UW Comparative Literature 240: Margins and Centers: who's in, who's out, and why that matters for all of us

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What is comparative literature?

Comparative Literature is about exploring connections — connections among various literary, visual, and cultural traditions in a global world; connections between past and present; and connections across different academic disciplines and modes of intellectual inquiry.

Comparative Literature trains students in the critical analysis of texts, seeking to understand how the rhetorical and aesthetic features of those texts—whether literary, visual, or theoretical—negotiate and shape social values, attitudes, and beliefs. International in scope and interdisciplinary in orientation, our field emphasizes intellectual breadth and fosters intellectual initiative.

Who is UW Comparative Literature 240 for?

This course is open to any Kentlake junior or senior who wants to take a rigorous English class and enjoys exploring social issues through literature.

Why take a UW English class?

1. Earn college credit at Kentlake: Students who register for the course will start or continue a UW transcript, earning credit to satisfy their English requirement. Students have already taken UW Engish 111 and 131 can use Comparative Literature 240 to satisfy an elective credit at UW. Even if you do not plan on attending UW after high school, many colleges accept this course as transfer credit.

2. College success: Enrollment in rigorous courses in high school is a prime indicator of whether or not an individual will complete college. Many have the aspirations of attending college, but many of those who opt out of taking rigorous courses in high school do not finish their college degrees because they are not prepared for the level of intellectual inquiry and writing skills college demands.

What is UW Comparative Literature 240 about?

This class focuses on literature that will help us think about how people categorize each other on the basis of various social and biological features, including gender, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship status, sexuality, and ability. In all societies around the globe, some are part of the Center--often with status and the power to make and enforce rules--and some are relegated to the Margin--often with less power and subject to the rules and regulations that the Center dictates. These dynamics play out in terms of international relations between countries on the world stage, as well as in our own seemingly smaller lives with family and friends. What's going on? Why does this keep happening? And what does this have to do with you and me? The novels we read this term will help us imagine people who might seem different from us, and provoke us to ask larger questions about identity, power, privilege, society and the role of culture in our lives. While this is a literature course, it is interdisciplinary in nature as we include concepts from other academic fields, such as psychology, sociology, and biology to illuminate meaning in the works we read for a real-world context.