among issues to be addressed will be the concepts and methodolocial challenges of comparison, recent debates around new comparativism, planetarity and world literature; processes of cultural transfer and translation; transnational and transcultural poetics; as well as postcolonial perspectives. Students will be expected to engage actively in the discussions on all these issues and then specialize in one while preparing the final assignment. This seminar is a compulsory part of the Research MA Comparative Literary Studies.

Career orientation
This course serves as preparation for a PhD program in the Humanities, as well as for non-academic careers, by offering training in the following transferable skills: conducting and planning research, critical thinking and writing, communication and presentation skills.

Media Materialities (compulsory)

Concepts such as materiality, mediality and intermediality are widely circulated, and the critical energy which propels them can be attributed to an increasing consciousness of the degree to which modern culture has been embedded in a range of different technologies; and specifically in the form of those media forms through which the specifically human has materialised over the last century or so.

This course aims to provide a basic knowledge of the fundamental connections between literature and the technologies that have framed and disseminated it, from the Enlightenment onwards. Examining a variety of media, ancient and modern, in relation to texuality, the module explores those moments of transition when technologies were not yet defined in relation to institutions of literature.

Travelling beyond the mere history of cultural and technological innovations, the course considers how the devices and desires of communication can frame a collective idea of public and private; examines the proposition that human interaction and identity formation thus cannot be thought independently of surrounding media and technology. and suggests how such conceptions inform our understanding of the materialisations of the 'Real' .

This seminar is a compulsory part of the Research MA Comparative Literary Studies; and is an elective for students in the following Research master programmes: Gender Studies; Media and Performance; Religious Studies.

Career orientation
Specifically: students are made aware of the professionalisation of culture, both in theory and practice. Generally: this course serves as preparation for a PhD program in the Humanities as well as for non-academic careers, by training the following transferable skills: critical thinking and writing, discourse analysis, peer-review and advanced language skills.

Distant Reading. Digital Tools and Textual Analysis (compulsory)

In recent years new digital analytic techniques have generated much interest as well as discussions among literary scholars. The concept ‘Distant Reading’, introduced by Franco Moretti served as a catalyst of these discussions and his approach is the starting point of this course. What are the techniques that comprise ‘Distant Reading’, and what are the analytic powers ascribed to these techniques? These techniques have been applied in worldwide research, not only conducted by literary scholars but also by cultural historians and media scholars. These disciplines for instance intersect in research into conceptual shifts in textual cultures, or in research into shifts in stylistic trends in textual styles. This course is therefore open not only for student in the RMA's Comparative Literary Studies and ‘Nederlandse literatuur en cultuur’, but also for those students from other RMA programs interested in new ways of analysing forms of textual cultures. We will not only discuss these topics in theory, but enhance the students' learning by offering them training in relevant tools and techniques currently used in data and text analysis.

Career orientation
This Distant Reading course will offer students training in the most prominent tools and techniques in data and text analysis that are currently used. Together with a critical reflection on this tools, this will prepare them for computational work outside and inside academia.

Masterclasses: Work in Progress (compulsory)

The module 'Masterclasses' provides a follow-up to the four thematic seminars offered in Block 1 (Thinking Literature) and Block 2 (Literature Across Cultures; Media Materialities; Cultural Memory). Students participate in two parallel projects, each of which pertains to a different theme. In each case, the aim is to pursue further one of the central themes of the CLS programme in the form of a collaborative research project that is directly related to the ongoing research of one of the senior members of staff. More detailed information about the range of projects on offer will be available in block 2.

Career orientation
This course serves as preparation for a PhD program in the humanities by offering hands-on training in research. It also helps prepare for non-academic career paths by training students in transferable skills that will be broadly useful: conducting and planning research, project management and collaboration. The course will also help students decide if they would themselves like to become professional researchers in the long term.

Research Lab: Tools, Methods, Design (compulsory)

This course focuses on developing the methodological and practical skills relating to the conduct of research. Students will be introduced to various key methodologies for the study of comparative literature, including close reading, discourse analysis, reception analysis, and archival research. Students will learn to think critically about their own methods and to match the appropriate methodologies to the kinds of questions that their research interests generate.

Career orientation
The research lab prepares students to become skilled and efficient researchers. It prepares students for a PhD program, but also for alternative career paths, by focusing on the following transferable skills: conducting research, organizing and managing material, familiarity with different methods, reflecting critically on methods, close reading, discourse analysis, reception analysis, archival research, peer review, advanced language skills.

Research MA Thesis Comparative Literary Studies and Thesis Lab (compulsory)

The RMA thesis is a scholarly text in which you contribute, on the basis of independent research, to a debate within the discipline. It should be structured around a central research question (set out in the introduction) to which it provides an answer (set out in the conclusion).

The central research question as well as its relevance to scholarly discussions should be clearly formulated at the beginning. The main body of the thesis should show how you went about answering this question, why you proceeded the way you did, and what your findings were. In your conclusion you should analyze your findings in the light of your original question and explain the broader implications of your conclusions. The thesis should be written in correct and clear English.

The thesis will normally be around 30,000 words long and may be no longer than 40, 000 words (including notes and bibliography).

Students are expected to attend the Thesis Lab in preparation for writing their thesis. This takes the form of a series of interactive sessions whichfocus on the mechanics of academic writing: from planning, formulating and framing an argument, to positioning oneself within an existing discourse or debate. Peer-review on work in progress forms a major part of the labs. The labs conclude with a final conference; participation in the final conference is also mandatory.

Career orientation
The MA thesis is crucial in preparing students for a PhD programme, but also for alternative career paths, by offering training in the following transferable skills: conducting independent research, academic and critical thinking and writing, data collection, project management, peer review and advanced language skills.

Electives offered by the programme

Aesthetics of the Posthuman

The posthumanist turn in the Humanities encompasses a variety of fields and approaches, all of which are concerned with decentering the human as the default unmarked subject position within the Humanities. This has profound implications for the study of literature and other forms of artistic expression. What are the challenges and opportunities that posthumanist theories present for the study of literature, aesthetics, and poetics? Who is the subject and who or what is the object of knowledge and representation? The precise focus will vary from year to year, but will include one or more of the following: eco-criticism, animal studies, disability studies.

This module is offered as an elective by Comparative Literary Studies. It may be followed by RMA students in the following programmes: Comparative Literary Studies, Gender; Media and Performance, Religious Studies.

Career orientation
This course serves as preparation for a PhD program in the humanities, as well as non-academic careers by training students in the following transferrable skills: conducting and planning research, critical thinking and writing, discourse analysis, communication and presentation skills, peer-review and advanced language skills.

Study Abroad / Across the Border

In order to apply for an exchange, you have to prepare a study plan which must be approved by the programme coordinator of your Master programme.
You should be aware that application for studying abroad is a complicated and time-consuming process and that you should start the process on time.

For more information:
http://students.uu.nl/en/academics/study-abroad
http://students.uu.nl/en/academics/study-abroad/faculty-information/humanities

Internship RMA Comparative Literary Studies

An internship allows a student to orientate themselves towards possible professions and to participate in the labour market. During the internship, the student should apply knowledge and competences acquired during previous academic courses. The internship is preferably a placement at an institution or company outside of the department. Because it is a RMA internship, it should involve original research, to be reported in a research report. The actual activities involved in the internship should be described in the internship plan, which is to be written before the start of the internship. This plan should include a description of the internship’s objective; the student’s final product; and learning objectives, along with a description of the content and duration of the internship. When preparing for an internship, the student should get in touch with a supervisor of his/her choice well in advance.
Note: only accessible to students that fit the specific entry requirements for this course’s RMA programme.

Topics in Literary Research A

The aim of the course is to allow students to carry out independent study on a theme of their choice within the area of expertise of one of the CLS faculty members who then functions as supervisor. Students wishing to follow the module should contact the faculty member with whom they wish to work at least three months in advance so as to be sure of his/her availability; once an arrangement has been made, the student informs the course coordinator. At the beginning of the block, student and supervisor set up a plan outlining the scope and aims of the tutorial, and make arrangements about deadlines, meetings, assignments and mode of assessment.

Career orientation
Both in terms of the content and the research skills involved, this module prepares students for PhD training; in addition it offers transferable skills (organisation, data collection and analysis, writing) that are also valuable in non-academic careers.

Topics in Literary Research B

The aim of this tutorial module is to allow students to carry out independent study on a theme of their choice within the area of expertise of one of the CLS faculty members who then functions as supervisor. Students wishing to follow the module should contact the faculty member with whom they wish to work at least three months in advance so as to be sure of his/her availability; once an arrangement has been made, the student informs the programme coordinator. At the beginning of the block, student and supervisor set up a plan outlining the scope and aims of the tutorial, and make arrangements about deadlines, meetings assignments and mode of assessment.

Career orientation
Both in terms of the content and the research skills involved, this module prepares students for PhD training; in addition it offers transferable skills (organisation, data collection and analysis, writing) that are also valuable in non-academic careers.

Electives offered by related programmes

Contemporary Cultural Theory

In this course, recent developments in cultural theory (used here as an umbrella term for the fields of feminist, queer, postcolonial, critical race, posthuman(ist) and (new) materialist perspectives) are explored by reading key texts that are crucial to what can be called an inspiration to the 'new humanities'. New materialism, critical and queer (post)humanisms, non-philosophy, and affect theory are just some of those currents at the forefront of this re-inscription of the humanities today that may be studied in this class each year. The course will select its text corpus in attunement with emerging theoretico-discursive developments, thereby providing a focused engagement with the subject of the 'new humanities' that speaks to a broad audience of cultural studies students. Without giving overviews or summaries, students in this class are asked to be part of cutting-edge scholarship by reading texts that matter 'today'. They are invited to 'do' the theory proposed in them by exposing themselves to the task of what Foucault once called a 'critical ontology of ourselves'.

Career orientation:
The course provides students with cutting-edge intellectual debates in the broad field of Cultural Studies, with specific focus on Gender Studies discussions. Students are thereby familiarized with very contemporary research, which is helpful for shaping their future research profile on the academic job market and beyond.

This course is for students in the RMA Gender Studies and GEMMA; students from other MA programmes should check with the course coordinator before enrolling. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Rules of Play

In contemporary media and culture, play is no longer an activity limited to games. Rather, it has become a key characteristic of the use of social media, apps, mobile technology, educational software and so on. Through their design, these media technologies invite, even urge, users to participate playfully. The process of play, however, also involves practices which defy, break, transgress or in other ways negotiate or appropriate the rules of play. This results not just in new media practices but also in new forms of collaboration as well as potential contention between users, and between users and producers. To understand play and in particular counterplay as essential aspects of contemporary media culture, in this course we aim to examine how these practices challenge the rules in playful participatory media like games in all its forms but also as well as gamified media in a more general sense. We will engage with theory and methods from the interdisciplinary field of game studies to study and conceptualize play and counterplay in order to better understand the playful nature of our increasingly ludic media and contemporary cultural practices. Through this focus, we aim to expose underlying assumptions and ideologies of contemporary playful media culture and see how deviant play might provide more control and agency over these media.

This course is for students in the RMA programmes in the Humanities and the EFMS programme. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Ecologies of Curation

Ecologies of curation entails the trans- and interdisciplinary study of the interaction between spectators, artworks/performances and the spatial, social and media environments wherein the objects and acts are staged, produced, situated. Taking the etymological roots of curating as ‘care-taking’ into account, we will explore how curators can and should respond to transformational practices that increasingly cross and bend institutional borders. How does curating produce the type of ecologies in which media, contemporary art and performance projects can actually perform their potential, and where acts of mediation, interfacing or staging function as accelerators of the perceptual and performative strategies that are embedded in these works? Next to investigating current trends in discourse in relation to their historical context, we will jointly visit and critically analyse several curatorial projects, addressing media, contemporary art and performance works but with a focus on trans- and cross-disciplinary approaches. Based on these various strands of research, students write a critical evaluation of a curatorial project of their own choosing, hereby actively addressing the relation between curation and art ecologies.

Career orientation:
Knowledge of curation in the field of media, art and performance. Knowledge of the curatorial profession and ways of working as well as curatorial strategies, approaches and methodologies. Knowledge of curatorial networks and institutional ways of working within several ecologies of curation.

This course is for students in the RMA programmes in the Humanities and the EFMS programme. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Issues in Postcoloniality

The seminar aims to broaden understandings of key “issues” pertinent to postcolonial theory today. It engages with a range of themes and topics (e.g., gendered conflict zones, transnational migration, public intellectuals, cinema and visual culture, environmentalism, humanitarianism, social networks and digital identities among others) that are at the chore of our twentieth-first century. We will deal with ‘issues’ related to postcolonial critique, transnational feminist theories, migration and conflict studies, cinema and visual culture, digital media, and cultural theory, amongst other fields. In doing so we will be especially attentive to how race, ethnicity, diaspora, gender and sexuality are represented and conveyed in the face of colonial history and how they continue to structure and inform understandings of postcolonialism today.

Career orientation:
This course directly engages with political, social, cultural, and theoretical issues relevant to a wide array of professional fields. Students learn to apply concrete case studies that effectively bridge academia, activism, and current events, thereby developing skills that can be applied to future professional endeavors, such as work in NGOs, governmental bodies, or academic/research institutions.

This course is for students in the RMA GS, CLS, MAP, RS and GEMMA. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Piety and Violence

This course focuses on the relation between piety and violence or, more specifically, on the connection between these two concepts in Islam. Violence, in the sense of causing physical harm to others through deliberate and conscious acts, can take numerous forms and, more importantly for this course, can be directed at numerous targets: violence against the outside ‘unbelievers’, inside ‘unbelievers’ (apostates), combatants, civilians, women and children, abject subjects (such as homosexuals), as well as material objects (iconoclasm). This course focuses on the concept of “jihad” in Islam: what does it mean, when is it justified and against whom may it be used? As such, this course gives us insight into the question to what extent religious (Islamic) piety causes, inspires, aids or, conversely, limits and hampers violence.

Religion and Secularism: Postsecular Perspectives

Central in the course is the idea that the Western secularization thesis - which considers the privatization and decline of religion an inevitable consequence of ‘modernization’ - fails to explain important social developments such as the resurgence and diversification of religious traditions and new forms of religiosities in Western societies. To investigate the role of religion and secularism in current Western societies, we will read different interpretations of the secular and secularism and discuss the changing scenery of religion (including practices, affiliations, faith-based activities and organizations, and new spiritual movements) in contemporary societies. In this context we will also discuss public perceptions of religion in modern, so-called secular, societies. Students will learn about the notion of the postsecular as an alternative way of grasping the relationship between religion and secularism. We will read various interpretations of the postsecular and will discuss critiques of this concept. The course explores these issues related to the relationship between religion and secularism and the so-called postsecular through multidisciplinary reading, including postcolonial and gender critical approaches.

Career orientation:
This course brings together cutting edge critical theory with public debates about religion and secularism in current Western societies. Students will thus get familiar with the most recent literature about these topics and learn to apply this literature to current debates in the public sphere. They will develop skills to critically analyse and reflect on current discourses about religion and secularism, which they can directly apply in their professional life.

This course is for students in the RMA GS, CLS, MAP, RS and GEMMA. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Urban Interfaces

This course actively teams up with ongoing research of MCW's research group [urban interfaces]. [urban interfaces] investigates urban transformations and the role of mobile and locational art, media and performance in urban contexts (see https://urbaninterfaces.sites.uu.nl)

Since the beginning of the 20th century, cultural researchers have been concerned with how transport and communication technologies, rapid urbanization and massive social upheavals impact social mobility, civic engagement and modes of belonging. Today, globalization, the spread of information technologies in the urban domain, and the debate on participatory culture and civic engagement spur a further mobilization of urban culture, identity and publics. Both scholars as well as artists and designers enquire into how urban spaces invite collaborative and playful practices of resistance, appropriation and/or engagement. By productively exploring mutual similarities and differences in concerns, methods, concepts, and skills, [urban interfaces] seeks to investigate urban transformations in a methodologically innovative manner.

Students will develop their own research in relation to current urban media, art and/or performance projects. In the course the potentials of collaborative research and of crossdisciplinary methodologies will be explored. The course includes a two-day workshop in which students work in teams on an assignment for critical design.

Career orientation:
The course actively engages students in ongoing research projects of the [urban interfaces] research group and current urban media, art and performance projects; students get acquainted with interdisciplinary approaches and crossdisciplinary collaborations with researchers, artists and designers relevant to the professional field of media, art and performance, and current cultural (urban) dynamics. The course also includes a two-day workshop in which students work in teams on an assignment for critical design.

This course is for students in the RMA programmes in the Humanities and the EFMS programme; students from other M.A. programmes should check with the course coordinator before enrolling. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Corporeal Literacy

In this course, we will focus on movement and gesture as aspects of how we are corporeally literate that have for a long time been neglected in accounts of embodied meaning making but are currently gaining more prominence as the result of technological developments (movement becoming more and more part of what can be detected and shared by media as well as of ways of using media and interacting with them) and also the emergence of embodied, embedded and enactive understandings of perception and cognition. During the meetings we will discuss a panorama of historical and contemporary approaches to movement and gesture in relation to questions of (among others) affect, emotion, experience, spatiality, and memory. Students are invited to explore the potential of these readings for the analysis of encounters with objects, events and situations of different kinds.

Career orientation:
The course trains skills in critical reading and analysis of media, art and performance objects and allows students to develop rhetorical argumentation, which can be applied to a variety of professional fields (cultural institutions, academia, education, etc.).
Students also practice the skill of writing a response to a text/argumentation.

This course is for students in the RMA programmes in the Humanities and the EFMS programme; students from other MA programmes should check with the course coordinator before enrolling. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

The Body in Feminist Theory and Practice

This course familiarizes students with conceptual and theoretical approaches to analyzing the body, embodiment, and the embodied subject through its focus on the place of the corporeal in various interdisciplinary contexts (e.g., queer theory, visual studies, poststructuralist theory, affect theory, postcolonial studies). In approaching these thematics, the course will engage with a variety of different media, including literature, film, performance, and art. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on considerations of the body as a surface of inscription, as an object of representation, as the location of perception, as a site of affect, as a performative agent, and as a site of resistance. With a particular focus on queer and trans sexualities and genders, the course will be especially attuned to problematizing and destabilizing concepts of normality and abnormality. In addition, methodological concerns of doing research on the body from a feminist and queer critical perspective will be outlined through discussions and interrogations of the ways in which our own embodiment as researchers impinges on the work we do.

Career orientation:
This course allows students to develop important skills in critical analysis and rhetorical argumentation, which can then be applied to a variety of professional fields (e.g., media, politics, policy, academia, NGOs, etc.).

This course is for students in the RMA GS, CLS, MAP, RS and GEMMA. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. You do not have to contact the Programme coordinator by yourself.

Research School I

At the beginning of their programme, RMA students are required to register for the Research School of their choice. It is always possible (subject to availability) to follow courses and seminars at other Research Schools.

Research School II

At the beginning of their programme, RMA students are required to register for the Research School of their choice. It is always possible (subject to availability) to follow courses and seminars at other Research Schools.