Comparative Literature 703 (Fall 2022)

Critical approaches to the written and especially printed text are the topic of this course. Transitions to and from the printed word—from speech to writing, from print to digital media—are its conceptual focus. The course addresses three distinct strands in literary study: deconstruction, the history of the book, and the digital humanities. Reading selections taken from these different methods of literary study are intended to highlight the connections between them that are emerging as new trends in contemporary critical practice. Specifically, the course explores the shared emphasis on writing and print in deconstructionist theory, which is the subject of the first third of the course, and the history of the book, which is our focus in the second section of the course. The final section of the course shifts from theories of print to those of digital media and is grounded in a study of paratexts (such as footnotes, glosses, prefaces, etc.) that will unite the three strands of the course. Printed materials from UofSC’s Irvin Dept of Rare Books and Special Collections will serve as test cases for class discussions and subjects of student presentations. In addition to engaging in class discussion, students will be required to make two presentations and write a final paper.