This course introduces students to the concept and practice of world literature. It seeks to understand world literature not as a collection of national literary canons created in different linguistic and cultural locations, but as a field of knowledge about literature as a cross-cultural and translingual system of production and circulation. We will read a selection of seminal statements on world literature and discuss the historical formation of world literature: its methodology and scope, its politics and limitations, in close relation to forms and forces of globalization.
Topics to be discussed include:
- Possible definitions of world literature
- The (im)possibility of a world literary canon
- How literature circulates across borders, including ideas of influence, plagiarism and translation
- Bilingual writing, linguistic power dynamics, and the relationship between major/minor languages
- Intercultural and interlinguistic encounters in world literature
- Global, multinational and delocalized fictions
This course aims to introduce students to a variety of topics in world literature. During the course, students will discuss key theories of world literature through a range of theoretical and fictional texts, including a novel, a novella, short stories, and a graphic novel. They will learn to consider literature as a global phenomenon and cross-cultural product and will develop a multicultural and cross-cultural appreciation of literary motifs and genres. Students will develop an analytical framework and a critical language for their study of works of world literature, and will learn to analyze texts thematically, comparatively and through close reading.
We will meet once a week for three hours. The first two hours will be a combination of lectures, group discussions and pair work. The final hour will be a tutorial, during which students will have the opportunity to discuss the set texts in more depth and practice their skills in close reading and literary analysis. More information on the make-up of these sessions will be available on Moodle before the course begins.
Assessment (100% coursework):
Participation (includes attendance, in-class discussions, and pre-class preparation exercises): 20%
Mid-term paper: 25%
End-term essay (1800 - 2000 words): 45%
To be purchased in advance:
Atwood, Margaret: The Penelopiad (2005)
Hamid, Mohsin: Exit West (2017)
Tan, Shaun: The Arrival (2006)
Other texts for study will be made available on Moodle. These will include:
Several versions of ‘Cinderella’
Extracts from The Odyssey
Short stories by Bernardo Atxaga, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Orhan Pamuk
Extracts from World Literature: A Reader (Routledge)