Nineteenth and twentieth century orientalism; cosmopolitanism; globalization; untranslatability




By reading significant theoretical influences on the field, from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Pheng Cheah along with primary source texts, we will ask what is lost and who gains when literature transforms into world literature.



Learning Outcomes

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:

  • Oral presentation and Discussion (15%)
  • Midterm Essay (25%)
  • Final Essay (50%)
  • Participation (10%)




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)
Cheah, Pheng, ‘What is a world? On world literature as world-making activity’ (2008)
Conversations of Goethe with Eckermann and Soret (1850)
Ibsen, Henrik, A Doll's House (1879)
Kanafani, Ghassan, ‘Returning to Haifa’ (2008)
Moliere, Don John or the Feast of the Statue (1876)
Moretti, Franco ‘Conjectures on World Literature’ (2000) 
Mufti, Aamir, ‘Orientalism and the Institution of World Literatures’ (2010)
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.



Last updated: 15 July 2019