Comparative Literature & English

The American University of Paris


Students & Faculty

CL senior Audrey Michels tweets Martial

MartialAs part of her work for Professor Wildberger’s class, CL3017: Imperial Rome – Philosophy, Literature, and Society, CL senior Audrey Michels has been tweeting aphoristic applications of Roman writer Martial’s epigrams. The results are brilliant, and well worth a read and a re-tweet.


New music from Comparative Literature alumni: Wolkoff, Tacoma Narrows, The Other Band on Earth

15Avril-Wolkoff-WithoutShameAlbumArtThis week saw the release of Without Shame, the first album by Wolkoff (Joanie Wolkoff, CL, 2005); there are really interesting videos of The Homecoming (also featuring AUP alumnus, Ken Peyser), and While You Still Can. Or look out for live events.

That’s the electro-pop / dance side of the Comparative Literature diaspora. Cheney Munson (CL, 2006) fronts Tacoma Narrows, representing the ‘big city country-folk bluegrass’ wing of the department. Continue reading “New music from Comparative Literature alumni: Wolkoff, Tacoma Narrows, The Other Band on Earth”

Roy Rosenstein writes about teaching Dante in September 2001

DanteRoy Rosenstein, senior faculty member in the department, was teaching a course on Dante on Tuesday 11 September 2001. The class had just entered its first understanding of Dante’s hell when it was interrupted by news of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Over the years since, Roy has stayed in touch with the students who were in that class, and writes powerfully about the effects of that moment, and the responses of the class that gathered around it, in this article, published in the journal Liberal Education.

One student puts it like this:

Dante provided that toolbox for us at a moment when we desperately needed other words to grapple with images beamed out to us “live” of a destructiveness most students in the class had never witnessed.


New book on intoxication co-edited by Russell Williams

Russell intoxication

With his co-editor, Eugene Brennan, Russell Williams has published a new book on Literature and Intoxication with Palgrave Press

Writers have often been drawn to intoxication, from the legal highs of cigarettes, coffee and alcohol to the illegal highs of heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. Intoxication has not only been a way to aid creativity – literary writers have also explored and shaped our experiences of intoxication. In trying to write these altered states, they have made radical experiments to create works that mimic, and even induce, states of intoxication. This collection draws together a range of academics and writers to explore these states of intoxication and experiences of excess. It considers a wide variety of states of excess, moving from the possibilities of an intoxicated text to a critical account of the appropriation of excess within global capitalism.

You can learn more about the book and read a sample chapter here.

Translation by Jan Steyn (Comparative Literature and MACT alumnus) shortlisted for the Best Translated Book award

worksEdouard Levé’s experimental novel Works, brilliantly translated by AUP alumnus Jan Steyn (now completing a PhD at Cornell University) has been long-listed for the Best Translated books award.

Among the judges for this award are AUP’s Daniel Medin, and AUP Alumna Madeleine LaRue (editor, writer, and associate editor of the literary review Music and Literature). It sounds like favoritism, but it is rather evidence of the success and reach of AUP students and professors in the world of contemporary literature and translation.

Jan Steyn’s honour adds to a list of recent successes by MACT graduates, including the award won by Jesse T Lichtenstein’s translations of Guadalupe Nettel (she writes about her translations in Asymptote magazine), and the strong reviews of Emma Ramadan’s translation of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, which has just been published by Deep Vellum Press.

Young writers and translators, reading at AUP on Monday 27 April 2015

Creative Writing in the Department of Comparative Literature and English and the MA in Cultural Translation would like to invite you to a reading, in the series of Young Writers and Translators events curated by Jeffrey Greene.

Continue reading “Young writers and translators, reading at AUP on Monday 27 April 2015”

Jula Wildberger talking in Paris, 7 April 2015

On 7 April, Jula Wildberger will present a paper at the University of Chicago Paris on German Classicist Hermann Fraenkel’s empathic way of looking at the other. A volunteer first-war veteran, as a Jew he was expelled from his university position, and was forced to flee to California. At Stanford, he first completed his book on Ovid, another exile “between two worlds” (1945), and then his magnum opus, a comprehensive study of early Greek poetry and philosophy, which was published in German (!) by the American Philological Association. In this way, Fraenkel contributed to what he regarded as the true battlefield worth fighting on: the struggle of ideas and ideals.

5:20-6:00 Jula Wildberger (American University of Paris), ” ‘To understand each phenomenon as it intended itself’: Hermann Fraenkel as a Historian of Mentalities”


Lia Jamburia – new visiting scholar in the department, Spring 2015

Lia JamburiaLia Jamburia will be a visiting scholar in the department this semester – working on her research and in dialogue with our colleagues here. We asked her to introduce herself:

I am a PhD student at the Institute of Comparative Literature at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia; my PhD thesis is entitled ‘Individual against the system in Soviet and American postmodernist novels’. At the beginning of my doctoral studies, I focused on Soviet Studies: I was interested in the lives and works of the writers (both Georgian and Russian), who survived the great terror of 1930’s and continued to work under and against the totalitarian regime. Following the advice of my supervisor, my project turned into comparative studies and I chose to compare literary works created in the Soviet Union and the United States at about the same period. Despite the differences in circumstances, there are themes that unite these writers, such as the antagonism between system and an individual, the relationship between writer and state, and the means of survival in authoritarian systems and war.
My other experience includes starting and running a non-commercial translation project called Radarami, which focuses on bringing bestselling non-fiction books to Georgian readers. I organized discussions around important issues raised in these books, concerning the financial crisis, economics of developing countries, global warming etc., and translated one of the books published by the project: Globalization and its Discontents by Joseph Stiglitz. While most of the authors were unfamiliar to the Georgian audience, the project has attracted a large number of readers and still continues to elicit controversy, which has been our primary goal from the start.
I have also published literary translations, mostly excerpts from the works of the well-known American writers Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. They were among the authors that have not been translated into Georgian up to now, since translations had been strictly censored and restricted during the Soviet period. Georgia is currently trying to fill the gap, and I hope to be able to contribute to this process.

Brenton Hobart on la Boétie

BoetieBrenton Hobart has recently published an article for the website Cornucopia on Étienne de La Boétie’s Discourse of Voluntary Servitude: a mid-sixteenth-century text that questions how millions of unconstrained individuals, “simply enchanted and charmed by the name of one man”, could miserably and voluntarily chose to serve him—a man “whose power they need not fear, since he is alone, and whose qualities they should not love, since he is inhumane and savage toward them.”

While La Boétie’s Discourse was one of the readings for Professor Hobart’s FirstBridge course, The French: The Greatest People in the World, in fall 2014, it is also currently among the texts studied for the French literature section of France’s national competitive examination, the Agrégation.

Professor Hobart’s article is a study of the numerous uses of the various forms of the word Frank/French in La Boétie’s Discourse, which he believes recall the liberties (the franknesses), both innate and acquired, of the French people themselves.

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