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Why Proteus?

In Greek mythology, Proteus is an oracle of the sea; but he also represents much more than the appeal that comes with seeing through an otherwise opaque future. This is because Proteus is a shapeshifter as well as a fortune-teller, and one must first wrestle him and pin him down in order to extract his secrets. In this struggle between the mythological hero and the amorphous, ever-changing matter with which they must contend, we at “Proteus” also find a model that reflects the position of the cultural critic and his content. Culture is elusive—as a product of history, it is subject to a process of constant mutation and permutation—and yet the task of the critic is to wrestle meaning from the intangible.

In the fall of 2015, a group of dedicated Rutgers students joined together with the mission of providing undergraduate students with a platform upon which they may share their ideas on literature and culture; Proteus was the result of this mission.

What is Comparative Literature?

As most Comparative Literature students discover, explaining the exact parameters of this decidedly interdisciplinary and thus seemingly amorphous field can often prove to be a challenging task. In general, our understanding of comparative literature includes but is not limited to:

  • Work that examines literature (broadly defined) within a cultural context—especially works typically thought of as belonging to separate cultural traditions.
  • Work drawing comparisons between literature and other disciplines as well as artistic mediums, including performance, painting, film, poetry, music, the sciences, etc.
  • Work dealing with inter-linguistic practices (i.e translation studies and multi-linguistics).
  • Papers comparing multiple works by one author or separate works written by different authors.
  • Work dealing with any aspect of literary criticism, continental philosophy, Women’s and Gender studies, queer theory, critical theory, etc.
  • Please note that this list is non-restrictive: when in doubt, submit!