Fall 2024


12:45 pm - 2:45 pm

CompLit 101X: Finnegans Wake and Comparative Literature

John Hamilton

Finnegans Wake is a work that no one should read alone.

The seminar centers on a reading of James Joyce’s unique, brilliant, and purportedly unreadable novel as an opportunity to engage in comparative literary approaches. Close textual analysis and wild forays into the work’s inexhaustible allusiveness, its etymological digressiveness, its intertextual density, and its sheer delight in musical prose are coupled with a consideration of Joyce’s achievement in relation to European Modernism and twentieth-century disenchantment.

Each session is devoted to reading episodes from the novel collectively. References and allusions are discussed, together with historical and cultural contexts and the ramifications of wordplay, puns, and other verbal devices. There is no expectation of mastering the text. Rather, in confronting this audaciously experimental work, the seminar encourages reading as an open, dynamic and interactive experience.

There are no short essay assignments and no midterm or final exams. Instead, each week, participants submit a one-page explication, reflection, or gloss on a selected sentence from the novel. The format of this assignment will be outlined in the introductory meeting. Grades are determined on the overall quality of these weekly responses, as well as the level of engagement during our weekly sessions.

In Person