Reading World Literature
Literature is world literature when it is read for its truly global significance. To read literature as world literature is to discover its diversity. It is to see how fundamental questions inspire very different forms of literary creativity across the globe--to seek intersections across time and space and thereby to appreciate the many ways literary texts represent their cultures. This course explores what it means to read world literature by focusing on a single theme or problem common to many cultures but different for each. For example, the course might focus on the problem of migrations to see how global literary forms have found different ways to represent what happens when people move from place to place. Or the course might focus on the world's different ways of representing coming of age, or how the environment is figured across cultures. The course studies these themes through focus on texts including poems, plays, novels, stories, and other literary forms from nations and cultures not routinely featured together in literature classes. At the same time, the course explores the theory of world literature, as well as the reasons to study it, which include broadening our sense of literature's possible forms and uses, appreciating the world's diversity through its literature, and developing one basis for a sense of global citizenship. Offered every other year.\n\nThe theme for this year will be travel and selected primary readings will include: Italo Calvino’s Gilgamesh and Invisible Cities, Chiang Yee’s The Silent Traveler in London, Rifa'a el-Tahtawi’s An Imam in Paris, Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land, Ibn Battutah’s Travels, Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa, Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Salman Rushdie’s East/West , and Marco Polo’s The Travels. There will also be films, theory on world literature, presentations, and an excursion to Oberlin College for a conference.