This course seeks to convey an understanding of 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. Reading a selection of texts, both fictional and non-fictional, we will discuss the concept and practice of world literature: its genealogy and methodology, its scope and purpose, its politics and limitations, in close relation to forces of globalization.
Nineteenth and twentieth century orientalism; cosmopolitanism; globalization; untranslatability
By reading significant theoretical influences on the field, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s to Emily Apter’s works along with primary source texts, we will ask what is lost and who gains when literature transforms into world literature.
1) Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concept and practice of World literature;
2) Comprehend significant literary and political issues such as orientalism, untranslatability and cosmopolitanism.
3) Develop a critical vocabulary to conduct literary analysis and discuss issues pertaining to world literature.
Classroom time comprises of lectures, student presentations and seminar-style discussions. Students are expected to have read the “required readings” before attending class.
100% coursework, consisting of:
- Midterm Essay (40%)
- Final Essay (40%)
- Participation (20%)
We will read sections of the following texts:
Apter, Emily, ‘Checkpoints and Sovereign Borders’ (2013)
Cálidás, Sacontalá; or, The fatal ring: an Indian drama (1870)
Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret (1850)
Kanafani, Ghassan, ‘Returning to Haifa’ (2008)
Moretti, Franco ‘Conjectures on World Literature’ (2000)
Said, Edward, Culture and Imperialism (1993)
Viswanathan, Gauri, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (2014)
Additional texts will be provided via Moodle.